“Tekoa.” Tekoa is a small town about 11 miles south and very slightly west of Jerusalem. It was on the western edge of the Judean Wilderness, in an arid and stony land. The soil was a kind of chalk-marl, and any cultivation was scant and in the valleys between the hillsides. Besides the grazing of sheep and goats, the land grew olives and “sycamore figs” (Amos 7:4). The land is dotted with caves that shepherds and flocks used for shelter.
“that he saw concerning Israel.” Amos lived in the Kingdom of Judah in the tribal area of the tribe of Judah, but God chose him to prophesy to the northern kingdom of Israel (the ten tribes of Israel). Sometimes God wants us to serve where we live, sometimes He wants us to serve somewhere else. The reason God did not choose a prophet from Israel to deliver the message Amos delivered is not known.
“two years before the earthquake.” The earthquake was not foretold by Amos, but between the time Amos saw the vision and when he penned the Book of Amos, there was a huge earthquake that was long remembered. It is likely the one mentioned in Zechariah 14:5. Large earthquakes produced tremendous damage to ancient cites. Mud-brick houses and temples collapsed, and often water sources were interrupted; often so badly that the town was abandoned.