The words of Amos, who was among the shepherds of Tekoa, that he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake. Bible see other translations

“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 in the valleys between the hillsides. Besides the grazing of sheep and goats, the land grew olives and “sycamore figs” (Amos 7:14). 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.

“Uzziah...Jeroboam.” Uzziah was the king of Judah, and he reigned 52 years. Jeroboam II was the king of Israel and he reigned 41 years. The two kingdoms had peace between them, and enemies were not very active, so from the outside looking in this might be seen as a very good time for both kingdoms. But an inside view revealed that there was a lot of sin and disobedience, so trouble was ahead and coming.

“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 cities. Mud-brick houses and temples collapsed, and often water sources were interrupted; often so badly that the town was abandoned.

Commentary for: Amos 1:1