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The prophet Amos ministered during the overlapping reigns of Jeroboam II in Israel (793–753) and Uzziah in Judah (792–740). His ministry occurred sometime between 760 and 755 BC. Amos prophesied at a unique time in the history of the divided kingdom. From approximately 780 to 750, Egypt, Syria, and Assyria did not pose a serious threat to Israel. During this time, Jeroboam II was able to expand the borders of Israel, and his successes created economic prosperity for many and a sense of security as well. During these years, Israel prospered, and a powerful and wealthy upper class emerged who exploited the poor and perverted justice. Although a native of Judah, Amos prophesied to the northern kingdom of Israel. He preached to an affluent society that was deeply involved in false worship and in the mistreatment of the poor. These wealthy and powerful Israelites were confident and secure. Into the midst of this complacent society comes Amos, declaring that Israel has broken God’s covenant. There are a number of very good commentaries on Amos, and the following are five of the best.

1. Douglas Stuart — Hosea-Jonah (Word Biblical Commentary, 1987).

I have already mentioned in my posts on Hosea and Joel commentaries that the best commentary on the first five minor prophets is the commentary by Douglas Stuart in the Word Biblical Commentary series. Very highly recommended.

2. Thomas E. McComiskey — The Minor Prophets (2009 [1992]).

Also mentioned in connection with my posts on Hosea and Joel is the commentary edited by Thomas McComiskey. The commentary on Amos in this volume was written by Jeff Niehaus. For those doing in-depth work on the book, this one should be consulted.

3. J. A. Motyer — The Message of Amos (The Bible Speaks Today, 1984).

Motyer is best known for his outstanding commentaries on Isaiah. His commentary on Amos is just as good. This is probably the best place to start for those looking for an introductory-level commentary on Amos.

4. Shalom M. Paul — Amos (Hermeneia, 1990).

I can count on one hand the number of commentaries in the Hermeneia series that I find very helpful. This one is probably the only one I would enthusiastically recommend. It is geared toward a more scholarly audience, but it is packed with helpful insight into the meaning of Amos. Very highly recommended.

5. Francis I. Andersen and David Noel Freedman — Amos (Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries, 1989).

Where to even begin. You might not think it possible to write an almost 1,000-page commentary on a book that generally takes up less than 10 pages of the Bible. You would be wrong. The introduction to the commentary alone is 178 pages. In short, this commentary is not for the faint of heart. It is technical and detailed almost beyond belief, but for those doing in-depth study of Amos, it is a must.


There are a number of other helpful commentaries on the book of Amos. The works of M. Daniel Carroll R., Gary V. Smith, David Allan Hubbard, James Boice, and T. J. Betts, in particular, should be useful to many.

Helpful Related Works

Although more critical, John Barton’s The Theology of the Book of Amos* is worth consulting on the themes of the book of Amos.

This article is part of the Top 5 Commentaries collection.