Amos 1

1 Tekoa is 10 miles (16 km) south of Jerusalem.

Wycliffe notes that this was a time of political security and a degree of prosperity for Israel and Judah. Unfortunately, it was also a time when sin abounded. People tend to turn to God when they are in distress, but then turn away from Him when they feel safe and prosperous. Whether we are rich or poor, at war or in peace, we must recognize our constant need for God -- not just for physical comfort on earth, but for the condition of our spirit as well.

Wycliffe also notes that the word for sheepherder used here indicates that he cared for a special, dwarfed sheep prized for their wool.

2 Wycliffe notes that the term "roar" used here is a special word indicating the roar of a lion as it pounces on a sheep. The clear meaning is that God is about to judge the region in a severe way.

Zion and Jerusalem represent the religious and political center of the region.

God announces that there will be a severe famine. Not only will the shepherds in the wilderness suffer, but the most fertile land will suffer as well.

3 "Three transgressions... even for four," is an idiom meaning "innumerable offenses." The imagery seems to indicate that the Aramaeans has waged a severe war on the city of Gilead, and God would punish them for their cruelty.
4 Hazael had founded his kingdom during the time of Elisha (2 Ki 8:7-13), and his son Benhadad had succeeded him (2 Ki 13:3).
5 The enemies would overpower the defenses of Damascus and kill it's nearby inhabitants. Even the king would be taken from his summer home and exiled to Kir. The location of Kir is unknown.
6 The Philistines were to be judged for capturing large numbers of Israelites and selling them as slaves (2 Chr 21:16-17, Joel 3:6).
8 Four of the five important cities (1 Sam 6:17) are listed here. The implication is complete destruction of this nation.
9 Like the Philistines, the people of Tyre had sold Israelites as slaves. The king of Tyre had once made a treaty with Solomon, but later generations did not respect it (1 Ki 5:12).
11 Esau and Jacob were twin brothers, but had conflicts from the day they were born. Their children continued to fight with one another. On several occasions Edom proved to be an uncompassionate aggressor, and this displeased God.
13 God accused Ammon with "war crimes." The armies were driven by greed and had committed terrible atrocities during battles. Even in the heat of battle God demands respect for His image in man and the protection of the innocent.