The second section of the book contains a series of speeches that condemn Israel's neighbours (such collections or Oracles against the Nations are found in other prophetic books also).
In Amos each speech follows a very similar pattern and uses several formulae that are repeated in each oracle of the series. While there has been considerable discussion of possible reasons behind the order in which the neighbouring states are mentioned no explanation has been found generally convincing. That Judah and then Israel are the last two is, however, almost certainly significant, directing the focus of the series onto God's people.
The oracle against Israel is much longer and more highly developed than the others, and most readers therefore hear it as the point of the unit. The accusations are more detailed, and they address internal injustices rather than behavior of one nation towards another. The puinishment is also described at greater length.
Placed at the start of the body of the book, and beginning with condemnation of Israel's neighbours for their brutal or inhumane actions, and then accusing Judah of faithlessness, the series appears planned with the rhetorical purpose of preparing hearers for accusations against Israel (both in 2:6-12 and later in the book).
This page is part of the Hypertext Bible Commentary - Amos , if you have reached it as a standalone page, to view it in context, go to www.bible.gen.nz © Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2005, Tim Bulkeley. All rights reserved.