The land as a "Leitmotiv" in the book of Amos

22 Nov 2008

The hypothesis argued is that the theme of the land serves as a leitmotiv in the book of Amos. The focus of this investigation will be on the occurrence of the words normally used in connection with the land, that is eretz (#rao) and adama (hmra), in the book of Amos. The land is promised and granted (2:9-10; 3:2, 9) to the people to live in and enjoy the produce the land yields but their stay in the land is not unconditional. Unfortunately, only a small part of the population shared in the wealth of the land. People that also ought to have shared in the bounty of the land, were exploited only to make the rich even richer and the poor even poorer. Consequently, the land would turn against the people living in and of it (1:2; 4:4-12; 8:4, 8-9, 11). Ultimately the land would be lost in exile (3:11, 15; 4:1-3; 7:10-17). At the end of the book it is foreseen that the land will once again be restored to the people (9:11-15). In light of the importance of the land in the book and the looming threat of a coming exile due to the conditions in the land, it is suggested that the reference to the earthquake in 1:2 may take on an additional metaphorical meaning. The reference to the earthquake is perhaps a premonition of what may be expected: turmoil and upheaval in the land and even expulsion from the land instead of peace and stability. Mentioning the earthquake right at the beginning may be a subtle reminder that the land is at stake in the prophecies that will follow in the rest of the book.