Within the nation of Israel, was an elite class of people that had altered the culture in order to enjoy a lifestyle that was not only luxurious, but also oppressive to the poor. It began with king Ahab who had stolen the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite (1 Kings 21:16). Amos described the situation as a seat of violence (Amos 6:3). The Hebrew word translated violence in Amos 6:3, chamac refers to unjust gain. “Basically chamac connotes the disruption of the divinely established order of things” (2555).
The nation of Israel was established as a kingdom devoted to God. Every aspect of the peoples’ lives was intended to reflect the character of their LORD and his unique relationship with them. The violence that was prevalent at the time of God’s judgment was disrupting the Israelites relationship with God and thereby interfering with His blessings (2555).
Amos described the wrongdoers as “them that are at ease in Zion…that lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon couches, and eat the lamb out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall” (Amos 6:1,4). As a result of their greed, Amos declared, “Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed” (Amos 6:7).
The initial thrust of the Assyrian military campaign against Israel took place 738 – 732 B.C. Assuming Amos was alive at that time, his declaration that captivity would begin now, was most likely a reference to the capture of Gilead by king Tiglath-pileser of Assyria. “The furious onslaught against the northern tribes left only mount Ephraim and the capital city of Samaria intact. By this time Israel was a tiny nation wracked by pro- and anti- Assyrian factions, multiple assassinations, hypocrisy, arrogance and fear” (Assyrian Campaigns against Israel and Judah).
Amos’ prediction of the desolation of Israel by king Tiglath-pileser described a fearful scene in which an entire household was burned to death. “And it shall come to pass, if there remain ten men in one house, that they shall die. And a man’s uncle shall take him up, and he that burneth him, to bring out the bones our of the house, and shall say unto him that is by the sides of the house, Is there yet any with thee? and he shall say, No” (Amos 6:9-10).