“Ye Kine of Bashan” (Amos 4:1)

April 29, 2017

The fearless prophet Amos was sent by Yahweh to the northern kingdom of Israel in the days of the Divided Kingdom. He cried out against the idolatry there. In this prosperous (albeit short-lived) time when Jeroboam II reigned (8th century BC), Amos also rebuked the luxury-loving women in Israel who cared nothing about God and His will: “Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, which oppress the poor, which crush the needy, which say to their masters, Bring, and let us drink.” (Amos 4:1, KJV).

Cattle in Bashan, Israel. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

The word kine as used in the KJV is old English; it is archaic plural for “cow.” The ESV renders the text, “Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, ‘Bring, that we may drink!'”

The women were not left in doubt as to the meaning of the imagery–they were behaving with no more concern for spiritual matters than a bunch of fat cows!

The background for Amos’ reference to cows of Bashan takes us back to Numbers 21, when Israel conquered the land of Og of Bashan, north and east of the Jordan (as well as the land of Sihon, to the south of Bashan). Then Numbers 32 tells how two and one half tribes (Reuben, Gad, and 1/2 tribe of Manasseh) asked that they might settle on the eastern side of the Jordan. That request was granted (conditioned upon the men of war helping with the conquest of Canaan). The reason given for the request: these lands “were ideal for cattle” (v.1, NET).

Land of Bashan, good for cattle. BibleAtlas.org.

The women Amos addressed did not live in Bashan, east of the Jordan. The text refers to their being in Samaria, which was the capital of Israel. But they were acting like cattle in that place which was so noted for its cattle.

Today I was in what was the OT land of Bashan when I photographed these cattle. I was put in mind of our text in Amos.

I do not know how the women in Israel responded to the preaching of Amos. We do know that the nation as a whole did not listen, and God would soon allow the Assyrians to destroy the northern kingdom. One can hope that at least some individuals may have responded appropriately and repented. Though they may have felt insulted, in reality Amos was their friend, their best friend.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16,17).


Not a Prophet or a Prophet’s Son

August 3, 2011

In our last post we introduced the prophet Amos of Tekoa. God sent him from Judah to Israel to cry out against the idolatry there, centered in such locations as Judah. A false prophet named Amaziah tried to intimidate Amos, and told him to go back home to Judah, i.e., we don’t need your kind of preaching here! Amos’ response:

14 Then Amos answered, and said to Amaziah: “I was no prophet, Nor was I a son of a prophet, But I was a sheepbreeder And a tender of sycamore fruit. 15 Then the LORD took me as I followed the flock, And the LORD said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to My people Israel.’ 16 Now therefore, hear the word of the LORD: You say, ‘Do not prophesy against Israel, And do not spout against the house of Isaac.’ 17 “Therefore thus says the LORD: ‘Your wife shall be a harlot in the city; Your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword; Your land shall be divided by survey line; You shall die in a defiled land; And Israel shall surely be led away captive From his own land.'” (Amos 7:14-17).

Our photo below was taken on the road between Tekoa and Bethlehem. You can see the sheep in the distance, which illustrate the kind of work Amos would have done in this general area before being called to the prophetic office.

Sheep near Tekoa. Amos was a sheepherder. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Note also that Amos said that he was a “tender of sycamore fruit” (NASB: “a grower of sycamore figs” and NET: “I was a herdsman who also took care of sycamore fig trees”). Below is a photo of the biblical sycamore tree.

Sycamore tree, which produces figs. Amos tended trees like this. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Here is a close up of the fruit. The sycamore fig is inferior to the fig produced by the fig tree, and was eaten by the poorer people of the land.

Close-up of sycamore figs. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

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A pleasant surprise: our friends John and Lisa Hains of Jordan, Ontario, invited us to spend the night in their home (when our Sudbury meeting concluded) and then get us to the Toronto airport for our flight home (to “Sweet Home Alabama”). John met us when I turned in our rental car at Toronto, and en route to his home took Linda & me to see Niagara Falls, which was our first time to do so. The Falls are only about 20-25 minutes away from his house.  John took this photo.

Leon & Linda at Niagara Falls. Photo by John Hains.

 Click on images for higher resolution.


Amos of Tekoa

August 2, 2011

The prophet Amos begins his biblical book, “The words of Amos, who was among the sheepbreeders of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake” (Amos 1:1). Tekoa is just south of Bethlehem.

Tekoa. Home of the prophet Amos. Map by bibleatlas.com

 This rustic southern prophet was sent by God to the northern kingdom of Israel to cry out against the idolatrous shrines there. More to come, but for now a photo of Tekoa, Amos’ home.

Site of Tekoa, home of Amos the Prophet. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

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It has been great to be in Sudbury again. I presented seven lessons in this Fri.-Mon. series. We are heading for home today.


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