In preparing sermons and studies on the Old Testament, I make a point of reading a few scholars who give me confidence that the English text I am working with is a reliable rendition of the Hebrew original. Dr Harman has produced an easily read commentary on Amos which is based on his enviable grasp of Hebrew vocabulary and grammar, with the added bonus of significant suggestions for application. 

            As a book, Amos is full of unexpected twists. From Amos 3:2 we learn that the covenants are not simply unconditional. Dr Harman’s comments are always sober. For example, he does not connect the lion mentioned in 3:4 to the Lord roaring from Zion in 1:2. Also, being taken away with fish hooks in 4:2 refers to those who were already dead. One might wish it so, but evidence from Assyria may cast doubt on that. The prudent man who keeps silent in 5:13 is thought by Alec Motyer to be a shrewd man who protects his future prospects, but Dr Harman blames the society not the speaker.

            Amos 5:25 is interpreted to mean that not all the sacrifices were offered in the wilderness, but it may be saying something similar to Hosea 6:6, that mercy is greater than sacrifice. There is a lack of dogmatism in dealing with various interpretations, such as the plumb line in 7:7. ‘Swearing by the pride of Jacob’ (8:7) is said to mean that God swears (takes an oath) by Himself (as in Ps.106:20; Jer.2:11; Amos 4:2; 6:8).

            Armed with a commentary such as this, one is better equipped to understand the text, and proclaim it with greater assurance.

                                                                                                – Peter Barnes