3:1 Hear [listen with the intention of obeying] this word the LORD has spoken against you, O people of Israel—against [or “on behalf of;” emphasizes that the message to follow is one of judgment] the whole [included Israel and Judah] family [presupposes a relationship] I brought up out of [exodus] Egypt:
3:2 “You only [no one else] have I chosen [for service, not for exaltation; for responsibility, not to privilege; God chose them to share His truth with other nations; cf. Deut. 7:6-8] of all the families of the earth; therefore [because they had failed to fulfill the responsibility God had given them; election meant obligation for Israel] I will punish [Israel not exempt because of status] you for all your sins [their failure to live as His covenant people].”
Amos 3:3-8 [Amos’ justification for his ministry]
3:3 Do two walk together [effect] unless they have agreed to do so [cause]?
3:4 Does a lion roar in the thicket when he has no prey? Does he growl in his den when he has caught nothing?
3:5 Does a bird fall into a trap on the ground [effect] where no snare has been set [cause]? Does a trap spring up [effect] from the earth when there is nothing [cause: something to trigger the trap] to catch?
3:6 When a trumpet sounds [to warn of an enemy’s approach] in a city, do not the people tremble [obvious answer is “yes”]? When disaster [natural disasters, adversities, afflictions, military attack] comes to a city, has not the LORD [who is sovereign over all things] caused [commanded or permitted] it?
3:7 Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing [in advance; warning precedes judgment] his plan to his servants the prophets [must declare what God has revealed; prophets also interpreted meaning of events (as Moses interpreted exodus as an event wrought by God, or as Jeremiah and Ezekiel interpreted the Babylonian exile of Judah in 587 BC as God’s punishment of Judah for her sins)].
3:8 The lion has roared [lion does nor roar when stalking or chasing its victim; roar implies Israel is as good as dead]—who will not fear? The Sovereign LORD has spoken [cause]—who [prophet must not keep secret the message God has given him] can but prophesy [effect]?
3:11 Therefore [cf. 3:9-10] this is what the Sovereign [God is in control of all things and can use whatever He chooses to accomplish His purposes (cf. Ps. 119:91b)] LORD says [concerning how He would destroy Samaria]: “An enemy [an unnamed invading nation] will overrun the land [the Northern Kingdom; cf. 6:1 re: the security people felt in Samaria]; he will pull down your strongholds [defensive fortifications] and plunder your fortresses [fortified towers; houses/palaces of the wealthy].”
3:12 This is what the LORD says [portrait of the Northern Kingdom’s ultimate fate]: “As a shepherd saves from the lion’s mouth only two leg bones or a piece of an ear [shepherd required to provide evidence to verify an animal had been killed and not stolen (cf. Gen. 31:39; Ex. 22:13)], so will the Israelites be saved [some suggest this means only a few Israelites would remain], those who sit in Samaria on the edge of their beds and in Damascus [Israel’s borders extended to Damascus (2 Kings 14:25); perhaps wealthy Israelites lived in that city] on their couches.
3:13 “Hear this [unnamed witnesses summoned to hear the court proceedings] and testify against the house of Jacob,” declares the Lord, the LORD God Almighty [this expression designates God as all-powerful].
3:14 “On the day [the day of the Lord (here depicted as a nightmare rather than as the great day the Israelites expected); cf. Amos 5:18-20] I punish Israel for her sins, I will destroy the altars [numerous altars to accommodate many worshipers who went to Bethel to engage in idolatrous/immoral religious practices] of Bethel [established as a center of worship by King Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:28-31)]; the horns of the altar will be cut off [signified that all hope for sanctuary would be gone; cf. Ex. 21:14; 1 Kings 1:50-53; 2:28-34] and fall to the ground [a desecration of the altar].
3:15 I will tear down [wrecking that leaves nothing but broken pieces] the winter house along with the summer house [homes of the royal family and the wealthy]; the houses adorned with ivory [imported from Africa/India; expensive item found only in homes of the wealthy] will be destroyed and the mansions will be demolished [utter destruction],” declares the LORD.