The first verse in Amos gives readers much information concerning this prophet. It gives us the prophet's name, his location, one of his occupations, kings of the northern and southern kingdoms at this time, his audience, and date
of his prophecy. Amos 1:1 states, "The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen 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."
       First, we find the call of Amos in Amos 7:15: And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.  Since Amos 1:1 is so precise in saying that it occurred two years before the earthquake and also took place in the days of Uzziah and Jeroboam, most scholars date the prophecy at around 760-755 B.C. (according to Al Maxey at this site). This earthquake was a very severe one in Uzziah's day that was remembered for centuries after. Even Zechariah 14:5 makes reference to it: And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains... like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah... (14:5). The setting of his prophecy is Bethel, a city in the Northern Kingdom, Israel, and can be found in Amos 4:4 and 7:13.
       Amos's intended audience is Israel, the
northern kingdom. The protagonist knew of the people of Israel's prevalent sins at this time and was able to use Amos to prophesy to them and warn them to change their sinful ways before God's wrath would strike. According to Al Maxey, there were several factors which led to the prophecy:

1. This was a time when the fortunes of the northern kingdom (Israel) had reached one of their highest points of prosperity and peace. Jeroboam was able to extend his borders almost to those of the old Davidic kingdom. There was also peace with the southern kingdom (Judah). 
2. It was a time of great economic well-being and national strength. 
3. There was a complete lack of social concern in the land. The rich would stop at nothing to increase their profits, including economic exploitation of the poor. Even the legal system was corrupted, and the poor had no recourse even in the courts.

Adding to the second point, Amos tells us that the Israelites had "winter houses," "summer houses," and "houses of ivory" (3:15). They also had "houses of well-hewn stone" (5:11). They reclined on "beds of ivory" (6:4), sprawled on couches, ate and drank to their fill, anointed  themselves with the finest oils, were surrounded by music (6:4-7). In  short, they were "at ease in Zion" (6:1). His major concern was that the people would be too comfortable in their time of prosperity, get caught up in sin, and forsake God.
           
As far as literary features in Amos, readers can note several instances of imagery when Amos describes his visions. Examples are: 
Amos 7:1 - Thus hath the Lord GOD showed unto me; and, behold, he formed grasshoppers in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth...
Amos 7:4 - Thus hath the Lord GOD showed unto me: and, behold, the Lord GOD called to contend by fire, and it devoured the great deep, and did eat up a part.
Amos 7:7 - Thus he showed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand.
Amos 8:1 - Thus hath the Lord GOD showed
unto me: and behold a basket of summer fruit.
Amos 9:1 - I saw the Lord standing upon the
altar...
Both personification and metaphors can be seen in 5:24 - But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.
Parallelism can be seen in 5:10 - They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.

       His writings propel the theme of redemption because his message suggests that if the people of Israel will repent and turn from their sins against Him, they will be forgiven, redeemed, and shown mercy by God's
promise to renew the land and restore the temple; and I believe the main theme of Amos to be chastisment and offer of redemption through repentence. I believe this theme is best summarized in Amos 5:14-15 which states, "Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken. Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may  be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph."
Picture
Amos was a  shepherd and a herdsman, but a fact about Amos that I found to be highly
interesting was that he was also "a gatherer of sycamore fruit" (7:14).
Accordng to Al Maxey, "this was the wild fig which exuded a ball of sap when nipped at the right season, and which hardened into a sort of edible fruit which the lower classes were able
to afford. This tree was found at a lower altitude
than Tekoa, so Amos undoubtedly had to do some traveling (perhaps down to the Dead Sea
region) to tend these trees."
        Other interesting facts are that his name means "burden" or "burden-bearer," and
there is no other Amos listed in the Bible.

 
Throughout our readings thus far, I have come across the names of so many gates. The Sheep Gate, the Fish Gate, the Valley Gate, the Fountain Gate, the Water Gate, and the Horse Gate are just a few that I've encountered while reading; and I can't forget what is perhaps my favorite, and Mrs. Foster's and Brad's favorite, the Dung Gate. While reading through Jeremiah this week, I came upon yet another gate, the Potsherd Gate. I feel like this is the millionth gate I've read about, and I have a feeling it won't be the last one I read about, so I must ask these questions: Why are there so many gates? What purpose do they serve? Why do they have funny names? Also, what gates made it to modern day Jerusalem?