Bible Review 1:4, Winter 1985

Who Asks (or Tells) God to Repent?

Other than Moses…

By David Noel Freedman

For several years now, I have been working jointly with Frank Andersen of the University of Queensland in Australia on a translation and commentary of Amos, the great eighth-century B.C. prophet. In the course of our detailed work, we have come to know the prophet quite well and indeed have become very attached to him.

You will appreciate how pleased I was, then, to discover that our prophet shared a distinctive characteristic with only one other biblical personage—with the great Moses himself. God repents (hinnaµh\eµm in Hebrew) as a result of Amos’s intercession.

I first noticed this when I was studying the so-called Book of Visions: chapters 7 through 9 of the Book of Amos. Although the Book of Visions starts with chapter 7, chronologically it is bound to the beginning of Amos’s prophetic career. Like all the other prophets from Moses to Zechariah, Amos began his prophetic mission because he had a vision.

The visions in Amos’s Book of Visions are revelations of an impending judgment.

“Then the Lord said ‘… the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword’ ” (7:9).

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