“Off with you, visionary…never again prophecy in Bethel.” (Am 7:12–13) Amaziah, Beth el, Amos, Israel, Judah…. Isn’t it often the case that the first reading from the Old Testament is this jumble of odd names and places – and not enough of the story to really know what is going on? Let me fill you in.
This whole scene takes place well after the time of King David when the 10 northern tribes have broken away from David’s and his successors, forming the nation called Israel – leaving 2 tribes in the south to form the nation of Judah. The folks up north in Israel have built a rival capital to Jerusalem and even a rival temple – Beth El – literally, the “House of God” – and it has been that way for more than a hundred years. Continue reading