Scholarly interpretation of the encounter between the prophet Amos and Amaziah, the priest of Bethel (Amos 7:10-17), has thus far focused on the issue of prophetic authority and legitimization. This paper seeks to shed light on the issues at the heart of the dispute between Amaziah and Amos—issues of boundaries and identity, insiders and outsiders; belonging to and being banished from Israel, the land and the people. Amaziah insists that Amos is an outsider who may speak freely, but only “there”, not “here”. Amos counters by predicting the priest’s own loss of social framework, in life and in death. The fact that, unlike many other reports of prophetic confrontations, this story does not indicate the consequences of the dispute—whether the expulsion of the prophet from the Northern Kingdom or the fulfillment of the curse of Amaziah—is another indication that the issue of prophetic authority is neither the only, nor the major concern of this showdown.
This article addresses the phenomenon of fortifications in Iron Age Israel and tries to portray the specific historical background behind their construction by integrating the archaeological data, the extra-biblical sources and the analysis of the biblical text. Of the two clear stratigraphical phases of fortifications noticed in several Iron Age cities, the latter is more massive and elaborated compared with its predecessor. We propose that the developed phase of fortifications in Israel was created under the Omrides, in a time of economic and political strength, as a response to the expansion policy of Aram Damascus. This analysis offers an explanation to the intriguing absence of any biblical reference to the Assyrians prior to Tiglath-pileser III, and casts a fresh look upon the current debate on the chronology of the Iron Age II. If the elaborate fortification systems were initiated during the first half of the ninth century, the initial phase of the urbanization process, which preceded this developed stage, must have begun in the days prior to the Omride dynasty, namely in the tenth century.