Amos does not appear to have come from a prominent family nor was his father a prophet. He had no link to the associations that were known as “sons of the prophets.” Amos did not mention his father, but identified himself as one of the shepherds from Tekoa, a town in Judah. (Amos 1:1; 7:14)
Although revealing that YHWH had sent him to prophesy to the people of the kingdom of Israel, Amos also made known what was divinely revealed to him regarding Damascus; the Philistine cities of Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Ekron; the Phoenician city of Tyre; Edom and the principal city Bozrah as well as Teman, likely a major city or district; Ammon and Rabbah, probably the capital of Ammon; Moab and Kerioth, a major city of Moab; and Judah and the capital city Jerusalem. (Amos 1:6-2:8; 7:15) Besides the messages of judgment, he proclaimed that the time would come when YHWH would turn his favorable attention to his repentant people. (Amos 9:8-15)
Amos began his service as a prophet two years before a strong earthquake during the reign of Uzziah. That earthquake caused the affected people to resort to panicky flight. (Amos 1:1; Zechariah 14:5) Even with this reference point, one cannot fix on a specific date for the prophetic activity of Amos. Just when the spoken messages were committed to writing also cannot be established with certainty.
While Jeroboam II, the son of Jehoash (Joash), reigned in Israel and Uzziah (Azariah), the son of Amaziah, ruled in Judah, Amos carried out his commission as a prophet. (Amos 1:1) The specifics about these two monarchs that are found in the Kings and Chronicles accounts require interpretive harmonization, making dating conjectural.
In the fifteenth year of Amaziah, Jeroboam II became king and ruled over Israel for 41 years. (2 Kings 14:23) After Amaziah was assassinated after having reigned for 29 years, the people of Judah made his 16-year-old son Uzziah (Azariah) king. (2 Chronicles 25:1, 27, 28; 26:1) According to 2 Kings 15:1, Azariah (Uzziah) commenced his reign in the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam II, which would have been about 12 years after the death of Amaziah.
One possible way to harmonize the seeming contradiction regarding the start of Uzziah’s reign is to consider that two different phases of his rule are involved. Uzziah’s father Amaziah had deliberately provoked a conflict with Jehoash (Joash), the father of Jeroboam II. Amaziah and his forces experienced a humiliating defeat, suggesting that the kingdom of Judah then became subservient to the kingdom of Israel. (2 Kings 14:8-14; 2 Chronicles 25:17-24) This may have continued even after Uzziah began to rule. Possibly Uzziah then entered a new phase of his rule in the twenty-seventh year Jeroboam II as a king completely independent of the kingdom of Israel.
There is also a problem involving the beginning of the reign of Zechariah, the son of Jeroboam II. The 41-year reign of Jeroboam II ended about 11 years before the time that Zechariah reportedly began to rule in the thirty-eighth year of Uzziah’s (Azariah’s) reign. (2 Kings 15:8) Perhaps, when his father died, Zechariah was too young to administer the affairs of state and so not until the thirty-eighth year of Uzziah did he begin to exercise full royal authority.
Based on the biblical record, all that can be said regarding the prophesying of Amos is that it began while Jeroboam II and Uzziah reigned over their respective kingdoms. The kingdom of Israel then enjoyed a new level of prosperity. In fulfillment of the word of YHWH through the prophet Jonah, Jeroboam II succeeded in regaining territory that had previously been lost. Additionally, Damascus and Hamath appear to have become tributory to him. (2 Kings 14:25-28) Neither Jeroboam II nor his subjects, however, abandoned idolatrous worship, and the poor continued to be subjected to cruel oppression. (Amos 4:1; 5:7. 10-12)