The fraudulent traders (Am 8:4-8:6)

“Hear this!

You trample

On the needy!

You bring to ruin

The poor of the land!

Saying!

‘When will the new moon

Be over?

Then we may sell grain.

When will the sabbath

Be over?

Then we may offer wheat

For sale.

We will make the ephah

Small.

We will make the shekel

Great.

We will practice deceit

With false balances.

We will buy

The poor

For silver.

We will buy

The needy

For a pair of sandals.

We will sell

The sweepings

Of the wheat.’”

This was a very strong indictment against the commercial traders in Israel.  These traders trampled on the needy and ruined the poor people.  They complained about the new moon and Sabbath services, since these worship services interfered with their trading activities.  They wanted these services to be over so that they could continue selling their grain and wheat.  They used false balances or deceptive scales, as they made the ephah smaller and the shekel greater.  They would buy poor people with silver to make them slaves.  They would even buy the needy people with a pair of sandals.  They also sold the left-over wheat sweepings to make even more money.

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Against Tyre (Am 1:9-1:10)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘For three transgressions

Of Tyre,

And for four,

I will not revoke

The punishment.

Because they delivered

Entire communities

Over to Edom.

They did not remember

The covenant of brotherhood.

So,

I will send a fire

On the wall of Tyre.

This fire shall devour

Its strongholds.’”

Tyre was the northern port city in the old Israelite territory of Asher. Yahweh, via Amos, invoked the same language as against Damascus and the Philistines. He used the same numeric formula of 3 and 4, that was in Proverbs, chapter 30. He was not going to forgive. The city of Tyre, like the city of Gaza, was involved in the slave trade with Edom. They did not understand the universal covenant or treaty of all people who are really brothers or somehow related. They abused other humans as slaves. Thus, Yahweh was going to send a fire, just like that at Gaza, to devour their strongholds.

The Israelite slave trade (Joel 3:5-3:6)

“You have taken

My silver,

My gold.

You have carried

My rich treasures

Into your temples.

You have sold

The people of Judah,

The people of Jerusalem,

To the Greeks.

You have removed them far

From their own border.”

Next Yahweh, via Joel, accused the Mediterranean coastal cities of stealing the silver and gold from the treasury of the Yahweh Temple in Jerusalem. They had sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem as slaves to the Greeks. Thus, they were removed far from their own border. This also assumes the Babylonian captivity.

The enemies of Jerusalem (Bar 4:30-4:35)

“Take courage!

O Jerusalem!

The one who named you

Will comfort you.

Wretched will be

Those who mistreated you!

They rejoiced at your fall.

Wretched will be

The cities

That your children

Served as slaves!

Wretched will be

The city

That received your offspring!

She rejoiced

At your fall.

She was glad

For your ruin.

Now she will be grieved

At her own desolation.

I will take away her pride

In her great population.

Her insolence

Will be turned to grief.

Fire will come upon her

from the Everlasting One

For many days.

For a long time,

She will be inhabited

By demons.”

Now there is a turn, as this author speaks directly to Jerusalem instead of Jerusalem herself complaining. Jerusalem was encouraged to be courageous. She would be comforted. However, those who mistreated her and rejoiced at her fall will be miserable. The cities where the children of Jerusalem served as slaves would be miserable also. The city of Babylon, that received the children of Jerusalem, rejoiced and was glad at the downfall and ruin of Jerusalem. Now they will be grieved at their own desolation. The pride of those people and their insolence will be turned to grief. The Everlasting One, not Yahweh, will bring fire upon it for many days. For a long time it will be inhabited by demons.

The re-enslavement (Jer 34:11-34:11)

“But afterwards,

They turned around.

They took back

Both the male slaves

With the female slaves

That they had set free.

They brought them again

Into subjection

As slaves.”

However, this proclamation of liberty for the Hebrew slaves did not last long. These Hebrew slave owners took back their Hebrew slaves, both male and female, the very ones that they had set free. They once again brought them back into subjection as slaves. Perhaps they thought that the attack of the Babylonians was not going to be that bad.

Yahweh is against all countries (Jer 25:13-25:14)

“Jeremiah prophesied

Against all the nations.

Many nations

With great kings

Shall make slaves of them also.

I will repay them

According to their deeds

With the work of their hands.”

Yahweh wanted Jeremiah to prophesize against all the countries. Many nations and kings would make the Babylonians slaves. They would be repaid according to their deeds and the works of their hands. In the following chapters there are different numbers in the Greek translation of the Septuagint. This section is equivalent to chapter 32 of the Septuagint.

Israel the slave (Jer 2:14-2:16)

“Is Israel a slave?

Is he a home born servant?

Why then has he become plunder?

The lions have roared against him.

They have roared loudly.

They have made his land a waste.

His cities are in ruins.

They are without inhabitants.

Moreover,

The men of Memphis

Have broken the crown of your head.

The men of Tahpanhes

Have broken the crown of your head.”

Jeremiah points out, via the oracle of Yahweh, that the Israelites have become slaves or house servants to Egypt and Assyria. The lions roar loudly against them. People plunder them as the land has been laid waste. The cities are in ruins without anybody living in them. Moreover the Egyptian cities of Memphis, the capital, and Tahpanhes, the border town, have broken the Israelite crowns.