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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Bad behavior (Am 5:10-5:13)

“They hate him

Who reproves

At the gate.

They abhor him

Who speaks the truth.

Therefore,

You trample

On the poor.

You take from them,

Levies of grain.

You have built houses

Of hewn stone.

But you shall not live

In them.

You have planted

Pleasant vineyards.

But you shall not drink

Their wine.

I know how many are

Your transgressions.

I know how great are

Your sins.

You afflict the righteous.

You take a bribe.

You turn aside

The needy

At the gate.

Therefore,

The prudent will keep silent

In such a time.

It is an evil time.”

Next, Amos listed all the bad behavior that the northern Israelites were involved with. They did not like any reprimanding at the city judgment gate. They did not like anyone who told the truth. They trampled the poor people, as they took away their grain. They had built beautiful stone houses, but they were not going to live in them. They had planted wonderful vineyards, but they would not drink the wine from them. Amos and Yahweh knew all about their various transgressions and how great their sins were. They took bribes, mistreated the righteous, and turned away the needy at the gate. The prudent people kept silent during this evil time.