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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The days of King Josiah (Jer 3:6-3:6)

“Yahweh said to me

In the days of King Josiah.

‘Have you seen what she did?

That faithless one!

Israel!

She went up on every high hill.

She was under every green tree.

She played the whore there.”

During the days of King Josiah, 640-609 BCE, Yahweh spoke to Jeremiah. He asked Jeremiah if he had seen what Israel, the northern tribes, had done. They were the faithless ones who had been brought into captivity nearly a hundred years earlier. They went to every high hill and under every green oak tree, where they played the whore with these false idol worship services.