Amos 8:6
That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat?
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(6) On this perverse straining of the Law, comp. Amos 2:6. Their money-making propensity was carried to such unscrupulous lengths, that they even sold the refuse of corn, little better than mere chaff.

8:4-10 The rich and powerful of the land were the most guilty of oppression, as well as the foremost in idolatry. They were weary of the restraints of the sabbaths and the new moons, and wished them over, because no common work might be done therein. This is the character of many who are called Christians. The sabbath day and sabbath work are a burden to carnal hearts. It will either be profaned or be accounted a dull day. But can we spend our time better than in communion with God? When employed in religious services, they were thinking of marketings. They were weary of holy duties, because their worldly business stood still the while. Those are strangers to God, and enemies to themselves, who love market days better than sabbath days, who would rather be selling corn than worshipping God. They have no regard to man: those who have lost the savour of piety, will not long keep the sense of common honesty. They cheat those they deal with. They take advantage of their neighbour's ignorance or necessity, in a traffic which nearly concerns the labouring poor. Could we witness the fraud and covetousness, which, in such numerous forms, render trading an abomination to the Lord, we should not wonder to see many dealers backward in the service of God. But he who thus despises the poor, reproaches his Maker; as it regards Him, rich and poor meet together. Riches that are got by the ruin of the poor, will bring ruin on those that get them. God will remember their sin against them. This speaks the case of such unjust, unmerciful men, to be miserable indeed, miserable for ever. There shall be terror and desolation every where. It shall come upon them when they little think of it. Thus uncertain are all our creature-comforts and enjoyments, even life itself; in the midst of life we are in death. What will be the wailing in the bitter day which follows sinful and sensual pleasures!That we may buy - Or, indignantly, "To buy the poor!" literally, "the afflicted," those in "low" estate. First, by dishonesty and oppression they gained their lands and goods. Then the poor were obliged to sell themselves. The slight price, for which a man was sold, showed the more contempt for "the image of God." Before, he said, "the needy" were "sold for a pair of sandals" Amos 2:6; here, that they were bought for them. It seems then the more likely that such was a real price for man.

And sell the refuse - Literally, the "falling of wheat," that is, what fell through the sieve, either the bran, or the thin, unfilled, grains which had no meal in them. This they mixed up largely with the meal, making a gain of that which they had once sifted out as worthless; or else, in a time of dearth, they sold to people what was the food of animals, and made a profit on it. Infancy and inexperience of cupidity, which adulterated its bread only with bran, or sold to the poor only what, although unnourishing, was wholesome! But then, with the multiplied hard-dealing, what manifoldness of the woe!

6. buy … poor for silver … pair of shoes—that is, that we may compel the needy for money, or any other thing of however little worth, to sell themselves to us as bondmen, in defiance of Le 25:39; the very thing which brings down God's judgment (Am 2:6).

sell the refuse of … wheat—which contains no nutriment, but which the poor eat at a low price, being unable to pay for flour.

That we may-buy the poor: either it speaks the aim of these men in oppressing the poor thus, that they might at last buy their persons for servants and drudges, or else it speaks the reason why they would have new moons and sabbaths over, that they might to market to buy the poor.

For silver, i.e. a little silver, at under value, as Amos 2:6.

The needy for a pair of shoes: this explains the former, and shows us that these cruel oppressors lay in wait for the needy to buy them for a very trifle; when these poor owed but for a very little and cheap commodity, as suppose a pair of shoes, these merciless men would take the advantage against them. and make them sell themselves to pay the debt. All which practices are most directly against the law of God.

Sell the refuse; that which is fitter for hogs to month, or for horses to eat, the poor must either buy at dear rate or starve; and this another kind of oppression, corrupted wares at excessive rates, sold to those that were necessitous.

That we may buy the poor for silver,.... Thus making them pay dear for their provisions, and using them in this fraudulent manner, by which they would not be able to support themselves and their families; they might purchase them and theirs for slaves, at so small a price as a piece of silver, or a single shekel, worth about half a crown; and this was their end and design in using them after this manner; see Leviticus 25:39;

and the needy for a pair of shoes; See Gill on Amos 2:6;

yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat; not only did they sell the poor grain and wheat at a dear rate, and in scanty measure, but the worst of it, and such as was not fit to make bread of, only to be given to the cattle; and, by reducing the poor to extreme poverty, they obliged them to take that of them at their own price. It may be rendered, "the fall of wheat" (c); that which fell under the sieve, when the wheat was sifted, as Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, observe.

(c) "labile frumenti", Montanus; "decidum frumenti", Cocceius; "deciduum triciti", Drusius, Mercerus, Stockius, p. 690.

That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat?
6. The final issue of the rapacious conduct described in Amos 8:5 is that the poor are more and more impoverished, and, falling into debt, have in the end to sell themselves—or their children—as slaves (Leviticus 25:39) to their rich oppressors, who were only too ready to buy the poor for the silver which they owed them, and the needy for the sake of a pair of sandals, i.e. for a trifle (cf. Amos 2:6), the price of which they were unable to pay.

and sell the refuse of wheat] The final proof of their avarice: they sold what would ordinarily be thrown away, viz. the refuse—lit. the fallings—of the wheat, i.e. “what fell through the sieve, either the bran or the thin, unfilled, grains, which had no meal in them. This they mixed up largely with the meal, making a gain of that which they had once sifted out as worthless; or else, in a time of dearth, they sold to men what was the food of animals, and made a profit on it” (Pusey).

Verse 6. - Buy the poor for silver (comp. Amos 2:6). The probable meaning is that they so reduced the poor marl by their exactions and injustice, that he was compelled to pay his debt by selling himself into slavery (Leviticus 25:39; Deuteronomy 15:12). For a pair of shoes. For the smallest debt they would deal in this harsh manner. The refuse; literally, that which fell through the sieve; Septuagint, Ἀπὸ παντὸς γεννήματος ἐμπορευσόμεθα, "We will trade in every kind of produce;" Vulgate, Quisquilias frumenti vendamus, "Let us sell the refuse of corn." Amos 8:6To this vision the prophet attaches the last admonition to the rich and powerful men of the nation, to observe the threatening of the Lord before it is too late, impressing upon them the terrible severity of the judgment. Amos 8:4. "Hear this, ye that gape for the poor, and to destroy the meek of the earth, Amos 8:5. Saying, When is the new moon over, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may open wheat, to make the ephah small, and the shekel great, and to falsify the scale of deceit? Amos 8:6. To buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes, and the refuse of the corn will we sell." The persons addressed are the השּׁאפים אביון, i.e., not those who snort at the poor man, to frighten him away from any further pursuit of his rights (Baur), but, according to Amos 2:6-7, those who greedily pant for the poor man, who try to swallow him (Hitzig). This is affirmed in the second clause of the verse, in which שׁאפים is to be repeated in thought before להשׁבּית: they gape to destroy the quiet in the land (ענוי־ארץ equals ענוים, in Amos 2:7), "namely by grasping all property for themselves, Job 22:8; Isaiah 5:8" (Hitzig). Amos 8:5 and Amos 8:6 show how they expect to accomplish their purpose. Like covetous usurers, they cannot even wait for the end of the feast-days to pursue their trade still further. Chōdēsh, the new moon, was a holiday on which all trade was suspended, just as it was on the Sabbath (see at Numbers 28:11 and 2 Kings 4:23). השׁבּיר שׁבר, to sell corn, as in Genesis 41:57. פּתח בּר, to open up corn, i.e., to open the granaries (cf. Genesis 41:56). In doing so, they wanted to cheat the poor by small measure (ephah), and by making the shekel great, i.e., by increasing the price, which was to be weighed out to them; also by false scales (‛ivvēth, to pervert, or falsify the scale of deceit, i.e., the scale used for cheating), and by bad corn (mappal, waste or refuse); that in this way they might make the poor man so poor, that he would either be obliged to sell himself to them from want and distress (Leviticus 25:39), or be handed over to the creditor by the court of justice, because he was no longer able to pay for a pair of shoes, i.e., the very smallest debt (cf. Amos 2:6).
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