notes on 2:6

"selling the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals" cf.  8:6. The situation being described here is understood in two main ways:

  1. As a result of poverty the "righteous" borrows. First the family land provides security for the loan, but if the difficulties (for example drought causing poor harvests) become too great, and the land is forfeit, the person stands security (see "slavery, debt and society").
  2. The "righteous" = "innocent" is found guilty as the members of the court have been bribed (see Justice)

In both cases the rich and powerful take advantage of the innocent poor, though these were protected by Adonai's command (e.g. Lev 25:39ff. & Dt 15:1ff.).

The reference to "a pair of sandals" is problematic. It may simply suggest the laughably small "price" of the oppression mentioned or the sandals may have had symbolic function (possibly present in: Dt 25:7ff. note v.9; Ruth 4:7-8; Ps 60:8). Paul supports the interesting suggestion that the Masoretes misunderstood the word here and that we should read נעלם (n`lm) in place of נעלים (n`lym). If this is correct the lines read:
  "because they sell the righteous for silver,
   and the needy for the sake of a bribe"

In any case oppression of the righteous poor by the rich is evidently in view - whatever the precise nature of the oppression described in these words.

This page is part of the Hypertext Bible Commentary - Amos , if you have reached it as a standalone page, to view it in context, go to © Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2005, Tim Bulkeley. All rights reserved.