Proverbs 28:8

He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor.
– Proverbs 18:8

Just as the previous saying, this wisdom saying follows the law closely (Exodus 22:24; Leviticus 25:36; Deuteronomy 23:20-21). The law forbade exorbitant interest rates and prices, false scales, and other oppressive or predatory business practices. Israelites were not to profit off the poor and needy, or their family, which they were required to care for. The saying speaks to a redistribution of the gain that is consistent with other wisdom sayings (Proverbs 13:22). This saying fits in the general wisdom theme of injustice being resolved by justice.

Proverbs 28:3

A poor man that oppresseth the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food.
– Proverbs 28:3

The poor are the oppressed and afflicted in Proverbs. This would be the only occurrence, though, of the poor oppressing the poor. It may be difficult to envision, but not impossible. The simile compares that situation to a sweeping, or driving, rain that beats down the field and destroys the crops. Rain is necessary for the food to grow and where a blessing is expected, a curse can be found when the rain destroys. It is a fitting illustration of a poor man oppressing the poor given the opportunity, such as coming to power. Isaiah used the image of a driving rain that destroys to depict the Assyrians coming upon Ephraim (Isaiah 28:2). Whereas the reign of the righteous King bringing justice and judgment to the poor is compared to a gentle, watering rain that causes the fields to flourish (Psalm 72:1-7).

 


 

 

Proverbs 23:11

For their redeemer is mighty; he shall plead their cause with thee.
– Proverbs 23:11

This verse adds the consequential warning for the command, “Remove not the old landmark,” in verse 10. The warning has primarily to do with theft and oppression of the poor. The word for redeemer means next of kin and we sometimes refer to kinsman redeemer. A near kinsman was an advocate and deliverer by the law. Sometimes this might be through relieving the suffering of poor relatives (Leviticus 25:25; Ruth 3:12-13). The redeemer might also be the avenger of blood (Number 35:19). Yahweh is the ultimate redeemer who will defend the weak and exact justice (Proverbs 22:23; Exodus 22:22-24). Wisdom teaches us to be mindful of this, though the poor are easily taken advantage of.

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Proverbs 23:10

Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless:
– Proverbs 23:10

The old landmark refers to the boundary markers that were set to apportion the land inheritance to the tribes and families throughout Israel. The word for old means time out of mind, referring to antiquity. The saying accords with the setting of landmarks by “thy fathers” in Proverbs 22:28. The law forbade moving or removing those landmarks so as to encroach on the inheritance of another (Deuteronomy 19:14; 27:17). The old landmark is here tied to the fields of the fatherless, which is the focus of the saying. Wisdom teaches with the law against the oppressing, defrauding, extorting, or otherwise afflicted the weak, i.e., widows and fatherless (Jeremiah 22:3; Zechariah 7:10; Malachi 3:5; James 1:27).

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Proverbs 22:23

For the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.
– Proverbs 22:23

Verse 23 gives the consequence for verse 22, which forbids unjust treatment of the weak and needy. Wisdom has previously given warning against injustice toward the poor because God is their Creator (Proverbs 14:31; 17:5). Here God is their counsellor and protector. He will plead their cause means he will take their case and contend for them. The word for spoil means to rob. Yahweh will also mete out justice to those who have oppressed the poor. In due time, exploiters will reap what they have sown (Proverbs 1:16-19; 5:22-23; 28:17).

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Proverbs 22:22

Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate:
– Proverbs 22:22

Verse 22 begins “The Words of the Wise” proper and is the largest section. Verses 22 and 23 form a complete saying. The word for rob means take away, or plunder. The word for poor means weak, or needy. The poor are often representative of the weak and vulnerable. Wisdom is very much concerned with righteousness, or justice, and has many sayings concerning just treatment of the poor (Proverbs 10:15; 14:31; 17:5; 19:4, 17; 21:13). The second phrase completes the picture. The word for oppress means to crumble, or crush. The word for afflicted means lowly. The reference to the gate is a reference to the place of judgment. We would say court today. The overall warning is against exploiting, oppressing, or extorting the weak, needy, and otherwise vulnerable, even if it be done legally.

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Proverbs 22:16

He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.
– Proverbs 22:16

The wording of this proverb is difficult and interpretations vary. The word for oppresseth means to press upon, or defraud. The word refers to extortion of the poor, which can indicate needy and/or weak. Giving to the rich refers to giving gifts, or even bribes. Wisdom warns against the folly and evil of both bribery and extortion (Proverbs 17:23; 22:22-23; 28:3). The end of this way is want, or poverty. This proverb ends the large collection of the Proverbs of Solomon, which form the largest section of this book.

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Proverbs 22:9

He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.
– Proverbs 22:9

The word for bountiful means good. A good eye is linked with generosity, or a generous disposition. The figure of the eye is used to emphasize seeing needs. A good eye contrasts with the stingy and covetous, evil eye in the New Testament (Matthew 6:21-24; 20:1-16; Mark 7:22). The evil, or dark, eye is a figure of one who greedily hoards his own treasure and will not share, or shares begrudgingly, with those who have needs (Proverbs 23:6-7; 28:22). Wisdom teaches an open-handed, giving disposition to the poor will be blessed (Proverbs 11:24-26; 19:17).

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Proverbs 21:13

Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.
– Proverbs 21:13

This proverb is the alternative to Proverbs 19:17, which promises recompense to the generous. Wisdom teaches eye-for-eye justice will be given. The warning here is similar to the warning to those who refuse to hear God’s word (Proverbs 1:22-33). The word for poor means weak, or needy. It’s not just a lack of money, but a vulnerable helplessness. It may include lack of money or be a lack of connection due to low social standing, etc. One’s view and treatment of the poor is an important marker of wisdom (Proverbs 14:31; 17:5; 19:17). Oppressing the poor is wicked and shortsighted (Proverbs 22:16; 28:8, 27).

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