6 Thus said Hashem: For three transgressions of Yisrael, For four, I will not revoke it: Because they have sold for silver Those whose cause was just, And the needy for a pair of sandals.
KOH a-MAR a-do-NAI al sh’-lo-SHAH pish-AY yis-ra-AYL v’-alar-ba-AH LO a-shee-VE-nu al mikh-RAM ba-KE-sef tza-DEEK v’-ev-YON ba-a-VUR na-a-LA-yim
2:6 Because they have sold for silver those whose cause was just
Amos begins his denunciation of Israel’s crimes with the statement that “they have sold for silver those whose cause was just, and the needy for a pair of sandals “. The earliest commentators took this as an allusion to the sale of Yosef by his brothers. Rashi, however, suggests an alternative explanation based on the Hebrew word for ‘shoe’, na’al (נעל), which also means ‘to lock’ or ‘close in’. According to Rashi, the rich would “close in” the property of the poor by purchasing all the land surrounding a poor person’s field, preventing him from accessing his lot. They would then compell the poor man to sell his property at heavily discounted prices, forcing him into poverty. In this way, not only did the rich take advantage of the less fortunate, but they forced them into selling their ancestral property. The crime of appropriating a person’s ancestral property, his connection to the Land of Israel, is denounced in I Kings chapter 21 and Isaiah 5:8.