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Full Access ‘For a Pair of Shoes’: A New Light on an Obscure Verse in Amos’ Prophecy*

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‘For a Pair of Shoes’: A New Light on an Obscure Verse in Amos’ Prophecy*

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AbstractThis paper suggests a new interpretation of Amos’ accusation against Israel, “Because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes” (Amos 2:6). Based on the Hittite law 22a, which states that the captor of a runaway slave shall be rewarded with a pair of shoes, we suggest that Amos condemns the extradition of runaway slaves to their masters. In light of this, we conclude that Amos objected to the principle of debt-slavery, and that he, like some other biblical authors, regarded the enslavement of free persons as legitimate only as punishment for criminal offences. In general, this interpretation should also be applied to the similar phrase in Amos 8:6. However, whilst in chapter eight Amos condemns the rich slave-owners, in chapter two his admonition is targeted at the entire people, who allow the existence of such unjust norms.

Affiliations: 1: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Email:


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