Two Reasons for Family Poverty

B The fallow ground of the poor would yield much food, but it is swept away through injustice (v. 23).

B1 The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, but the belly of the wicked suffers want [poverty] (v. 25).

B talks about food for the poor. B1 talks about food for the righteous. B tells of food for the poor through his “fallow ground.” The word, “fallow” (Heb. nir), means, “tillable, untilled.” (BDB) The picture here is agricultural. The ground is still untilled and tillable. It can still bring food on the table of the poor.

But the poor man’s fallow ground can be taken away by injustice. The words, “swept away” (Heb. sapa), is one word in Hebrew. It means, “heaping things together and of sweeping them away (cf. Arabic safa, ‘to raise and carry away dust’). It pictures the heaping of dust and sweeping it away.

B1 gives a parallel thought. It also talks about the food of the righteous that can be taken away by personal sin or sin in the family.

Thus, the writer gives two reasons about family poverty. In v. 23, the first reason is injustice. In v. 25, the second reason is individual or corporate sin.

Laziness then is not the only cause of poverty. Injustice in the system can cause poverty. In those days, a king can take away the land of the poor. Rich landlords can take away the produce of the poor.

What forms of injustice can take food from the poor today? One form of injustice is to pay low salaries to employees. It robs them of the chance to meet their basic needs. Another is exploiting the ignorance of the poor by buying their land at very low prices.

Are you rich and powerful? Take care to give justice to the poor. Do not take food away from the table of the poor.


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