If oppression of (the) poor.
15 OT uses. In Leviticus 5:23 (Heb. English, 6:4) it is paired with “robbery” (as it is here):
if he has sinned and has realized his guilt and will restore what he took by robbery or what he got by oppression or the deposit that was committed to him or the lost thing that he found
In Isaiah 30:12, it is something held to in opposition to trust in the Lord’s word. In 54:14, it is a promise of restoration and blessing that one will be far from oppression:
11 “O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and lay your foundations with sapphires. 12 I will make your pinnacles of agate, your gates of carbuncles, and all your wall of precious stones. 13 All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children. 14 In righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you. Isaiah 54:11–14 (ESV)
This verse matches nicely with the theme of Ecclesiastes at this point: we should not be surprised at oppression – for safety from oppression requires blessing of God. Oppression is the default setting of the world.
In Jeremiah 6:6 and 22:17, oppression is a cause for God’s judgment. In 22:17 it is tied to violence.
Ezekiel ties “extortion” and robbery together (18:18 & 22:29) and condemns those who extort the sojourner.
It is also tied to robbery in Psalm 62:17. Psalm 73:8 ties oppression to those who speak “loftily” (it is a different word for high than is used in this passage of Ecclesiastes, see below).
In Ecclesiastes 7:7, oppression drives one to madness.
Interestingly, the 119th Psalm posits oppression as something from which one must be redeemed:
Redeem me from man’s oppression, that I may keep your precepts. Psalm 119:134 (ESV)
to be poor, the most neutral designation of the poor (man) in his social and economic situation,
Ludwig Koehler, Walter Baumgartner, M. E. J. Richardson and Johann Jakob Stamm, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, electronic ed. (Leiden; New York: E.J. Brill, 1999), 1209.
And robbery of justice
The idea here seems to be the violent, wrongful removal of justice. The noun “robbery” relates to the verb gzl:
: MHb., Ph. nif.; Arm. Arm. Ass. 16 גז[ל] (?); JArm. Mnd. (MdD 86b), > Syr. gelaz (VG 1:277) to rob; Arb. jazala to cut in two, to halve.
qal: pf. גָּזַל/זָֽל, גָּזַלְתִּי, גָּֽזְלוּ/זָֽלוּ; impf. יִגְזֹל, תִּגְזָל־, יִגְזְלוּ; inf. לִגְזֹל; pt. גּוֹזֵל, גֹּזְלוֹ, גֹּזְלֵי, גָּזוּל: —1. to tear off: the skin Mi 32 (metaphor. || הִפְשִׁיט v.3); —2. to tear away, to seize Lv 523 Dt 2831 Ju 2123 Jr 2112 223 Ezk 184.108.40.206 2229 (גָּ׳ גָּזֵל), wells Gn 2125, women מֵעִם 3131, fields Mi 22, houses Jb 2019; גָּ׳ מִשְׁפַּט פְּלֹנִי to rob a person of his right Is 102, גָּ׳ מִן to snatch from Jb 249, to snatch away the snow waters Jb 2419; —3. to rob Lv 1913 Ju 925 Ps 3510 695 Pr 2222 2824; robbed, exploited Dt 2829; to steal a flock Jb 242; with מִיַּד 2S 2321 1C 1123; —Mal 113 גָּזוּל to loot cj. אֶת־הָעִוֵּר or *אֶת־הַפָּסוּל (MHb.) unsuitable. †
nif: pf. נִגְזְלָה: —1. (skin) to be sucked out prp. Mi 32 → qal 1 (v. 2b trsp. after v.3); —2. to be taken away (sleep) Pr 416 (Ph. נגזלת I was carried off, → גזר nif. 1). †
Der. גֵּגֶל, גָּזֵל, גְּזֵלָה.
Ludwig Koehler, Walter Baumgartner, M. E. J. Richardson and Johann Jakob Stamm, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, electronic ed. (Leiden; New York: E.J. Brill, 1999), 186.
I. גָּזַל fut. יִגְזֹל (kindred to גָּזַר).—(1) prop. TO STRIP OFF, as skin from flesh, TO FLAY, Mic. 3:2. (Arab. جَزِلَ to be galled and wounded, used of a beast of burden, gefchunden fehn.) Hence—
(2) to pluck off, or away, like Syr. transp. ܓܠܰܙ—(a) by open force, 2 Sa. 23:21, וַיִּגְזֹל אֶת־הַחֲנִית מִיַּד הַמִּצְרִי “he plucked the spear from the hand of the Egyptian;” 1 Ch. 11:23; Job 24:9, “they pluck the orphan from the mother’s breast;” Gen. 31:31. “I feared lest thou wouldst take thy daughters away from me,” Deu. 28:31. Used of the carrying off of women, Jud. 21:23. In an applied sense, Job 24:19, צִיָּה גַם־חֹם יִגְזְלוּ מֵימֵי־שֶׁלֶג “drought and heat take away the snow water,” i.e. they absorb, drink up. It is more often used—(b) of one who takes to himself, claims for himself (an fich reiben) the goods of another by injustice of any kind, Job 20:19; 24:2; Mic. 2:2; especially used of the more powerful who takes for himself the goods of the weaker, whether by violence or by fraud, Levit. 5:23; Jer. 21:12; 22:3.
(3) with acc. of person, to despoil any one—(a) properly, Jud. 9:25; Ps. 35:10.—(b) by fraud and injustice, i.q. עָשַׁק. Lev. 19:13; Pro. 22:22; 28:24. Part. pass. גָּזוּל Deu. 28:29.
NIPHAL pass. to be taken away, used of sleep, Pro. 4:16.
[The derivatives follow presently.]
Wilhelm Gesenius and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2003), 165-66.
You see in the province
Medina means a provience:
a province, allotted to the jurisdiction of a prefect or viceroy, as was the case with the provinces and satrapies of Persia
Wilhelm Gesenius and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2003), 451. Seow writes, “[I]t seems likely that there is also a wordplay here in the word medina “province,” there being an allusion to its etymological meaning, ‘a place of jurisdiction’” (Seow, 202).
Do not be astonished
תמהּ: MHeb. תָּמַהּ to be amazed, astounded, hi. to arouse astonishment (in Palestinian JArm. and Samaritan af., it also means to ask, LOT 3/2, p. 218); as also in JArm. תְּמַהּ; → BArm. sbst. תְּמַהּ, also for the associated vb. in the Arm. dialects.
qal: pf. תָּמָֽהוּ; impf. תִּתְמַהּ, יִתְמָֽהוּ, (וַ)יִּתְמְהוּ; impv. תְּמָֽהוּ.
—1. a) to be astonished, be amazed, with עַל about Qoh 57 Sir 1113; b) to look astounded: אִישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵהוּ Gn 4333.
—2. a) to freeze with fear, be horrified; or alternatively with Gesenius-Buhl Handw. to become speechless in the face of terror; on this see also C.A. Keller CAT 11b 148 with note 3 (on Hab 15); the vb. used absolutely Is 299 Jr 49 Hab 15 Ps 486 Jb 2611 (sbj. עַמּוּדֵי שָׁמַיִם); b) to stare at Is 138 אִישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵהוּ יתְמָֽהוּ the one stares at the other; the vb. is perhaps to be read as hitp. (יִתַּמָּֽהוּ), so Wildberger BK 10: 502. †
hitp: impv. הִתַּמְּהוּ Hab 15, so also Is 299 for הִתְמַהְמְהוּ, so e.g. Wildberger BK 10: 1112 and especially Hans W. Hoffmann Die Intention der Verkündigung Jesajas (BZAW 136 (1974) 51f; also BHK and BHS: to be horrified Is 299 Hab 15; so with Gesenius-Buhl Handw. and Wildberger loc. cit. 1114 :: KBL: to look in astonishment at each other, so also Hoffmann loc. cit. 51. †
Ludwig Koehler, Walter Baumgartner, M. E. J. Richardson and Johann Jakob Stamm, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, electronic ed. (Leiden; New York: E.J. Brill, 1999), 1744-45.
At the matter.
For the translation of hephest as “matter” see https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/translation-of-ecclesiastes-31/