International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
o-presh'-un: Used in the King James Version to translate a variety of Hebrew words, all of which, however, agree in the general sense of wrong done by violence to others. There are a few cases where the reference is to the oppression of Israel by foreigners, as by their Egyptian masters (Exodus 3:9 Deuteronomy 26:7), or by Syria (2 Kings 13:4), or by an unmentioned nation (Isaiah 30:20 King James Version, margin). In all these cases the Hebrew original is lachats. But in the vast number of cases the reference is to social oppression of one kind or another within Israel's own body. It is frequently theme of psalmist and prophet and wise man. The poor and weak must have suffered greatly at the hands of the stronger and more fortunate. The word lachats, various forms of the root `ashaq, and other words are used by the writers as they express their sorrow and indignation over the wrongs of their afflicted brethren. In his own sorrow, Job remembers the suffering of the oppressed (Job 35:9; Job 36:15); it is a frequent subject of song in the Psalms (Psalm 12:5; Psalm 42:9; Psalm 43:2; 44:24:00; 55:03:00; 119:134); the preacher observes and reflects upon its prevalence (Ecclesiastes 4:1; Ecclesiastes 5:8; Ecclesiastes 7:7 the King James Version); the prophets Amos (3:9), Isaiah (5:7; 59:13), Jeremiah (6:6; 22:17) and Ezekiel (22:7, 29) thundered against it. It was exercised toward strangers and also toward the Israelites themselves, and was never wholly overcome. In James 2:6, "oppress" is the rendering of katadunasteuo, "to exercise harsh control over one," "to use one's power against one."