There are no less than nine main words for “oppression” weaved throughout the Old Testament. Because of the slavery of the Hebrews, and God’s concern for them, these words need deep reflection if we are to understand poverty:
* anah – … (See … Ex. 1.11; 2 Sam. 13.12; Ps. 119.75; Isa. 53.4). This word … has to do with the tyranny of the powerful, the degradation of people, and even the violent sexual exploitation of women.
* ashaq … (See … Lev. 19.13; Hos. 12.7). Because the people have no authority, their fields, savings, capital, and even homes are taken in violent and unjust ways without recourse.
* lachats … (See … 1 Kings 22.27; Jer. 30.19-21; Isa. 19.20; Amos 6.14). … This is about a lack of freedom from grinding injustice.
* nagas … (See … Ex. 5.6-14; 2 Kings 23.35; Job 39.7). This word is about forced labor, oppression, and exploitation.
* yanah … (See … Lev. 25.14; Ezk. 46.18; Zeph. 3.1). … this word is about oppression and violence against those who are not in a position to defend themselves.
* ratsats … (See … Isa. 58.6; Jer. 22.17). This is crushing, isolating, and despoiling the poor, including stripping them bare and taking their homes.
* dakka – Ps. 94.5-7 … killing the most vulnerable and falsely believing that God does not see. …
* dak … (See … Ps. 10.10). This word is about treading upon the heads of the poor and oppressing and putting down the needy.
* tok … (See … Ps. 55.11; 72.14). This word … is about the powerful causing painful injury to those who are helpless.
… a Hebrew understanding of poverty is much broader than simply destitution. It is about oppression and the life God intends for those being crushed, who are made in God’s image. … It is by nature a lack of ability to live as God intends. … Poverty … is about a lack of freedom to choose God’s shalom, to live a meaningful life.
Make Poverty Personal: Taking the Poor as Seriously as the Bible Does by Ash Barker (Baker Books, 2009); pp. 33-35