The biblical authors explore more of the relational consequences of sin with the Hebrew word pesha, often translated as “transgression.” Pesha refers to ways that people violate the trust of others, like the betrayal of a relationship.
Take for instance a law in the Hebrew Bible about theft (Exodus 22:7-9). If people are away on a trip and somebody sneaks into their house to steal, that’s robbery. But if the thief is your neighbor, that’s pesha. Why? Because a neighbor is someone you should be able to trust.
The same relational betrayal can happen between humans and God. Prophets in the Hebrew Bible accuse the Israelites of pesha, referring to their worship of other gods and violation of their relationship with Yahweh (Hosea 11). They also associate pesha with the choice to mistreat or ignore poor and vulnerable people in their communities (Amos 2:6) because doing so corrupts what should be loving, life-giving relationships. The prophets watched leaders ignore or justify the mistreatment of humans in the name of national security and a strong economy (Amos 1:9, 13), and they called this a betrayal of humanity, a violation of universal trust that should otherwise exist between humans made in God’s loving image.
And that’s the memo.
By The Bible Project