Nehemiah Chapter 5 |
1There was a great outcry by the common folk and their wives against their brother Jews. 2Some said, “Our sons and daughters are numerous; we must get grain to eat in order that we may live!” 3Others said, “We must pawn our fields, our vineyards, and our homes to get grain to stave off hunger.” 4Yet others said, “We have borrowed money against our fields and vineyards to pay the king’s tax. 5Now we are as good as our brothers, and our children as good as theirs; yet here we are subjecting our sons and daughters to slavery—some of our daughters are already subjected—and we are powerless, while our fields and vineyards belong to others.”
6It angered me very much to hear their outcry and these complaints.
7After pondering the matter carefully, I censured the nobles and the prefects, saying, “Are you pressing claims on loans made to your brothers?” Then I raised a large crowd against them
8and said to them, “We have done our best to buy back our Jewish brothers who were sold to the nations; will you now sell your brothers so that they must be sold [back] to us?” They kept silent, for they found nothing to answer.
9So I continued, “What you are doing is not right. You ought to act in a God-fearing way so as not to give our enemies, the nations, room to reproach us.
10I, my brothers, and my servants also have claims of money and grain against them; let us now abandon those claims!
11Give back at once their fields, their vineyards, their olive trees, and their homes, and [abandon] the claims for the hundred pieces of silver, the grain, the wine, and the oil that you have been pressing against them!”
12They replied, “We shall give them back, and not demand anything of them; we shall do just as you say.” Summoning the priests, I put them under oath to keep this promise.
13I also shook out the bosom of my garment and said, “So may God shake free of his household and property any man who fails to keep this promise; may he be thus shaken out and stripped.” All the assembled answered, “Amen,” and praised the Lord.
The people kept this promise.
14Furthermore, from the day I was commissioned to be governor in the land of Judah—from the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes until his thirty-second year, twelve years in all—neither I nor my brothers ever ate of the governor’s food allowance. 15The former governors who preceded me laid heavy burdens on the people, and took from them for bread and wine more than forty shekels of silver. Their servants also tyrannized over the people. But I, out of the fear of God, did not do so. 16I also supported the work on this wall; we did not buy any land, and all my servants were gathered there at the work. 17Although there were at my table, between Jews and prefects, one hundred and fifty men in all, beside those who came to us from surrounding nations; 18and although what was prepared for each day came to one ox, six select sheep, and fowl, all prepared for me, and at ten-day intervals all sorts of wine in abundance—yet I did not resort to the governor’s food allowance, for the [king’s] service lay heavily on the people.
19O my God, remember to my credit all that I have done for this people!