Nehemiah Deals with Oppression
1And there was a great #Lev. 25:35–37; Neh. 5:7, 8outcry of the people and their wives against their #Deut. 15:7Jewish brethren. 2For there were those who said, “We, our sons, and our daughters are many; therefore let us get grain, that we may eat and live.”
3There were also some who said, “We have mortgaged our lands and vineyards and houses, that we might buy grain because of the famine.”
4There were also those who said, “We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our lands and vineyards. 5Yet now #Is. 58:7our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children; and indeed we #Ex. 21:7; (Lev. 25:39)are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have been brought into slavery. It is not in our power to redeem them, for other men have our lands and vineyards.”
6And I became very angry when I heard their outcry and these words. 7After serious thought, I rebuked the nobles and rulers, and said to them, #(Ex. 22:25; Lev. 25:36; Deut. 23:19, 20); Ezek. 22:12“Each of you is exacting usury from his brother.” So I called a great assembly against them. 8And I said to them, “According to our ability we have #Lev. 25:48redeemed our Jewish brethren who were sold to the nations. Now indeed, will you even sell your brethren? Or should they be sold to us?”
Then they were silenced and found nothing to say. 9Then I said, “What you are doing is not good. Should you not walk #Lev. 25:36in the fear of our God #2 Sam. 12:14; Rom. 2:24; (1 Pet. 2:12)because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies? 10I also, with my brethren and my servants, am lending them money and grain. Please, let us stop this usury! 11Restore now to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses, also a hundredth of the money and the grain, the new wine and the oil, that you have charged them.”
12So they said, “We will restore it, and will require nothing from them; we will do as you say.”
Then I called the priests, #Ezra 10:5; Jer. 34:8, 9and required an oath from them that they would do according to this promise. 13Then #Matt. 10:14; Acts 13:51; 18:6I shook out the fold of my garment and said, “So may God shake out each man from his house, and from his property, who does not perform this promise. Even thus may he be shaken out and emptied.”
And all the assembly said, “Amen!” and praised the Lord. #2 Kin. 23:3Then the people did according to this promise.
The Generosity of Nehemiah
14Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year #Neh. 2:1; 13:6until the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers #(1 Cor. 9:4–15)ate the governor’s provisions. 15But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people, and took from them bread and wine, besides forty shekels of silver. Yes, even their servants bore rule over the people, but #2 Cor. 11:9; 12:13I did not do so, because of the #Neh. 5:9fear of God. 16Indeed, I also continued the #Neh. 4:1; 6:1work on this wall, and we did not buy any land. All my servants were gathered there for the work.
17And #2 Sam. 9:7; 1 Kin. 18:19at my table were one hundred and fifty Jews and rulers, besides those who came to us from the nations around us. 18Now that #1 Kin. 4:22which was prepared daily was one ox and six choice sheep. Also fowl were prepared for me, and once every ten days an abundance of all kinds of wine. Yet in spite of this I #Neh. 5:14, 15did not demand the governor’s provisions, because the bondage was heavy on this people.
19#2 Kin. 20:3; Neh. 13:14, 22, 31Remember me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.