1And there was a great outcry of the people and their wives against their brothers, the Yehuḏim.
2And there were some who were saying, “We, our sons, and our daughters are many. Let us get grain for them, and eat, and live.”
3And there were some who were saying, “We have mortgaged our lands and vineyards and houses. Let us buy grain because of the scarcity of food.”
4And there were those who were saying, “We have borrowed silver for the sovereign’s tax on our lands and vineyards.
5“And now our flesh is like the flesh of our brothers, our children like their children. And see, we are subjecting our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have already been subjected, and there is no power in our hands, for other men have our lands and vineyards.”
6And it was very displeasing to me when I heard their outcry and these words.
7And my heart ruled over me, and I strove with the nobles and with the deputy rulers, and said to them, “You are exacting interest, each one from his brother.” And I called a great assembly against them,
8and said to them, “According to our ability we have redeemed our brothers, the Yehuḏim, who were sold to the nations. And you even sell your brothers! Or should they be sold to us?” And they were silent and found not a word to say.
9I also said, “What you are doing is not good. Should you not walk in the fear of our Elohim because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies?
10“And also, I, my brothers and my servants, am lending them silver and grain. Please, let us leave off this interest!
11“Please, give back to them, even today, their lands, their vineyards, their olive-trees, and their houses, also the hundredth part of the silver and of the grain, and of the new wine, and of the oil, that you have taken from them.”
12And they said, “Let us give it back, and ask no more from them, we do as you say.” Then I called the priests, and made them swear to do according to this word.
13I also shook out the fold of my garment and said, “Let Elohim in this way shake out each man from his house, and from his property, who does not do this word, even to be thus shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said, “Amĕn!” and praised יהוה. And the people did according to this word.
14Also, from the day I was commanded to be their governor in the land of Yehuḏah, from the twentieth year until the thirty-second year of Sovereign Artaḥshashta, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the governor’s food.
15But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people, and took from them bread and wine, besides forty sheqels of silver. Their servants also oppressed the people, but I did not do so, because of the fear of Elohim.
16And I also worked strongly in the work on this wall. We did not buy any land. And all my servants were gathered there for the work.
17And at my table were one hundred and fifty of the Yehuḏim and deputy rulers, besides those who came to us from the nations around us.
18And that which was prepared for me daily was one ox and six choice sheep, and birds were prepared for me, and once every ten days plenty of all kinds of wine. And in spite of this I did not seek the governor’s food, because the bondage was heavy on this people.
19O my Elohim, remember me for the good – all that I have done for this people.