Nehemiah 5 – New International Version (NIV)
Nehemiah Helps the Poor
- Now the men and their wives raised a great outcry against their fellow Jews.
- Some were saying, “We and our sons and daughters are numerous; in order for us to eat and stay alive, we must get grain.”
- Others were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine.”
- Still others were saying, “We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards.
- Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our fellow Jews and though our children are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others.”
- When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry.
- I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. I told them, “You are charging your own people interest!” So I called together a large meeting to deal with them
- and said: “As far as possible, we have bought back our fellow Jews who were sold to the Gentiles. Now you are selling your own people, only for them to be sold back to us!” They kept quiet, because they could find nothing to say.
- So I continued, “What you are doing is not right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies?
- I and my brothers and my men are also lending the people money and grain. But let us stop charging interest!
- Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the interest you are charging them—one percent of the money, grain, new wine and olive oil.”
- “We will give it back,” they said. “And we will not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say.” Then I summoned the priests and made the nobles and officials take an oath to do what they had promised.
- I also shook out the folds of my robe and said, “In this way may God shake out of their house and possessions anyone who does not keep this promise. So may such a person be shaken out and emptied!” At this the whole assembly said, “Amen,” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.
- Moreover, from the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, until his thirty-second year—twelve years—neither I nor my brothers ate the food allotted to the governor.
- But the earlier governors—those preceding me—placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels[a] of silver from them in addition to food and wine. Their assistants also lorded it over the people. But out of reverence for God I did not act like that.
- Instead, I devoted myself to the work on this wall. All my men were assembled there for the work; we[b] did not acquire any land.
- Furthermore, a hundred and fifty Jews and officials ate at my table, as well as those who came to us from the surrounding nations.
- Each day one ox, six choice sheep and some poultry were prepared for me, and every ten days an abundant supply of wine of all kinds. In spite of all this, I never demanded the food allotted to the governor, because the demands were heavy on these people.
- Remember me with favor, my God, for all I have done for these people.
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Nehemiah 5 – King James Version (KJV)
A Cry of the People
- And there was a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brethren the Jews.
- For there were that said, We, our sons, and our daughters, are many: therefore we take up corn for them, that we may eat, and live.
- Some also there were that said, We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards, and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth.
- There were also that said, We have borrowed money for the king’s tribute, and that upon our lands and vineyards.
- Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children: and, lo, we bring into bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants, and some of our daughters are brought unto bondage already: neither is it in our power to redeem them; for other men have our lands and vineyards.
- And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words.
- Then I consulted with myself, and I rebuked the nobles, and the rulers, and said unto them, Ye exact usury, every one of his brother. And I set a great assembly against them.
- And I said unto them, We after our ability have redeemed our brethren the Jews, which were sold unto the heathen; and will ye even sell your brethren? or shall they be sold unto us? Then held they their peace, and found nothing to answer.
- Also I said, It is not good that ye do: ought ye not to walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the heathen our enemies?
- I likewise, and my brethren, and my servants, might exact of them money and corn: I pray you, let us leave off this usury.
- Restore, I pray you, to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their oliveyards, and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money, and of the corn, the wine, and the oil, that ye exact of them.
- Then said they, We will restore them, and will require nothing of them; so will we do as thou sayest. Then I called the priests, and took an oath of them, that they should do according to this promise.
- Also I shook my lap, and said, So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labour, that performeth not this promise, even thus be he shaken out, and emptied. And all the congregation said, Amen, and praised the LORD. And the people did according to this promise.
- Moreover from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year even unto the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that is, twelve years, I and my brethren have not eaten the bread of the governor.
- But the former governors that had been before me were chargeable unto the people, and had taken of them bread and wine, beside forty shekels of silver; yea, even their servants bare rule over the people: but so did not I, because of the fear of God.
- Yea, also I continued in the work of this wall, neither bought we any land: and all my servants were gathered thither unto the work.
- Moreover there were at my table an hundred and fifty of the Jews and rulers, beside those that came unto us from among the heathen that are about us.
- Now that which was prepared for me daily was one ox and six choice sheep; also fowls were prepared for me, and once in ten days store of all sorts of wine: yet for all this required not I the bread of the governor, because the bondage was heavy upon this people.
- Think upon me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.