¶ And there was a great cry of the people and of their wives against
their brethren the Jews.
2 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.
| 3 Some also there were
that said, We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards, and houses, that we
might buy corn, because of the dearth.
4 There were also that said, We have borrowed money for the king's tribute, and that upon our lands and vineyards.
.5 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.
| 3 -
That is, "grain."
3 - Dearth Or "famine" or "time of shortage."
5 - Daughters ... bondage See ex2107. Slavery of the sons was less severe ex2102, le2510.
Slavery of the poor by demanding high interest
| 6 ¶ And I was very angry
when I heard their cry and these words.
.7 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.
.8 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.
9 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?
10 I likewise, and my brethren, and my servants, might exact of them money and corn: I pray you, let us leave off this usury.
| 7 -
with myself Or "after serious thought" (NKJV).
7 - Usury Or "interest." This was forbidden for loans to Hebrews de2319, le2535. We see the same greed today. Politicians accept "bribes" in the form of campaign contributions and push laws that favor the rich, and some in health care professions push fees higher and higher. No one wants to die.
7 - Assembly Not getting results, Nehemiah took it to the people.
10 - Exact of them They were to lend without interest de1507, ex2225.
| 11 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.
12 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.
13 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.
- Restore The right command after clarifying the greed of
those oppressing the poor. These were properties being held by the wealthy
who demanded that the poor pay what they did not have.
11 - Hundredth " Some think that the hundredth part is that which they obliged the poor debtors to pay each month, which would amount to what we would call twelve per cent. interest for the money lent, or the debt contracted." (Clarke)
13 - I shook my lap The picture is of shaking off items accumulated while sitting. The word is translated "arms" in is4922.
13 - And the people did ... promise This story had a good ending.
¶ 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.
15 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.
- I was appointed His term did not begin before 444 BC.
14 - Bread of the governor He had not required the normal financial support from the people.
15 - Former governors Zerubbabel is known to have held this office and Ezra could have been a special commissioner. Nehemiah likely ruled Judah between the 40 or 50 years between Zerubbabel (see below) and Ezra.
|Zerubbabel was Son of Salathiel of the royal race of David, called "Sheshbbazzar the prince of Judah" in Ezr 1:8. Zerubbabel, as his name imports, was born in Babylon, and was the leader of the first colony of Jews which returned from the Babylonish captivity, 536 B. C. Cyrus committed to his care the sacred vessels of the temple, with which he returned to Jerusalem, Ezr 1:11. He is always named first, as being chief of the Jews that returned to their own country, Ezr 2:2; 3:8; 5:2; Hag 1:1; 2:1-9,21-23. He laid the foundations of the temple, Ezr 3:8,9; Zec 4:9, and restored the worship of the Lord, and the usual sacrifices.|
| 16 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.
.17 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.
18 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.
.19 Think upon me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.
- I continued "Not only did Nehemiah refrain from oppressing
the people; he lived at his own expense, and beyond that he and his personal
servants (also supported at his own expense) labored tirelessly on the
wall." (SDABC). For his servants at work, see ne0413.
18 - Bondage Or slavery. See verses 1-5 above.
19 - Think upon me Compare ne0614, ne1322.