5 Now the people along with their spouses complained loudly against their fellow[a] Jews, 2 because certain of them kept claiming, “Since we have so many sons and daughters, we must get some grain so we can eat and survive.”
3 Others were saying, “We’re having to mortgage our fields, our vineyards, and our homes so we can buy grain during this famine.”
4 Still others were saying “We’ve borrowed money against our fields and vineyards to pay the king’s taxes. 5 Now our bodies are no different than the bodies of our relatives, and our children are like their children. Nevertheless, we’re about to force our sons and daughters into slavery, and some of our daughters are already in bondage. It’s beyond our power to do anything about it, because our fields and vineyards belong to others.”
6 I became very livid when I heard their complaining and these charges. 7 So after thinking it over carefully, I accused the officials and nobles openly, “Every one of you is charging your fellow countrymen interest!” So I opened a public investigation against them.
8 I accused them, “To the best of our ability, we’ve been buying back our fellow Jews who had been sold to foreigners. Even now you’re selling your fellow countrymen, only for them to be sold back to us!” They kept quiet and never spoke a word.
9 So I said, “What you’re doing isn’t right! Shouldn’t you live in the fear of our God to avoid shame from our foreign enemies? 10 I’m also lending money and grain, as are my fellow-Jews and my servants, but let’s not charge interest. 11 So today please restore to them their fields, vineyards, olive orchards, and homes, along with the one percent interest charge[b] that you’ve assessed them on the grain, wine, and oil.”
12 They responded, “We will restore these things,[c] and will assess no interest charges[d] against them. We will do what you are requesting!”
So I called the priests and made them take an oath to fulfill this promise. 13 I also shook my robes,[e] and said, “May God shake out every man from his house and his possessions who does not keep this promise. May he be emptied out and shaken just like this.”
All the assembly said, “Amen!” and praised the Lord. And the people kept their promise.
Nehemiah Refuses the Governor’s Allotment
14 In addition, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah (that is, during the twelve years from the twentieth to the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes), neither I nor my relatives relied on the provisions[f] allotted to the governor. 15 Nevertheless, the former governors before me placed a heavy burden on the people. They received food and wine, plus a tax of[g] 40 shekels[h] of silver. Even their young men took advantage of the people, but I never did so because I feared God.
16 Also, as I continued to work on the wall, we purchased no land, and all of my young men were employed in the work. 17 I fed 150 Jews and officials every day, not counting those who came from the nations around us. 18 Our daily requirements were one ox and six choice sheep, along with various kinds of poultry prepared for me. Every ten days there was a delivery of an abundant supply of wine. Despite all this, I refused the governor’s allotment,[i] because demands on the people were heavy.
19 “Remember me with favor, my God, for everything I’ve done for this people.”
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