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Nehemiah 5-6 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

Social Injustice

There was a widespread outcry from the people and their wives against their Jewish countrymen. Some were saying, “We, our sons, and our daughters are numerous. Let us get grain so that we can eat and live.” Others were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, vineyards, and homes to get grain during the famine.” Still others were saying, “We have borrowed money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. We and our children are just like our countrymen and their children, yet we are subjecting our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters are already enslaved, but we are powerless[a] because our fields and vineyards belong to others.”

I became extremely angry when I heard their outcry and these complaints. After seriously considering the matter, I accused the nobles and officials, saying to them, “Each of you is charging his countrymen interest.” So I called a large assembly against them and said, “We have done our best to buy back our Jewish countrymen who were sold to foreigners, but now you sell your own countrymen, and we have to buy them back.” They remained silent and could not say a word. Then I said, “What you are doing isn’t right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God and not invite the reproach of our foreign enemies? 10 Even I, as well as my brothers and my servants, have been lending them money and grain. Please, let us stop charging this interest.[b] 11 Return their fields, vineyards, olive groves, and houses to them immediately, along with the percentage[c] of the money, grain, new wine, and fresh oil that you have been assessing them.”

12 They responded: “We will return these things and require nothing more from them. We will do as you say.”

So I summoned the priests and made everyone take an oath to do this. 13 I also shook the folds of my robe and said, “May God likewise shake from his house and property everyone who doesn’t keep this promise. May he be shaken out and have nothing!”

The whole assembly said, “Amen,” and they praised the Lord. Then the people did as they had promised.

Good and Bad Governors

14 Furthermore, from the day King Artaxerxes appointed me to be their governor in the land of Judah—from the twentieth year until his thirty-second year, twelve years—I and my associates never ate from the food allotted to the governor. 15 The governors who preceded me had heavily burdened the people, taking from them food and wine as well as a pound[d] of silver. Their subordinates also oppressed the people, but because of the fear of God, I didn’t do this. 16 Instead, I devoted myself to the construction of this wall, and all my subordinates were gathered there for the work. We didn’t buy any land.

17 There were 150 Jews and officials, as well as guests from the surrounding nations at my table. 18 Each[e] day, one ox, six choice sheep, and some fowl were prepared for me. An abundance of all kinds of wine was provided every ten days. But I didn’t demand the food allotted to the governor, because the burden on the people was so heavy.

19 Remember me favorably, my God, for all that I have done for this people.

Attempts to Discourage the Builders

When Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall and that no gap was left in it—though at that time I had not installed the doors in the city gates Sanballat and Geshem sent me a message: “Come, let’s meet together in the villages of[f] the Ono Valley.” They were planning to harm me.

So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing important work and cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” Four times they sent me the same proposal, and I gave them the same reply.

Sanballat sent me this same message a fifth time by his aide, who had an open letter in his hand. In it was written:

It is reported among the nations—and Geshem[g] agrees—that you and the Jews plan to rebel. This is the reason you are building the wall. According to these reports, you are to become their king and have even set up the prophets in Jerusalem to proclaim on your behalf: “There is a king in Judah.” These rumors will be heard by the king. So come, let’s confer together.

Then I replied to him, “There is nothing to these rumors you are spreading; you are inventing them in your own mind.” For they were all trying to intimidate us, saying, “They will drop their hands from[h] the work, and it will never be finished.”

But now, my God, strengthen my hands.

Attempts to Intimidate Nehemiah

10 I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was restricted to his house. He said:

Let’s meet at the house of God,
inside the temple.
Let’s shut the temple doors
because they’re coming to kill you.
They’re coming to kill you tonight![i]

11 But I said, “Should a man like me run away? How can someone like me enter the temple and live? I will not go.” 12 I realized that God had not sent him, because of the prophecy he spoke against me. Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 He was hired, so that I would be intimidated, do as he suggested, sin, and get a bad reputation, in order that they could discredit me.

14 My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat for what they have done, and also the prophetess Noadiah and the other prophets who wanted to intimidate me.

The Wall Completed

15 The wall was completed in fifty-two days, on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul. 16 When all our enemies heard this, all the surrounding nations were intimidated and lost their confidence,[j] for they realized that this task had been accomplished by our God.

17 During those days, the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and Tobiah’s letters came to them. 18 For many in Judah were bound by oath to him, since he was a son-in-law of Shecaniah son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berechiah. 19 These nobles kept mentioning Tobiah’s good deeds to me, and they reported my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to intimidate me.

Footnotes:

  1. 5:5 Lit but there is not the power in our hand
  2. 5:10 Or us forgive these debts
  3. 5:11 Lit hundred
  4. 5:15 Lit 40 shekels
  5. 5:18 Lit And that which was prepared each
  6. 6:2 Or together at Kephirim in
  7. 6:6 Lit Gashmu
  8. 6:9 Or will give up on
  9. 6:10 Or by night
  10. 6:16 Lit and fell greatly in their eyes
Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.

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