T v 1. Complaint. w 2-4. Cause. Debt (Particular). v 5-. Complaint. w -5. Cause. Alienation (General).
1 And there was a great cry (so there were troubles within as well as without. Cp. 2 Cor. 7:5) of the common people (in contrast with the nobles and rulers [v.7], who had returned with Nehemiah) 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 are mortgaging our lands, vineyards, and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth." (1 of 13 famines recorded in Scripture. See Gen. 12:10)
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 sons as their sons: 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."
T x1 6-8-. Nehemiah. Anger and remonstrance. y1 -8. People. Silence. x2 9-11. Nehemiah. Expostulation. y2 12-. People. Promise. x3 -12,13-. Nehemiah. Adjuration. y3 -13. People. Performance. x4 14-19. Nehemiah. Example.
6 And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words.
7 And I consulted with myself, and I rebuked the nobles, and the rulers (see 2:16), and said to them, "You exact usury (it was 12%, see v.11), every man of his brother." And I set a great body [of witnesses] (see Deut. 33:4) over them.
8 And I said to them, "We after our ability have repurchased (see Ex. 6:6; 13:13) our brethren the Jews, which were sold to the nations; and will you even sell your brethren? or shall they be sold to us?"
Then held they their peace, and found nothing to answer.
9 Also I said, "It is not good that you are doing: ought you 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 young men, might exact of them money and corn: I pray you, let us leave off this usury.
11 Restore, I pray you, to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their olive-yards, and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money (Paid a 1% per month, as was the custom; it was 12% per year), and of the corn, the wine, and the oil, that you exact of them."
12 Then said they, "We will restore them, and will require nothing of them; so will we do according as you say."
Then I called the priests (i.e. as witnesses), 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 labor, that performs not this promise, even thus be he shaken out, and emptied."
And all the assembly said, "Amen," and praised the LORD. And the people did according to this promise.
(14 Moreover (see notes at the end of this book) from the day that I was appointed to be their Pasha in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year even to the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes the great king (Astyages), that is, twelve years, I and my brethren have not eaten the bread of the governor. (The supplies due to him from the people)
15 But the former governors that had been before me were chargeable to the people, and had taken of them bread and wine, after (the rate of, as in Jer. 3:17; 18:12) forty shekels (1 shekel = .4 ounces U.S. ) of silver; yea, even their servants bare rule over the people: but so did not I, because of the fear of God.
16 Yes, also I continued in the work of this wall, neither bought we any land: and all my servants were gathered there to the work.
17 Moreover there were at my table an hundred and fifty men of the Jews and rulers, beside those that came to us from among the nations that are about us.
18 Now that which was prepared (at Nehemiah's own cost) 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.)