Each Usury Is ForsakenThen there was a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish brothers. 2 Now there were those who were saying, “We, with our sons and our daughters, are many; therefore let us get grain that we may eat and live.” 3 There were others who were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards, and our houses, that we might get grain because of the famine.” 4 Also there were those who were saying, “We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our fields and our vineyards. 5 But now our flesh is like the flesh of our brothers, our children like their children. Yet behold, we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters are forced into subjugation, and we have no power in our hands to help, and our fields and vineyards belong to others.” 6 Then I was very angry when I had heard their outcry and these words. 7 I consulted within my own heart and contended with the nobles and the officials and said to them, “You are exacting usury, each from his brother!” Therefore, I held a great assembly against them. 8 I said to them, “We, according to our ability, have bought back our Jewish brothers who were sold to the nations; and now would you also sell your brothers that they may be sold to us?” Then they were silent and could not find a word to say. 9 And I said, “The thing which you are doing is not good; should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies? 10 And likewise I, my brothers, and my young men are lending them money and grain. Please, let us forsake this usury. 11 Please, give back to them this very day their fields, their vineyards, their olive groves and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money and of the grain, the new wine and the oil that you are exacting from them.” 12 Then they said, “We will give it back and will require nothing from them; we will do exactly as you are saying.” So I called the priests and made them swear that they would do according to this word. 13 I also shook out the front of my garment and said, “Thus may God shake out every man from his house and from his possessions who does not establish this word; even thus may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said, “Amen!” And they praised Yahweh. Then the people did according to this word.
Nehemiah as Governor14 Moreover, from the day that I was put in command to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, for twelve years, neither I nor my relatives have eaten the governor’s food allowance. 15 But the former governors who were before me laid heavy burdens on the people and took from them bread and wine besides forty shekels of silver; even their young men exerted their power over the people. But I did not do so because of the fear of God. 16 I also took hold of the work on this wall; we did not buy any land, and all my young men were gathered there for the work. 17 Moreover, there were at my table 150 Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. 18 Now that which was prepared for each day was one ox and six choice sheep, also birds were prepared for me; and once in ten days all sorts of wine were furnished in abundance. Yet for all this I did not require the governor’s food allowance, because the slavery was heavy on this people. 19 Remember me, O my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.