And there was a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brethren the Jews.
a great cry
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.
We, our sons
we take up corn
Some also there were that said, We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards, and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth.
There were also that said, We have borrowed money for the king's tribute, and that upon our lands and vineyards.
the king's tribute
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.
And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words.
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.
I consulted with myself
Heb. my heart consulted in me.
Ye exact usury
I set a great assembly
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.
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?
It is not
I likewise, and my brethren, and my servants, might exact of them money and corn: I pray you, let us leave off this usury.
I pray you
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.
This was probably the rate of interest which they obliged their poor debtors to pay each month, which would amount to about 12 per cent. Another author states that this is the lowest rate of interest in Syria: the usual rate is 20; and it is sometimes as high as 30 per cent.
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.
We will restore
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.
I shook my lap
So "when the Roman ambassadors entered the senate of Carthage, they had their toga gathered up in their bosom, and said, We carry here peace and war; you may have which you will. The senate answered, You may give which you please. They then shook their toga, and said, We bring you war."--Livy.
Heb. empty, or void. Amen.
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.
from the twentieth
I and my
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.
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.
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.
He kept open house, and entertained all comers; besides having 150 Jews, who had their food constantly at his table, and at his expense.
at my table
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.
This was food sufficient for more than two hundred men. Bp. Pococke says that the bey of Tunis had daily twelve sheep, with fish and fowls, soups, oranges, eggs, onions, boiled rice, etc., etc. His nobles dined with him; after they had done, the servants sat down; and when they had finished, the poor took what was left. Here the bey's twelve sheep are equal to Nehemiah's one ox and six choice sheep; and probably the mode of living between the two was nearly alike. It is still the practice in the East to calculate the expenses of the table, not by the money paid, but by the provisions consumed by the guests.
because the bondage
Think upon me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.