English Revised Version
Nehemiah Defends the Oppressed
1Then there arose a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brethren the Jews. 2For there were that said, We, our sons and our daughters, are many: let us get corn, that we may eat and live. 3Some also there were that said, We are mortgaging our fields, and our vineyards, and our houses: let us get corn, because of the dearth. 4There were also that said, We have borrowed money for the king's tribute upon our fields and our vineyards. 5Yet 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 into bondage already: neither is it in our power to help it; for other men have our fields and our vineyards.
6And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words. 7Then I consulted with myself, and contended with the nobles and the rulers, and said unto them, Ye exact usury, every one of his brother. And I held a great assembly against them. 8And I said unto them, We after our ability have redeemed our brethren the Jews, which were sold unto the heathen; and would ye even sell your brethren, and should they be sold unto us? Then held they their peace, and found never a word. 9Also I said, The thing that ye do is not good: ought ye not to walk in the fear of our God, because of the reproach of the heathen our enemies? 10And I likewise, my brethren and my servants, do lend them money and corn on usury. I pray you, let us leave off this usury. 11Restore, I pray you, to them, even this day, their fields, 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. 12Then said they, We will restore them, and will require nothing of them; so will we do, even as thou sayest. Then I called the priests, and took an oath of them, that they should do according to this promise. 13Also I shook out 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.
14Moreover 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. 15But the former governors that were before me were chargeable unto the people, and took 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. 16Yea, also I continued in the work of this wall, neither bought we any land: and all my servants were gathered thither unto the work. 17Moreover there were at my table of the Jews and the rulers an hundred and fifty men, beside those that came unto us from among the heathen that were round about us. 18Now that which was prepared for one day 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 I demanded not the bread of the governor, because the bondage was heavy upon this people. 19Remember unto me, O my God, for good, all that I have done for this people.