Now there was a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish brothers. For there were those who said, “We, our sons and our daughters are many; therefore let us get grain that we may eat and live.” There were others who said, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our houses that we might get grain because of the famine.” Also there were those who said, “We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our fields and our vineyards. 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 bondage already, and [a]we are helpless because our fields and vineyards belong to others.”
Then I was very angry when I had heard their outcry and these words. I consulted with myself and contended with the nobles and the rulers and said to them, “You are exacting usury, each from his brother!” Therefore, I held a great assembly against them. I said to them, “We according to our ability have [b]redeemed our Jewish brothers who were sold to the nations; now would you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us?” Then they were silent and could not find a word to say. Again 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? And likewise I, my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Please, let us leave off this usury. 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.” Then they said, “We will give it back and will require nothing from them; we will do exactly as you say.” So I called the priests and took an oath from them that they would do according to this [c]promise. I also shook out the [d]front of my garment and said, “Thus may God shake out every man from his house and from his possessions who does not fulfill this [e]promise; even thus may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said, “Amen!” And they praised the Lord. Then the people did according to this [f]promise.
Moreover, from the day that I was appointed 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 [g]kinsmen have eaten the governor’s food allowance. But the former governors who were before me [h]laid burdens on the people and took from them bread and wine besides forty shekels of silver; even their servants domineered the people. But I did not do so because of the fear of God. I also [i]applied myself to the work on this wall; we did not buy any land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work. Moreover, there were at my table one hundred and fifty Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. 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 demand the governor’s food allowance, because the servitude was heavy on this people. Remember me, O my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.
- Nehemiah 5:5 Lit there is not the power in our hands
- Nehemiah 5:8 Lit bought
- Nehemiah 5:12 Lit word
- Nehemiah 5:13 Lit bosom
- Nehemiah 5:13 Lit word
- Nehemiah 5:13 Lit word
- Nehemiah 5:14 Lit brothers
- Nehemiah 5:15 Lit made heavy
- Nehemiah 5:16 Or held fast
The Enemy’s Plot
Now when it was reported to Sanballat, Tobiah, to Geshem the Arab and to the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall, and that no breach remained in it, although at that time I had not set up the doors in the gates, then Sanballat and Geshem sent a message to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together at [a]Chephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they were planning to [b]harm me. So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” They sent messages to me four times in this manner, and I answered them in the same way. Then Sanballat sent his servant to me in the same manner a fifth time with an open letter in his hand. In it was written, “It is reported among the nations, and [c]Gashmu says, that you and the Jews are planning to rebel; therefore you are rebuilding the wall. And you are to be their king, according to these reports. You have also appointed prophets to proclaim in Jerusalem concerning [d]you, ‘A king is in Judah!’ And now it will be reported to the king according to these reports. So come now, let us take counsel together.” Then I sent a message to him saying, “Such things as you are saying have not been done, but you are inventing them [e]in your own mind.” For all of them were trying to frighten us, [f]thinking, “[g]They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.
When I entered the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was [h]confined at home, he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you, and they are coming to kill you at night.” But I said, “Should a man like me flee? And could one such as I go into the temple [i]to save his life? I will not go in.” Then I perceived [j]that surely God had not sent him, but he uttered his prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. He was hired for this reason, that I might become frightened and act accordingly and sin, so that they might have an evil report in order that they could reproach me. Remember, O my God, Tobiah and Sanballat according to these works of theirs, and also Noadiah the prophetess and the rest of the prophets who were trying to frighten me.
The Wall Is Finished
So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations surrounding us saw it, they [k]lost their confidence; for they recognized that this work had been accomplished [l]with the help of our God. Also in those days many letters went from the nobles of Judah to Tobiah, and Tobiah’s letters came to them. For many in Judah were bound by oath to him because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah the son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah. Moreover, they were speaking about his good deeds in my presence and reported my words to him. Then Tobiah sent letters to frighten me.
- Nehemiah 6:2 Another reading is, one of the villages
- Nehemiah 6:2 Lit do evil to me
- Nehemiah 6:6 In v 1 and elsewhere, Geshem
- Nehemiah 6:7 Lit you, saying
- Nehemiah 6:8 Lit from your heart
- Nehemiah 6:9 Lit saying,
- Nehemiah 6:9 Lit Their hands will drop from
- Nehemiah 6:10 Lit shut up
- Nehemiah 6:11 Lit and live
- Nehemiah 6:12 Lit and behold God
- Nehemiah 6:16 Lit fell exceedingly in their own eyes
- Nehemiah 6:16 Lit from our God
Census of First Returned Exiles
Now when the wall was rebuilt and I had set up the doors, and the gatekeepers and the singers and the Levites were appointed, then I put Hanani my brother, and Hananiah the commander of the fortress, in charge of Jerusalem, for he was a faithful man and feared God more than many. Then I said to them, “Do not let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot, and while they are standing guard, let them shut and bolt the doors. Also appoint guards from the inhabitants of Jerusalem, each at his post, and each in front of his own house.”