1. And there was a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brethren the Jews,
2. For certain ones said, “We, our sons and our daughters, are many. Let us get grain for them, so that we may eat and live.”
3. There were also some who said, “We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards, and houses. Let us buy grain because of the famine.”
4. There were also some who said, “We have borrowed money on our lands and vineyards for the king’s tax.
5. Yet now our flesh is like the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children. And, lo, we bring our sons and our daughters into bondage, to be servants, and some of our daughters are brought into bondage already. And there is no power for our hand to redeem them, for other men have our lands and vineyards.”
6. And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words.
7. And I considered this within my heart, and I rebuked the nobles and the rulers, and said to them, “You exact interest, each one from his brother!” And I held a great assembly against them.
8. And I said to them, “According to our ability we have redeemed our brethren, the Jews who were sold to the nations. And will you even sell your brethren? Or shall they be sold to us?” And they were silent because they had nothing to say.
9. And I said, “What you do is not good. Should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the heathen our enemies?
10. And also I, my brethren and my servants are lending them money and grain. Please let us stop this lending with usury.
11. Please, even today, give back to them their fields, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses—also the percent charged on the money and on the grain, the wine, and the oil that you have taken from them.”
12. And they said, “We will restore and will require nothing from them. So we will do as you say.” Then I called the priests and took an oath from them that they should do according to this promise.
13. Also I shook out the fold in my robe, and said, “So let God shake out every man from his house, and from his labor, who does not keep this promise, even may he be shaken out this way and emptied.” And all the congregation said, “Amen,” and praised the LORD. And the people did according to this promise.
14. Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year even to the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes the king, twelve years, I and my brethren have not eaten the bread of the governor.
15. But the former governors that had been before me laid burdens upon the people, and had taken bread and wine from them, besides forty shekels of silver. Yea, even their servants bore rule over the people. But I did not do this because of the fear of God.
16. And I also continued in the work of this wall. Nor did we buy any land. And all my servants were gathered there to the work.
17. Moreover, at my table were a hundred and fifty of the Jews and rulers, besides those who came to us from among the nations that are around us.
18. And that which was prepared daily was one ox and six choice sheep; and birds were prepared; and once in ten days an abundance of all sorts of wine. Yet for all this I did not demand the bread of the governor because the bondage was heavy upon this people.
19. Remember me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.
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