1Then there arose a great cry out of the people and out of their wives against their brothers the Jews.
2For there were that said, “We, our sons and our daughters, are many. Let us get grain, 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 grain because of the famine.”
4There were also some who said, “We have borrowed money for the king’s tribute using our fields and our vineyards as collateral.
5Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brothers, our children as their children. Behold, we bring into slavery our sons and our daughters to be servants, and some of our daughters have been brought into slavery. Nor is it in our power to help it, for other men have our fields and our vineyards.”
6I 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 to them, “You exact usury, every one of his brother.” I held a great assembly against them.
8I said to them, “We, after our ability, have redeemed our brothers the Jews that were sold to the nations; and would you even sell your brothers, and should they be sold to us?” Then they held their peace and found never a word.
9Also I said, “The thing that you do is not good. Ought you not to walk in the fear of our God, because of the reproach of the nations our enemies?
10I likewise, my brothers and my servants, lend them money and grain. Please let us stop this usury.
11Please restore to them, even this 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 charging them.”
12Then they said, “We will restore them, and will require nothing of them; so will we do, even as you say.” Then I called the priests and took an oath of them, that they would do according to this promise.
13Also I shook out my lap, and said, “So may God shake out every man from his house and from his labor that doesn’t perform this promise; even thus be he shaken out, and emptied.” All the assembly said, “Amen,” and praised Yahweh. 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 to the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes the king, that is, 12 years, I and my brothers have not eaten the bread of the governor.
15But the former governors who were before me were supported by the people and took bread and wine from them, besides forty shekels of silver; yes, even their servants ruled over the people, but I didn’t do so, because of the fear of God.
16Yes, also I continued in the work of this wall, neither bought we any land, and all my servants were gathered there to the work.
17Moreover there were at my table, of the Jews and the rulers, 150 men besides those who came to us from among the nations that were around 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 did not demand the bread of the governor, because the burden on the people was so heavy.