1 And there was a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brethren the Jews.
2 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.
3 Some also there were that said, We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards, and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth.
4 There were also that said, We have borrowed money for the king's tribute, and that upon our lands and vineyards.
5 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.
6 And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words.
7 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.
8 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.
9 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?
10 I likewise, and my brethren, and my servants, might exact of them money and corn: I pray you, let us leave off this usury.
11 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.
12 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.
13 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.
14 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.
15 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.
16 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.
17 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.
18 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.
19 Think upon me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.
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The book of Nehemiah is the 16th book of the Old Testament in the KJV Holy Bible. It is named after the main character and author of the book, Nehemiah, who was a Jewish leader and cupbearer to the Persian king Artaxerxes. The book of Nehemiah is a historical account of the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and the restoration of the city after the Babylonian exile. It is a story of faith, determination, and obedience to God.
Chapter 5 of the book of Nehemiah continues the story of the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. However, this chapter focuses on a different issue that Nehemiah had to address – the economic exploitation of the poor by the wealthy Jews. The main themes of this chapter include social justice, leadership, and faith in God’s provision. In this essay, we will explore the events of chapter 5 and the lessons we can learn from it.
In the early days of the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, the people were united and worked together to accomplish their goal. However, as the work progressed, Nehemiah became aware of a problem within the community – the exploitation of the poor by their fellow Jews. The poor were being forced to pay high interest rates on loans and mortgages, and some were even forced to sell their children into slavery to pay their debts. This was a violation of the law of God, which forbade the charging of interest to fellow Jews (Deuteronomy 23:19-20).
Nehemiah was deeply troubled by this injustice and the suffering of his people. He had come to Jerusalem with the purpose of rebuilding the city, but he could not ignore the cries of the poor. He called a meeting of the nobles and officials of the city and confronted them about their exploitation of the poor (Nehemiah 5:7). He reminded them that they were brothers and sisters, and they should not take advantage of one another.
Nehemiah’s response to the cry of the poor teaches us an important lesson about leadership. As a leader, Nehemiah could have focused solely on the task of rebuilding the walls and ignored the cries of the poor. However, he chose to address the issue and use his influence to bring about change. This shows us that true leadership is not just about accomplishing goals, but also about caring for the well-being of those under our charge.
When the nobles and officials heard Nehemiah’s rebuke, they were convicted of their wrongdoing and agreed to make things right. Nehemiah also set an example by forgiving the debts of the poor and returning their lands and crops that had been taken from them (Nehemiah 5:10-11). The people were moved by Nehemiah’s actions, and they praised God for giving their leader such wisdom and compassion (Nehemiah 5:12).
This response of the people teaches us the importance of unity and forgiveness in the community of believers. The people could have reacted with anger and resentment towards the nobles and officials, but Nehemiah’s leadership and forgiveness brought about reconciliation and unity. As Christians, we are called to forgive one another and work together in unity, even when we face challenges and disagreements.
After addressing the issue of economic exploitation, Nehemiah’s attention turned back to the rebuilding of the walls. However, the work was not without challenges. The enemies of Judah, Sanballat, Tobiah, and others, tried to discourage and intimidate the people (Nehemiah 4:7-8). They even spread rumors that Nehemiah was planning to rebel against the king (Nehemiah 6:6-7). In the face of these challenges, Nehemiah’s faith in God remained strong.
When the enemies tried to distract Nehemiah from his work by inviting him to meet with them, Nehemiah replied, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3). Nehemiah was confident that God was with him and would protect him from his enemies. He also trusted that God would provide for all their needs as they continued to work on the walls.
Nehemiah’s faith in God’s provision teaches us that as Christians, we should not be discouraged by challenges and opposition. We should trust in God and continue to do the work He has called us to do. God is faithful, and He will provide for all our needs as we obey and trust in Him.
Chapter 5 of Nehemiah teaches us several important lessons that are still relevant today. It reminds us of the importance of social justice and caring for the well-being of our brothers and sisters in Christ. As Christians, we are called to be compassionate and to use our influence to bring about positive change in our communities.
This chapter also shows us the importance of unity and forgiveness in the community of believers. We are called to forgive one another and work together in unity, even when we face challenges and disagreements. This is a powerful testimony to the world and reflects the love of Christ.
Finally, chapter 5 of Nehemiah reminds us to have faith in God’s provision and protection. As we face challenges and opposition in our lives, we should trust in God and continue to do the work He has called us to do. He is faithful, and He will provide for all our needs as we obey and trust in Him.
In conclusion, chapter 5 of Nehemiah is a powerful reminder of the importance of social justice, leadership, unity, forgiveness, and faith in God. It is a testament to the character of Nehemiah as a leader and his unwavering faith in God. As we apply the lessons from this chapter in our own lives, we can become better leaders, build stronger communities, and grow in our faith in God. Let us strive to follow the example of Nehemiah and be agents of positive change in our world today.