King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

Nehemiah > Old Testament > Home

Nehemiah 5

The Jews complain of grievances. (1-5) Nehemiah redresses the grievances. (6-13) Nehemiah’s forbearance. (14-19)

Nehemiah 5 Audio:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The Jews complain of grievances

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.

Nehemiah redresses the grievances

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.

Nehemiah’s forbearance

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.

« »

G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Cry. V. Bede (iii. 21.) complains of some pastors who neglect the flock, but exacted revenues. May not the same complaint still be made? W.

Ver. 2. Very. Syr. “and our brethren are too numerous” to find meat. — For, &c. Heb. Sept. &c. “by force.” Abenezra, &c. — Yet most people explain it in the sense of the Vulg. It was permitted to sell children in extreme distress, Ex. xxi. 7. Grot. C.

Ver. 3. Let us. Prot. “We have mortgaged.” — Famine, or “hunger.” H.

Ver. 4. Let us. Sept. Mont. “We have borrowed” on usury, contrary to Ex. xxii. 25. The Jews were still obliged to pay tribute.

Ver. 5. Brethren, who are still in captivity, or we are of the same nature as the rich, (C.) who so cruelly oppress us. M.

Ver. 7. Against them, as a private rebuke would not suffice. T.

Ver. 8. Redeemed, by paying the ransom to the Babylonians, or by using all our endeavours to procure the releasement of our brethren. C. — For us. Prot. “or shall they be sold unto us?” H. — A true pastor practises what he preaches to others. W.

Ver. 11. For them, to the Persian governors, v. 14. H. — Nehemias remits this pension, which was before paid by the people, and exacted by the rich. Wolphius. — Du Moulin asserts that there is no question of usury, which the Jews always abhorred, much less of that which the Romans called the 100th, (C.) consisting in the payment of 12 per cent, (T.) or one every month. M. — Heb. “Give back to them, ” (H.) that they may enjoy those things.

Ver. 12. Oath of them. Priests, in private, (M.) who were not innocent; (T.) or these were witnesses of the oath taken by the rich. Piscator.

Ver. 13. Lap, or skirt of my robes. T. — Such figurative actions were very common. Thus a Roman ambassador at Carthage, folding up his garment, said he brought peace or war. Livy xxi. 18. C. — Said. Behold how easily was that effected at Jerusalem, which the Romans could never perfectly bring about, after the most violent riots! T.

Ver. 14. Not eat, out of pity for the poor. M. — He was supported by the king, (C.) or by his own patrimony. H. v. 11.

Ver. 16. Wall, pleading no exemption, but making my servants work. C. — Though no particular portion was assigned to him, he helped all. T. — No land, as I might have done, on advantageous terms. H. — Rare example of disinterestedness! He praises himself without vanity, only to induce others to follow the same course. So Moses, David, S. Paul, and others acted. Num. xii. 3. &c.

Ver. 17. Men, my brethren, not (C.) Persians. Grot. — Them; ambassadors. M. — If Nehemias behaved with such generosity for twelve years, he must have been very rich; or he received a great pension from the king, or voluntary and abundant contributions from the rich.

Ver. 18. Wines. This was only produced, in abundance, on extraordinary occasions; for the people of the East do not drink wine at every feast. Eccli. xxxi. 17. C. — Yearly. Sept. “Moreover, loaves of extortion I did not seek, because a hard servitude lay upon this people.” H.

Ver. 19. Good. A good conscience confidently hopeth for a reward. W.