1And there arose a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their brethren the Jews.
2And there were some that said, Our sons, and our daughters, and ourselves are many; and we must buy corn, that we may eat, and live.
3And others there were that said, We must pledge our fields, our vineyards, and our houses, that we may buy corn, in the famine.
4And others there were that said, We have borrowed money for the king's tax on our fields and vineyards.
5Yet now our flesh is like the flesh of our brethren, our children are like their children: and, lo, we must force our sons and our daughters to become servants, and some of our daughters are forced to become so, and our hand is powerless; and our fields and our vineyards belong to others.
6And it displeased me greatly when I heard their complaint and these words.
7Then did I consult with my heart, and I upbraided the nobles, and the rulers, and said unto them, “Ye exact usury, every one of his brother!” And I brought together a great assembly against them.
8And I said unto them, We have indeed ransomed our brethren the Jews, who had been sold unto the various nations, as far as our means went: and will ye yourselves even sell your brethren, so that they will be sold again unto us? And they remained silent, and found no answer.
9Then said I, The thing is not good which ye are doing: ought ye not to walk in the fear of our God, because of the taunting of the nations, our enemies?
10And also I, my brothers, and my young men, have lent them money and corn: I pray you, let us relinquish this loan.
11Give back to them, I pray you, even this day, their fields, 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 have lent them.
12Then said they, We will give all back, and of them will we require nothing: so will we do as thou sayest. Then I called the priests, and made them swear, that they would do in accordance with this promise.
13Also my lap did I shake out, and said, So may God shake out every man that performeth not this promise, from his house and of his toil-gotten wealth, and so let him remain shaken out, and empty. And all the assembly said, Amen, and they praised the Lord. And the people did according to this promise.
14Moreover from the day that the king had enjoined on me to be governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year up to the two and thirtieth year of king Artaxerxes, full twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the food of the governor.
15But the former governors that had been before me had made it heavy for the people, and had taken of them bread and wine, beside forty shekels of silver: yea, even their young men ruled over the people; but I myself did not act so, because of the fear of God.
16And in the work of this wall also did I labor actively; and we bought not any fields; and all my young men were assembled there by the work.
17Moreover of the Jews and rulers, one hundred and fifty men, besides those that came unto us from the nations that are about us, ate at my table.
18And that which was prepared for one day was one ox and six choice sheep; also birds were prepared for me, and once in ten days all sorts of wine in abundance: yet with all this I required not the food of the governor; because the service lay heavily upon this people.
19Remember for me, my God, for good, all that I have done for this people.