1 Then there was a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brethren, the Jews. 2 For there were some that said, We, our sons, and our daughters, are many; therefore we have bought grain that we may eat and live. 3 There were also some that said, We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards, and houses, that we might buy grain because of the famine. 4 And there were some that said, We have borrowed money for the king's tribute, and that upon our lands and vineyards. 5 Yet now, given that the flesh of our brethren is as our flesh and their sons as our sons, behold, we subject our sons and our daughters to slavery, and there are some of our daughters in 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 meditated unto myself, and I rebuked the principals and the rulers and said unto them, Does each one of you exact usury 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 who had been sold unto the Gentiles; and will ye even sell your brethren? And shall they be sold unto us? Then they remained silent, for they had nothing to answer. 9 Also I said, What you do is not good, do you not walk in the fear of our God, that ye not be the reproach of our enemies the Gentiles? 10 I, likewise, and my brethren and my servants, have lent them money and grain; let us now release them from this burden. 11 Restore, I pray you, to them, today, their lands, their vineyards, their oliveyards, and their houses, and even the hundredth part of the money, and of the grain, the wine, and the oil, that ye exact of them.
12 Then they said, We will return it and will require nothing of them; so we will do as thou sayest. Then I called the priests and caused them to sware that they should do according to this promise. 13 Also I shook my lap and said, Thus will God shake out each man from his house and from his labour, that does not perform this promise, even thus shall he be 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 day that I was appointed by the king to be their captain in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year even unto the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes, the king, that is, twelve years, I and my brethren have not eaten the bread of the captain. 15 But the former captains that had been before me had charged the people and had taken of them for bread and wine, upon forty shekels of silver; and in addition to this their servants bore rule over the people; but I did not do so because of the fear of God. 16 In addition to this, I restored my part in the work of this wall, neither did we buy any inheritance; and all my servants were gathered together unto the work.
17 I also had at my table one hundred and fifty of the Jews and rulers, besides those that came unto us from among the Gentiles that are around us. 18 Now that which was prepared for each day was one ox and six choice sheep; also fowls were prepared for me, and every ten days wine in all abundance; yet with all this I did not require the bread of the captain because the bondage was heavy upon this people.