Charging Interest Abolished
5 Now there was a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish brothers. 2 For there were those who said, “We, our sons, and our daughters are many; therefore let’s get grain so that we may eat and live.” 3 And there were others who said, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards, and our houses so that we might get grain because of the famine.” 4 There also were those who said, “We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our fields and our vineyards. 5 And now our flesh is like the flesh of our brothers, our children like their children. Yet behold, we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters are forced into bondage already, and [a]we are helpless because our fields and vineyards belong to others.”
6 Then I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these words. 7 So I thought it over and contended with the nobles and the leading people, and said to them, “You are lending at interest, each to his brother!” Therefore, I held a great assembly against them. 8 And I said to them, “We, according to our ability, have [b]redeemed our Jewish brothers who were sold to the nations; now would you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us?” Then they were silent and could not find a word to say. 9 So I said, “The thing which you are doing is not good; should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the taunting of the nations, our enemies? 10 And likewise I, my brothers, and my servants are lending them money and grain. Please, let’s [c]do without this interest. 11 Please, give back to them this very day their fields, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses, as well as the hundredth part of the money and of the grain, the new wine, and the oil that you are charging as interest from them.” 12 Then they said, “We will give it back and will require nothing from them; we will do exactly as you say.” So I called the priests and made them take an oath to act in accordance with this [d]promise. 13 I also shook out the [e]front of my garment and said, “So may God shake out every person from his house and from his possessions who does not keep this [f]promise; just so may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said, “Amen!” And they praised the Lord. Then the people acted in accordance with this [g]promise.
14 Furthermore, since the day that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, for twelve years, neither I nor my kinsmen have eaten the governor’s food allowance. 15 But the previous governors who were before me [h]laid burdens on the people and took from them bread and wine besides forty shekels of silver; even their servants domineered the people. But I did not do so because of my fear of God. 16 I also [i]applied myself to the work on this wall; we did not buy any land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work. 17 Moreover, there were at my table 150 Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. 18 Now that which was prepared for each day was one ox and six choice sheep; also birds were prepared for me, and every ten days all sorts of wine were provided in abundance. Yet for all this I did not request the governor’s food allowance, because the forced labor was heavy on this people. 19 Remember me, my God, for good, in return for all that I have done for this people.