Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, July 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Nehemiah 5

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verse 2

Are many - A slight emendation brings this verse into exact parallelism with the next, and gives the sense - “We have pledged our sons and our daughters, that we might get corn, and eat and live.” Compare Nehemiah 5:5.

Verse 4

The king’s tribute - The tax payable to the Persian monarch (compare Ezra 4:13; Esther 10:1). In ancient times, heavy taxation was often productive of debt and distress.

Verse 5

The power of a father to sell his daughter into slavery is expressly mentioned in the Law Exodus 21:7. The power to sell a son appears from this passage. In either case, the sale held good for only six years, or until the next year of jubilee (see the marginal references).

Verse 7

Ye exact usury - The phrase is unique to Nehemiah, and is best explained by the context, which shows the practice of the rich Jews at the time to have been not so much to lend on usury as to lend on mortgage and pledge.

Verse 8

Nehemiah contrasts his own example with that of the rich Jews. He had spent money in redeeming some countrymen in servitude among the pagan; they were causing others to be sold into slavery among the Jews.

Verse 10

I ... might exact - Nehemiah had lent, but not upon pledge.

Verse 11

The hundredth part of the money ... - i. e. the interest. It is conjectured that the 100th part was payable monthly, or, in other words, that interest was taken at the rate of twelve per cent. The Law altogether disallowed the taking of interest from Israelites (see Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:36, etc.).

Verse 13

I shook my lap - Compare the marginal references. By “lap” is meant a fold in the bosom of the dress, capable of serving as a pocket. Compare Isaiah 49:22 margin.

Verse 14

Have not eaten the bread of the governor - i. e. “have not, like other Persian governors, lived at the expense of the people under my government.” See Ezra 4:14 note.

Verse 15

Forty shekels of silver - A daily sum from the entire province. For such a table as that kept by Nehemiah Nehemiah 5:18, this would be a very moderate payment.

Verse 16

I continued ... land - i. e. - “I took my share in the work of the wall, as general superintendent. I did not take advantage of the general poverty to buy poor men’s plots of ground.”

Verse 18

Compare the far grander provision for Solomon’s table (see the marginal reference).

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Nehemiah 5". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/nehemiah-5.html. 1870.
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