Bible Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Nehemiah 5

Introduction

1The Jews complain of their debt, mortgage, and bondage.
6Nehemiah rebukes the usurers, and causes them to make a covenant of restitution.
14He forbears his own allowance, and keeps hospitality.

Verse 1

And there was a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brethren the Jews.
a great cry
Exodus 3:7; 22:25-27; Job 31:38,39; 34:28; Isaiah 5:7; Luke 18:7; James 5:4
their brethren
Leviticus 25:35-37; Deuteronomy 15:7-11; Acts 7:26; 1 Corinthians 6:6-8
Reciprocal: Exodus 21:2 - an Hebrew;  Deuteronomy 23:19 - GeneralNehemiah 10:31 - the exaction;  Job 35:9 - they make;  Psalm 37:21 - borroweth;  Psalm 82:4 - rid;  Proverbs 21:13 - at;  Ecclesiastes 4:1 - and considered;  Jeremiah 15:10 - I have;  Jeremiah 34:8 - to proclaim;  Lamentations 5:13 - fell;  Ezekiel 18:8 - hath not;  Ezekiel 22:12 - thou hast;  Ezekiel 45:9 - take away;  Amos 8:6 - GeneralMicah 2:2 - so;  Luke 6:30 - and;  1 Corinthians 7:33 - careth

Verse 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.
We, our sons
Psalms 127:3-5; 128:2-4; Malachi 2:2
we take up corn
Genesis 41:57; 42:2; 43:8
Reciprocal: Genesis 47:19 - buy us;  Exodus 22:25 - GeneralDeuteronomy 28:32 - sons;  2 Kings 4:1 - the creditor;  Job 29:12 - I delivered;  Psalm 15:5 - putteth

Verse 3

Some also there were that said, We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards, and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth.
mortgaged
Genesis 47:15-25; Leviticus 25:35-39; Deuteronomy 15:7
because
Malachi 3:8-11
Reciprocal: Genesis 47:19 - buy us;  Nehemiah 5:11 - their lands

Verse 4

There were also that said, We have borrowed money for the king's tribute, and that upon our lands and vineyards.
the king's tribute
9:37; Deuteronomy 28:47,48; Joshua 16:10; 1 Kings 9:21; Ezra 4:13,20
Reciprocal: Exodus 22:14 - borrow;  Nehemiah 5:11 - their lands;  Proverbs 22:7 - the borrower;  Lamentations 1:1 - how is;  Matthew 22:17 - is;  Luke 20:22 - GeneralJohn 8:33 - and were;  Romans 13:6 - pay;  Revelation 18:13 - slaves

Verse 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.
our flesh
Genesis 37:27; Isaiah 58:7; James 2:5,6
we
Exodus 21:1-11; Leviticus 25:39-43; 2 Kings 4:1; Matthew 18:25
Reciprocal: Genesis 17:13 - bought;  Exodus 21:7 - sell;  Exodus 21:26 - GeneralLeviticus 25:48 - GeneralDeuteronomy 5:14 - thy manservant;  Esther 7:4 - But if we;  Job 24:9 - GeneralJob 31:15 - Did not he;  Proverbs 22:7 - the borrower;  Proverbs 29:13 - meet;  Isaiah 50:1 - or which;  Ephesians 6:9 - ye;  Colossians 4:1 - give;  Revelation 18:13 - slaves

Verse 6

And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words.
13:8,25; Exodus 11:8; Numbers 16:15; Mark 3:5; Ephesians 4:26
Reciprocal: Nehemiah 13:11 - contended;  2 Corinthians 7:11 - indignation;  2 Corinthians 11:29 - and I burn

Verse 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.
I consulted with myself
Heb. my heart consulted in me.
Psalms 4:4; 27:8
I rebuked
Leviticus 19:15; 2 Chronicles 19:6,7; Psalms 82:1-4; Proverbs 27:5; 2 Corinthians 5:16; Galatians 2:11; 1 Timothy 5:20; Titus 2:15
Ye exact usury
Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:36; Deuteronomy 15:2,3; 23:19,20; 24:10-13; Psalms 15:1,5; Ezekiel 22:12; 45:9
I set a great assembly
2 Chronicles 28:9-13; Matthew 18:17
Reciprocal: Nehemiah 5:10 - leave;  Nehemiah 6:17 - the nobles;  Nehemiah 13:17 - I contended;  Job 31:34 - the contempt;  Psalm 94:16 - stand up;  Proverbs 24:25 - them;  Proverbs 28:4 - but;  Isaiah 33:15 - despiseth;  Isaiah 58:3 - exact;  Matthew 18:28 - and took

Verse 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.
We after
Matthew 25:15,29; 2 Corinthians 8:12; Galatians 6:10
redeemed
Leviticus 25:47-49
sell your
Exodus 21:16; Deuteronomy 24:7
shall they
Romans 14:15; 1 Corinthians 8:11
held
Job 29:10; 32:15; Matthew 22:12; Romans 3:19
Reciprocal: Genesis 17:13 - bought;  Genesis 31:15 - sold us;  Genesis 37:27 - sell him;  Exodus 21:2 - an Hebrew;  Leviticus 25:48 - GeneralLeviticus 25:50 - price of his sale;  Deuteronomy 28:68 - there ye shall;  Nehemiah 9:37 - dominion;  Job 6:23 - Redeem;  Psalm 44:12 - increase;  Ecclesiastes 10:19 - but;  Amos 8:6 - GeneralZechariah 11:5 - sell;  Matthew 5:22 - his brother;  Matthew 18:25 - commanded;  Acts 11:29 - every;  1 Corinthians 6:6 - brother;  Ephesians 6:9 - ye;  Revelation 18:13 - slaves

Verse 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?
It is not
1 Samuel 2:24; Proverbs 16:29; 17:26; 18:5; 19:2; 24:23
walk
15; Genesis 20:11; 42:18; Leviticus 25:36; Acts 9:31
reproach
Genesis 13:7,8; 2 Samuel 12:14; Ezekiel 36:20; Romans 2:24; 1 Timothy 5:14; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 2:12
Reciprocal: Exodus 18:21 - such as;  Leviticus 25:17 - fear;  Deuteronomy 25:18 - feared;  1 Samuel 17:26 - reproach;  2 Chronicles 13:5 - Ought ye not;  Psalm 89:41 - he is;  Proverbs 16:6 - by the;  1 Corinthians 6:6 - brother;  Ephesians 5:21 - in;  Ephesians 6:9 - ye;  Colossians 3:22 - fearing;  Titus 2:8 - that he

Verse 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.
I likewise
Micah 2:1; Luke 3:13,14; 1 Corinthians 9:12-18
I pray you
2 Corinthians 5:11,20; 6:1; Philemon 1:8,9
leave
7; Exodus 22:25-27; Psalms 15:5; Ezekiel 18:8,13
Reciprocal: Isaiah 58:6 - to loose;  Ezekiel 45:9 - remove;  Matthew 18:28 - and took

Verse 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.
Restore
Leviticus 6:4,5; 1 Samuel 12:3; 2 Samuel 12:6; Isaiah 58:6; Luke 3:8
their lands
3,4
the hundredth
This was probably the rate of interest which they obliged their poor debtors to pay each month, which would amount to about 12 per cent. Another author states that this is the lowest rate of interest in Syria: the usual rate is 20; and it is sometimes as high as 30 per cent.
Reciprocal: Exodus 22:25 - GeneralMatthew 18:28 - and took

Verse 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.
We will restore
2 Chronicles 28:14,15; Ezra 10:12; Matthew 19:21,22; Luke 19:8
I called
10:29; 13:25; 2 Kings 23:2,3; 2 Chronicles 6:22,23; 15:13,14; Ezra 10:5; Jeremiah 34:8-10; Matthew 26:63
Reciprocal: 2 Kings 11:4 - took an oath;  2 Kings 11:17 - made a covenant;  2 Chronicles 23:16 - made a covenant;  Matthew 6:12 - as

Verse 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.
I shook my lap
So "when the Roman ambassadors entered the senate of Carthage, they had their toga gathered up in their bosom, and said, We carry here peace and war; you may have which you will. The senate answered, You may give which you please. They then shook their toga, and said, We bring you war."--Livy.
Matthew 10:14; Acts 13:51; 18:6
So God
1 Samuel 15:28; 1 Kings 11:29-31; Zechariah 5:3,4
emptied
Heb. empty, or void. Amen.
Numbers 5:22; Deuteronomy 27:14-26
praised
1 Chronicles 16:36
the people
2 Kings 23:3; Psalms 50:14; 76:11; 119:106; Ecclesiastes 5:5
Reciprocal: 2 Kings 11:17 - made a covenant;  2 Chronicles 15:14 - sware;  2 Chronicles 23:16 - made a covenant;  Nehemiah 8:6 - Amen;  Nehemiah 10:29 - entered;  Nehemiah 13:25 - cursed;  Proverbs 21:13 - at;  Matthew 6:12 - as;  Mark 6:11 - whosoever;  Luke 9:5 - shake;  Revelation 19:4 - Amen

Verse 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.
from the twentieth
2:1; 13:6
I and my
1 Corinthians 9:4-15,18; 2 Thessalonians 3:8,9
the bread
Ezra 4:13,14; Romans 13:6,7
Reciprocal: Judges 8:29 - in his own house;  2 Samuel 23:3 - ruling;  Nehemiah 2:6 - I set him a time;  Nehemiah 5:18 - required;  Haggai 1:1 - governor;  Matthew 25:16 - went;  John 8:14 - yet;  2 Corinthians 12:18 - in the same steps

Verse 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.
even their
1 Samuel 2:15-17; 8:15; Proverbs 29:12
so did
Matthew 5:47; 2 Corinthians 11:9; 12:13
because
9; Job 31:23; Psalms 112:1; 147:11; Proverbs 16:6; Ecclesiastes 12:13,14; Isaiah 50:10; Luke 18:2-4
Reciprocal: Genesis 20:11 - Surely;  Genesis 22:12 - now;  Genesis 39:9 - sin;  Genesis 42:18 - I fear God;  Exodus 1:17 - feared God;  Exodus 20:20 - his fear;  Leviticus 19:14 - fear;  Leviticus 25:17 - fear;  Leviticus 25:36 - fear;  Deuteronomy 25:18 - feared;  Judges 8:29 - in his own house;  1 Samuel 2:16 - I will take;  1 Kings 18:3 - feared the Lord;  2 Chronicles 19:7 - let the;  Nehemiah 4:16 - my servants;  Nehemiah 5:18 - required;  Nehemiah 7:2 - feared God;  Job 1:8 - one;  Psalm 19:9 - The fear;  Psalm 26:11 - I will;  Psalm 119:161 - my heart;  Proverbs 3:7 - fear;  Proverbs 14:16 - feareth;  Proverbs 28:16 - prince;  Lamentations 5:8 - Servants;  Ezekiel 18:8 - hath withdrawn;  Zephaniah 1:9 - which;  Malachi 3:5 - fear;  Acts 9:31 - and walking;  Ephesians 5:21 - in;  Colossians 3:22 - fearing;  1 Thessalonians 2:9 - chargeable

Verse 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.
I continued
Luke 8:15; Romans 2:7; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Galatians 6:9
neither bought
Numbers 16:15; Acts 20:33-35; 1 Thessalonians 2:5,6
all my
2 Corinthians 12:16-18; Philippians 2:20,21
Reciprocal: Nehemiah 4:16 - my servants;  Nehemiah 4:23 - So neither I

Verse 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.
Moreover
He kept open house, and entertained all comers; besides having 150 Jews, who had their food constantly at his table, and at his expense.
at my table
2 Samuel 9:7,13; 1 Kings 18:19
an hundred
Isaiah 32:8; Romans 12:13; 1 Peter 4:9,10
Reciprocal: 1 Kings 4:23 - Ten fat;  Ecclesiastes 5:11 - they;  Isaiah 3:7 - neither bread

Verse 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.
Now that
1 Kings 4:22,23
one ox
This was food sufficient for more than two hundred men. Bp. Pococke says that the bey of Tunis had daily twelve sheep, with fish and fowls, soups, oranges, eggs, onions, boiled rice, etc., etc. His nobles dined with him; after they had done, the servants sat down; and when they had finished, the poor took what was left. Here the bey's twelve sheep are equal to Nehemiah's one ox and six choice sheep; and probably the mode of living between the two was nearly alike. It is still the practice in the East to calculate the expenses of the table, not by the money paid, but by the provisions consumed by the guests.
required
14,15
because the bondage
Psalms 37:21,26
Reciprocal: Ecclesiastes 5:11 - they;  Isaiah 3:7 - neither bread;  1 Thessalonians 2:9 - chargeable

Verse 19

Think upon me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.
Think
13:14,22,31; Genesis 40:14; Psalms 25:6,7; 40:17; 106:4; Jeremiah 29:11
according to
Psalms 18:23-25; Matthew 10:42; 25:34-40; Mark 9:41 Reciprocal: 2 Kings 20:3 - remember;  Nehemiah 6:14 - My God;  Nehemiah 7:5 - my God;  Psalm 119:159 - Consider;  Isaiah 38:3 - Remember;  Jeremiah 15:15 - remember;  Jeremiah 24:6 - For I will;  Hosea 9:17 - My God;  Philippians 4:19 - God;  2 Timothy 1:16 - Lord;  Hebrews 6:10 - to forget

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Nehemiah 5". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tsk/nehemiah-5.html.