10 Nov. Nehemiah 5:1-16,6:1-3,15-16

10 Nov. Nehemiah becomes governor of Judah

“The men and their wives complained loudly against their fellow Jews. Some of them were saying, ‘We have many sons and daughters in our families. To eat and stay alive, we need grain.’ Others were saying, ‘We are borrowing money against our fields, vineyards and homes to get grain because there is not much food.’”

“And still others were saying, ‘We are borrowing money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. We are just like our fellow Jews, and our sons are like their sons. But we have to sell our sons and daughters as slaves. Some of our daughters have already been sold. But there is nothing we can do, because our fields and vineyards already belong to other people.’”

“When I heard their complaints about these things, I was very angry. After I thought about it, I accused the important people and the leaders, ‘You are charging your own brothers too much interest.’ So I called a large meeting to deal with them. I said to them, ‘As much as possible, we have bought freedom for our fellow Jews who had been sold to foreigners. Now you are selling your fellow Jews to us!’ The leaders were quiet and had nothing to say.”

“Then I said, ‘What you are doing is not right. Don’t you fear God? Don’t let our foreign enemies shame us. I, my brothers and my men are also lending money and grain to the people. But stop charging them so much for this. Give back their fields, vineyards, olive trees and houses right now. Also give back the extra amount you charged – the hundredth part of the money, grain, new wine and oil.’ They said, ‘We will give it back and not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say.’…”

“I was appointed governor in the land of Judah in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’s rule. I was governor of Judah for twelve years, until his thirty-second year. During that time neither my brothers nor I ate the food that was allowed for a governor.”

“But the governors before me had placed a heavy load on the people. They took about 40 pieces of silver from each person, along with food and wine. The governors’ helpers before me also controlled the people, but I did not do that, because I feared God. I worked on the wall, as did all my men who were gathered there. We did not buy any fields…”

“Then Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and our other enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall and that there was not one gap in it. But I had not yet set the doors in the gates. So Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: ‘Come, Nehemiah, let’s meet together in Kephirim on the plain of Ono.’”

“But they were planning to harm me. So I sent messengers to them with this answer: ‘I am doing a great work and I can’t come down. I don’t want the work to stop while I leave to meet you.’…”

“The wall of Jerusalem was completed on the twenty-fifth day of the month of Elul. It took 52 days to rebuild. When all our enemies heard about it and all the nations around us saw it, they were shamed. They then understood that the work had been done with the help of our God.”

          (Nehemiah 5:1-12,14-16; 6:1-3,15-16)

 

 

During the rebuilding of the city walls, a famine threatened the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Some sold their land to wealthier Jews to pay for grain, while others were forced to sell their daughters into slavery to buy food. Others were forced to borrow money at high interest rates from their fellow Jews to pay the king’s taxes on their fields and vineyards.

Nehemiah was appointed Governor of Judah by King Artaxerxes I. He recognised the injustice of the system and ordered the wealthy Jews who had profited unfairly to return the lands and houses of their poorer Jewish neighbours.

Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem the Arab (probably the Governor of Idumaea), angered by Nehemiah’s appointment as a regional governor within their former area of jurisdiction, made further threats in order to discourage the builders. But the walls were completed in less than two months on 2nd October 445BC, and the gates were replaced.

Nehemiah appointed reliable men as gatekeepers and put his brother in charge of the citadel. Work then started on constructing houses within the city walls (see Nehemiah 7:1-73).

The photo (by EdoM) shows the walls of Jerusalem and the Tower of Phasael.  

You can see a map of the city walls @  https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/35-the-exiles-return-to-judah/a-fourth-group-of-exiles-returns-with-nehemiah/


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