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Nechemiah - Nehemiah - Chapter 5

Nechemiah - Nehemiah - Chapter 5

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Chapter 5

1Now the cry of the people and their wives was great about their brothers, the Jews.   אוַתְּהִי צַעֲקַת הָעָם וּנְשֵׁיהֶם גְּדוֹלָה אֶל אֲחֵיהֶם הַיְּהוּדִים:
Now the cry of the people and their wives was great: The poor people were crying exceedingly.  
about their brothers, the Jews: about their brothers, the rich Jews.  
2There were some who were saying, "Our sons and our daughters and we, are many; now we shall buy corn and eat and live."   בוְיֵשׁ אֲשֶׁר אֹמְרִים בָּנֵינוּ וּבְנֹתֵינוּ אֲנַחְנוּ רַבִּים וְנִקְחָה דָגָן וְנֹאכְלָה וְנִחְיֶה:
There were some who were saying: He gives a reason for his words: Why were they crying? Some of the poor people were saying, “We are many with our sons and daughters and have to buy corn. Now we will have to sell our sons and daughters in order to buy corn in order to live.” So were they crying about the rich Jews who did not wish to support them.  
3And there were some who were saying, "Our fields and our vineyards and our houses we shall pledge, so that we shall buy corn for the hunger."   גוְיֵשׁ אֲשֶׁר אֹמְרִים שְׂדֹתֵינוּ וּכְרָמֵינוּ וּבָתֵּינוּ אֲנַחְנוּ עֹרְבִים וְנִקְחָה דָגָן בָּרָעָב:
And there were some who were saying “Our fields, etc.”: And there were some among the poor who were complaining and saying “Our fields, vineyards and houses we shall give to others as a pledge and as security to buy corn for our food.”  
for the hunger: since the rich do not give any of their property up to us for our support.  
4And there were some who were saying, "We have borrowed money for the king's tax on our fields and our vineyards.   דוְיֵשׁ אֲשֶׁר אֹמְרִים לָוִינוּ כֶסֶף לְמִדַּת הַמֶּלֶךְ שְׂדֹתֵינוּ וּכְרָמֵינוּ:
And there were some who were saying, “We have borrowed money”: And there were some who were saying, “We have already borrowed money from others on our fields and our vineyards to pay the king’s tax, and now we have nothing for our support.”  
for the king’s tax: Heb. לְמִדַּת, for the king’s tax, like (Ezra 4:13): “… the king’s due (מִנְדָּה), the head tax, and the meal tax.”  
5And now, like the flesh of our brethren is our flesh; like their children are our children, and behold, we are subjecting our sons and daughters to slavery, and some of our daughters are [already] subjected, and we have no power, and others have our fields and vineyards."   הוְעַתָּה כִּבְשַׂר אַחֵינוּ בְּשָׂרֵנוּ כִּבְנֵיהֶם בָּנֵינוּ וְהִנֵּה אֲנַחְנוּ כֹבְשִׁים אֶת בָּנֵינוּ וְאֶת בְּנֹתֵינוּ לַעֲבָדִים וְיֵשׁ מִבְּנֹתֵינוּ נִכְבָּשׁוֹת וְאֵין לְאֵל יָדֵנוּ וּשְׂדֹתֵינוּ וּכְרָמֵינוּ לַאֲחֵרִים:
And now, like the flesh of our brethren is our flesh: And now, we are as esteemed and distinguished as our brethren who are rich.  
like their children are our children: Like their children, who are esteemed and distinguished, so are our children distinguished.  
and behold, we are subjecting: And now we have to subject and deliver our sons and daughters to others for the sake of our sustenance.  
and some of our daughters are subjected: And already there are some of our daughters who are subjected to others in slavery.  
and we have no power: We do not have the ability to redeem them.  
and others have our fields and vineyards: We have even delivered our fields and vineyards to others for our sustenance. From now on, what shall we eat? We have nothing with which to sustain ourselves.  
6And I was very distressed when I heard their cry and these words.   ווַיִּחַר לִי מְאֹד כַּאֲשֶׁר שָׁמַעְתִּי אֶת זַעֲקָתָם וְאֵת הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה:
7And I thought this over to myself, and I contended with the nobles and with the prefects, and I said to them, "Are you demanding each other's loans?" And I gathered a large assembly around them.   זוַיִּמָּלֵךְ לִבִּי עָלַי וָאָרִיבָה אֶת הַחֹרִים וְאֶת הַסְּגָנִים וָאֹמְרָה לָהֶם מַשָּׁא אִישׁ בְּאָחִיו אַתֶּם נֹשִׁים (כתיב נֹשִׁאים) וָאֶתֵּן עֲלֵיהֶם קְהִלָּה גְדוֹלָה:
And I thought this over to myself: Heb. וַיִמָלֵ לִבִּי עָלַי, and my heart took counsel within myself.  
and I contended: I contended with the nobles and the prefects, who were the rich people.  
“Are you demanding each other’s loans?”: Why are you doing this? You should have supported these poor people, but you are lending them money in order to appropriate their sons and daughters, their fields, vineyards and houses.  
and I gathered a large assembly around them: I congregated and gathered a large assembly around them to shout at them in order to embarrass them.  
8And I said to them, "We bought our Jewish brethren who were sold to the nations with as much as we could afford, and you too will sell your brethren, and they will be sold to us." And they remained silent and could find no answer.   חוָאֹמְרָה לָהֶם אֲנַחְנוּ קָנִינוּ אֶת אַחֵינוּ הַיְּהוּדִים הַנִּמְכָּרִים לַגּוֹיִם כְּדֵי בָנוּ וְגַם אַתֶּם תִּמְכְּרוּ אֶת אֲחֵיכֶם וְנִמְכְּרוּ לָנוּ וַיַּחֲרִישׁוּ וְלֹא מָצְאוּ דָּבָר:
And I said to them: And so I said to them: We already bought our Jewish brethren who were in captivity from the heathens to whom they were sold.  
with as much as we could afford: with as much money as was in our hands.  
and you too: And you too will sell to the heathens your brethren who are subjected to you as slaves?  
and they will be sold to us: And the result will be that they will be sold to us by the heathens (and if so, why should you sell them, since we will be compelled to redeem them? This is found in certain editions).  
and they remained silent: They were silent and ashamed, and they did not know what to answer.  
9So I said, "The thing you are doing is not good. Is it not so that you will go with the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies?   טוָאֹמַר (כתיב וָיאֹמַר) לֹא טוֹב הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם עֹשִׂים הֲלוֹא בְּיִרְאַת אֱלֹהֵינוּ תֵּלֵכוּ מֵחֶרְפַּת הַגּוֹיִם אוֹיְבֵינוּ:
The thing… is not good: The thing is evil in the eyes of the Holy One, blessed be He.  
because of the reproach: because of the reproach of the heathens who are our enemies.  
10I, too, and my brothers, and my servants have lent them money and corn. Let us now relinquish this loan.   יוְגַם אֲנִי אַחַי וּנְעָרַי נֹשִׁים בָּהֶם כֶּסֶף וְדָגָן נַעַזְבָה נָּא אֶת הַמַּשָּׁא הַזֶּה:
I, too, and my brothers and my servants: I, too, and my colleagues lent them money, and we shall abandon and relinquish to them all these loans.  
have lent: Heb. נֹשִׁים, like (II Kings 4:1): “… and the creditor (וְהַנֹשֶּׁה) has come to take.”  
11As of today, give them back their fields, vineyards, olive trees, and houses, and the hundred silver pieces, and the corn, the wine, and the oil that you lent them."   יאהָשִׁיבוּ נָא לָהֶם כְּהַיּוֹם שְׂדֹתֵיהֶם כַּרְמֵיהֶם זֵיתֵיהֶם וּבָתֵּיהֶם וּמְאַת הַכֶּסֶף וְהַדָּגָן הַתִּירוֹשׁ וְהַיִּצְהָר אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם נֹשִׁים בָּהֶם:
give back: And you shall also do as I do, to relinquish all their debts to them.  
and the hundred silver pieces: and the large amount of money that they owe you with the corn and the wine, etc.  
12And they said, "We shall return, and we shall not demand of them; so shall we do as you say." And I called the priests and adjured them to do according to this promise.   יבוַיֹּאמְרוּ נָשִׁיב וּמֵהֶם לֹא נְבַקֵּשׁ כֵּן נַעֲשֶׂה כַּאֲשֶׁר אַתָּה אוֹמֵר וָאֶקְרָא אֶת הַכֹּהֲנִים וָאַשְׁבִּיעֵם לַעֲשׂוֹת כַּדָּבָר הַזֶּה:
And they said, “We shall return”: And they said [that they were willing] to return and to relinquish all.  
to do according to this promise: that they too should relinquish.  
13I also shook out my garment and said, "So shall God shake out any man who does not fulfill this matter, from his house and from his toil, so shall he be shaken out and empty." Then the entire congregation said, "Amen," and they praised the Lord, and the people did according to this word.   יגגַּם חָצְנִי נָעַרְתִּי וָאֹמְרָה כָּכָה יְנַעֵר הָאֱלֹהִים אֶת כָּל הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר לֹא יָקִים אֶת הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה מִבֵּיתוֹ וּמִיגִיעוֹ וְכָכָה יִהְיֶה נָעוּר וָרֵק וַיֹּאמְרוּ כָל הַקָּהָל אָמֵן וַיְהַלְלוּ אֶת יְהֹוָה וַיַּעַשׂ הָעָם כַּדָּבָר הַזֶּה:
I also shook out my garment: Heb. חָצְנִי, I also shook out my garment. חָצְנִי is like (Isa. 49:22): “… and they shall bring your sons on the skirt of their garments (בְּחֹצֶן).”  
my garment: is escrol(l)e in Old French, I shook out, like (ibid. 52:2): “Shake yourself (הִתְנַעֲרִי) from the dust.”  
So shall… shake out: So shall the Holy One, blessed be He, shake out from the world and from their property those who do not relinquish their debts.  
shake out and empty: without property.  
14Also, since the day that he commanded me to be a governor in the land of Judea, from the twentieth year until the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, twelve years, my brethren and I have not eaten the food allotted to the governor.   ידגַּם מִיּוֹם | אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה אוֹתִי לִהְיוֹת פֶּחָם בְּאֶרֶץ יְהוּדָה מִשְּׁנַת עֶשְׂרִים וְעַד שְׁנַת שְׁלֹשִׁים וּשְׁתַּיִם לְאַרְתַּחְשַׁסְתְּא הַמֶּלֶךְ שָׁנִים שְׁתֵּים עֶשְׂרֵה אֲנִי וְאַחַי לֶחֶם הַפֶּחָה לֹא אָכַלְתִּי:
that he commanded me: i.e., the king.  
governor: Heb. פֶּחָם, like פֶּחָה, ruler, after the pattern of רֵיקָם, empty, like רֵיקָה.  
from the twentieth year: of King Darius, for then he ascended from Babylon, as it is stated (2:1): “Now it came to pass in the month of Nissan in the twentieth year, etc.”  
twelve years: which equal twelve years.  
my brethren and I: I and my colleagues who came with me.  
have not eaten the food allotted to the governor: the food that was fit for the governor, which the people give the governor from the tax.  
15But the early governors who were before me burdened the people and took from them for bread and wine above forty silver shekels. Also, their servants ruled over the people, but I did not do that because of the fear of God.   טווְהַפַּחוֹת הָרִאשׁוֹנִים אֲשֶׁר לְפָנַי הִכְבִּידוּ עַל הָעָם וַיִּקְחוּ מֵהֶם בְּלֶחֶם וָיַיִן אַחַר כֶּסֶף שְׁקָלִים אַרְבָּעִים גַּם נַעֲרֵיהֶם שָׁלְטוּ עַל הָעָם וַאֲנִי לֹא עָשִׂיתִי כֵן מִפְּנֵי יִרְאַת אֱלֹהִים:
burdened the people: Heb. הִכְבִּידוּ, lit. made heavy. They made the tax heavy upon the people.  
and took: They would take bread and wine from them for the tax after they had already given forty silver shekels, and they were accustomed to doing this every year.  
also their servants: [i.e., the servants] of the governors.  
16Also, I adhered to the work of this wall, and we did not buy a field, and all my servants were gathered there over the work.   טזוְגַם בִּמְלֶאכֶת הַחוֹמָה הַזֹּאת הֶחֱזַקְתִּי וְשָׂדֶה לֹא קָנִינוּ וְכָל נְעָרַי קְבוּצִים שָׁם עַל הַמְּלָאכָה:
wall: the wall of the city.  
I adhered: I busied myself to engage in it constantly.  
and we did not buy a field: But neither I nor my associates bought the fields of the Jews who were building the wall because of their poverty; they were engaged in building the wall, but I gave them money in order to build the wall.  
over the work: to build constantly.  
17And the Jews and the prefects were one hundred and fifty men, and those who came to us from the nations around us at my table.   יזוְהַיְּהוּדִים וְהַסְּגָנִים מֵאָה וַחֲמִשִּׁים אִישׁ וְהַבָּאִים אֵלֵינוּ מִן הַגּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר סְבִיבֹתֵינוּ עַל שֻׁלְחָנִי:
one hundred and fifty men: were eating at my table, in addition to the proselytes who came to us from the gentiles, for they too were eating at my table.  
18And this is what was prepared for one day; one ox, six choice sheep, and birds were prepared for me, and as much as ten days' supply of all types of wine in quantity, and with this, I did not seek the food allotted to the governor, because the work was heavy upon this people.   יחוַאֲשֶׁר הָיָה נַעֲשֶׂה לְיוֹם אֶחָד שׁוֹר אֶחָד צֹאן שֵׁשׁ בְּרֻרוֹת וְצִפֳּרִים נַעֲשׂוּ לִי וּבֵין עֲשֶׂרֶת יָמִים בְּכָל יַיִן לְהַרְבֵּה וְעִם זֶה לֶחֶם הַפֶּחָה לֹא בִקַּשְׁתִּי כִּי כָבְדָה הָעֲבֹדָה עַל הָעָם הַזֶּה:
And what was prepared: And every day they ate at my table one ox, six sheep and many birds.  
prepared: Heb. בְּרֻרוֹת. Its interpretation is according to the context: six prepared sheep, like the matter that is stated (I Sam. 25:18): “… five prepared (עֲשׂוּיוֹת) sheep.”  
were prepared for me: Heb. נַעֲשּׂוּ, an expression of preparation, like (Gen. 18:8): “… and the calf that he had prepared (עָשָּׂה).”  
and as much as ten days’ supply: Heb. וּבֵין עֲשֶּׂרֶת יָמִים, lit. and between ten days. And every day they drank much wine, the amount that suffices for ten days.  
and for this: Heb. וְעִם זֶה; and this procedure, for which I used to make such big expenditures.  
food: of the tax, which is fit for the governor, I did not seek, and I did not request it of the people, for the work of the building of the wall was heavy and strong upon them.  
19Remember for me, My God, for good, all that I did for this people."   יטזָכְרָה לִּי אֱלֹהַי לְטוֹבָה כֹּל אֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתִי עַל הָעָם הַזֶּה:
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