Some were saying, "We and our sons and daughters are numerous; in order for us to eat and stay alive, we must get grain."
Others were saying, "We are mortgaging our fields,1 our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine."24
Still others were saying, "We have had to borrow money to pay the king's tax3 on our fields and vineyards.
Although we are of the same flesh and blood4 as our countrymen and though our sons are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery.5 Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others."66
When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry.
I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. I told them, "You are exacting usury7 from your own countrymen!" So I called together a large meeting to deal with them
and said: "As far as possible, we have bought8 back our Jewish brothers who were sold to the Gentiles. Now you are selling your brothers, only for them to be sold back to us!" They kept quiet, because they could find nothing to say.99
So I continued, "What you are doing is not right. Shouldn't you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach10 of our Gentile enemies?
I and my brothers and my men are also lending the people money and grain. But let the exacting of usury stop!1111
Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the usury12 you are charging them--the hundredth part of the money, grain, new wine and oil."
"We will give it back," they said. "And we will not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say." Then I summoned the priests and made the nobles and officials take an oath13 to do what they had promised.
I also shook14 out the folds of my robe and said, "In this way may God shake out of his house and possessions every man who does not keep this promise. So may such a man be shaken out and emptied!" At this the whole assembly said, "Amen,"15 and praised the LORD. And the people did as they had promised.