Some of them said, "We have large families! We need some grain [if we are going] to eat and stay alive."
Others said, "We've had to mortgage our fields, our vineyards, and our homes in order to get some grain because of this famine."
Others said, "We've had to borrow money to pay the king's taxes on our fields and vineyards.
We have the same flesh and blood as our relatives. Our children are just like theirs. Yet, we have to force our sons and daughters to become slaves. Some of our daughters have already become slaves. But we can't do anything else when our fields and vineyards belong to others."
I became furious when I heard their complaint and what they had to say.
After thinking it over, I confronted the nobles and the leaders. I told them, "You are charging interest on loans made to your own relatives." I arranged for a large meeting to deal with them.
Then I told them, "We have done our best to buy back our Jewish relatives who had been sold to other nations. Now you are selling your Jewish relatives so that we have to buy them back again!" They were unable to say anything.
I added, "What you're doing is wrong. Shouldn't you live in the fear of our God to keep our enemies from ridiculing us?
My brothers, my servants, and I are lending money and grain to the poor. But we must stop charging them interest.
You must return their fields, their vineyards, their olive orchards, and their homes today. Also, you must return the interest on the money, grain, new wine, and olive oil you've been charging them."
They responded, "We'll return it and not try to get it from them [again]. We'll do what you say." Then I called the priests and made them swear to do what they promised.
I brushed off my clothes and said, "In the same way, may God brush off from home and work everyone who refuses to keep this promise. In the same way, may everyone be brushed off and left with nothing." Then the whole congregation said amen and praised the LORD. The people did what they had promised.