5:1 And there was a great cry of the people and of their wives a against their brethren the Jews.
(a) Against the rich who oppressed them. 5:2 For there were that said, We, our sons, and our daughters, [are] many: therefore we take up b corn [for them], that we may eat, and live.
(b) This is the complaint of the people, showing the extremity they were brought to. 5:4 There were also that said, We have borrowed money for the kings c tribute, [and that upon] our lands and vineyards.
(c) To pay our tribute to the king of the Persians, which was exacted yearly from us. 5:5 Yet now our flesh [is] as d 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 e [to redeem them]; for other men have our lands and vineyards.
(d) By nature the rich are no better than the poor. 5:7 Then I consulted with myself, and I rebuked the nobles, and the rulers, and said unto them, Ye f exact usury, every one of his brother. And I set a great g assembly against them.
(e) We are not able to redeem them, but out of poverty are forced to sell them to others.
(f) You press them with usury, and seek to bring all thing into your hands. 5:8 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 h sold unto us? Then held they their peace, and found nothing [to answer].
(g) Both because they should be moved with pity seeing how many were oppressed by them, and also hear the judgment of others, who should be witnesses of their dealings with their brethren.
(h) Seeing God has once delivered them from the bondage of the heathen, shall we make them our slaves? 5:9 i Also I said, It [is] not good that ye do: ought ye not to walk in the fear of our God because of the k reproach of the heathen our enemies?
(i) Meaning, Nehemiah. 5:11 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, l that ye exact of them.
(k) Who by this occasion will blaspheme the Name of God, seeing that our actions are no better than theirs.
(l) Which you take from them for the loan. 5:14 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 m bread of the governor.
(m) I did not receive the portion and diet which the governors who were before me exacted, in which he declares that he rather sought the wealth of the people than his own convenience. 5:18 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 n all sorts of wine: yet for all this required not I the bread of the governor, because the bondage was heavy upon this people.
(n) While at other times they had by measure, at this time they had most liberally.