Nehemiah 5:8

8 and said: “As far as possible, we have bought back our fellow Jews who were sold to the Gentiles. Now you are selling your own people, only for them to be sold back to us!” They kept quiet, because they could find nothing to say.

Read Nehemiah 5:8 Using Other Translations

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 sold unto us? Then held they their peace, and found nothing to answer.
and said to them, "We, as far as we are able, have bought back our Jewish brothers who have been sold to the nations, but you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us!" They were silent and could not find a word to say.
At the meeting I said to them, “We are doing all we can to redeem our Jewish relatives who have had to sell themselves to pagan foreigners, but you are selling them back into slavery again. How often must we redeem them?” And they had nothing to say in their defense.

What does Nehemiah 5:8 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Nehemiah 5:8

And I said unto them
The nobles, and rulers, and other rich persons that exacted usury of the poor:

we after our ability;
speaking of himself in the plural number, which now obtained in the court of Persia; or of Zerubbabel, Ezra, and others, who, according as their worldly circumstances, having been captives, would admit of:

have redeemed our brethren the Jews, which were sold unto the Heathen;
not that they had given a ransom for them to Cyrus, or any other king of Persia, which would be contrary to the prophecies concerning their redemption, ( Isaiah 45:13 ) ( 52:3 ) but such who had sold themselves to particular persons in Babylon, who, without being redeemed, could not take the advantage of the liberty granted by Cyrus, and his successors; and it may be there were others also in the like circumstances, in other neighbouring nations, that had been redeemed this way. The Jewish canon F9 now is, he that sells himself, and his children, to Gentiles, they do not redeem; but they redeem the children after their father's death; which the commentators F11 explain of the third time that he sells himself:

and will you even sell your brethren?
their lands and vineyards mortgaged to them, and even their persons:

or shall they be sold unto us?
must we be obliged to buy them, and to redeem them:

then they held their peace, and found nothing to answer;
being convinced they had done wrong, by the arguments used, to which they could make no reply.


FOOTNOTES:

F9 Misn. Gittin, c. 4. sect. 9.
F11 Maimon. & Bartenora in ib.
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