Nehemiah 5
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Listen to this chapter in Hebrew:

1  There was a great outcry by the common folk and their wives against their brother Yehudim.

א  וַתְּהִי צַעֲקַת הָעָם וּנְשֵׁיהֶם גְּדוֹלָה אֶל־אֲחֵיהֶם הַיְּהוּדִים׃

2  Some said, “Our sons and daughters are numerous; we must get grain to eat in order that we may live!”

ב  וְיֵשׁ אֲשֶׁר אֹמְרִים בָּנֵינוּ וּבְנֹתֵינוּ אֲנַחְנוּ רַבִּים וְנִקְחָה דָגָן וְנֹאכְלָה וְנִחְיֶה׃

3  Others said, “We must pawn our fields, our vineyards, and our homes to get grain to stave off hunger.”

ג  וְיֵשׁ אֲשֶׁר אֹמְרִים שְׂדֹתֵינוּ וּכְרָמֵינוּ וּבָתֵּינוּ אֲנַחְנוּ עֹרְבִים וְנִקְחָה דָגָן בָּרָעָב׃

4  Yet others said, “We have borrowed money against our fields and vineyards to pay the king’s tax.

ד  וְיֵשׁ אֲשֶׁר אֹמְרִים לָוִינוּ כֶסֶף לְמִדַּת הַמֶּלֶךְ שְׂדֹתֵינוּ וּכְרָמֵינוּ׃

5  Now we are as good as our brothers, and our children as good as theirs; yet here we are subjecting our sons and daughters to slavery—some of our daughters are already subjected—and we are powerless, while our fields and vineyards belong to others.”

ה  וְעַתָּה כִּבְשַׂר אַחֵינוּ בְּשָׂרֵנוּ כִּבְנֵיהֶם בָּנֵינוּ וְהִנֵּה אֲנַחְנוּ כֹבְשִׁים אֶת־בָּנֵינוּ וְאֶת־בְּנֹתֵינוּ לַעֲבָדִים וְיֵשׁ מִבְּנֹתֵינוּ נִכְבָּשׁוֹת וְאֵין לְאֵל יָדֵנוּ וּשְׂדֹתֵינוּ וּכְרָמֵינוּ לַאֲחֵרִים׃

6  It angered me very much to hear their outcry and these complaints.

ו  וַיִּחַר לִי מְאֹד כַּאֲשֶׁר שָׁמַעְתִּי אֶת־זַעֲקָתָם וְאֵת הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה׃

7  After pondering the matter carefully, I censured the nobles and the prefects, saying, “Are you pressing claims on loans made to your brothers?” Then I raised a large crowd against them

ז  וַיִּמָּלֵךְ לִבִּי עָלַי וָאָרִיבָה אֶת־הַחֹרִים וְאֶת־הַסְּגָנִים וָאֹמְרָה לָהֶם מַשָּׁא אִישׁ־בְּאָחִיו אַתֶּם נשאים [נֹשִׁים] וָאֶתֵּן עֲלֵיהֶם קְהִלָּה גְדוֹלָה׃

8  and said to them, “We have done our best to buy back our Yehudiish brothers who were sold to the nations; will you now sell your brothers so that they must be sold [back] to us?” They kept silent, for they found nothing to answer.

ח  וָאֹמְרָה לָהֶם אֲנַחְנוּ קָנִינוּ אֶת־אַחֵינוּ הַיְּהוּדִים הַנִּמְכָּרִים לַגּוֹיִם כְּדֵי בָנוּ וְגַם־אַתֶּם תִּמְכְּרוּ אֶת־אֲחֵיכֶם וְנִמְכְּרוּ־לָנוּ וַיַּחֲרִישׁוּ וְלֹא מָצְאוּ דָּבָר׃

9  So I continued, “What you are doing is not right. You ought to act in a Hashem-fearing way so as not to give our enemies, the nations, room to reproach us.

ט  ויאמר [וָאוֹמַר] לֹא־טוֹב הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר־אַתֶּם עֹשִׂים הֲלוֹא בְּיִרְאַת אֱלֹהֵינוּ תֵּלֵכוּ מֵחֶרְפַּת הַגּוֹיִם אוֹיְבֵינוּ׃

10  I, my brothers, and my servants also have claims of money and grain against them; let us now abandon those claims!

י  וְגַם־אֲנִי אַחַי וּנְעָרַי נֹשִׁים בָּהֶם כֶּסֶף וְדָגָן נַעַזְבָה־נָּא אֶת־הַמַּשָּׁא הַזֶּה׃

11  Give back at once their fields, their vineyards, their olive trees, and their homes, and [abandon] the claims for the hundred pieces of silver, the grain, the wine, and the oil that you have been pressing against them!”

יא  הָשִׁיבוּ נָא לָהֶם כְּהַיּוֹם שְׂדֹתֵיהֶם כַּרְמֵיהֶם זֵיתֵיהֶם וּבָתֵּיהֶם וּמְאַת הַכֶּסֶף וְהַדָּגָן הַתִּירוֹשׁ וְהַיִּצְהָר אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם נֹשִׁים בָּהֶם׃

12  They replied, “We shall give them back, and not demand anything of them; we shall do just as you say.” Summoning the kohanim, I put them under oath to keep this promise.

יב  וַיֹּאמְרוּ נָשִׁיב וּמֵהֶם לֹא נְבַקֵּשׁ כֵּן נַעֲשֶׂה כַּאֲשֶׁר אַתָּה אוֹמֵר וָאֶקְרָא אֶת־הַכֹּהֲנִים וָאַשְׁבִּיעֵם לַעֲשׂוֹת כַּדָּבָר הַזֶּה׃

13  I also shook out the bosom of my garment and said, “So may Hashem shake free of his household and property any man who fails to keep this promise; may he be thus shaken out and stripped.” All the assembled answered, “Amen,” and praised Hashem. The people kept this promise.

יג  גַּם־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־יְהוָה וַיַּעַשׂ הָעָם כַּדָּבָר הַזֶּה׃

14  Furthermore, from the day I was commissioned to be governor in the land of Yehuda—from the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes until his thirty-second year, twelve years in all—neither I nor my brothers ever ate of the governor’s food allowance.

יד  גַּם מִיּוֹם אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּה אֹתִי לִהְיוֹת פֶּחָם בְּאֶרֶץ יְהוּדָה מִשְּׁנַת עֶשְׂרִים וְעַד שְׁנַת שְׁלֹשִׁים וּשְׁתַּיִם לְאַרְתַּחְשַׁסְתְּא הַמֶּלֶךְ שָׁנִים שְׁתֵּים עֶשְׂרֵה אֲנִי וְאַחַי לֶחֶם הַפֶּחָה לֹא אָכַלְתִּי׃

15  The former governors who preceded me laid heavy burdens on the people, and took from them for bread and wine more than forty shekalim of silver. Their servants also tyrannized over the people. But I, out of the fear of Hashem, did not do so.

v’-ha-pa-KHOT ha-ri-sho-NEEM a-sher l’-fa-NAI hikh-BEE-du al ha-AM va-yik-KHU may-HEM b’-LE-khem va-YA-yin a-KHAR KE-sef sh’-ka-LEEM ar-ba-EEM GAM na-a-ray-HEM sha-l’-TU al ha-AM va-a-NEE lo a-SEE-tee KHAYN mi-p’-NAY yir-AT e-lo-HEEM

טו  וְהַפַּחוֹת הָרִאשֹׁנִים 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׃

5:15   And took from them for bread and wine

More than any other food, bread and wine were the staples of ancient society. Bread provides basic nourishment, and wine, while in our lives considered a luxury, was an important source of calories, sugar and iron. Jews recite special benedictions over both bread and wine, and they are both utilized in spiritual rituals: Grains and wine were offered as Temple sacrifices, and today they are both used to mark the sanctity of the Sabbath, thus strengthening the connection between physical and spiritual sustenance. In addition, wheat and grapes are two of the seven special agricultural products associated with the land of Israel (Deuteronomy 8:8). Today, after two thousand years of desolation, Israel boasts a booming agricultural industry and over 200 wineries that produce award-winning kosher wines.Comment

16  I also supported the work on this wall; we did not buy any land, and all my servants were gathered there at the work.

טז  וְגַם בִּמְלֶאכֶת הַחוֹמָה הַזֹּאת הֶחֱזַקְתִּי וְשָׂדֶה לֹא קָנִינוּ וְכָל־נְעָרַי קְבוּצִים שָׁם עַל־הַמְּלָאכָה׃

17  Although there were at my table, between Yehudim and prefects, one hundred and fifty men in all, beside those who came to us from surrounding nations;

יז  וְהַיְּהוּדִים וְהַסְּגָנִים מֵאָה וַחֲמִשִּׁים אִישׁ וְהַבָּאִים אֵלֵינוּ מִן־הַגּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר־סְבִיבֹתֵינוּ עַל־שֻׁלְחָנִי׃

18  and although what was prepared for each day came to one ox, six select sheep, and fowl, all prepared for me, and at ten-day intervals all sorts of wine in abundance—yet I did not resort to the governor’s food allowance, for the [king’s] service lay heavily on the people.

יח  וַאֲשֶׁר 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׃

19  O my God, remember to my credit all that I have done for this people!

 

יט  זָכְרָה־לִּי אֱלֹהַי לְטוֹבָה כֹּל אֲשֶׁר־עָשִׂיתִי עַל־הָעָם הַזֶּה׃

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Nehemiah 4
Nehemiah 6

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Nehemiah 5

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