Nehemiah 5
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Listen to this chapter in Hebrew:

1  Then there arose a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brethren the Yehudim.

א  וַתְּהִי צַעֲקַת הָעָם וּנְשֵׁיהֶם גְּדוֹלָה אֶל אֲחֵיהֶם הַיְּהוּדִים.

2  For there were that said: ‘We, our sons and our daughters, are many; let us get for them corn, that we may eat and live.’

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

3  Some also there were that said: ‘We are mortgaging our fields, and our vineyards, and our houses; let us get corn, because of the dearth.’

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

4  There were also that said: ‘We have borrowed money for the king’s tribute upon our fields and our vineyards.

ד  וְיֵשׁ אֲשֶׁר אֹמְרִים לָוִינוּ כֶסֶף לְמִדַּת הַמֶּלֶךְ שְׂדֹתֵינוּ וּכְרָמֵינוּ.

5  Yet now our flesh is as 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 into bondage already; neither is it in our power to help it; for other men have our fields and our vineyards.’

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  And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words.

ו  וַיִּחַר לִי מְאֹד כַּאֲשֶׁר שָׁמַעְתִּי אֶת זַעֲקָתָם וְאֵת הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה.

7  Then I consulted with myself, and contended with the nobles and the rulers, and said unto them: ‘Ye lend upon pledge, every one to his brother.’ And I held a great assembly 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 I said unto them: ‘We after our ability have redeemed our brethren the Yehudim, that sold themselves unto the heathen; and would ye nevertheless sell your brethren, and should they sell themselves unto us?’ Then held they their peace, and found never a word.

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

9  Also I said: ‘The thing that ye do is not good; ought ye not to walk in the fear of our God, because of the reproach of the heathen our enemies?

ט  ויאמר (וָאֹמַר) לֹא טוֹב הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם עֹשִׂים הֲלוֹא בְּיִרְאַת אֱלֹהֵינוּ תֵּלֵכוּ מֵחֶרְפַּת הַגּוֹיִם אוֹיְבֵינוּ.

10  And I likewise, my brethren and my servants, have lent them money and corn. I pray you, let us leave off this exaction.

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

11  Restore, I pray you, to them, even this day, their fields, their vineyards, their oliveyards, and their houses, also the hundred pieces of silver, and the corn, the wine, and the oil, that ye exact of them.’

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

12  Then said they: ‘We will restore them, and will require nothing of them; so will we do, even as thou sayest.’ Then I called the Kohanim, and took an oath of them, that they should do according to this promise.

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

13  Also I shook out my lap, and said: ‘So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labour, that performeth not this promise; even thus be he shaken out, and emptied.’ And all the congregation said: ‘Amen’, and praised Hashem. And the people did according to 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  Moreover from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Yehuda, from the twentieth year even unto the two and thirtieth year of Artachshasta the king, that is, twelve years, I and my brethren have not eaten the bread of the governor.

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

15  But the former governors that were before me laid burdens upon the people, and took of them for bread and wine above forty shekels of silver; yea, even their servants lorded over the people; but so did not I, because of the fear of God.

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 of them for bread and wine

More than any other produce, bread and wine were the staples of ancient society. Bread provides basic nourishment, and wine, while in our lives considered a luxury, was needed for its alcoholic properties which would be used to disinfect water, thus making it potable. 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 each are 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 special agricultural products associated with the Land of Israel (Deuteronomy 8:8). Today, after 2,000 years of desolation, Israel prophetically boasts a booming agriculture and over 200 wineries that produce award-winning wines.

Comment

16  Yea, also I set hand to the work of this wall, neither bought we any land; and all my servants were gathered thither unto the work.

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

17  Moreover there were at my table of the Yehudim and the rulers a hundred and fifty men, beside those that came unto us from among the nations that were round about us.

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

18  Now that which was prepared for one day was one ox and six choice sheep, also fowls were prepared for me; and once in ten days store of all sorts of wine; yet for all this I demanded not the bread of the governor, because the service was heavy upon this 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  Remember unto me, O my God, for good, 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