Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Nehemiah-So Overworked We Became Mean

By Mary Vee
Nehemiah 5

From Nehemiah's Journal




My name is Nehemiah. I have been a servant in Babylon for a long time. I was cupbearer to the king. 

I must admit, the years I'd spent growing up in Babylon as a servant seemed really difficult at the time. My Jewish brothers worked, how we worked to stay alive in the foreign country, to build homes, to please those who had power over us.




And now this problem. 

Every man worked on his section of the wall around the city of Jerusalem either by doing the physical work or by guarding those who did the physical work. We were tired. Hadn't eaten a decent meal in a while. Probably didn't drink enough water, either. 

We were cranky.

On top of lack of sleep, we tried our best to keep up. I mean, my Jewish brothers who worked on the wall got along just fine. Each man doing and give more than could be expected.

The problem was the nobles. These men refused to do any work. They didn't think they needed to. They even paid workers to do their assignment.

The nobles continued to get wealthier while the men who worked on the wall to protect the city left their fields. Their farms didn't bring in enough food as a result. Several families begged the nobles to lend them money.

And that's when the trouble began.

Because the men weren't there to work the farms the farms didn't produce enough food to pay the bills. The families couldn't pay back their debt to the nobles. They had to sell family members into slavery to stay alive.

Really?

Our nation is struggling and our own rich noblemen are taking slaves from those who cannot pay a debt because they are building the wall to protect the those very same noblemen and all the others Jews from our enemies? I was ANGRY.

I called the nobles and officials to a meeting and said, "You are taking money from your own countrymen! Can't you see how we worked to by back our Jewish brothers who were sold to the Gentiles? And now you are selling your brothers into slavery for yourself??? What are you doing?"

The nobles and official stood quietly. They couldn't find anything to say.

So I said more, "What you are doing is not right. Shouldn't you walk in the fear of our God to avoid mockery from our Gentile enemies? I, and my brothers, and my men are also lending the people money and grain. You...you need to stop taking tax and any other monies from your brothers. Give back their fields, vineyards, olive groves, and houses immediately. Give back the fees and taxes you're charging, you know I'm talking about the hundredth part of the money, grain, new wine, and oil. Give it all back."

A Jerusalem gate. They are not small!! At this point
the men have built these walls half this height.
Photo Courtesy
The nobles apologized. "You're right. We'll give it back. And we will not demand anything more from them. We'll do as you say."

 They may have felt sorry then, but I couldn't take their word as a promise. I called the priests and made the nobles and officials promise in front of the priests to follow through with their word.

After they said their promises, I said, "In this way may God shake out of his house and possessions every man who does not keep this promise. So may such a man be shaken out and emptied!"

Well, I think they understood not to cross their brothers again. 

All the men who had gathered, including the priests said, "Amen," and praised the Lord.

And...the men did as they promised.







Come back next time to see what happens.
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sources: New International Version, New King James Version 



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