A Brave Knight
Then the common people and their wives raised a loud cry against their
fellow Jews. Some said, "We must give up our sons and our daughters in
pledge to get grain that we may eat and live." Others said, "We must
give up our fields and our vineyards and our houses, that we may get
grain because there is so little." Others said, "We have borrowed money
to pay the king's taxes. Although our flesh is as the flesh of our
hers, our children as their children; yet we must sell our sons and
our daughters as slaves. Some of our daughters have already been made
slaves, and it is not in our power to stop it, for our fields and our
vineyards belong to the nobles."
When I heard their cry and these words, I was very angry. After I had
thought about it, I rebuked the nobles and the rulers and said to them,
"You make each of your fellow Jews pay what you loan him."
Then I called a great meeting to protest against what they were doing.
And I said to them, "We ourselves have, as far as we could, bought back
our fellow Jews who have been sold to foreigners. Would you sell your
fellow Jews, and should they be sold to us?" Then they were silent and
could not find a word to say. So I said, "What you are doing is not
good. Ought you not to live in the fear of God, so as not to be an
object of shame to our foreign foes? I, too, my relatives, and my
servants lend the people money and grain. Let us stop taking anything
for what we lend. Give back to them at once their fields, their
vineyards, their olive-yards, and their houses, and whatever you have
made them pay for the money, the grain, the new wine and the oil."
Then they said, "We will give them back and will ask nothing from them;
we will do even as you say." Then I called the priests and made them
solemnly promise that they would do as they had said.
For twelve years from the time that I was appointed to be their governor
in the land of Judah, I and my relatives did not eat the food which was
my right as governor. But the governors who were before me were an
expense to the people and took from them bread and wine and forty pieces
of silver each day. Their servants also were cruel to the people. But I
did not do so, for I feared God. I also gave myself to the work on the
wall, and we did not buy any land, but all my servants were gathered
there for work. Also a hundred and fifty of the Jews and rulers, beside
those who came to us from other nations, were fed at my table. Each day
one ox and six choice sheep and fowls were prepared at my expense, and
once in ten days plenty of wine for all. Yet with all this expense, I
did not demand the food which was due me as governor, because the public
work was a heavy burden upon this people. Remember to my credit, O my
God, all that I have done for them!