1. There was a great outcry from the people, and from their wives, against their brother Jews.
2. Some said, 'We are having to pledge our sons and daughters to get enough grain to eat and keep us alive.'
3. Others said, 'We are having to mortgage our fields, our vineyards and our houses to get grain because of the shortage.'
4. Still others said, 'We have had to borrow money on our fields and our vineyards to pay the royal tax;
5. and though we belong to the same race as our brothers, and our children are as good as theirs, we shall have to sell our sons and our daughters into slavery; some of our daughters have been sold into slavery already. We can do nothing about it, since our fields and our vineyards now belong to others.'
6. When I heard their complaints and these words I was very angry.
7. Having turned the matter over in my mind, I reprimanded the nobles and the officials as follows, 'Each of you is imposing a burden on his brother.' Summoning a great assembly to deal with them,
8. I said to them, 'To the best of our power, we have redeemed our brother Jews who were forced to sell themselves to foreigners, and now you in turn are selling your brothers, for them to be bought back by us!' They were silent and could find nothing to say.
9. 'What you are doing', I went on, 'is wrong. Do you not want to walk in the fear of our God and escape the sneers of the nations, our enemies?
10. I too, with my brothers and retainers, have lent them money and grain. Let us cancel these pledges.
11. This very day return them their fields, their vineyards, their olive groves and their houses, and cancel the claim on the money, grain, new wine and olive oil, which you have lent them.'
12. 'We shall make restitution,' they replied, 'we shall claim nothing more from them; we shall do as you say.' Summoning the priests, I then made them swear to do as they had promised.
13. Then, shaking out the fold of my garment, I said, 'May God thus shake out of house and possessions anyone who does not make good this promise; may he be shaken out thus and left empty!' And the whole assembly answered, 'Amen' and praised Yahweh. And the people kept this promise.
14. What is more, from the time when the king appointed me to be their governor in Judah, from the twentieth to the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, for twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ever levied the governor's subsistence allowance,
15. whereas the former governors, my predecessors, had been a burden on the people, from whom they took forty silver shekels a day for food and wine, while their attendants oppressed the people too. But I, fearing God, never did this.
16. Also, not acquiring any land, I concentrated on the work of this wall and all my attendants joined in the work together, too.
17. Furthermore, magistrates and officials to the number of a hundred and fifty ate at my table, not to mention those who came to us from the surrounding nations.
18. Every day, one ox, six fine sheep, as well as poultry, were prepared for me; every ten days, skins of wine were brought in bulk. But even so, I never claimed the governor's subsistence allowance, since the people already had burden enough to bear.
19. To my credit, my God, remember all I have done for this people.