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!