|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:6-13 Nehemiah knew that, if he built Jerusalem's walls ever so high, so thick, or so strong, the city could not be safe while there were abuses. The right way to reform men's lives, is to convince their consciences. If you walk in the fear of God, you will not be either covetous of worldly gain, or cruel toward your brethren. Nothing exposes religion more to reproach, than the worldliness and hard-heartedness of the professors of it. Those that rigorously insist upon their right, with a very ill grace try to persuade others to give up theirs. In reasoning with selfish people, it is good to contrast their conduct with that of others who are liberal; but it is best to point to His example, who though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we, through his poverty, might be rich, 2Co 8:9. They did according to promise. Good promises are good things, but good performances are better.
Verse 6. - I was very angry. It is not clear that the letter of the law was infringed, unless it were in the matter of taking interest (ver. 11), of which the people had not complained. That men might sell their daughters to be concubines or secondary wives is clear from Exodus 21:7; and it is therefore probable that they might sell their sons for servants. But the servitude might only be for six years (Exodus 21:2); and if a jubilee year occurred before the sexennial period was out, the service was ended (Leviticus 25:10). Land too might be either mortgaged or sold (ibid. vers. 14-16), but under the condition that it returned to the seller, or at any rate to his tribe, in the jubilee year (ibid. vers. 10, 13). The spirit, however, of the law - the command, "Ye shall not oppress one another" (ibid. vers. 14, 17) - was transgressed by the proceedings of the rich men. It was their duty in a time of scarcity not to press hard upon their poorer brethren, but freely to alleviate their necessities. Nehemiah, his near relations, and his followers had done so to the utmost of their power (ver. 10, with the comment). The rich men had acted differently, and made all the profit that they could out of the need of their fellow-countrymen. Hence Nehemiah's anger.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And I was very angry when I heard their cry, and these words. Their complaint expressed in this manner; it not only raised pity and compassion in his breast towards these poor distressed people, but indignation at the rich that oppressed them.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ne 5:6-19. The Usurers Rebuked.
6-12. I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words—When such disorders came to the knowledge of the governor, his honest indignation was roused against the perpetrators of the evil. Having summoned a public assembly, he denounced their conduct in terms of just severity. He contrasted it with his own in redeeming with his money some of the Jewish exiles who, through debt or otherwise, had lost their personal liberty in Babylon. He urged the rich creditors not only to abandon their illegal and oppressive system of usury, but to restore the fields and vineyards of the poor, so that a remedy might be put to an evil the introduction of which had led to much actual disorder, and the continuance of which would inevitably prove ruinous to the newly restored colony, by violating the fundamental principles of the Hebrew constitution. The remonstrance was effectual. The conscience of the usurious oppressors could not resist the touching and powerful appeal. With mingled emotions of shame, contrition, and fear, they with one voice expressed their readiness to comply with the governor's recommendation. The proceedings were closed by the parties binding themselves by a solemn oath, administered by the priests, that they would redeem their pledge, as well as by the governor invoking, by the solemn and significant gesture of shaking a corner of his garment, a malediction on those who should violate it. The historian has taken care to record that the people did according to this promise.
Nehemiah 5:6 Parallel Commentaries
Nehemiah 5:6 NIV
Nehemiah 5:6 NLT
Nehemiah 5:6 ESV
Nehemiah 5:6 NASB
Nehemiah 5:6 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible