Nehemiah 5:14
Moreover from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year even to the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that is, twelve years, I and my brothers have not eaten the bread of the governor.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14-19) Nehemiah’s vindication of his own conduct.

(14) I was appointed.That he appointed me, viz., Artaxerxes.

Twelve years.—The whole narrative, thus far, was written after his return from Jerusalem, and on a review of his governorship; hence, “their governor in the land of Judah.” Of his second appointment the same thing might have been said: but that, at the time of writing, was in the future.

I and my brethren have not eaten the bread of the governor.—At the close of the twelve years’ term, Nehemiah could say that he and his official attendants had not drawn the customary allowances from the people.

Nehemiah 5:14. Moreover, from the time that I was appointed governor — He had mentioned his own practice, as an inducement to the nobles not to burden the poor, no, not with just demands; and he here relates more particularly what his practice was, not through pride or vain glory, but to excite both his successors, and the inferior magistrates, to be as tender as might be of the people’s ease. Twelve years — Not that he had continued so long at one time at Jerusalem; but he had so long governed the Jews, by himself when present, and in his absence by deputies. I and my brethren — My fellow-officers and deputies, who, as they were to do my work, might have required my rights; have not eaten the bread of the governor — Have not taken that allowance which, by the laws of God and nations, and of the king of Persia, the governors might require. It is perfectly reasonable that they who do the public business should be maintained at the public charge. But Nehemiah would not accept that maintenance, because he saw it would be burdensome to his countrymen; but either lived upon his own estates, which he had in Judah, or upon the riches he had acquired in Babylon, when he was the king’s cup-bearer.5:14-19 Those who truly fear God, will not dare to do any thing cruel or unjust. Let all who are in public places remember that they are so placed to do good, not to enrich themselves. Nehemiah mentions it to God in prayer, not as if he had merited any favour from God, but to show that he depended upon God only, to make up to him what he had lost and laid out for his honour. Nehemiah evidently spake and acted as one that knew himself to be a sinner. He did not mean to claim a reward as of debt, but in the manner that the Lord rewards a cup of cold water given to a disciple for his sake. The fear and love of God in the heart, and true love of the brethren, will lead to every good work. These are proper evidences of justifying faith; and our reconciled God will look upon persons of this character for good, according to all they have done for his people.Have not eaten the bread of the governor - i. e. "have not, like other Persian governors, lived at the expense of the people under my government." See Ezra 4:14 note. 14. Moreover from the time that I was appointed … I and my brethren have not eaten the bread of the governor—We have a remarkable proof both of the opulence and the disinterestedness of Nehemiah. As he declined, on conscientious grounds, to accept the lawful emoluments attached to his government, and yet maintained a style of princely hospitality for twelve years out of his own resources, it is evident that his office of cup-bearer at the court of Shushan must have been very lucrative. Twelve years; not that he continued so long together at Jerusalem, of which see Nehemiah 2:6; but that he so long governed Jerusalem by himself when he was present, and in his absence by a deputy.

I and my brethren; either my fellow officers, or they whom I left in my stead, who as they were to do any work, so might have required my rights.

The bread of the governor, i.e. that allowance which by the laws of God and nations, and of the king of Persia, the governors might require for the maintenance of their own dignity and office, and of the public service. Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah,.... That is, by the king of Persia, which was not done when he was first sent into Judea; but very probably when he had finished the wall in fifty two days, he returned to Persia, and gave the king an account of his success, and how things stood in those parts, when he judged it necessary to send him again in the character of a governor, and which was still within the same year, as follows: from the twentieth year, even unto the thirty second year of Artaxerxes, that is, twelve years; see Nehemiah 13:6.

I and my brethren have not eaten the bread of the governor; which was fit and proper for him, and used to be given him; neither he, nor those that assisted him in the government, the principal men he brought along with him, and put into posts and places under him.

Moreover from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year even unto the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that is, twelve years, I and my brethren have not eaten the {m} bread of the governor.

(m) I did not receive the portion and diet which the governors who were before me exacted, in which he declares that he rather sought the wealth of the people than his own convenience.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14–19. Nehemiah recounts other measures by which as governor he endeavoured to relieve the condition of his brethren

14. Moreover, &c.] i.e. Here is another instance. During the whole tenure of his office, Nehemiah provided out of his own purse for the expenses of his official position.

from the time …, that is, twelve years] Nehemiah was governor or Pekhah of Judah for twelve years, apparently from b.c. 445 or 4 to b.c. 433 or 432, cf. Nehemiah 13:6 with Nehemiah 2:1. See however Additional Note, p. 320.

have not eaten the bread of the governor] i.e. the provisions usually supplied by the province for the maintenance of its Pekhah and his household. ‘Bread’ of course must not be understood literally. It is explained in the next verse by ‘bread and wine, beside forty shekels of silver.’Verse 14. - From the day that I was appointed. Literally, "from the day that he (i.e. Artaxerxes) appointed me." From the twentieth year. See above, Nehemiah 2:1. The appointment, having taken place in Nisan, was in B.C. 444. Unto the two and thirtieth year. We see here that this chapter, and therefore, probably, the entire first section (chs. 1-7.) of this Book, was not written until B.C. 432, the year in which Nehemiah returned to the Persian court from Jerusalem (Nehemiah 13:6). I and my brethren have not eaten the bread of the governor. i.e. "have not lived at the expense of our subjects, as Persian governors do ordinarily." Nehemiah's brethren here are probably not his brothers only, but his entire court. In this assembly he reproached them with the injustice of their behaviour. "We" (said he) "have, after our ability, redeemed our brethren the Jews which were sold unto the heathen; yet ye would sell your brethren, and they are to be sold to us." We (i.e., Nehemiah and the Jews living in exile, who were like-minded with him) have bought, in contrast to ye sell. They had redeemed their Jewish brethren who were sold to the heathen. בנוּ כּדי for בנוּ אשׁר כּדי, i.e., not according to the full number of those who were among us, meaning as often as a sale of this kind occurred (Bertheau); for דּי does not mean completeness, multitude, but only sufficiency, supply, adequacy of means (Leviticus 25:26); hence בנוּ כּדי is: according to the means that we had: secundum sufficientiam vel facultatem, quae in nobis est (Ramb.), or secundum possibilitatem nostram (Vulg.). The contrast is still more strongly expressed by the placing of גּם before אתּם, so that וגם acquires the meaning of nevertheless (Ewald, 354, a). The sale of their brethren for bond-servants was forbidden by the law, Leviticus 25:42. The usurers had nothing to answer to this reproach. "They held their peace, and found no word," sc. in justification of their proceedings.
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