Nehemiah 5 and his Faithfulness


Nehemiah was a faithful man that feared God in his life (5:15). God breathed through all his actions so to speak. It was that way when he was Secretary of State with Artaxerxes I as cupbearer and it was the same when he came to Israel again.

Nehemiah was very wealthy (5:17). Every day he bought one cow and six sheep to be slaughtered for a meal to his 150 men working for him plus their wives and children (5:18). If every man was married it would make the group 300 and if they had an average of 2 children per family, it would make it a total of 600 mouths that had to be fed. In South Korea a cow costs nearly $5000 and a sheep nearly $3500 each. He completed the wall in 52 days (Nehemiah 6:15) thus the total cost of all this beef was: $1, 461,200. This he provided for his servants working for him on the wall.

He also supplied them every ten days with wine. Wine in the Bible is in a good sense following God and his warnings against alcohol-wine in Proverbs 23 et al. jam, raisons, juice in various forms, pulp etc. The context describes the meaning of this word in the Bible. Good context, good wine, bad context, alcohol.

He did not buy a land but his workers worked on the wall. All of them.

While the cupbearer or Secretary of State of Artaxerxes I in 444, he purchased the freedom of a number of Jews in slavery to bring them back to the land with him (5:8).

Some wealthy nobles and leaders came with him too and they are soon going to be key players in this drama.

These men that were saved from slavery in Persia were given a land, fields, vineyards and a house (5:2). However, because of tax (5:4) and drought there was a famine (5:3).

The famine made them borrow money from Nehemiah (5:10). But Nehemiah’s hand was only one hand outstretched towards these poverty stricken fellow believers. Extortionism was not in his thinking.


설명: D:\Nehemiah 5 Diagram.jpeg

Then one of the poverty stricken people could not take it any longer and came to complain to him about their situation. He said that the nobles gave them money but they charge them interest (5:7) or took their houses as mortgage (5:3-4) or their vineyard or field or land or even their children had to work as slaves (5:5). When Nehemiah heard this, he was furious or angry (5:6). The word in Hebrew, khara is the same as the one that made Moses angry to throw down the tablets of the Ten Commandment. The same when God is angry with the wicked.

He did not act immediately. He pondered it over a while. The literal Hebrew says: “I ruled my heart”. It means the heart was stormy but his faith-connection with God in his mind, made him calm down and think carefully what to do or what to say. He had to calm himself down but spiritually for that is what it was going to take to solve the problem.

He called the nobles and leaders and complain to them about their extortionism. Their selfish greediness. He ordered them to immediately give back the houses, lands, vineyards and fields, the grain, the oil, the money that they took for interest.

All people agreed and said Amen (5:12). He then called the priests to have an oath to God and after than took of his mantle and shook it out asking them if they saw anything dropping. The answer is no. So they will also end with nothing if they do not follow this oath (5:13). Very dramatic and powerful. Profound.

He ended with his own example that since he came to Israel in 444 BCE for the whole period until 432 BCE he did not charge any money from anyone although he was entitled to 40 shekels and food of all kinds (5:14).

Moses said that one should not charge interest from you fellow faithful believers (Deuteronomy 23:30). From the unfaithful foreigner one can charge but not from the remnant. Leviticus 25:39-40 said that one cannot make the faithful to work in a slavery system.

Nehemiah was fearing God and he was going to follow Moses up to every letter of the Word of God.


Dear God

Also us want to follow and fear God up to every letter of Your Word. Keep us to Your Word in Jesus Name. Amen.