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July 1, 2017

Throughout the Old and New Testament, there are instructions on the treatment of poor individuals. Also, lest we think that the existence of needy individuals in this world is temporary Jesus informs us differently in words He spoke to his disciples in Mark 14:7a, “For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good.” In chapter 5, this issue of poverty and the treatment of the poor in the Israel community arose. Despite the laws concerning the poor (Exodus 22, 23; Leviticus 19, 23, 25; Deuteronomy 14, 15, 24) given to Israel by God via Moses there were greedy, disobedient, wealthy individuals who were oppressing their fellow countrymen. Thus, Nehemiah had to address and rectify this problem.

Three groups had come to Nehemiah and informed him of their suffering due to hunger, famine, working on the wall instead of harvesting their crop and the Persian taxes. Also, children were being enslaved, and exorbitant interest was being paid to the wealthy.

This report greatly disturbed Nehemiah, who first reflected on the matter before he took any action. Then Nehemiah chided the wealthy Jews who were exploiting the poor and using himself as an example, shared his practice of buying back and releasing the Jews that had been sold into slavery.

After being addressed by Nehemiah, the guilty parties agreed to rectify their injustices and restore all that had been taken without penalty. Additionally, Nehemiah made them take an oath before the priest to seal their pledge, and he gave them a symbolic illustration of what would happen to them if they disobeyed their oath.

The chapter ends with a short synopsis of Nehemiah’s tenure as governor, how he served the people, cared for those in his household, and his desire for God to bless him for his actions.

The gleaning points that I have received from this chapter are:

  1. When people are in oppressive situations, they will cry.
  2. People want to be fed.
  3. Disobedience results in hardship.
  4. Think before speaking.
  5. Speak directly to wrongdoers.
  6. When you are wrong, don’t attempt to justify your wrongdoings.
  7. Don’t give the world reasons to criticize or judge you.
  8. Restoration is needed to rectify injustices.
  9. Be true to your words.
  10. Your actions reveal your servanthood qualities.


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