And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words. Then I consulted with myself, and I rebuked the nobles, and the rulers, and said unto them, Ye exact usury, every one of his brother. And I set a great assembly against them.  And I said unto them, We after our ability have redeemed our brethren the Jews, which were sold unto the heathen; and will ye even sell your brethren? or shall they be sold unto us? Then held they their peace, and found nothing to answer.  Also I said, It is not good that ye do: ought ye not to walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the heathen our enemies?  I likewise, and my brethren, and my servants, might exact of them money and corn: I pray you, let us leave off this usury.  Restore, I pray you, to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their oliveyards, and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money, and of the corn, the wine, and the oil, that ye exact of them.  Then said they, We will restore them, and will require nothing of them; so will we do as thou sayest. Then I called the priests, and took an oath of them, that they should do according to this promise.  Also I shook my lap, and said, So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labour, that performeth not this promise, even thus be he shaken out, and emptied. And all the congregation said, Amen, and praised the LORD. And the people did according to this promise. Nehemiah 5:6-13
Nehemiah listened as the Jews told him what was happening with their fellow countrymen. Nehemiah was angry and rebuked the rulers. What they were doing was out right extortion. When the rebuking was over the nobles and rulers had no answer. I’m sure they knew they were wrong. John Gill says, “being convinced they had done wrong, by the arguments used, to which they could make no reply.”
Nehemiah took the silent to move ahead with his discourse. You need to “walk in the fear of God”, stop the taxing and restore what you took. The people agreed and Nehemiah made them take an oath and promise to do what they said.
Keil & Delitzsch Commentary: “To make the agreement thus sworn to still more binding, Nehemiah confirmed the proceeding by a symbolical action: Also I shook my lap, and said, So may God shake out every man from his house, and from his labour, that performeth (fulfilleth) not this promise, and thus may he be shaken out and emptied. ... The symbolical action consisted in Nehemiah's gathering up his garment as if for the purpose of carrying something, and then shaking it out with the words above stated, which declared the meaning of the act.”
The whole congregation approved with a hearty Amen (so be it). The people praised God and did what they promised.
What would you do if every time you made a promise before God someone was there to make you take an oath to keep the promise? We need to be careful of what we say and what we promise. God takes promises seriously.
Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2
Have a blessed day,
Psalm 121 – A Promise from God’s Word
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