And there was a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brethren the Jews. For there were that said, We, our sons, and our daughters, are many: therefore we take up corn for them, that we may eat, and live. Some also there were that said, We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards, and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth. There were also that said, We have borrowed money for the king’s tribute, and that upon our lands and vineyards. Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children: and, lo, we bring into bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants, and some of our daughters are brought unto bondage already: neither is it in our power to redeem them; for other men have our lands and vineyards. – Nehemiah 5:1-5
There was a drought or some other natural problem that caused crops to fail that year. All sorts of grain were being sold at a hefty price. The nobles of Jews were able to buy up grain and were selling it at an even higher price to their fellow Jews that were poor. When the poor were unable to pay, the nobles would take property and land as collateral for a loan with a very high interest rate(usury). The problem go so bad that the poor had basically given sold all their possessions and were selling their children as bondservants just to be able to buy food.
Even without the laws given to the Jews by God forbidding such practices, anyone can see that this is a cruel and horrible way to treat anyone much less your own countrymen.
The poor came to Nehemiah and complained about what was going on. Need-less-to-say, Nehemiah was hopping mad about this.
And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words. – Nehemiah 5:6
As Christians, we are taught to take care of others as well as we care for ourselves, particularly within our own church congregation. Paul teaches it this way:
Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. – Philippians 2:4
If we see someone in need, and we are able to help, we should help them. And do not charge interest on a loan! We should just give them what they need to help them get back on their feet. And not only this, if we see this punitive behavior happening, we should get angry, just like Nehemiah! Then, we should work to fix the problem immediately.
There are times when anger is a righteous thing. This is one of those times.