Jeremiah 40

Chapter 40

Jeremiah Remains in Judah. 1 This word came to Jeremiah from the Lord after Nebuzaradan, the commander of the guard, had released him at Ramah, where he had found him imprisoned in chains with all the other captives from Jerusalem and Judah who were being deported to Babylon.

2 The commander of the guard took Jeremiah aside and said to him, “The Lord, your God, foretold the disaster that would overwhelm this place. 3 Now he has brought about what he threatened to do to your people because they sinned against the Lord and refused to obey him. 4 But today I am removing the chains from your hands. If you so wish, you can come with me to Babylon, and I will take good care of you. However, if you do not wish to come with me to Babylon, you need not do so. Endless stretches of land lie before you. Go wherever you think it is best for you.”

5 Then, before Jeremiah could reply, Nebuzaradan added, “You can also go back to Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon has appointed governor of the towns of Judah, and stay with him among your people, or go anywhere else you please.” Then the commander of the guard gave him food and gifts and let him go. 6 Jeremiah thereupon went to Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, in Mizpah, and he stayed with him among the people who were left in the land.

7 [a]When all the military leaders of the forces still in the open country heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, as governor over the land and had placed in his care the men, women, and children who were the most destitute of all the people there who had not been carried off into exile to Babylon, 8 they went with their forces to Gedaliah in Mizpah: Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah; Johanan and Jonathan, the sons of Kareah; Seraiah, the son of Tanhumeth; the sons of Ephai of Netophah; Jezaniah, the son of Beth-maacah.

9 Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, swore an oath to reassure them and their men, saying, “Do not be afraid to serve the Chaldeans. Settle down in the land, serve the king of Babylon, and all will go well with you. 10 I myself will remain in Mizpah to represent you before the Chaldeans who come to us. As for you, harvest the wine, the summer fruits, and the oil. Store them in your vessels and settle in the towns that you have seized.”

11 When all the Judeans who were living in Moab with the Ammonites, in Edom, and elsewhere heard that the king of Babylon had left a remnant in Judah and had appointed Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, as governor over them, 12 they all returned to Judah from the places to which they had been driven. They presented themselves to Gedaliah at Mizpah and gathered a rich harvest of wine and summer fruits.

13 Gedaliah’s Murder. Now Johanan, the son of Kareah, and all the leaders of the forces still stationed in the open country came to Gedaliah at Mizpah 14 and said to him, “Are you at all aware that Baalis, the king of the Ammonites, has sent Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah, to assassinate you?” But Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, refused to believe them.

15 Then Johanan, the son of Kareah, spoke privately to Gedaliah at Mizpah, saying, “Please authorize me to go and kill Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah. No one will be the wiser. Why should he be allowed to assassinate you, thus causing all the Jews who have rallied around you to be scattered and the remnant of Judah to perish?” 16 But Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, replied to Johanan, the son of Kareah, “Do not even think of doing such a thing. What you are saying about Ishmael is untrue.”

Footnotes

  1. Jeremiah 40:7 It was not in the interests of the Chaldeans to allow anarchy, and therefore, they appointed a governor, Gedaliah, a Jew. A civil war broke out, and the governor was its first victim. Fearing the reaction of the Chaldeans, the people of Judah fled to Egypt. Jeremiah refused to take part in this exodus but was drawn against his will into this painful business.

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