Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Jeremiah 41

Verse 1

Jeremiah 41:1-18. Ishmael murders Gedaliah and others, then flees to the Ammonites. Johanan pursues him, recovers the captives, and purposes to flee to Egypt for fear of the Chaldeans.

seventh month — the second month after the burning of the city (Jeremiah 52:12, Jeremiah 52:13).

and the princes — not the nominative. And the princes came, for the “princes” are not mentioned either in Jeremiah 41:2 or in 2 Kings 25:25: but, “Ishmael being of the seed royal and of the princes of the king” [Maurer]. But the ten men were the “princes of the king”; thus Maurer‘s objection has no weight: so English Version.

eat bread together — Ishmael murdered Gedaliah, by whom he was hospitably received, in violation of the sacred right of hospitality (Psalm 41:9).

Verse 2

slew him whom the king of Babylon had made governor — This assigns a reason for their slaying him, as well as showing the magnitude of their crime (Daniel 2:21; Romans 13:1).

Verse 3

slew all the Jews — namely, the attendants and ministers of Gedaliah; or, the military alone, about his person; translate, “even (not ‹and,‘ as English Version) the men of war.” The main portion of the people with Gedaliah, including Jeremiah, Ishmael carried away captive (Jeremiah 41:10, Jeremiah 41:16).

Verse 4

no man knew it — that is, outside Mizpah. Before tidings of the murder had gone abroad.

Verse 5

beards shaven, etc. — indicating their deep sorrow at the destruction of the temple and city.

cut themselves — a heathen custom, forbidden (Leviticus 19:27, Leviticus 19:28; Deuteronomy 14:1). These men were mostly from Samaria, where the ten tribes, previous to their deportation, had fallen into heathen practices.

offerings — unbloody. They do not bring sacrificial victims, but “incense,” etc., to testify their piety.

house of  …  Lord — that is, the place where the house of the Lord had stood (2 Kings 25:9). The place in which a temple had stood, even when it had been destroyed, was held sacred [Papinian]. Those “from Shiloh” would naturally seek the house of the Lord, since it was at Shiloh it originally was set up (Joshua 18:1).

Verse 6

weeping — pretending to weep, as they did, for the ruin of the temple.

Come to Gedaliah — as if he was one of Gedaliah‘s retinue.

Verse 7

pit — He had not killed them in the pit (compare Jeremiah 41:9); these words are therefore rightly supplied in English Version.

the pit — the pit or cistern made by Asa to guard against a want of water when Baasha was about to besiege the city (Jeremiah 41:9; 1 Kings 15:22). The trench or fosse round the city [Grotius]. Ishmael‘s motive for the murder seems to have been a suspicion that they were coming to live under Gedaliah.

Verse 8

treasures — It was customary to hide grain in cavities underground in troubled times. “We have treasures,” which we will give, if our lives be spared.

slew  …  not — (Proverbs 13:8). Ishmael‘s avarice and needs overcame his cruelty.

Verse 9

because of Gedaliah — rather, “near Gedaliah,” namely, those intercepted by Ishmael on their way from Samaria to Jerusalem and killed at Mizpah, where Gedaliah had lived. So 2 Chronicles 17:15, “next”; Nehemiah 3:2, Margin, literally, as here, “at his hand.” “In the reign of Gedaliah” [Calvin]. However, English Version gives a good sense: Ishmael‘s reason for killing them was because of his supposing them to be connected with Gedaliah.

Verse 10

the king‘s daughters — (Jeremiah 43:6). Zedekiah‘s. Ishmael must have got additional followers (whom the hope of gain attracted), besides those who originally set out with him (Jeremiah 41:1), so as to have been able to carry off all the residue of the people. He probably meant to sell them as slaves to the Ammonites (see on Jeremiah 40:14).

Verse 11

Johanan — the friend of Gedaliah who had warned him of Ishmael‘s treachery, but in vain (Jeremiah 40:8, Jeremiah 40:13).

Verse 12

waters — (2 Samuel 2:13); a large reservoir or lake.

in Gibeon — on the road from Mizpah to Ammon: one of the sacerdotal cities of Benjamin, four miles northwest of Jerusalem, now Eljib.

Verse 13

glad — at the prospect of having a deliverer from their captivity.

Verse 14

cast about — came round.

Verse 16

men of war — “The men of war,” stated in Jeremiah 41:3 to have been slain by Ishmael, must refer to the military about Gedaliah‘s person; “the men of war” here to those not so.

eunuchs — The kings of Judah had adopted the bad practice of having harems and eunuchs from the surrounding heathen kingdoms.

Verse 17

dwelt — for a time, until they were ready for their journey to Egypt (Jeremiah 42:1-22).

habitation to Chimham — his “caravanserai” close by Beth-lehem. David, in reward for Barzillai‘s loyalty, took Chimham his son under his patronage, and made over to him his own patrimony in the land of Beth-lehem. It was thence called the habitation of Chimham (Geruth-Chimham), though it reverted to David‘s heirs in the year of jubilee. “Caravanserais” (a compound Persian word, meaning “the house of a company of travelers”) differ from our inns, in that there is no host to supply food, but each traveler must carry with him his own.

Verse 18

afraid — lest the Chaldeans should suspect all the Jews of being implicated in Ishmael‘s treason, as though the Jews sought to have a prince of the house of David (Jeremiah 41:1). Their better way towards gaining God‘s favor would have been to have laid the blame on the real culprit, and to have cleared themselves. A tortuous policy is the parent of fear. Righteousness inspires with boldness (Psalm 53:5; Proverbs 28:1).

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 41". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.