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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 40

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-16

Jeremiah 40:1 . The word which came to Jeremiah bound in chains. This word is found in Jeremiah 42:9; and the intervening history is a parenthesis of Ishmael’s treason. Jeremiah was now about seventy two years of age. What a sight to see him brought out of prison loaded with a chain; a day of liberation to him, and of death and captivity to his enemies.

Jeremiah 40:6 . Then went Jeremiah to Mizpah, to Gedaliah, a prince of David’s house, now made governor over the poor. Mizpah, mentioned in Joshua 15:38, was now the seat of the new government. It lay about sixteen miles south of Jerusalem, and had escaped destruction in the war. The elders of Israel had repeatedly assembled here on national business. 2 Chronicles 16:6; 2 Chronicles 16:6.

Jeremiah 40:7 . All the captains of the forces heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah governor in the land. These five captains commanded detachments, or local assemblages of men in distant parts of the land; and being of a princely rank, they seem to have fled with Zedekiah. Their names are given in 2 Kings 25:23. Ishmael, Johanan, Jonathan, Seraiah, and Jezaniah. Under these princes, Judea might have recovered a little, had not the crying sins of the people demanded the full execution of the sentence, that the land should lie desolate.

Jeremiah 40:10 . I will dwell at Mizpah. The Chaldees established their head quarters between this place and Ramah during the siege. Hence they left their official persons there in Gedaliah’s court.

Jeremiah 40:14 . Dost thou certainly know that Baalis the king of the Ammonites hath sent Ishmael to slay thee? Gedaliah, meditating good for his country, could not believe that any one would conspire against him. But those captains knew the character and pride of Ishmael, and that he, as a prince of David’s house, could not bear to see Gedaliah fill his father’s throne, though under the appellation of governor. Kings and princely rulers should have guards. Of what use is power without an arm? Times of trouble are times of caution and alarm. But Baalis and Ishmael were blind in seeking a sovereignty over Judah by crimes. They knew not that Rabbah would in four years more be in flames like Jerusalem, where it is probable that both those wicked men perished. See Jeremiah 49:2.

Jeremiah 40:15 . Let me go and I will slay Ishmael. Gedaliah was just in disallowing this advice to slay a bad man, and a prince of David’s house too, on mere suspicion; but he foolishly lost his life, and the lives of all his household in making Ishmael a feast, instead of being on his guard, having assassins and murderers for his guests.


The Chaldees having swept the country of Judea as with a besom of rapine and carnage, generously showed mercy to a remnant of the poor, who were not thought proper for captivity; and it is generally the case, that a poor man’s condition is more safe than a rich man’s in times of national confusion.

The Lord who directs the storm of national visitation, has a particular care of the righteous. God having preserved Jeremiah unhurt, though daily speaking terrible things against his country, at last permitted him to be imprisoned. His enemies did this with a view to take his life. But God commissioned them to send him thither that his cell might be an asylum of safety, and that as a state prisoner he might be recommended to the particular notice of the Chaldeans. Who then would fear to trust the Lord in the dark and cloudy day? How admirable was the piety of this holy prophet, to prefer poverty with his desolate flock in Judea, to affluence in Babylon, under royal patronage.

When God arises in anger against his enemies he pursues them to extremities. Not only the poor, but many of the nobles, and the soldiers of Zedekiah escaped the calamities of the siege by retiring to the fields or corners of the land; yet because of their apostasy and wickedness, vengeance would give them no repose. Ishmael, of David’s line, who had taken refuge with the king of Ammon, was so piqued at seeing Gedaliah made governor, that he resolved to assassinate both him and his court, and bring the whole under the influence of the king of Ammon. What wickedness oozes from the heart of man when malignant passions agitate the soul, and how shamefully does passion triumph over reason. Surely this monster never thought that all the world would hate him for his deeds; that his memory would be execrated, that the king of Ammon would ultimately both fear and hate his guest, and that divine vengeance would pursue both his body and his soul. When calamities hang over the heads of men, God often gives them warning for their good. So Gedaliah was warned of Ishmael’s intention; and he perished in his folly for not putting his visitor, the emissary of a hostile prince, under an arrest.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 40". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/jeremiah-40.html. 1835.
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