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the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 40

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, after that Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had let him go from Ramah, when he had taken him being bound in chains among all that were carried away captive of Jerusalem and Judah, which were carried away captive unto Babylon.

The word of the Lord which came to Jeremiah. — This word, what it was, Jeremiah will show, Jeremiah 42:7 after the circumstances of his enlargement related, and other matters of story premised. Vatablus rendereth it, Actio quam gessit Dominus cum Ieremiah.

After that Nebuzaradan had let him go from Ramah. — Which was the place of rendezvous, whither Jeremiah was also brought, with the rest of the captives, and manacled also - as he was found in the court of the prison - but soon set free and dismissed. A difference shall one day - at that great day especially - be discerned "between the righteous and the wicked; between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not." Malachi 3:18 Jeremiah is here, by some oversight of the officers, contrary to Nebuchadnezzar’s command, Jeremiah 39:11 ; Jeremiah 39:14 but not without a special providence of God, brought bound to Ramah, ad opprobrium gentis, et in gloriam suam: that the Jews, now captives, and to be carried to Babylon, might see their madness in persecuting so true a prophet, and persevering in their sinful practices, to their so utter undoing, against all admonition.

Verse 2

And the captain of the guard took Jeremiah, and said unto him, The LORD thy God hath pronounced this evil upon this place.

And the captain of the guard took Jeremiah. — Took him and loosed him, as he should have done before.

Saying, The Lord thy God hath pronounced this evil upon this place.Oratio militaris, sed bene theologica. A strange speech to come out of such a man’s mouth. How could the captives present hear it, and not be affected with it? Thus Balaam’s ass sometimes rebuked his master’s madness, but to little good effect.

Verse 3

Now the LORD hath brought [it], and done according as he hath said: because ye have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed his voice, therefore this thing is come upon you.

Now the Lord hath brought it, and done according. — A bad man, we see, may speak piously. Samuel himself could not have spoken more gravely, severely, divinely, than the fiend did to Saul. 1 Samuel 28:13-20 Well then may lewd men be good preachers, …

Verse 4

And now, behold, I loose thee this day from the chains which [were] upon thine hand. If it seem good unto thee to come with me into Babylon, come; and I will look well unto thee: but if it seem ill unto thee to come with me into Babylon, forbear: behold, all the land [is] before thee: whither it seemeth good and convenient for thee to go, thither go.

And now, behold, I loose thee. — I dismiss thee with all due honour, as a true prophet, however undervalued and afflicted by thine unworthy countrymen.

Come, and I will look well unto thee. — Heb., I will set mine eye upon thee, that is, I will give thee singular respect, and observe thee to the utmost.

Behold, all the land is before thee. — What could Pharaoh say more to Joseph? Genesis 47:6 or Abraham to Lot? Genesis 13:9

Verse 5

Now while he was not yet gone back, [he said], Go back also to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon hath made governor over the cities of Judah, and dwell with him among the people: or go wheresoever it seemeth convenient unto thee to go. So the captain of the guard gave him victuals and a reward, and let him go.

Now while he was not yet gone back. — But yet showed by his looks or otherwise, Ex ipso vultu vel silentio Ieremiae, … that he was not willing to go to Babylon; Nebuchadnezzar, who had already set his eyes upon him, as Jeremiah 40:4 perceiving it, said,

Go back unto Gedaliah. — Who shall both protect thee and provide for thee.

So the captain of the guard gave him victuals,i.e., Necessaries for his journey; for he came out of prison nudus tanquam ex mari, bare and needy.

And a reward. — Or, A present, fit for a prophet, donum honorarium, such as they used to give the seers, 1 Samuel 9:8 1 Kings 14:3 and such as he might safely and comfortably take, as from God himself, who had promised it. Jeremiah 15:11

Verse 6

Then went Jeremiah unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah; and dwelt with him among the people that were left in the land.

Then went Jeremiah unto Gedaliah. — Blessing himself from the Chaldeans’ proffered kindness (as Luther also did alate from the great Turk, who invited him to him, and promised him to be his good lord), he maketh Moses’s choice, Hebrews 11:25 and David’s, Psalms 84:10 rather to abide with God’s poor people in the promised land, than to be great in the court of Babylon. How few at this day would have been of his mind!

Verse 7

Now when all the captains of the forces which [were] in the fields, [even] they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam governor in the land, and had committed unto him men, and women, and children, and of the poor of the land, of them that were not carried away captive to Babylon;

Now when all the captains of the forces that were in the fields. — The dispersed Jews, with their captains and centurions, such as had lain lurking during the siege, or had fled when Zedekias did, and escaped.

Heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah. — Whom they knew to be a pious and prudent man; and would be a father unto them instead of a king. Nebuchadnezzar might have set a Babylonian governor, who would have ruled them with rigour. But God, in mercy to his poor people, moved him to make choice of this man, famous for his mildness and integrity; to whom therefore they resort, but not all for the same good end, as the sequel showed; for Ishmael was a very Judas.

Verse 8

Then they came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, even Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Johanan and Jonathan the sons of Kareah, and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth, and the sons of Ephai the Netophathite, and Jezaniah the son of a Maachathite, they and their men.

Then they came to Gedaliah to Mizpah. — Where Samuel dwelt, 1 Samuel 7:16-17 not far from Shiloh.

Even Ishmael. — Who was of the blood royal Jeremiah 41:1 and envied Gedaliah his so great preferment, whom he looked upon for a transfuga, deserter and a traitor, for revolting to Nebuchadnezzar, which yet he did in obedience to God’s word by the prophet Jeremiah.

Verse 9

And Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan sware unto them and to their men, saying, Fear not to serve the Chaldeans: dwell in the land, and serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you.

And Gedaliah sware unto them, — viz., That what he spake was from his heart, and out of good affection to them all.

Verse 10

As for me, behold, I will dwell at Mizpah to serve the Chaldeans, which will come unto us: but ye, gather ye wine, and summer fruits, and oil, and put [them] in your vessels, and dwell in your cities that ye have taken.

As for me, behold, I will dwell at Mizpah. — To agitate for you, to the Chaldeans; and to secure you to mine utmost.

But ye, gather ye wine.Humanissima haec sunt, pia, et utilissima Gedaliae verba ad populum. It was a wonder the Chaldees, after so long a siege, had left any fruits behind them. Soldiers today lay all waste mostly.

Verse 11

Likewise when all the Jews that [were] in Moab, and among the Ammonites, and in Edom, and that [were] in all the countries, heard that the king of Babylon had left a remnant of Judah, and that he had set over them Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan;

Likewise when all the Jews. — Who had fled into foreign parts, for help and safety.

Verse 12

Even all the Jews returned out of all places whither they were driven, and came to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah, unto Mizpah, and gathered wine and summer fruits very much.

And gathered wine and summer fruits very much. — So is God wont to reward those that love their country.

Verse 13

Moreover Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that [were] in the fields, came to Gedaliah to Mizpah,

Moreover Johanan came to Gedaliah to Mizpah. — Ishmael perhaps had solicited them to take part with him.

Verse 14

And said unto him, Dost thou certainly know that Baalis the king of the Ammonites hath sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to slay thee? But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam believed them not.

That Baalis the king of the Ammonites. — Set on work by Beelzebub the prince of devils to hinder so good a work.

But Gedaliah believed them not. — No more did Julius Caesar those that forewarned him of the conspiracy against him. The Duke of Guise, the same day that he was slain by the command of Henry III, King of France, had a scroll laid under his napkin, as he sat at dinner, wherein was written, that his life was in danger; he underwrote: They dare not; and so threw it from him under the table. But it proved that they both dared to do it, and did do it, the same day. Speed, 1212. Gedaliah, likely, thought that Ishmael dared not attempt anything against him, because of the Babylonians; besides, he knew his own innocence, and Ishmael’s pretended familiarity with him, which he might think the other captains envied. Sure it is, that good Gedaliah was too secure. Nam qui omnia credit, et qui nihil credit, ex aequo peccat. Seneca. It is no less a fault to believe nothing, than to believe everything; sine vano publica fama. Reports are neither to be overly heeded, nor overly slighted, especially where life is concerned.

Verse 15

Then Johanan the son of Kareah spake to Gedaliah in Mizpah secretly, saying, Let me go, I pray thee, and I will slay Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and no man shall know [it]: wherefore should he slay thee, that all the Jews which are gathered unto thee should be scattered, and the remnant in Judah perish?

Let me go, I pray thee, and I will slay Ishmael. — He offereth his service for the slaying of Ishmael, and it had been happy he had done it, sed immodico obsequio sibi fidem derogat, his forwardness rendereth him suspected. Gedaliah seemeth to have been of our Queen Elizabeth’s temper, who was heard to profess, that she could believe nothing of her people that parents would not believe of their children. Camden.

Verse 16

But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said unto Johanan the son of Kareah, Thou shalt not do this thing: for thou speakest falsely of Ishmael.

Thou shalt not do this thing. — This just man would not have any man die indicta causa, before his cause had been heard, were he never so wicked.

For thou speakest falsely of Ishmael. — So Gedaliah thought, but it proved otherwise. Ishmael is pleaded for, but without cause. Queen Elizabeth complained that in truth she had oft found treason; so shall all princes, who therefore had need to be very cautious, and yet not overly credulous. King’s craft is not easily learned.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 40". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/jeremiah-40.html. 1865-1868.
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