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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 41

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

Now it came to pass in the seventh month, [that] Ishmael the son of Nethaniah the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, and the princes of the king, even ten men with him, came unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah; and there they did eat bread together in Mizpah.

Now it came to pass in the seventh month. — Within two or three months after the destruction of Jerusalem. So soon did this wicked wretch, so spurred on by ambition, which ever rideth without reins, renew the miserable fate of his forlorn country. And the like did Barcocab and his seditious complices after the last devastation, thereby bringing upon themselves again the Roman forces, who thereupon, under Adrian the emperor, utterly took away both their place and their nation.

That Ishmael of the seed royal. — And therefore affecting the kingdom, or at least the ruledom; and envying that Gedaliah - a new man, or mushroom rather, - should be preferred before him.

And the princes of the king. — Who had been princes and grandees, as the Hebrew hath it, in Zedekiah’s days, with whom likely they fled and escaped, stealing away by night, though he could not. 2 Kings 25:4

Even ten men with him. — Whom Ishmael had promised probably to restore their principalities when he should be king, or viceroy at least under Baalis King of Ammon, the great engineer of all the ensuing mischief wrought by Ishmael and these ten desperadoes together with their retinue.

Came unto Gedaliah. — To whom before they had done homage, and now came pretending to give him a friendly visit.

Tuta frequensque via est per amici fallere nomen:

Tuta frequensque licet sit via, crimen habet. ”

And there they did eat bread, — i.e., They feasted. Much treachery and cruelty hath been exercised at feasts. Absalom slew Amnon at a feast; so did Zimri King Elah; so did Alexander Philotas; so doth the Great Turk many of his bashaws; the black gown is cast upon them as they sit with him at supper, and then they are strangled. Turkish History.

Verse 2

Then arose Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and the ten men that were with him, and smote Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan with the sword, and slew him, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land.

Then arose Ishmael. — Taking the opportunity when Gedaliah and his guests were mero graves, saith Josephus, merry with wine, and so less able to resist.

And the ten men that were with. — They and their followers being pugnaces et audaces, barbarous and brutish persons, skilful to destroy. Ezekiel 21:31

And smote Gedaliah the son of Ahikam. — See on Jeremiah 41:1 .

And slew him whom the king of Babylon had made governor. — Yea, for that very cause, per invidiam et libidinem regnandi. So true is that of the tragedian, a

Simul ista mundi conditor posuit Deus,

Odium atque regnum. ”

a Sen. in Thebaide.

Verse 3

Ishmael also slew all the Jews that were with him, [even] with Gedaliah, at Mizpah, and the Chaldeans that were found there, [and] the men of war.

Ishmael also slew all the Jews that were with him. — Not the Chaideans only. His sword knew no difference; but, being fleshed in blood, he killed all that came in his way. And the rather that his wickedness might not be noticed - mortui non mordent - but that he might carry on his bloody design the better.

Verse 4

And it came to pass the second day after he had slain Gedaliah, and no man knew [it],

And no man knew it. — Heb., A man knew not. See on Jeremiah 41:3 .

Verse 5

That there came certain from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria, [even] fourscore men, having their beards shaven, and their clothes rent, and having cut themselves, with offerings and incense in their hand, to bring [them] to the house of the LORD.

That there came certain from Shechem and from Shiloh. — Innocent men, qui ne verbulo quidem immanem bestiam offenderant, who had not so much as by the least word offended this brutish, butcherly man; but came in the simplicity of their hearts to worship God, and to wait upon Gedaliah by the way, which last seemeth to be Ishmael’s main quarrel against them. See here Ecclesiastes 9:12 . See Trapp on " Ecclesiastes 9:12 "

Having their beards shaven, and their clothes rent, and having cut themselves. — These might be well minded men, though partly through ignorance of the law in those blind times, and partly through excess of passion, they went too far, heathen-like, in their outward expressions of sorrow Leviticus 19:27 Deuteronomy 14:1 for the public calamity of their country.

To bring them to the house of the Lord,i.e., To the place where God’s house lately had been, though now razed and ruined, that there they might worship as they could, and bewail the desolation of the city and temple, as Jerome saith the Jews did yearly the destruction of the second temple, bribing the Roman soldiers that kept it to let them come to the place and weep over it.

Verse 6

And Ishmael the son of Nethaniah went forth from Mizpah to meet them, weeping all along as he went: and it came to pass, as he met them, he said unto them, Come to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam.

And Ishmael came forth of Mizpah to meet them. — This was another manner of meeting than that at Mizpah in Samuel’s days. 1 Samuel 7:3-6 O tempora! O mores!

Weeping all along as he went. — Oh deep dissimulation and crocodile’s tears! Vide pessimum ingenium: luget ut lugentes perdat. - Oecolamp. That creature, having killed some living beast, lieth upon the dead body, washeth the head thereof with her warm tears, which she afterwards devoureth together with the body. Tears, saith the author of the Turkish History, Turkish History, fol. 56. speaking of Andronicus, another Ishmael, by nature were ordained to express the heaviness of the heart, flowing from the eyes as showers of rain from the clouds. In good men the most certain signs of greatest grief and sure testimonies of inward torment; but in Andronicus you are not so. You proceed of joy, you promise not to the distressed pity or compassion, but death and destruction. How many men’s eyes have you put out! How many have you drowned! How many have you devoured! Thus he; and much more to like purpose.

Come to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam. — This he saith fraudulently, like Sinon in the poet, that he might fish and find out how they stood affected to Gedaliah, whom he so deadly hated, that he slaughtered these poor folk for once owning him, or owing him any service.

Verse 7

And it was [so], when they came into the midst of the city, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah slew them, [and cast them] into the midst of the pit, he, and the men that [were] with him.

Ishmael the son of Nethaniah slew them. — This hell hound having once, as other hounds, dipped his tongue in blood, can put no period to his unparalleled cruelty.

He, and the men that were with him. — His slaughter slaves, his assassins to help him; for he alone could not have done this bloody execution, unless he had taken as much time thereunto as that Popish villain did in doing to death those poor Protestants of Calabria, A.D. 1550. For as Ishmael here brought these eighty innocent men into the midst of the city as into a pound, and there slew them, so eighty-eight poor professors of the truth according to godliness, being all thrust up in one house together, as sheep in a fold, the executioner comes in, saith Mr Foxe, and among them takes one and blindfolds him with a muffler about his eyes, and so leads him forth to a larger place, where he commandeth him to kneel down, which being done, he cutteth his throat, and so leaving him half dead, and taking his butcher’s knife and muffler all of gore blood, cometh again to the rest, and so leadeth them one after another till he had despatched them all. Acts and Mon., 859.

Verse 8

But ten men were found among them that said unto Ishmael, Slay us not: for we have treasures in the field, of wheat, and of barley, and of oil, and of honey. So he forbare, and slew them not among their brethren.

But there were ten men found among them.Qui miro astu sibi ab indigna morte provident, who pleaded for their lives, were spared.

Slay us not, for we have treasures in the field. — And these we will willingly part with for the redemption of our lives. They knew that soldiers would do much for money, and what is wealth in comparison with life? Wicked worldlings would say the like to death, if their tale might be heard. Henry Beaufort, Cardinal, Bishop of Winchester, and Chancellor of England, in the reign of Henry VI, perceiving that he must die, murmured at death, that his riches could not reprieve him till a further time. Foxe’s Mart., vol. i. p. 925

So he forbare, and slew them not. — Ambition covetousness strove for mastery in this man, and here covetousness conquereth cruelty. This also was it that put him upon carrying his poor countrymen captive, as hoping to make prize of them.

Verse 9

Now the pit wherein Ishmael had cast all the dead bodies of the men, whom he had slain because of Gedaliah, [was] it which Asa the king had made for fear of Baasha king of Israel: [and] Ishmael the son of Nethaniah filled it with [them that were] slain.

Now the pit … was it which Asa the king had made for fear of Baasha. — He had made it for some unknown use in the wars, and now it was filled with the dead bodies of men; for a punishment, say some, of his confederating with Benhadad King of Syria. Ut semper impiorum foedera et consilia nobis sint suspecta.

Verse 10

Then Ishmael carried away captive all the residue of the people that [were] in Mizpah, [even] the king’s daughters, and all the people that remained in Mizpah, whom Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had committed to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam: and Ishmael the son of Nethaniah carried them away captive, and departed to go over to the Ammonites.

Then Ishmael carried away captive.

Auri sacra fames quid non mortalia cogit Pectora?

Even the king’s daughters. — His own kinswomen, whom the Babylonian had spared. It may be he meant to marry one of them, as our Richard III would have done his niece Elizabeth, and so to have reigned in her right.

And all the people that remained in Mizpah. — Who found less favour from a false brother than they had done from a professed enemy; so hath the Church ever done from heretics than from heathens.

Verse 11

But when Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that [were] with him, heard of all the evil that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had done,

But when Jehanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains, heard of all the evil. — Ishmael did what he could to conceal the wickedness till he had gotten away with his prize; but rumour outran him, even

Fama, malum quo non aliud velocius ullum.

Verse 12

Then they took all the men, and went to fight with Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and found him by the great waters that [are] in Gibeon.

Then they took all the men, and went to fight with Ishmael. — This act of theirs carrieth the commendation of fortitude, of charity, and of piety. Like as did that of Abraham in rescuing Lot; of Gideon and Jehoshaphat in delivering the Israelites from their barbarous and blood-thirsty enemies; of Scanderbeg, Hunniades, Gustavus King of Sweden, … Unless Ishmael and Johanan did as Ishmael the Persian King of Selymus, and the Great Turk, who, fighting for the empire of the East, masked their aspiring thoughts under the veil of zeal to their religion. Turkish History, 515. It well appeareth now to the world that neither of them were right, whatever they pretended.

And they found him by the great waters that are in Gibeon. — Where, in David’s days, those youngsters of Helkathhazzurim had sheathed their swords in their fellows’ bowels. 2 Samuel 2:16

Verse 13

Now it came to pass, [that] when all the people which [were] with Ishmael saw Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that [were] with him, then they were glad.

Then they were glad. — God, when he pleaseth, can suddenly, and beyond all hope, exhilarate men in the midst of miseries, and give deliverance. The like hereunto befell the poor Christian captives when Hunniades had overthrown Mesites, the Turkish general. Ibid., 269.

Verse 14

So all the people that Ishmael had carried away captive from Mizpah cast about and returned, and went unto Johanan the son of Kareah.

So all the people cast about and returned. — Their hearts were with Johanan before the battle, as the Athenians’ were with Flaminius the Roman general, who came to rescue them, though their bodies were detained by the tyrants within the walls of their city.

Verse 15

But Ishmael the son of Nethaniah escaped from Johanan with eight men, and went to the Ammonites.

But Ishmael the son of Nethaniah escaped. — But with what honour, with what conscience could this Judas live among the Ammonites? Surely this defeat could not but be more shame to him before the King of Ammon, and more vexation to his proud heart, than death itself. The like befell Stukely, the English traitor, in Spain.

Verse 16

Then took Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that [were] with him, all the remnant of the people whom he had recovered from Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, from Mizpah, after [that] he had slain Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, [even] mighty men of war, and the women, and the children, and the eunuchs, whom he had brought again from Gibeon:

Then took Johanan all the remnant. — This evil act of theirs doth quite overturn the glory of the former; while against the ancient command of God, the covenant made with the Chaldees, and the consent of the prophets, they will needs down to Egypt, to lean upon that broken reed that never did them good, but evil.

Verse 17

And they departed, and dwelt in the habitation of Chimham, which is by Bethlehem, to go to enter into Egypt,

And they departed. — They rolled from place to place; but being out of God’s precincts they were also out of his protection, and could expect no good.

And they departed, and dwelt in the habitation of Chimham, which is by Bethlehem. — Where it seemeth that David, or Solomon, 1 Kings 2:7 had given him some lands, which he called by his own name, as men love to do, Psalms 49:11 Goruth Chimham. Josephus saith there is a village near Bethlehem that is still so called. See 2 Samuel 19:38 .

To go to enter into Egypt. — This was to go out of God’s blessing, as we use to say, into the world’s warm sunshine; this was to put themselves into the punishing hands of the living God.

Verse 18

Because of the Chaldeans: for they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had slain Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon made governor in the land.

Because of the Chaldeans, for they were afraid of them. — But they should rather have "sanctified the Lord God in their hearts, and made him their dread." Isaiah 8:13 "The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe." Proverbs 29:25 See Trapp on " Proverbs 29:25 "

Because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had slain Gedaliah. — And together with him many Chaldeans, whom Johanan and his captains should have cautioned and better guarded; as the king of Babylon would better tell them, they thought, and with it to punish them for their neglect. Ob incastodiam.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 41". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/jeremiah-41.html. 1865-1868.
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