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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Jeremiah 40

Verses 1-6

Introduction

Jeremiah 40-44 contain prophecies and an account of events after the fall of Jerusalem. Jeremiah 40-42 deal with prophecies and events in Judah, Jeremiah 43-44 deal with those in Egypt.

The Release of Jeremiah

Now follows the long history of Jeremiah in the midst of those left behind in Judah. It seems that Jeremiah, despite Nebuchadnezzar’s command (Jeremiah 39:11-2 Chronicles :), was nevertheless captured and handcuffed with the exiles on his way to Babylon (Jeremiah 40:1). This will be so because the soldiers did not acknowledge him. This will have been another tremendous trial for Jeremiah. When the error is discovered, he is released again. The captain of the bodyguard has Jeremiah brought to him (Jeremiah 40:2). He speaks of “the LORD your God”. He knows himself to be a tool in His hand.

He, as the king’s confidant, lets Jeremiah know that it is known to him that he has preached about the evil that the LORD his God has pronounced on Jerusalem. He will have heard this from those who had defected to the Babylonians or who had been taken away by them before. He knows the reason, which is that they have sinned against the LORD and have not listened to His voice (Jeremiah 40:3). Therefore, what He has spoken has been done “to you”, that is, to Jeremiah. Jeremiah suffers with all the people. From his mouth we do not hear a word about the evil that has been done to him.

Jeremiah gets his freedom back (Jeremiah 40:4). He is allowed to decide for himself what to do. The captain holds out to him the choice of going with him to Babylon. If he chooses to do so, the captain guarantees his safety. An attractive offer for the man so hated by his people because of his preaching and the fulfillment of his words. If he prefers to stay in Israel, that’s fine too. He may go wherever he wishes. He is dependent on the LORD for making that choice. Until it is clear to Jeremiah, he lives in Jerusalem.

The captain advises Jeremiah to get in touch with Gedaliah as long as Jeremiah – literally he, by whom is probably meant Nebuchadnezzar – does not return (Jeremiah 40:5). Gedaliah, an official of Judah, has been appointed by Nebuchadnezzar to be the leader of the people. If Jeremiah wants to go somewhere else, he can. He has complete freedom of movement. Then the captain gives him food for the road and a gift – as compensation for the injustice done to him? – and lets him go. We don’t read anything about Jeremiah’s considerations in the choice he makes, but he goes to Gedaliah, with whom he stays as one of those left in the land (Jeremiah 40:6).

Verses 7-10

The Assurance of Gedaliah

In the field are some of the remaining commanders of Judah with their men (Jeremiah 40:7). They have managed to hide from the army of the king of Babylon. They hear that Gedaliah has been appointed by Nebuchadnezzar over those remaining in the land. The commanders, who are named, go to Gedaliah (Jeremiah 40:8). Gedaliah assures them that they have nothing to fear if they serve the Chaldeans (Jeremiah 40:9). In fact, it will go well for them. He can say this because he believes the word of the LORD.

He himself remains in Mizpah to conduct the affairs of the people there with the rulers (Jeremiah 40:10). Let them apply themselves to gather in wine, summer fruit and oil. They can then sell these and thus provide themselves with income. In this way they can continue to live in the cities they have taken and build a new existence in the land.

Verses 11-12

The Return of the Refugees

Still more Judeans hear of a remnant being left in Judah by the king of Babylon (Jeremiah 40:11). These are the Judeans who have fled to Moab, Ammon, Edom, and still others. They also hear that Gedaliah has been appointed over the land. What they hear prompts them to go back to Judah as well (Jeremiah 40:12). They come from the various places to which they have been driven and come to Gedaliah. They participate in Gedaliah’s program and gather in “wine and summer fruit in great abundance”.

Verses 13-16

Gedaliah Is Warned About Ishmael

Then Gedaliah is visited by Johanan and all the commanders of the armies who are in the field (Jeremiah 40:13). They come to warn Gedalia of an attempt that has been made on his life (Jeremiah 40:14). They know the details and inform him of them. The thing is, that Baalis, the king of the Ammonites, has sent Ishmael to kill him. Baalis had been an ally of Zedekiah in the battle against the king of Babylon. It seems that he still wants to fight against the king of Babylon. Now if Gedaliah is killed by Ishmael, Ishmael can take control and they can continue to resist the king of Babylon together.

Gedaliah, however, does not want to believe what he is told. Johanan does not give up and secretly seeks out Gedaliah (Jeremiah 40:15). He proposes that he will kill Ishmael. He will do it in such a way that no one will know that he has been murdered. The murder is necessary, he argues, because if that man kills Gedaliah, all who have joined Gedaliah will also perish.

Gedaliah forbids Johanan the mission he proposes (Jeremiah 40:16). This is not because he turns the matter over to the LORD. That’s what David does when his servant proposes to kill Saul (1 Samuel 24:7; 1 Samuel 26:8-2 Samuel :). Here we hear nothing about the LORD. Jeremiah who is also there is not consulted by Gedaliah. Gedaliah is simply too trusting. He dismisses the threat, about which he has been informed, by stating that it are lies. He trusts his own assessment of the danger, and according to his assessment, there is no danger. That gullibility costs him his life.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Jeremiah 40". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/jeremiah-40.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.