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JEREMIAH CHAPTER 40
Jeremiah, being set free by Nebuchadnezzar, goeth to Gedaliah, Jeremiah 40:1-6, to whom the remaining Jews repair, Jeremiah 40:7-12. Johanan revealing Ishmael’s conspiracy, is not believed, Jeremiah 40:13-16.
These words refer to the forty-second chapter, where begins the revelation which Jeremiah had from God, for all this chapter and the next are no prophecy, but only an historical narration of some passages after the taking of the city, and so cannot be called a prophecy, but are a piece of history previous to that prophecy.
Ramah was a city in the tribe of Benjamin near Gibeon. See Jeremiah 31:15. Jeremiah was by mistake, and expressly contrary to the king’s orders, Jeremiah 39:11, manacled and carried away amongst the other prisoners; probably the captain of the guard at that place called over his prisoners, and amongst them he found the prophet, contrary to his expectation.
This pagan commander could see that which the blind Jews would not understand: they said, Wherefore is this great evil come upon us? Nebuzar-adan knew wherefore, and gives God the glory of his master’s victory, as also of his own faithfulness, saying God had but done what he said, brought the evil which he had pronounced against that city; he also acknowledgeth God’s justice, that this evil was come upon them because of their sins. Thus the men of Tyre and Sidon, and of Nineveh, (according to our Savour’s words,) shall rise up in judgment against the Jews that lived in our Saviour’s time, and Nebuzar-adan another day shall rise up in judgment against those Jews that lived in Jeremiah’s time, and shall condemn them.
Nebuzar-adan, like a faithful servant, remembers his master’s orders to him about the prophet, Jeremiah 39:11, and offers Jeremiah greater favour than to any others of his prisoners; he determined others by his right of conquest to what they should do, but he giveth the prophet a liberty to choose whether he would go to Babylon, or stay at Jerusalem in his own country; he promised him that if he would go to Babylon, he would take a particular care of him.
While he was not yet gone back: it is not much material whether we interpret the he here mentioned of Jeremiah or Gedaliah. If we interpret it of Jeremiah, the sense is, that before Jeremiah was gone out of the presence of Nebuzar-adan, he, either by his silence, or by some declaration of his mind that is not here recorded, declaring that he was more inclined to stay in his own country, Nebuzaradan bid him,
Go back, & c. If we understand it of Gedaliah, the sense must be, Because Gedaliah is not to come back any more to me, go thou to him, &c. We read that the king of Babylon left Gedaliah as his viceroy or deputy in Judah. What he was, more than the son of Ahikam. and grandchild of Shaphan, the Scripture tells us not, only that he was left by the king of Babylon as ruler over the people he thought fit to leave, 2 Kings 25:22; probably he was one of them who, during the siege, had gone out to the king of Babylon: to him the captain of the guard directeth the prophet, but gives him liberty to dwell where he pleaseth; so sends him away with victuals and a reward. It is more than probable that the king of Babylon had heard from some of the Jews, who, during the siege, had made an escape to his army, that the scope of the prophet’s prophecies were for the delivery of the city, and the Jews’ submission to him, as was before said.
Mizpah was built by Asa, 1 Kings 15:22, or rather enlarged or further built, for we read of it as a city belonging to the tribe of Benjamin, Joshua 18:26.
It is most likely that these captains with their forces were no newly raised and formed companies; for to what purpose should that be when their city and whole country was lost? but some commanders of parties, which either were within the city till it was taken, and then escaped out, or were about before some where in the country, and were not so much regarded by the Chaldeans, who were more intent upon the conquest of the city than pursuing these little parties, who they knew could do them no hurt. These hearing that the business was over, and a deputy governor set up, who was of their own country, and a man of a good, ingenuous temper, out of the love they had to their native country come unto him. Of these captains we read little save Ishmael, (of whom we shalt afterwards read more,) nor are we at all concerned to seek their genealogy.
They might reasonably suspect that the Chaldeans would have a jealous eye upon any conflux of people to Jerusalem, especially military men, and therefore be something suspicious of him who was the Chaldean deputy governor; the securing of them from fears on this account was the cause of this voluntary oath taken by Gedaliah. He encourageth them to be servants to the Chaldeans, and to dwell in the land, assuring them that if they would, they should fare well; he was well enough assured of the Chaldeans’ favour, that if they would live peaceably in their own land, they should, they would not come any more to carry them away captive.
That is, I have made choice of Mizpah, a city upon the frontiers, where I intend to make my residence, it being a convenient place for me to receive orders from the king of Babylon, and to manage state matters. But do ye live in the country, and gather such fruits as the country affordeth; do not fear being stripped or spoiled of them, but do as you use to do in the times of greatest peace and security.
Probably upon the king of Babylon’s first invading Judah many fled, and more as he went on in his conquests, overrunning the country, and it is likely at the taking of the city many escaped, and fled into several countries as they had opportunity, or judged this or that country would be safest; some fled to Moab, some to Ammon, some to Edom, some one way, some another. But when they heard that the king of Babylon had set a governor of their own religion and country over them, they came back to him; and there being few people left in the land, which was of itself wonderfully fruitful, they gathered a great plenty of grapes and other summer fruits which the country produced.
They had been with him before, Jeremiah 40:8,Jeremiah 40:9, but now they come to discover a conspiracy against his life.
Dost thou, for dost thou not; for not is plainly understood, as the sense makes evident. Whether this Baalis be a proper name of the
king of the Ammonites, or, as some think, an appellative name, signifying the lady or the queen regent, is uncertain. What made the prince of the Ammonites do this can be but guessed; probably the old hatred they had to Israel, or hopes that they should have the better fishing in these waters when they were troubled. Gedaliah seems a man of a good humour, not too credulous, and believes not the information.
Discerning that Gedaliah took no great notice of his word spoken to him in the presence of the other captains, he goeth to him secretly, offereth him his service to prevent the stroke, if he might have commission from him; mindeth him that if he did not value his own life, yet he ought to consider in what a condition the people would be in case he were cut off; they were now but a small remnant, and then that remnant also would perish.
Thus God dementates those whom he designeth to destroy. Gedaliah in this showeth an excellent temper, not to be over-credulous and suspicious, Charity thinks no ill, but not that prudence which became a chief magistrate. He ought to have been watchful against one against whom he had received such an information, which we shall in the next chapter find he was not, but was slain by him.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jeremiah 40". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29