Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 40

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 3416. B.C. 588.

In this, and the four following chapters, we have an account of the fate of those few Jews that were left in Canaan, after their brethren were carried into captivity to Babylon. And it is a very mournful story. For, though at first there was some prospect of their doing well, they soon appeared to be as obstinate in sin as ever, unhumbled and unreformed, till, all the rest of the judgments threatened, Deuteronomy 28:0 ., being executed upon them, that which completes the threatenings there mentioned, recorded in the last verse of that dreadful chapter, was also accomplished. The Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again. In this chapter we have,

(1,) A more particular account of Jeremiah’s discharge, and his settlement with Gedaliah, whom Nebuchadnezzar had made governor of the poor Jews, Jeremiah 40:1-6 .

(2,) The great resort of the fugitive Jews from the neighbouring countries to Gedaliah, and their agreeable condition with him, Jeremiah 40:7-12 .

(3,) Gedaliah is informed of a treacherous design formed against his life by Ishmael, a Jewish prince, instigated by the king of the Ammonites, but does not credit the information, Jeremiah 40:13-16 .

Verse 1

Jeremiah 40:1. The word which came to Jeremiah, &c. This relates to the prophecy recorded Jeremiah 42:7, which was occasioned by the story that here follows concerning Ishmael’s conspiracy against Gedaliah. After that Nebuzar-adan had let him go from Ramah After Jeremiah was taken out of the court of the prison, he was carried, probably by mistake, expressly contrary to Nebuchadnezzar’s orders, among the other prisoners to Ramah, a city in the tribe of Benjamin near Gibeon. Here, it seems, the mistake was discovered, and the prophet was discharged by the special order of the court.

Verses 2-4

Jeremiah 40:2-4. The captain of the guard said, The Lord thy God hath pronounced this evil, &c. Although each of the Gentile or heathen nations worshipped its peculiar god or gods, yet they did not reject or deny the gods of other nations; and therefore the captain of the guard speaks here to Jeremiah of Jehovah as his God, and the God of the Jews, and attributes all the calamities which had befallen this people to the indignation of this their God against them, because they had not obeyed and served him as they ought to have done. This seems a much more probable interpretation of Nebuzar-adan’s words than to understand them as expressive of his faith in the living and true God, of whom it is likely he knew little or nothing. And now, behold, I loose thee this day, &c. This captain of the guard, like a faithful servant, remembers his princes’s orders about the prophet, and offers to him greater favour than to any of the other prisoners. With respect to them, he uses the power which conquest had given him over them, and they must go whither the king of Babylon pleased to send them; but he gives Jeremiah liberty to choose whether he would go along with him to Babylon, or stay in his own country, assuring him that if he would go to Babylon he would take particular care of him.

Verses 5-6

Jeremiah 40:5-6. Now while he was not yet gone back Hebrew, ועודנו לא ישׁוב , while he would not yet return, he said, &c. The prophet seems to have been in doubt at first what course to take. The Chaldee reads the clause, If thou wilt not abide [here] go back to Gedaliah. understanding the verb ישׁוב as if it were derived from ישׁב , to abide, words of a like sound having often a promiscuous signification. This Gedaliah was a person of considerable interest and authority. So the captain of the guard gave him victuals and a reward It was by the particular order of Nebuchadnezzar that the prophet was used in this kind manner. Then went Jeremiah unto Gedaliah to Mizpah A town in the confines of Judah and Benjamin, where Gedaliah fixed his residence, being a place of note in the times of the judges, and afterward rebuilt by King Asa. See the margin.

Verses 7-10

Jeremiah 40:7-10. Now when all the captains of the forces heard, &c., they came to Gedaliah By the taking of Jerusalem the Chaldeans made a complete conquest of Judea; whereupon that part of the Jewish army which had escaped destruction dispersed themselves into several parts of the country. And Gedaliah sware unto them They might reasonably suspect that the Chaldeans would have a jealous eye upon any conflux of people to Jerusalem, especially military men, and therefore might be somewhat suspicious of him, who was the Chaldean deputy governor; the securing them from fears on that account was the cause of Gedaliah’s giving them this voluntary oath; saying, Fear not to serve the Chaldeans The same advice Jeremiah had formerly given to the Jews, Jeremiah 27:11. As for me, I will dwell at Mizpah, to serve the Chaldeans I keep my residence here, a place upon the frontiers, that I may be ready to obey any orders that the king of Babylon sends me by his servants. But ye, gather ye wine, and summer-fruits, and oil But do you live in the country, and gather such fruits as the country affords, and do not fear being spoiled of them; but do as ye used to do in the times of the greatest peace and security. Wine and oil are here put by a metonymy for grapes and olives. It was now about the month of August, which was the proper season for gathering in the summer-fruits in that country.

Verses 11-12

Jeremiah 40:11-12. Likewise when all the Jews that were in Moab, &c. Probably, upon the king of Babylon’s first invading Judea, many fled, and more as he proceeded in his conquests, overrunning the country; and it is likely, at the taking of the city, many escaped and fled into different countries, as they had opportunity, or judged this or that country would be the safest place of refuge. Some, therefore, fled to Moab, some to Ammon, some to Edom, and some to other countries; but when they heard that the king of Babylon had appointed a governor over the country of their own nation and religion, they returned, and, there being few people left in the land, which was of itself wonderfully fruitful, they gathered a great quantity of grapes and other summer-fruits, such as it produced.

Verses 13-16

Jeremiah 40:13-16. Johanan the son of Kareah came to Gedaliah, &c. They had been with him before, Jeremiah 40:8-9, but now they come to discover to him a conspiracy formed against his life. And said, Dost thou certainly know, &c. Or, rather, Dost thou not know, &c., (which is evidently the sense intended,) that the king of the Ammonites hath sent Ishmael to slay thee? The king of the Ammonites had concerted this matter with Ishmael, with a design to make the Jews, who still remained in their own country, his vassals: see Jeremiah 41:10. But Gedaliah believed them not Not being credulous, or of a suspicious temper. Then Johanan spake to Gedaliah secretly Finding that Gedaliah took little notice of what he had spoken to him in the presence of the other captains, he goes to him secretly, and offers him his service to prevent the stroke designed against him, suggesting to him, that if he did not value his own life, yet he ought to consider in what a destitute condition the people would be, in case he should be cut off: they were at present but a small remnant, and if that calamity should happen, even this remnant would also perish. But Gedaliah said, Thou shalt not do this thing, for thou speakest falsely of Ishmael Gedaliah shows in this instance more of that charity that thinks no evil, than of that prudence and discretion which became a chief magistrate. He ought to have been particularly on his guard against one, concerning whose mischievous designs he had received such information; but, alas! he placed too great confidence in the fidelity of those about him, and this proved ruinous, both to himself and to the poor people whom he was appointed to govern and protect.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 40". Benson's Commentary. 1857.