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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Jeremiah 41

 

 

Verses 1-18

5. THE MURDER OF GEDALIAH AND ITS CONSEQUENCES

Chap41

1Now 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 2 eat bread together in Mizpah. 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 3 governor over the land. Ishmael also slew all the Jews that were with him, even with Gedaliah, at Mizpah, and the Chaldeans that were found there, the men of war.

4And it came to pass the second day after he had slain Gedaliah, and no Prayer of Manasseh 5knew it, that there came certain [men] from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria, even fourscore [eighty] men, having their beards shaven and their clothes rent, and having cut themselves [their bodies], with offerings and incense in their 6 hand, to bring them to the house of the Lord [Jehovah]. 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 Song of Solomon 7 of Ahikam. And it was Song of Solomon, 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 pit8[slew them into the cistern],[FN1] Hebrews, and the men that were with him. 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 9 slew them not among their brethren. Now the pit [cistern] wherein Ishmael had cast all the dead bodies of the men, whom he had slain because [by the hand] of[FN2] Gedaliah, was it [that] which Asa the king had made for fear[FN3]of Baasha king of Israel: and Ishmael the son of Nethaniah filled it with them that were [the] slain.

10Then 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 Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard [halberdiers] 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.

11But 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, 12then they took all the men, and went to fight with Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, 13and found him by the waters that are in Gibeon. Now it came to pass, that when all the people which were with Ishmael saw Johanan the son of Kareah, and all 14 the captains of the forces that were with him, then they were glad. So all the people that Ishmael had carried away captive from Mizpah cast about and returned, 15and went unto Johanan the son of Kareah. But Ishmael the son of Nethaniah escaped from Johanan with eight men, and went to the Ammonites

16Then 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,[FN4] and the women, and the children, and the 17 eunuchs, whom he had brought again from Gibeon: and they departed, and dwelt in the habitation of Chimham,[FN5] which is by Beth-lehem, to go to enter into Egypt, 18because 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.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

The suspicion against Ishmael was only too well-founded. He really murders Gedaliah and his retinue, consisting of Jews and Chaldeans ( Jeremiah 41:1-3) also seventy Israelites who were bringing offerings to the destroyed sanctuary ( Jeremiah 41:4-9). The rest of the people he leads away captive from Mizpah, but is overtaken by Johanan and the other band-leaders. The captives immediately leave him, and he escapes with eight men to the Ammonites ( Jeremiah 41:10-15). Thereupon the leaders assemble the whole people in the neighborhood of Bethlehem, to prepare for removal to Egypt, for in consequence of the murder of Gedaliah they think that they will be liable to the extreme vengeance of the Chaldeans if they remain longer in the country.

Jeremiah 41:1-3. Now it came to pass … men of war. There is a brief extract from these verses in 2 Kings 25:25. The event took place in the seventh month, therefore three months after the capture of the city ( Jeremiah 39:2), and two after the destruction and deportation by Nebuzar-adan ( Jeremiah 52:12; 2 Kings 25:8). Ishmael was of the royal, therefore David’s seed. Neither he nor his father Nethaniah ( 1 Chronicles 26:2; 1 Chronicles 26:12; 2 Chronicles 17:8, Levites are thus named) are mentioned elsewhere. Nethaniah is called the son of Elishama. Whether this person is identical with the “scribe” mentioned in Jeremiah 36:12; Jeremiah 36:20-21, or the Elishama named in 2 Samuel 5:16; 1 Chronicles 3:6 (8); Jeremiah 14:7 as a son of David is meant, is not apparent. Both cases are possible. In the latter Elishama would be the ancestor of the family, “son” being used according to a well known idiom, in the wider sense. Ishmael would then belong to a collateral branch of the royal family.—Princes of the king. It is clear that the king of Judah is meant. Not so clear the grammatical connection. It may be referred to “royal seed.” Hitzig in opposition to this correctly remarks that the “princes” did not form an hereditary caste. It is therefore, according to some, governed by “of.” Is it not however a matter of course that Ishmael as a prince belonged to the רַבּים, especially as this word by no means designates a definite category of greatness? Further, is it probable that Ishmael with ten men could overpower the entire Jewish retinue of Gedaliah, together with the Chaldean soldiers ( Jeremiah 41:3), eighty men ( Jeremiah 41:7), who if not provided with arms were with legs, and then lead away captive against their will the whole population of Mizpah ( Jeremiah 41:14)? We are thus recommended to take רַבּי as a nominative = and great men of the king. It would then be declared that Ishmael and other Jewish nobles (doubtless each with his own retinue), and ten men who formed the personal retinue of the former, accomplished the deed. The passage Jeremiah 52:10 would not contradict this. For since even the Chaldeans could not kill any one whom they did not have, that passage states only that the Chaldeans took the life of all the princes who fell into their power. Now besides here רַב never occurs in Jeremiah of the great men of the Hebrews, but only of the Chaldean grandees in general ( Jeremiah 39:18), and of the principal court-officers in particular. Comp. Rab-Mag, etc., Jeremiah 39:3; Jeremiah 39:13, etc.—It is then natural to suppose that the words “and the princes of the king” are a gloss, occasioned by the difficulty of crediting such deeds to a little band of eleven men.

Slew him. These words expressly set forth that though several smote Gedaliah with their swords, Ishmael was the real murderer, upon whom rested the immense responsibility of having killed the Chaldean king’s chief officer in the country. I therefore do not think that, as Hitzig and Graf propose, we must read “smote” also in the singular (וַיכו). That by “all the Jews that were with Gedaliah at Mizpah” we are not to understand the whole population of the city, is apparent from Jeremiah 41:10. It is rather the armed men, who were at the disposal of Gedaliah as governor, who are intended and who, whether permanently or temporarily, were strengthened by Chaldean soldiers.

Jeremiah 41:4-9. And it came to pass … with the slain. Ishmael knew how to guard against the murder of Gedaliah being known immediately outside the city. He evidently intended to use Mizpah as a trap. So it happened that on the second day the approach of a troop of men was announced, who from a distance presented the appearance of a peaceful caravan, and from the burdens they bore one promising booty. They came from Shechem, Shiloh and Samaria. The LXX. read Σαλήμ, and Hitzig, as well as Graf, is disposed to give this reading the preference, since thus a more correct order (according to geographical position we should have Shiloh, Shechem, Samaria) and vicinage of the cities is obtained. Salem would then be the place mentioned in Genesis 33:18-19 as near Shechem (comp. Herzog, R-Enc., XIII. S. 326). But the authority of the LXX. Isaiah, as is well known, unreliable. Shiloh also lies so near the road that travellers proceeding from it might meet with those coming from Samaria and Shechem. As to the order, as this in itself was a matter of indifference, a more external circumstance may well have suggested it: the word of one syllable is placed first, then that of two syllables, and of these again that of five consonants after that of three.

From 2 Chronicles 34:9 it is apparent, that at the time of Josiah there was still in the cities of the ten tribes a “remnant of Israel,” which contributed to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, which appears as a resumption and continuance of the co-operation, which even in the reign of Hezekiah the pious Israelites had afforded in establishing the worship of Jehovah in Jerusalem ( 2 Chronicles 30, 31) These men came as mourners over the destruction of the sanctuary (comp. on Jeremiah 16:6; Jeremiah 47:5; Jeremiah 48:37) with gifts of meat and incense offerings, as the beasts necessary for burnt offerings could not well be brought from so great a distance. Doubtless the feast of Tabernacles, occurring in the Seventh month ( Leviticus 23:34; Numbers 29:12; Deuteronomy 16:13) was the occasion of their coming. Although they could not hope to find altar and priests in the holy place, they would still deposit their gifts there in order at least to manifest their devotion. Grotius calls attention here to the expression of Papinian (Instit. de rerum divisione, § Sacræ): “Locus, in quo ædes sacræ sunt ædificatæ etiam diruto ædificio sacer adhuc manet.”

What was the motive of Ishmael’s act? It is supposed by some that he feared to be betrayed, and therefore killed those strangers whom he could not drag away with him. But he only needed then not to admit them into Mizpah. Graf sees in the deed an act of revenge which Ishmael took on these Israelites for the murder of his relatives and associates in rank ( Jeremiah 52:10), because these, living with heathens, had for a long time been Assyrian and Chaldean subjects. But these Israelites, coming with all the tokens of deepest sorrow, had shown themselves to be well-disposed towards the Jews, and it is inconceivable how Ishmael could have chosen them for the objects of his vengeance. I think he had simple robbery in view. For after this Ishmael, who was evidently a rough and wild Prayer of Manasseh, had from personal jealousy, to the disadvantage of his people and in the political interest of his Ammonitish protection, assassinated the noble Gedaliah, he must either attempt to maintain himself in the latter’s position or flee. When he quickly, before the matter has become known, murders a peaceful caravan of temple pilgrims, and spares only a few of them, who offer him treasures, and at last drags with him as captives the whole turba imbellis from Mizpah into slavery, he shows himself to be simply a robber.

Jeremiah 41:6. Weeping all along as he went [lit.: in going and weeping]. LXX.: αὐτοὶ ἐπορεύοντο καὶ ἔκλαιον. They then refer the words to the eighty. Hitzig and Graf find this reference quite in order. Why should Ishmael weep ? We might suppose it to be perfectly clear that Ishmael wept to deceive those people, in order to present the appearance of a person who from internal grief was not thinking of worldly things at all, much less of robbery and murder. Hitzig and Graf however deny that Ishmael wept at all, because he had no ostensible reason for doing so. Hitzig says he would not weep for the fate of the temple, since he did not in them meet again old friends for the first time since its destruction, he did not go to meet them in ceremony as notorious temple-pilgrims, nor was he himself on the way to Jerusalem. Graf says if he had wept like the pilgrims over Jerusalem, this would have been unnatural behaviour for one who was sojourning in the vicinity of the city. But are these reasons? It is scarcely credible that they can be intended seriously. If in those days of the most tremendous national calamity a train of Jewish pilgrims, bearing themselves all the signs of grief, meet another Jew weeping, about what will they suppose that he is weeping? Will they not most naturally suppose that he accords with the general mourning of the country? There can be no doubt this was the supposition which Ishmael wished to produce in the pilgrims’ minds. There may have been one and another among them who regarded the weeping comer as not a partaker in the general grief, it sufficed for Ishmael that he was generally regarded as such. Murder and robbery are not expected from such a person. Ishmael tried in this way to deceive them. If they had mistrusted him his project must have failed or he must have tried other expedients. Hitzig and Graf fail to convince us that they would have more readily believed a person who was not mourning, but who invited them to Gedaliah in a tone usual at other times. Graf also urges that it was not necessary for Ishmael to shed tears the whole way, even though it was a short one, which however is implied in the grammatical construction (comp. on this point Naegelsb. Gr., § 93, b, Anm.) To this it may be replied that Ishmael could not know how sharp sighted any one of the eighty might be, so that he would rather begin to weep too early than too late, and consequently traversed the greatest part of the distance, perhaps the whole way from the gate, weeping.

Come to Gedaliah. Why Gedaliah invites them he does not say. Many reasons might be imagined: Gedaliah might wish to show them hospitality, or to accompany them, or to impart some injunction or warning in his gubernatorial capacity. At any rate he was a powerful Prayer of Manasseh, whose requisition was not to be ignored. They therefore followed. But in the midst of the city, at any rate in a place where eleven men sufficed to close up both their advance and their retreat, in some narrow lane, Ishmael fell upon them. Ten of them evidently perceived at once why this was done. They saw that it was robbery on which he was intent. They therefore promise him מַטמנִים, i.e, promtuaria subterranea (from טָמַןabscondidit), such being used from the earliest times in many countries of Asia and Africa for the concealment and preservation of the fruits of the earth. Comp. Rosenmuellerad. l., and GeseniusThesaurus, s. v.;Winer, R- W-B, s. v. Ernte.—By the hand of Gedaliah. The words are difficult. The explanations: by the fault of Gedaliah, on Gedaliah’s account, i.e., as friends of Gedaliah); coram Gedalja, i.e., together with Gedaliah, una cum Gedalja, in potestate Gedalja (i.e., as imperio G. subjectos) are all ungrammatical. The normal significance of the words seems to me to afford an appropriate meaning, Ishmael had made use of Gedaliah’s name, to allure them to destruction. He had called to them: Come to Gedaliah ( Jeremiah 41:6), and on the authority of this name they had followed him. Thus we may well say that Ishmael killed them by means of Gedaliah. Of course the person of Gedaliah was not the instrument of execution, but his name was the means by which their wills were determined in the intended direction.—Was that which Asa,etc. We read in 1 Kings 15:22 that king Asa, with the material of which Baasha had fortified Ramah built Geba-Benjamin and Mizpah. This pit appears to have been part of these works of fortification, but as to its destination we are not informed. Was it a cistern, a ditch, or a mere pit, which might defend a narrow approach, and in ordinary times was bridged over? Hitzig assumes the latter. But as Graf remarks, the pit appears according to Jeremiah 41:7 to have been situated in the interior of the city. It cannot have been a ditch, such never being called בּוֹר. It was then probably a large and deep cistern (Comp. Rosenmueller on Jeremiah 41:7), which was built to afford water to the fort, and which accordingly might be reckoned among the means of defence, with which Asa provided the city for fear of Baasha. Whether the pit, which is here spoken of, is identical with the great bore that is in Sechu, 1 Samuel 19:21, and with the φρέαρ μἐγα1Macc. Jeremiah 7:19, must be left undecided.

Jeremiah 41:10-15. Then Ishmael … to the Ammonites. The intimidated, and probably in addition unarmed people, among them the king’s daughters (probably in the wider sense of princesses, as “king’s Song of Solomon,Jeremiah 36:26; Jeremiah 38:6), Ishmael carried away captive, either to use them as slaves or to sell them. Meanwhile however the Jewish band-captains had received intelligence of the events in Mizpah. They hasten thither with their people, and encounter Ishmael by the “great water” near Gibeon. Gibeon is only half a league distant from Mizpah in a northeasterly direction. Till Ishmael had done with the eighty pilgrims and the gathering of the rest. of the population prior to their departure, so much time might pass that the captains could hurry up and almost reach him in Mizpah. The “great waters” of Gibeon are a pond. Comp. 2 Samuel 2:13. Robinson (II:351, 2) recognizes Gibeon in the village El-Jib. [Comp. Thomson, The Land and the Book, II, p546.—S. R. A.] At the east of the village he found a beautiful fountain and the remains of a large water-tank. All Ishmael’s prisoners left him at once to attach themselves to Johanan. Ishmael escaped with eight men. It seems then that there was a fight, in which he lost two of his ten men.

Jeremiah 41:16-18. Then took Johanan … in the land. It cannot be denied that there is some, difficulty in the relative sentence from whom he had recovered to son of Ahikam. Especially troublesome is from Mizpah. Also the singular הֵשִׁיב as well as the sentence after he had slain, etc. (we should expect: after they had driven Ishmael off) are striking: so too the relative sentences whom he had recovered from Ishmael and whom he had brought again from Gibeon, as they both state the same fact. Hitzig supposes that “whom Ishmael carried away captive” should be read after Jeremiah 41:14. Certainly the connection thus becomes clear and intelligible. And as the sentence whom he had recovered from Ishmael stands directly between whom Ishmael carried away captive from Mizpah, Jeremiah 41:14, and whom he had brought again from Gibeon, fin. Jeremiah 41:16, it is quite conceivable that an exchange may have taken place.—Mighty men of war. It is evident from these words that the great mass of the Jewish people still left were assembled in Mizpah, comp. Jeremiah 40:7-11—It is the more strange that Ishmael could take all these captive with ten men. Were they unarmed? Were they surprised? Did Ishmael terrify them with threats, by making a false show of Ammonitish help at hand?—However this may be, Johanan betakes himself with all these to a more southern rendezvous on the road to Egypt. This according to the Keri is called the “habitation (hospice, caravanserai) of Chimham [Kimham],” who according to 2 Samuel 19:37-40 was the son of the Barzillai who purveyed so well for David and his army on their flight. Why did an inn or caravanserai in the vicinity of Bethlehem bear the name of Chimham? We do not know.—This point was to serve as a meeting-place. There were still single bands or individuals scattered through the country. Preparations had also to be made for the march through the desert. The vengeance of the Chaldeans, in spite of the surely provable innocence of the Jews, appeared however so certain, and the fear of it was so great, that the resolution to flee to Egypt was already fixed, before they asked the prophet’s advice. Hence this act was a mere farce.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. On Jeremiah 40:1-3. “Although the calamity, which has come upon Jerusalem, is great and terrible, God does not allow such evil to befal it that good will not result from it, as the Chaldean captain not obscurely intimates, that he has made a fair beginning in the knowledge of the true God. For he confesses, first, that the God of the prophet is a lord; secondly, that He knows future things; thirdly, that He causes His servants to proclaim these beforehand; fourthly, that God has conducted the war and done everything; fifthly, that He was displeased with the sinful manners of the people (among which idolatry was the worst); sixthly, that He has punished their disobedience to His word.” Cramer.

2. On Jeremiah 40:4. “The friendliness, shown to the prophet, appears to proceed from men, but it comes from God. For God’s works are all made so that they are hidden among the creatures; for as He conceals His wisdom in the creation of heaven and earth, as He hides His kindness in the fruits of the earth, so also He disguises His help in the king of Babylon. For God executes. His works now by rational and anon by irrational creatures. As when He fed Elijah by the widow and by the ravens and by the angels ( 1 Kings 17:3 sqq.; 14sqq. and Jeremiah 19:5). For all are His instruments.” Cramer.

3. On Jeremiah 40:2-3. “Nebusaradan attestatione sua comprobat et confirmat veritatem ac certitudinem prædictionum prophetæ. Unde haud inscite colligi conjicique potest, quod Satrapa ille Babylonicus præditus fuerit agnitione veri Dei eâque salvatus. Et sic Deus subinde aliquos ex Magnatibus ad sui agnitionem et æternam salutem traducit ( Psalm 68). Potest istud exemplum ἐλεγκτικῶς obverti absoluto Calvinianorum decreto.” Förster.

4. On Jeremiah 40:5. “In this, that Jeremiah preferred remaining in the country to going to Babylon, it strikes me further—that a discreet Prayer of Manasseh, who knows the world and his heart and the true interest of God’s cause—is as much as possible contented, and does not think to better himself by going further. He is willing to remain at court unknown, and at any rate he would rather be taken away than go away.—The advice, which Solomon gives, is verified, ‘Stand not in the place of great men.’ We are a generation of the cross, and our symbol is ‘an evil name and little understood.’ ” Zinzendorf.

5. On Jeremiah 40:5. In Babylonia honor and a comfortable life invited the prophet, in Judea danger, dishonor and need in the desolated country. In Babylonia a respectable field of labor was opened to him among the great mass of his people, in Judea he had only rabble and condottieri about him. Jeremiah, however, was not a bad patriot, as many accused him of being. By remaining in Judea he showed that the import of his prophecies, apparently friendly to the Chaldeans and hostile to the Jews, had proceeded from the purest love to his people and his fatherland. Thus he imitated Moses, of whom it is written in Hebrews 11:25, that he chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. The holy ground of the fatherland bound him to it, and in addition—if he went, who was to take spiritual oversight of the poor forsaken remnant, to proclaim the word of God and bestow on them consolation and admonition? Those who were in Babylon had Ezekiel. And could not the Lord raise up other prophets for them? So he remained with the sheep, who had no shepherd. Jeremiah had not sought his own through his whole life, nor did he here.

6. On Jeremiah 40:7 sqq. “Human reason, and indeed nature shows, that in worldly government men cannot be without a head. For as the been cannot be without a queen, or the sheep without a shepherd, so no large number of people can exist without a head and government. God has wisely ordered it, and we should be thankful for the authorities.” Cramer.

7. On Jeremiah 40:11 sqq. We may well perceive in this “remnant of Judah” a fulfilment of the prophecy in Isaiah 6:11 sqq.: “Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without Prayer of Manasseh, and the land be utterly desolate, and Jehovah have removed men far away, and great is the forsaking in the midst of the land. And if a tenth remains in it, this again must be removed. Yet as the terebinth and the oak, in which when they are felled, a ground-stock still remains, so is its stock a holy scion.”

8. On Jeremiah 40:13 sqq. Gedaliah, in whom not only Nebuchadnezzar, but also his people, had confidence, must have been a noble Prayer of Manasseh, to whom it was difficult to think evil of his neighbor. “Those who are of a pious disposition, cannot believe so much evil, as is told of people. But we must not trust too much, for the world is full of falseness (Wisd37:3). He who believes too easily, will be often deceived, and he who believes no one is also deceived. Therefore is he indeed a happy Prayer of Manasseh, who can preserve the golden mean.” Cramer.

9. On Jeremiah 40:13 sqq. “Misfortune is like the waves of the sea; when one is broken another follows, and the end of one trouble is the beginning of others.” Cramer.

10. On Jeremiah 41:1-3. “Judas’s kiss and Jacob’s brethren are very common in the world and take after their grandfather Cain, who spake kindly to Abel and yet had blood-thirsty thoughts ( Genesis 4:8). Yea, they take after their father, the devil, who is a murderous spirit ( John 8:44), and disguises himself as an angel of light ( 2 Corinthians 11:14).” Cramer.

11. On Jeremiah 41:1 sqq. “Similia perfidiæ exempla (simulatæ fraternitatis): 2 Samuel 13:24; 2 Samuel 20:9 sq. Quadrat etiam huc historia nuptiarum Parisiensium celebratum 1572 mense Augusto.” Förster.

12. On Jer 41:4 sqq.

“Murder and avarice love to go with each other,

And one crime is often a prolific mother.”—Cramer.

13. On Jeremiah 41:16 sqq. It is very remarkable that even this last centre and rendezvous of the unfortunate people must be destroyed. It might be supposed that with the destruction of the city and deportation of the people the judgments would have terminated. It seems as if the deed of Ishmael and the removal of the remnant to Egypt transcended the measure of punishment fixed by Jehovah, for the Lord did not send Ishmael, and the removal to Egypt He directly forbade. And yet it seems that only by Ishmael’s act and the flight to Egypt could the land obtain its Sabbath rest, which is spoken of in Leviticus 26:34-35.

14. On Jeremiah 42:1-6. “Had not Johanan and his people asked for advice, but gone directly to Egypt, their sin would not have been so great. They feigned, however, submission to the will of God, while they yet adhered to their own will. It is a common fault for people to ask advice while they are firmly resolved what they will do. For they inquire not to learn what is right, but only to receive encouragement to do what they wish. If we advise them according to their inclination they take our advice, if not, they reject it.—We must be on our guard when we appeal to God’s decision, that we do not previously decide for ourselves. For thus we fall into hypocrisy, which is the most fatal intoxication and blindness.” Heim and Hoffman, The Major Prophets. [“Those will justly lose their comfort in real fears, that excuse themselves in sin with pretended fears.” Henry.—S. R. A.]

15. On Jeremiah 42:7. After the murder of Gedaliah the anger of Nebuchadnezzar seemed inevitable. But the Lord, to whom nothing is impossible ( Jeremiah 32:17), promises to perform a miracle, and restore Israel to new prosperity in their land if they will give Him the honor and trust in Him. Nebuchadnezzar’s heart is indeed in His hand. If this is not acknowledged and Nebuchadnezzar more feared than the Lord, their sin is then against the first commandment.

16. On Jeremiah 42:13 sqq. “God reminds His people of the favor with which He adopted them as His people, which was the most sacred obligation to obedience; that Egypt was to them a land of destruction, a forbidden land, as indeed all confidence in human aid is forbidden to those who would live by faith, which was known to them from the history of their fathers and all the prophets. It is a great sin to deem one’s self safer under the protection of man than under that of God. It is incomprehensible, how blind unbelief makes people, so that the Jews have not yet learned the truth in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple of God.” Heim and Hoffman. “Fides futurorum certa est ex præcedentibus.” Tertull. “Venient hæc quoque sicut ista venerunt.” Augustin.—Förster.

17. On Jeremiah 43:2 sqq. “Hypocrites forsooth do not wish to be regarded as rejecting and setting themselves in opposition to God’s word, or accusing God of falsehood. For then is all the world pious, and no one refuses to be submissive to the dear Lord. God is truly God and remains so. It is only against this parson Jeremiah that they must act he lies, he is not sent, his ruling and preaching cannot be endured.” Cramer.

18. On Jeremiah 43:3. “Observe the old diabolical trick: when preachers practice God’s word and their office with zeal, the world understands how to baptize it with another name and call it personal interest, as even here Baruch must bear the blame, as if he only wished to vent his anger on them and be contrary,” Cramer.

19. On Jeremiah 43:6. The ancients here examine the question why Jeremiah accompanied the people to Egypt and take occasion to discuss the1 Comm. de fuga ministrorum with reference to Augustin. Epist. 150 ad Honorar. With respect to Jeremiah, it is clear that he did all in his power to avert the journey to Egypt. After the whole people, however, were once on their way it was impossible for him and Baruch to remain alone in the deserted country. They were obliged to go with their flock. The more these were wandering, the more need they had of the shepherds. Thus, even if they were not compelled, they had to go with them. It seems, however, to follow from the expression וַיִַּקּח, Jeremiah 43:5, that no choice was given them. The people wished to have the prophet with them. In no case can we say that Jeremiah fled, for according to his own prophecy, he knew that he was going to meet ruin in Egypt.

20. On Jeremiah 43:8-13. At the present day when we wish to convey to posterity the account of some accomplished fact, or the prediction of some fact to be accomplished (ex. gr. a last testament), we take paper and ink, write it down, seal it, have it subscribed by witnesses and preserve it in the registrar’s or recorder’s office. In ancient times they took a simpler and surer way. Jacob and Laban simply erected a heap of stones ( Genesis 31), the two and a half tribes ( Joshua 22) built an altar on the bank of the Jordan. As long as the heap and the altar were standing, the record was transmitted from generation to generation for what object these stone witnesses were set up, and thus, that which it was desired to convey to posterity lived in the memory of men. Jeremiah also knows how to use ink and pen ( Jeremiah 32), but here he returns once more to the old manner of preserving archives. He simply places great stones in the clay, declaring what they signify, viz., that here, on this spot, Nebuchadnezzar’s tent shall stand. Whether the Egyptians and Jews then believed him or not, is of no consequence. The record of these stones and their meaning at any rate remained alive, and the Lord’s word was thus safely preserved till the day of its fulfilment.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

1. On Jeremiah 40:1-12; Jeremiah 41:1-3; Jeremiah 42:1-16. Israel, the chosen nation, is in its destinies a type of human life in general. Consider only the exodus from Egypt. So also the destinies of the people of Israel, after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, are pretypical. For1. The deportation of the whole people in chains and fetters is a type of our universal human misery, from which no one (not even Jeremiah) is free2. The fate of Gedaliah and the journey to Egypt is a type of the insufficiency of all mere human help3. As the Jews after Gedaliah’s murder, so men at all times, find protection and deliverance in the Lord alone.

2. On Jeremiah 40:1-6. The Christian in the tumult of the world1. He is regarded externally like others2. The eye of the Lord watches with special care over him, so that (a) not a hair of his head is bent, (b) all his wants are provided for3. Hebrews, however, on his part directs all his efforts to the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and will not be turned aside from this either by the violence or the friendliness of the world.

3. On Jeremiah 40:7 to Jeremiah 41:3. Gedaliah’s fate an example of what befals even the most noble in times of deep corruption1. They enjoy general confidence2. They are incapable of attributing extreme wickedness to men3. They become a sacrifice to their confidence4. They are therefore not in a condition to stay the divine judgments.

4. On Jeremiah 42:1-16. What is the surest way of coming to the right conclusion in difficult cases? 1. To inquire of the Lord2. To obey unconditionally the direction which the Lord communicates. [“We must still in faith pray to be guided by a spirit of wisdom in our hearts, and the hints of Providence.” Henry.—S. R. A.]

5. On Jeremiah 43:1-7. Characteristic example of the artfulness of the human heart: the Jews inquire of the Lord and promise to obey His direction ( Jeremiah 42:20). But when the direction does not accord with their wish, they at once declare it to be supposititious, not from the Lord. The prophet must be a liar, an alleged enemy has incited him. But what was long previously determined in the heart is obstinately brought to execution. [“Those that are resolved to contradict the great ends of the ministry, are industrious to bring a bad name upon it. It is well for persons who are thus misrepresented that their witness is in heaven, and their record on high.” Henry.—S. R. A.].

6. On Jeremiah 43:8-13. The ways of the Lord are wonderful. Israel flees before Nebuchadnezzar far away to Egypt. But there they are not safe. The Lord causes it to be proclaimed to them that at the entrance of the king’s palace at Tahpanhes Nebuchadnezzar’s tent shall stand. Now indeed there is a brick-kiln there, in the clay of which Jeremiah is to place stones, the foundation stones, as it were, for the Chaldean king’s pavilion. Thus the Lord lays the germs of future events, and whatever He prepares in secret He reveals in His own time to the glory of His Wisdom of Solomon, omniscience and omnipotence.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Jeremiah 41:7.—Preganant construction, Comp. naegelsb Gr., §112,7; 2 Kings 10:14; 1 Maccabees 7:19.

FN#2 - Jeremiah 41:9—בְיַד ג׳ J. D.Michaelis conjectures בַּיר (comp. Jeremiah 6:7 Keri), which reading is said to be found in one Codex of De Rossi (comp. Rosenmuller ad. l) The LXX. translate φρέαρ μέλα τοῦτό ἐστιν, as if they had read בּוֹר הַגָּדוֹל הוּא which reading is adopted by dahler, movers, hitzig, graf. It would afford a good meaning. But the reading is not to be altered unneccessarily.

FN#3 - Jeremiah 41:9.—מִפְּנֵי, before, properly “on account of,” but used here in the sense of “against” Comp. Judges 9:21; 1 Chronicles 12:1.

FN#4 - Jeremiah 41:16.—אַנְשֵׁי הַמִּלְחָמָה is in apposition to גְּבָרִים and is to express that the latter is not to be taken in the same of mares generally, in which even the children might be included, but in the sense of “fighting men.”

FN#5 - Jeremiah 41:17—גֵּרוּת כִּמְהָם (Keri). The Chethibh seems to require the pronunciation כְּמוֹתֶם. The meaning of the word is not apparent. The old translators all express, though with great want of clearness and agreement among themselves, a proper name. Only josephus (Antiq. X, 9, §5) says: είς τίνα τόπον μάνδραν λεγόμενον. He evidently read גְּדֵרָה (wall, protection, hurdle. Comp. Zephaniah 2:6).—גֵרוּת is ἅπ. λεγ>., but from its etymology must mean hospitium, diversorium.

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Jeremiah 41:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/jeremiah-41.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, September 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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