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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
Jeremiah 40

 

 

Verses 1-5

SECTION 2 (Jeremiah 26:1 to Jeremiah 45:5 continued).

As we have previously seen this Section of Jeremiah from Jeremiah 26:1 to Jeremiah 45:5 divides up into four main subsections, which are as follows:

1. Commencing With A Speech In The Temple Jeremiah Warns Of The Anguish That Is Coming And Repudiates The Promises Of The False Prophets (Jeremiah 26:1 to Jeremiah 29:32).

2. Following On After The Anguish To Come Promises Are Given Of Eventual Restoration, Central To Which is A New Covenant Written In The Heart And The Establishment Of A Shoot (Branch) Of David On His Throne (Jeremiah 30:1 to Jeremiah 33:26).

3. YHWH’s Continuing Word of Judgment Is Given Through Jeremiah, The Continuing Disobedience Of The People Is Brought Out, And Jeremiah’s Resulting Experiences Leading Up To The Fall Of Jerusalem Are Revealed (Jeremiah 34:1 to Jeremiah 39:18).

4. Events Subsequent To The Fall Of Jerusalem Are Described Including The Rejection By The Remnant Of Judah Of YHWH’s Offer Of Full Restoration (Jeremiah 40:1 to Jeremiah 45:5).

We have already commented on Subsections 1 in Jeremiah 4; subsection 2 in Jeremiah 5; and subsection 3 in Jeremiah 6. We must now therefore consider subsection 4 here. This subsection deals with various experiences of Jeremiah amidst what remained of Judah after the fall of Jerusalem.

SECTION 2. Subsection 4). Events Subsequent To The Fall Of Jerusalem, Including The Rejection By The Remnant Of Judah Of YHWH’s Offer Of Full Restoration, Resulting In Further Judgment On God’s Recalcitrant People (Jeremiah 40:1 to Jeremiah 45:5).

Within this subsection, which opens with the familiar words ‘the word which came to Jeremiah from YHWH --’ (which in this case indicates that the section as a whole which follows contains prophecies of Jeremiah which are put into an historical framework, for what immediately follows is historical narrative), we have described events subsequent to the fall of Jerusalem:

· ‘The word that came to Jeremiah from YHWH --.’ The appointment of Gedaliah as governor of Judah and his attempt, along with Jeremiah, to re-establish it as a viable state (Jeremiah 40:1-16).

· Gedaliah’s assassination by a recalcitrant prince of Judah, who himself then had to flee to Ammon, resulting in the feeling among many who had been re-established in Judah that it would be necessary to take refuge in Egypt (Jeremiah 41:1-18).

· The people promise obedience to YHWH and are assured by Jeremiah that if they remain in Judah and are faithful to Him YHWH will ensure that they prosper, whereas if they depart for Egypt it can only result in disaster (Jeremiah 42:1-22).

· Jeremiah’s protestations are rejected by the Judeans who take refuge in Egypt and are warned by Jeremiah that soon Nebuchadrezzar would successfully invade Egypt itself (Jeremiah 43:1-13).

· ‘The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews who dwell in the land of Egypt --.’ Having settled in Egypt the people return to idolatry, rejecting Jeremiah’s warnings of the consequences, and are assured by him that they will suffer as Jerusalem has suffered, with only a remnant being able to return to Judah (Jeremiah 44:1-30).

· ‘’The word that Jeremiah the prophet spoke to Baruch the son of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book at the mouth of Jeremiah --.’ YHWH’s assurance given to the faithful Baruch in the days of Jehoiakim that He would be with him, come what may (Jeremiah 45:1-5).

It will be noted that the markers given by the author actually divide the subsection into three parts, Jeremiah 40:1 to Jeremiah 43:13, Jeremiah 44:1-30 and Jeremiah 45:1-5. Thus ‘the word that came to Jeremiah from YHWH --’ is a phrase which covers the whole of Jeremiah 40:1 to Jeremiah 43:13, with Jeremiah 40:1 b-42:6 being the necessary historical introduction to the actual ‘word from YHWH’ given in Jeremiah 42:7 onwards. The importance of this word is emphasised by the ten day wait. (In comparison with this incorporation of a prophecy within an historical framework we should note how constantly in Genesis covenants and words from YHWH were regularly put within an historical framework).

The main purpose of this section is in order to establish:

1. that what has happened to Judah and Jerusalem was YHWH’s own doing, as verified even by Nebuchadrezzar’s imperial guard commander.

2. that nevertheless YHWH had not totally forsaken His people but would re-establish them if they looked to Him and were obedient,

3. that their future success depended on that obedience, an obedience which proved to be lacking.

It is difficult for us to realise quite what a crushing blow the destruction of Jerusalem would have been to Jewry worldwide. All their pet beliefs had been brought crashing down. Whilst many were in exile far away from their homeland they had gained confidence from the fact that the Temple still stood and that the covenant worship still continued. But now the idea of the inviolability of the Temple had proved invalid, Jerusalem had been destroyed, and the very power of YHWH was being called into question. Could therefore now any trust be placed in YHWH? It was therefore necessary in this regard that it be emphasised by Jeremiah that it was not YHWH Who had failed, but His people. He brought out that they had in fact brought their devastation on themselves. The new beginning that he had promised could only arise out of the ashes of the old, because the old had been distorted beyond all recognition. His words would be a bedrock on which their new ideas about YHWH could be fashioned.


Verses 1-6

The Deliverance Of Jeremiah And The Temporary Restoration Of Judah (Jeremiah 40:1-6).

The passage and section opens with the now familiar ‘the word which came to Jeremiah from YHWH ---’ (compare and contrast Jeremiah 44:1; Jeremiah 45:1), a phrase which always indicates the opening of a new aspect of his prophecy and is one of the crucial indicators in dividing up the Book of Jeremiah. The passage describes again the release of Jeremiah (compare Jeremiah 39:11-14) who is released into the care of Gedaliah, the newly appointed Governor of Judah.

At first sight Jeremiah 39:14 may appear to contradict the description found in Jeremiah 40:1-5, but one probable explanation is to be found in the fact that in the first aftermath of the siege when the city was taken, Jeremiah was carried off in chains to Riblah along with the many other captives, only to be released when he was recognised by Nebuzaradan who had received direct orders concerning him from Nebuchadrezzar. As a consequence he was then conveyed back in honour to the court of the guard in Jerusalem where he was housed in luxury for his own safety until it was finally safe for him to join Gedaliah the new governor in the area where the new government was being established.

For Nebuzaradan to recognise him in Jeremiah 40:1 might mean that at that stage Nebuzaradan had not yet set off for Jerusalem, although the account is too summarised to be sure. However, the fact that Nebuzaradan then knew where Jeremiah was would serve to confirm that he had had a hand in looking after his welfare, having had him conveyed back to Jerusalem to the safety of the court of the guard in the grounds of the king’s palace which was no doubt being used as a headquarters by the Babylonians.

Alternatively it could be that in the turbulent days after the ending of the siege Jeremiah was released but was once again arrested by a Babylonian contingent who did not realise who he was, with the result that he had to be ‘rescued’ a second time once Nebuzaradan arrived back from Jerusalem. Nebuchadrezzar having given specific orders concerning his safety, great care would have been taken to search him out and ensure it.

Another alternative is to see 39. 14 as just a very summarised explanation as to how Jeremiah was released from the court of the guard, with all the detail between his release (by being taken in chains to Ramah) and his handing over to Gedaliah being omitted. Much had been made of his being in the court of the guard (Jeremiah 32:2; Jeremiah 32:8; Jeremiah 32:12; Jeremiah 33:1; Jeremiah 37:21; Jeremiah 38:6; Jeremiah 38:13; Jeremiah 38:28; Jeremiah 39:14-15), and thus his deliverance from it with a happy ending could be seen as a necessary conclusion to the passage, the trauma in between as described in chapter 40 being ignored.

Jeremiah 40:1

‘The word which came to Jeremiah from YHWH, after Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had let him go from Ramah, when he had taken him there being bound in chains among all the captives of Jerusalem and Judah, who were carried away captive to Babylon.’

‘The word which came to Jeremiah from YHWH --.’ As we have seen this is an important introductory phrase often indicating the commencement of a new section. Compare Jeremiah 7:1; Jeremiah 11:1; Jeremiah 14:1; Jeremiah 18:1; Jeremiah 21:1; Jeremiah 30:1; Jeremiah 32:1; Jeremiah 34:8; Jeremiah 35:1; In this case it is introductory to chapters 40-45, and it will be noted that no prophecy of Jeremiah immediately follows in chapter 40. The phrase therefore rather has in mind the prophecies of Jeremiah contained within the whole section, placed within an historical framework, and indicates the theological nature of what is being presented.

‘After Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had let him go from Ramah’. Nebuzaradan, commander of Nebuchadrezzar’s own bodyguard, had been given a specific charge by Nebuchadrezzar to look after Jeremiah’s welfare (Jeremiah 39:11-12). We do not know at what point Nebuzaradan went to Jerusalem after the successful taking of the city, which as we saw in Jeremiah 39:3 was accomplished by others. Thus what may well have happened was that Nebuzaradan released Jeremiah from Ramah into the care of those responsible for the court of the guard in Jerusalem (Jeremiah 39:14), so as to ensure his safety during the dangerous days following the ending of the siege, both from Babylonian soldiery seeking out those who had gone into hiding, and from many angry Jews who may have been considering taking revenge on him, this occurring prior to his then being released by Nebuzaradan into the hands of Gedaliah the new governor once it was safe to do so. Here what happened is simply put in very summarised form.

‘When he had taken him there being bound in chains among all the captives of Jerusalem and Judah, who were carried away captive to Babylon.’ Nebuzaradan had been given overall responsibility for dealing with the matter of carrying off the people of Jerusalem and Judah into exile (Jeremiah 39:9) and the subsequent settlement of affairs in the land (Jeremiah 39:10). He would not, however, have been directly and personally involved in the gathering of the captives, which would have been in the hands of the initial invaders, who would have shown little discrimination. The sorting out could be done at Ramah. Thus Jeremiah shared the ignominy of being taken in chains to Ramah along with all the other captives, something which he would not have fought against. He would want to be identified with his people. Whether Nebuzaradan went at this stage to Jerusalem in person we do not know. He may well have remained with Nebuchadrezzar in Ramah, his activities as described being carried out by deputies on his orders. Ramah was in the territory of Benjamin, six miles north of Jerusalem. It has been identified with modern Er-ram but the identification is not certain.

Jeremiah 40:2

‘And the captain of the guard took Jeremiah, and said to him, YHWH your God pronounced this evil on this place,”

These verses are central to Jeremiah’s theology. They explain what was otherwise totally beyond understanding, and that was as to why YHWH had allowed His own Temple to be destroyed, and His own holy city to be vandalised. It was important for all to see that rather than indicating YHWH’s powerlessness, it indicated both His control over the activities of Babylon and His determination to judge His people for their wrongdoing. It will then be revealed that had they been willing He would have enabled the remnants of the people to re-establish a new Judah.

In the eyes of Nebuchadrezzar’s guard commander YHWH was the local God of Judah Who had determined to punish His own people. While no doubt crediting the victory to the gods of Babylon he still had no problem with seeing the local God as also involved, and as having pronounced evil against Jerusalem (compare the words of Rabshakeh the Assyrian high official in 2 Kings 18:25). He would be well aware from Babylonian spies that Jeremiah had been declaring the same thing, the difference being that Jeremiah saw Him as God of all the earth. But to the reader the important thing was that Babylon’s own representative was acknowledging that YHWH had not failed, but was rather bringing about His purposes. From an historical point of view Nebuzaradan was undoubtedly speaking to Jeremiah in a friendly way in terms which he knew from what he had learned from his own spies that Jeremiah would use.

Jeremiah 40:3

“And YHWH has brought it, and done according to what he spoke, because you have sinned against YHWH, and have not obeyed his voice, therefore this thing is come on you.”

It is quite probable that Nebuzaradan was here in fact citing words of Jeremiah which had been reported to him by his spies, to the effect that disaster had come on Jerusalem, brought on them by their own God YHWH, because of their failure to honour Him truly and fulfil His covenant requirements. He spoke better than he knew. Here was testimony from a leading figure in Babylon to the might and power of YHWH, besides Whom, in Jeremiah’s eyes, the gods of Babylon were as nothing.

Jeremiah 40:4

“And now, behold, I loose you this day from the chains which are on your hand. If it seem good to you to come with me into Babylon, come, and I will look well to you, but if it seem ill to you to come with me into Babylon, forbear. Behold, all the land is before you. Wherever it seems good and right to you to go, there go.”

Jeremiah was here receiving the favoured treatment commanded by Nebuchadrezzar himself in Jeremiah 39:11 ff. This was probably because Jeremiah was seen, as a result of his urgings to the king of Judah to submit to Babylon, as a loyal supporter of Nebuchadrezzar. Thus on his being searched out by Nebuzaradan in fulfilment of Nebuchadrezzar’s command he was released from his manacles. He was then given the choice of either going to Babylon where he would be rewarded for his supposed loyalty, or of remaining in the land and settling wherever he wished, presumably with the idea that land would be given to him there. It is clear that Jeremiah made the choice to remain in Judah.

Jeremiah 40:5

‘Now while he was not yet gone back, (Nebuzaradan said to him) “Go back then to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon has made governor over the cities of Judah, and dwell with him among the people; or go wherever it seems right to you to go.” So the captain of the guard gave him victuals and a present, and let him go.’

Chapter 39 brings out that this is a very telescoped account of the treatment of Jeremiah. There we learn that initially Jeremiah was returned to the court of the guard in Jerusalem. This would probably have been for his own safety at a time when there were still highly dangerous patriots about, and when the Babylonian soldiery were still seeking out hidden refugees in order to carry them off to Ramah, and then to Babylon. It was then from the court of the guard in the palace grounds (no doubt the Babylonian headquarters) that he was subsequently put under Gedaliah’s care, a detail ignored here in Jeremiah 40:5.

Jeremiah was now given one of two alternatives, either to put himself under the protection of Gedaliah, the newly appointed governor of Judah, or alternately to settle wherever he wished, presumably with land grants. He may well have been given documents granting this permission. On release he was then provided with sufficient victuals to keep him going for the near future, and ‘a present’, presumably in recognition of his supposed loyalty to the king of Babylon. In other words wealth was piled on him, and he was given his full freedom, evidence that for those who were obedient to YHWH, YHWH’s influence was sufficient to ensure their provisioning.

‘Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon has made governor over the cities of Judah.’ The description of Gedaliah as ‘Governor of the cities of Judah’ emphasises that Jerusalem was no longer to be seen as having any political or theological significance. It was now Gedaliah who ruled from elsewhere, from Mizpah. He may well be the Gedaliah whose name is found on a seal discovered at Lachish speaking of ‘Gedaliah who was over the house’, that is, was the king’s representative there. He was thus a person of acknowledged authority, and may well have found favour with Nebuchadrezzar because of his reported friendliness towards Jeremiah. His antecedents also indicate his aristocratic background, emphasising that he was a man of recognised authority in Judah. Both Shaphan and Ahikam (Jeremiah 26:24) had been loyal servants of the kings of Judah. Gedaliah came from godly stock, his father having protected Jeremiah in earlier days as described in Jeremiah 26:24.

Jeremiah 40:6

‘Then Jeremiah went to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah, and dwelt with him among the people who were left in the land.’

So Jeremiah heeded the advice of Nebuzaradan and went to the new governor at Mizpah and dwelt securely with him, alongside those who were left in the land. The following verses will give us details of some of these. He clearly recognised a pastoral responsibility for them. We must not think, however, that otherwise Judah was totally unpopulated. The poor of the land, who would be quite numerous, were settled in it by Nebuzaradan (Jeremiah 39:10) and people who had fled to the mountains during the invasion, or who had fled abroad, would now filter back into the land to reclaim at a minimum their own inheritances. However, the fact that the population had been greatly reduced comes out in that it is stated later that the harvest of summer fruit and wine would be abundantly sufficient for all now living in Judah.

‘Mizpah’, which means ‘watchtower’, was the name given to a number of cities in Judah and Israel. This was probably the well known Mizpah in Benjamin (Joshua 18:25-26; 1 Samuel 7:5-13; 1 Samuel 10:17-25). It was not far from Gibeah of Saul (Isaiah 10:29; Judges 19:13), but its identity is uncertain (as with so many identifications).


Verses 1-13

The Commencement Of Judah’s Restoration Is Thwarted By The Assassination Of Gedaliah The Governor And By The Refusal Of The People To Listen To Jeremiah As They Take Refuge In Egypt (Jeremiah 40:1 to Jeremiah 43:13).

This deals with ‘the word that came to Jeremiah from YHWH’ after he had been delivered from his manacles by Nebuzaradan. It opens with the historical background to this prophecy in which Gedaliah, Nebuchadrezzar’s appointed Governor, commences the re-establishment of Judah in the land (40), and is then assassinated (Jeremiah 41:1-10), resulting in the decision by the people of Judah to seek refuge from Nebuchadrezzar’s revenge in Egypt (Jeremiah 41:11-18). However, prior to doing so they consult Jeremiah who gives them ‘the word of YHWH’ that they are to remain in the land under His protection (42).

But as always Judah choose to disobey YHWH and do seek refuge in Egypt, with the consequence that Jeremiah vividly prophecies that Nebuchadrezzar’s retribution will overtake them there (43).


Verses 7-12

Re-establishment Of Judah Under The Governorship Of Gedaliah (Jeremiah 40:7-12).

Once the news got about that Gedaliah had been appointed governor, that Judah was now populated by ‘the poor of the land’, and that the land was comparatively at rest, the commanders who were still leading armies of resistance, together with their men, and the Jews who had fled for refuge abroad, determined to return to the land and submit to him. There would no doubt still be many women remaining in the land, tending what remained of the flocks and trying to scratch a living from the land, many of them wives of the resistance fighters.

Jeremiah 40:7

‘Now when all the captains of the forces who were in the fields, even they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam governor in the land, and had committed to him men, and women, and children, and of the poorest of the land, of those who were not carried away captive to Babylon,’

The news of Gedaliah’s appointment soon reached the ears of the various resistance movements operating throughout Judah (the captains of the forces who were in the countryside, probably operating from the mountains which provided good hiding places and difficulty of access). They learned that the Babylonians had set up a new state under Gedaliah, populated by ‘the poor of the land’, who were no doubt seen as those who had no influence and no political axe to grind, and could thus safely be left in Judah in order to re-establish it. Allowing the land to turn into a wilderness would do no one any good. These men of the resistance clearly recognised that further resistance was useless and decided that it was in the interests of all Judah that they cooperate with a new government under Judean governorship.

Jeremiah 40:8

‘Then they came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, to wit, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Johanan and Jonathan the sons of Kareah, and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth, and the sons of Ephai the Netophathite, and Jezaniah the son of the Maacathite, they and their men.’

So they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah in order to negotiate with him. We have here a list of the resistance leaders, the first of whom would shortly reveal himself a traitor, but who is named first because he was of royal blood. As a result of what they had heard their purpose was to come to an agreement with Gedaliah, whom they knew that they could trust, and to offer to lay down their arms as long as they were given sufficient guarantees of their own safety and the safety of their men.

That Ishmael was of royal birth we know from Jeremiah 41:1, and we may presume from what follows that he resented Gedaliah as a result and saw him as a usurper. But that his aim was one of revenge rather than one of patriotism, comes out in that his intention was not to restore Judah. Indeed he knew perfectly well that Nebuchadrezzar would subsequently seek revenge on Judah for what had happened and thus planned to seek refuge in Ammon. We know almost nothing about the others save that Jezaniah was apparently a resident alien, being the son of a Maacathite, and Netophath was a town near Bethlehem. Jezaniah may or may not be identical with Jezaniah, the son of Hoshaiah mentioned in Jeremiah 42:1.

Jeremiah 40:9

‘And Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan swore to them and to their men, saying, “Do not be afraid to serve the Chaldeans. Dwell in the land, and serve the king of Babylon, and it will be well with you.”

Gedaliah had presumably been briefed by Nebuchadrezzar as to the stance that he must take up, and was therefore able to assure the men that if they laid down their arms and were cooperative they would be safe from reprisals.

Jeremiah 40:10

“As for me, behold, I will dwell at Mizpah, to stand before the Chaldeans who will come unto us, but you, gather for yourselves wine and summer fruits and oil, and put them in your vessels, and dwell in your cities that you have taken.”

He pointed out that he would be dwelling at Mizpah acting for the good of Judah and negotiating for Judah with the Babylonian contingent, who would be at Mizpah to oversee his governorship. He would act as a guarantor of their acceptance by the Babylonians. Meanwhile they were free to dwell in the cities that they had taken possession of, presumably due to the Babylonian withdrawal, and to gather the wine, summer fruits and oil which would be growing on the fruit trees left standing by the Babylonians, for present needs and for storage. The grain and barley harvests would have to await the following year, no harvest presumably having been sown or gathered that year due to the invasion.

Jeremiah 40:11-12

‘In the same way when all the Jews who were in Moab, and among the children of Ammon, and in Edom, and who were in all the countries, heard that the king of Babylon had left a remnant of Judah, and that he had set over them Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, then all the Jews returned out of all places where they were driven, and came to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah, to Mizpah, and gathered wine and summer fruits in great abundance.’

It is clear that the land soon became fairly well populated again. Apart from ‘the poor of the land’ who would have been numerous, and had been allowed to remain and take land there, refugees who had fled from the invasion to surrounding countries now returned in droves. And there was plenty of food for all from the abundance of wine and summer fruits. Ammon and Moab were to the east of Judah, across the Jordan. Edom was south and south-east of Judah.


Verses 7-18

Political Events In The New Judah - Gedaliah Re-establishes Judah But Is Assassinated (Jeremiah 40:7 to Jeremiah 41:18).

What follows is a description of the events that followed the appointment of Gedaliah, events in which Jeremiah played no active part. It does, however, set the scene for Jeremiah’s prophecies in chapter 42-43, and reveals that among the patriotic resistance leaders who showed themselves willing to submit to Gedaliah’s governorship, once they recognised that their cause was lost, was one whose loyalties lay outside Judah, with the Ammonites. The Ammonites clearly encouraged the continuing of the plotting of Judah against Babylon, no doubt in order to turn attention from themselves. This man was of royal blood, and may well have been continuing an alliance with the Ammonites previously set up by Zedekiah. But his aim was clearly negative, for his intention was to murder Gedaliah (bringing down Babylon’s wrath on Judah) and find refuge in Ammon. He no doubt saw Gedaliah as a traitor, but his own position was hardly any better. Thus to the end the royal house was to prove to be a thorn in the side to Judah.


Verses 13-16

Gedaliah Receives And Rejects A Warning About Ishmael’s Intentions (Jeremiah 40:13-16).

The loyal former resistance commanders learned of Ishmael’s plottings, and came to Gedaliah and warned him of Ishmael’s intentions. They were now content to settle in the land under Gedaliah’s governorship. So they warned him that Ishmael was plotting with the king of Ammon to have Gedaliah assassinated. One of them even offered to have Ishmael done to death secretly. But like many honest men Gedaliah could not conceive of such treachery, and forbade any action against Ishmael on the grounds that their information must be untrue. He could not believe that Ishmael was capable of such treachery.

Jeremiah 40:13-14

‘ Moreover Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces who were in the countryside, came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, and said to him, “Do you know that Baalis the king of the children of Ammon has sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to take your life? But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam did not believe them.’

It may well have been because he sounded them out as to whether they would give him assistance and support that Ishmael’s plotting became known to the other former resistance commanders. However, they apparently had no desire to enter into an intrigue with the unsophisticated Ammonites, and were content with things as they now were. So they approached Gedaliah in order to warn him. Gedaliah on the other hand did not believe that what they were saying was true.

We do not know why Baalis, the king of the tribal Ammonites who were a people who were only half civilised, had a grudge against Gedaliah. And indeed his main aim may simply have been to keep things stirred up in Judah so as to divert Nebuchadrezzar’s attention from Ammon. But it may also have been with a view to using the resulting turmoil to seize land belonging to Judah. The Ammonites had themselves previously been involved with Judah in plots against Babylon (Jeremiah 27:3). Baalis is unknown from history unless the name Ba‘ly found on the Siran bottle dated 667-580 BC refers to him.

Ishmael’s purpose might have been the result of a desire for power, or it may have resulted from greed or jealousy, or it may simply have been with a view to obtaining vengeance for what had happened to his family. But whatever it was he would serve Judah ill.

Jeremiah 40:15

‘Then Johanan the son of Kareah spoke to Gedaliah in Mizpah secretly, saying, “Let me go, I pray you, and I will kill Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and no man will know it. Why should he take your life, that all the Jews who are gathered to you should be scattered, and the remnant of Judah perish?”

Aware of the consequences of any assassination of a Babylonian appointed governor, Johanan, one of the former resistance commanders, offered to have Ishmael secretly assassinated in order to save the situation. Neither he nor his fellow-commanders wanted the turmoil and consequences that would result. Possibly there is a hint here of what the king of Ammon was hoping for.

Jeremiah 40:16

‘But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said to Johanan the son of Kareah, “You shall not do this thing, for you speak falsely of Ishmael.”

But Gedaliah would have none of it. He refused to believe that Ishmael was capable of such a thing, and rebuked Johanan for suggesting false ideas.

 


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Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Jeremiah 40:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/jeremiah-40.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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