Jeremiah 37:1-21


This chapter picks back up where we left off in Jeremiah chapter 34.

Halley has, “During the siege, when the Babylonians had temporarily withdrawn, Jeremiah, probably because of the scarcity of food in Jerusalem, attempted to leave the city to go to his home in Anathoth.  This, because of his persistent advice to yield to the king of Babylon, looked, to his enemies, as if it might be an effort to join the Babylonians.  Thus, on suspicion that Jeremiah was a traitor, working in the interest of the Babylonians, he was imprisoned.  Zedekiah was friendly to Jeremiah, but he was a weak king.”  [Halley’s Bible Handbook, p. 317]  J. Vernon McGee has, “We move into a new section of the book which places the emphasis on the historical events.  Jeremiah could be saying, ‘I told you so,’ but he is too much involved.  He is crushed and broken by the message which he has had to give to the people and now by its fulfillment as the city that he loves is destroyed and the nation he loves goes into captivity, Jeremiah has been faithful in revealing God and acting as his witness.  If you want to know how God (Yahweh) feels about all that is taking place, look into the face of Jeremiah with tears streaming down his cheeks.  Over thirty years of ministry have gone by for Jeremiah.  We saw him start as a young man of about twenty years of age…who was called to be a prophet of God.  Now he is in prison, and the army of the king of Babylon is outside the walls of Jerusalem.  They have been there for a long siege of eighteen months duration.  Jeremiah gives some of this history in chapter 52, and more is revealed in 2 Kings and in 2 Chronicles [see].  This is now the third and final time that Nebuchadnezzar has come down against Jerusalem.  The other times he had taken a certain number of the people captive and had placed Zedekiah on the throne as his vassal.  Zedekiah wanted to get out from under the king of Babylon, so he made an overture to Pharaoh [Hophra] of Egypt.  Pharaoh decided to come up to try to relieve Zedekiah.  Of course, what he planned to do was to put Judah under the rule of Egypt.  When Pharaoh came up to Jerusalem, the commanders of Nebuchadnezzar turned aside, and instead of besieging the city they withdrew.  At this point it looked as if the prophecies of Jeremiah might be wrong [and as you remember, everyone at this point took their bond-servant slaves (due to debt) back into custody, which made God very angry].  So God gave to Jeremiah this very strong word, found in verses 7-10 of this chapter.  The destruction of Jerusalem was determined by God. Even though it looked as if Babylon’s armies had been frightened away, they would be back.  There are five recorded imprisonments of the prophet.  The imprisonment described in this chapter was due to the fact that Jeremiah had said to the king that he was not to make an alliance with Pharaoh but was to surrender to Babylon…”  [THRU THE BIBLE, Vol. III, pp. 410-411]  Also, as Halley brought out, in verses 13-15, Jeremiah went out of the city at this point to visit his hometown of Anathoth, to visit the property he had just bought from his nephew (scroll back to Jeremiah chapter 32) and they thought he was being a traitor to the Babylonians, or at least that was their excuse for the latest imprisonment of Jeremiah.  Jeremiah will remain in prison now until the armies of Babylon take the city of Jerusalem and set him free.  This is the fifth time Jeremiah has been incarcerated. 


Verses 1-10, “Now king Zedekiah the son of Josiah reigned instead of Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon made king in the land of Judah.  But neither he nor his servants nor the people of the land gave heed to the words of the LORD which he spoke by the prophet Jeremiah.  And Zedekiah the king sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, the priest to the prophet Jeremiah, saying, ‘Pray now to the LORD our God for us.’  Now Jeremiah was coming and going among the people, for they had not yet put him in prison.  Then Pharaoh’s army [Pharaoh Hophra] came up from Egypt; and when the Chaldeans who were besieging Jerusalem heard news of them, they departed from Jerusalem.  Then the word of the LORD came to the prophet Jeremiah, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, Thus you shall say to the king of Judah, who sent you to me to inquire of me:  Behold, Pharaoh’s army which has come up to help you will return to Egypt, to their own land.  And the Chaldeans shall come back and fight against this city, and take it and burn it with fire.’  Thus says the LORD:  ‘Do not deceive yourselves, saying, The Chaldeans will surely depart from us, for they will not depart.  For though you had defeated the whole army of the Chaldeans who fight against you, and there remained only wounded men among them, they would rise up, every man in his tent, and burn the city with fire.’


Final Imprisonment of Jeremiah


Verses 11-21, “And it happened, when the army of the Chaldeans left the siege of Jerusalem for fear of Pharaoh’s army, that Jeremiah went out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin to claim his property there among the people.  And when he was in the Gate of Benjamin, a captain of the guard was there whose name was Irijah the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he seized Jeremiah the prophet, saying, ‘You are defecting to the Chaldeans!’  [This is another son of Shelemiah, and this Shelemiah was either in the employ of the king or of the Temple priesthood that was not friendly to Jeremiah.  So it was all in the family, so to speak, the family and associates of the religious priesthood who were opposed to Jeremiah.]  Then Jeremiah said, ‘False!  I am not defecting to the Chaldeans.’  But he did not listen to him.  So Irijah seized Jeremiah and brought him before the princes.  Therefore the princes were angry with Jeremiah, and they struck him and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe.  For they had made that the prison.  When Jeremiah entered the dungeon and the cells, and Jeremiah had remained there many days, then Zedekiah the king sent and took him out.  The king asked him secretly in his house, and said, ‘Is there any word from the LORD?’  And Jeremiah said, ‘There is.’  Then he said, ‘You shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon!’  Moreover Jeremiah said to king Zedekiah, ‘What offense have I committed against you, against your servants, or against this people, that you have put me in prison?  Where now are your prophets who prophesied to you, saying, ‘The king of Babylon will not come against you or against this land?  Therefore please hear now, O my lord king.  Please, let my petition be accepted before you, and do not make me return to the house of Jonathan the scribe, lest I die there.’  Then Zedekiah the king commanded that they should commit Jeremiah to the court of the prison, and that they should give him daily a piece of bread from the bakers’ street, until all the bread in the city was gone.  Thus Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.” 


Jeremiah 38:1-28


Jeremiah Narrowly Escapes Death


J. Vernon McGee has, “When we come to chapter 38, Jeremiah is still confined in the court of the prison, and he faithfully relays God’s Word to his people even though his personal safety is endangered.  The princes of Judah consider him a traitor to his country and a demoralizing influence among the people; so they get permission from the king to silence Jeremiah by putting him in the dungeon (verse 6).  Again God sent someone to his rescue (verses 7-13).  This is a thrilling rescue---I hope you read it carefully.  After this, Zedekiah the king secretly asked Jeremiah to tell him what the LORD was saying to him now.  And he promised to save Jeremiah from those who were seeking his life.  Again he said, ‘Surrender!  You can’t resist this man’ [Nebuchadnezzar, that is] (verse 17).  Jeremiah is pleading with Zedekiah to surrender to save his own life and the life of his people.  His refusal to follow the course of action which Jeremiah presents will doom his nation.  Zedekiah is a coward at heart.  He tries to make peace with everybody and to please everybody.  He is a typical politician.  As a result, he pleases nobody (verses 18-20).  A study of this period of Judah’s history reveals that womanhood was pretty much corrupt.  When womanhood becomes corrupt in any nation, there is very little hope for it on the moral plane.  This is the picture here.  The foolish king will not heed the warning of God through Jeremiah.  Instead he will continue to listen to the optimistic forecast of the false prophets.”  [THRU THE BIBLE, Vol. III, p.412]


Verses 1-6, “Now Shephatiah the son of Mattan, Gedaliah the son of Pashhur, Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur the son of Malchiah heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken to all the people, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD:  He who remains in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but he who goes over to the Chaldeans shall live; his life shall be as a prize to him, and he shall live.’  Thus says the LORD:  ‘This city shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon’s army, which shall take it.’  Therefore the princes said to the king, ‘Please let this man be put to death, for thus he weakens the hands of the men of war who remain in this city, and the hands of the people, by speaking such words to them.  For this man does not seek the welfare of this people, but their harm.’  Then Zedekiah the king said, ‘Look, he is in your hand.  For the king can do nothing against you.’  So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the king’s son, which was in the court of the prison, and they let Jeremiah down with ropes.  And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire.  So Jeremiah sank in the mire.”


Ebed-Melech to the Rescue!


Verses 7-13, “Now Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs, who was in the king’s house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon.  When the king was sitting at the Gate of Benjamin, Ebed-Melech went out of the king’s house and spoke to the king, saying:  ‘My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon, and he is likely to die from hunger in the place where he is. For there is no more bread in the city.’  [Comment:  At this point, the city is out of bread, probably no grain of wheat or barely left to mill into flour.  The those in the city are starting to starve by now, if they  hadn’t been before.]  Then the king commanded Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian, saying, ‘Take from here thirty men with you, and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon before he dies.’  So Ebed-Melech took the men with him and went into the house of the king under the treasury, and took from there old clothes and old rags, and let them down by ropes into the dungeon to Jeremiah.  Then Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, ‘Please put these old clothes and rags under your armpits, under the ropes.’  And Jeremiah did so.  So they pulled him out of the dungeon.  And Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.”  Jeremiah is stuck in the mire, muck.  So the ropes wouldn’t pull his arms off or out of his sockets, they lowered rags and old clothes to cushion him against the ropes, spreading the load, so to speak.  He was then pulled free from the suction of this mire or muck.  Jeremiah probably needed a good hosing down afterwards.  We don’t exactly know how long Jeremiah stayed in this muck, but when this Black Ethiopian eunuch heard of Jeremiah’s plight, he went right to the king and got permission to do something about it.  A few years back the Israeli nation rescued a bunch of poor Ethiopian Jews, airlifting them, families, tents, sheep, goats and all, out of the Ethiopian desert and brought them to Israel, fearing they were in danger with the Communist regime ruling in Ethiopia.  God remembers, and there is something about these marvelous believers in God’s Word, that have hung onto God’s Word (Old Testament) all through the centuries.  He must have a purpose for them yet.  God’s no racist, as these Ethiopian “Jews” racially are probably 99.99 percent Ethiopian Gentile in race genetically.  But in faith and belief they’re probably more Jewish than many secular Jews.  God looks on the heart (Romans 11).  See and and  There is a prophecy in the Old Testament somewhere (see if you can find it) which shows the nation of Israel in the Millennial Kingdom of God will have an open immigration policy for any Gentile who wishes to become an Israelite.  You can see quite realistically, the Ethiopian “Jews” have done that, in the full spiritual sense, and have been even ethnically accepted by the Israeli Jews as Jews.  Also remember the Ethiopian who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover-Pentecost season of Holy Days, and was returning back to his homeland in Ethiopia.  He was reading from the book of Isaiah while riding in his coach, and he saw Philip and Philip asked him if he understood what he was reading.  God called him on the spot, he was baptized, and became the first Ethiopian Christian we know of.  He was one of these Ethiopian “Jews” (read Acts 8:26-40).


Zedekiah’s Fears and Jeremiah’s Advice


Verses 14-28, “Then Zedekiah the king sent and had Jeremiah the prophet brought to him at the third entrance of the house of the LORD.  And the king said to Jeremiah, ‘I will ask you something.  Hide nothing from me.’  Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, ‘If I declare it to you, will you not surely put me to death?  And if I give you advice, you will not listen to me.’  So Zedekiah the king swore secretly to Jeremiah, saying, ‘As the LORD lives, who made our very souls, I will not put you to death, nor will I give you into the hand of these men who seek your life.’  Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel:  If you surely surrender to the king of Babylon’s princes, then your soul shall live; this city shall not be burned with fire, and you and your house shall live.  But if you do not surrender to the king of Babylon’s princes, then this city shall be given into the hand of the Chaldeans; they shall burn it with fire, and you shall not escape from their hand.’  And Zedekiah the king said to Jeremiah, ‘I am afraid of the Jews who have defected to the Chaldeans, lest they deliver me into their hand, and they abuse me.’  [Comment:  As you can plainly see here, the king was a wimp.  He was afraid of what other’s thought and what others might do to him.  He was afraid to really command and lead as a king.  He knew what was right, but the opinion of others prevented him from acting on what was right.  He was essentially a slave to the opinions of others, the false religious leaders around him, and his own princes, his own children as well as the offspring of his brothers who had been king (Jehoash, Jehoiakim, and Jeconiah).  The survival of the whole city of Jerusalem along with the Temple itself was in his hands, and would survive, if he only would have the courage to make the right choice.  Jeremiah then goes on to try to encourage Zedekiah to make that right choice, and not to be afraid to make it.]  But Jeremiah said, ‘They shall not deliver you.  Please, obey the voice of the LORD which I speak to you.  So it shall be well with you, and your soul shall live.  But if you refuse to surrender, this is the word that the LORD has shown me:  Now behold, all the women who are left shall be surrendered to the king of Babylon’s princes, those women shall say:  ‘Your close friends have set upon you and prevailed against you; your feet have sunk in the mire, and they have turned away again.’  So they shall surrender all your wives and children to the Chaldeans.  You shall not escape from their hand, but shall be taken by the hand of the king of Babylon.  And you shall cause this city to be burned with fire.’  [The LORD, right there, is laying the responsibility for the burning of the city and Temple at Zedekiah’s feet, the blame for their destruction will be placed on his head by God.]  Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, ‘Let no one know of these words, and you shall not die.  But if the princes hear that I have talked with you, and they come to you and say to you, ‘Declare to us now what you have said to the king, and also what the king said to you; do not hide it from us, and we will not put you to death,’ then you shall say to them, ‘I presented my request before the king, that he would not make me return to Jonathan’s house to die there.’’  Then all the princes came to Jeremiah and asked him.  And he told them according to all the king had commanded.  So they stopped speaking with him, for the conversation had not been heard.  Now Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison until the day that Jerusalem was taken.  And he was there when Jerusalem was taken.”  Some will try to point out that Jeremiah lied to the princes, but nothing is farther from the truth.  Jeremiah did ask the king to not put him back into the dungeon under Jonathan’s house, where the evil princes wanted to put Jeremiah so he would die.  And this is what he revealed to the princes, and nothing more, when asked of them.  To not reveal all the truth of a matter is not telling a lie.  It is at times, merely following the Proverb of Jesus, to be wise as serpents yet gentle as doves. As the last verse in this chapter reveals, Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison until some time after Jerusalem fell.  We will see later, that the Babylonians had to search for Jeremiah in order to release him.  Nebuchadnezzar had a very high regard for Jeremiah, and knew what he was going through, and also knew he was no traitor to his own people.


Jeremiah 39:1-18


The Fall and Burning of Jerusalem


This account is also repeated in Jeremiah chapter 52, and also in 2nd Kings 25 as well as in 2nd Chronicles 36.  Nebuchadnezzar, as I just pointed out, knew of Jeremiah’s long service to Judah as a prophet who was faithfully relaying God’s message that Judah submit to Nebuchadnezzar, and what he suffered for being a faithful messenger, now offered to confer on Jeremiah, as Halley brings out, “any honor that he would accept, even a worthy place in the Babylonian court” (verses 11-14; chapter 40:1-6).  J. Vernon McGee has, “In chapter 39 the awful carnage that Jeremiah had been predicting takes place.”  The dates of the siege are given clearly in verses 1-2.  It fell on the 9th day of the fourth month, what the Jews call on their calendar Tish’b Ab.  They to this day fast and mourn on this day every year, because, quite strangely, the Romans destroyed the 2nd Temple, built by Ezra and reconstructed and beautified by Herod the Great, on the very same day, the 9th day of the fourth month.  This couldn’t be a message from God here, could it?  We see here that king Zedekiah, always the one to look out for his own hide, attempts to escape and does manage to escape from Jerusalem itself by night through a secret passage in the wall.  But Nebuchadnezzar’s forces gave chase and overtook him in the plains of Jericho (verse 5), where he and his sons are taken to Riblah just above the northern border of Israel near Hamath in Lebanon, where Nebuchadnezzar has set up his royal camp and military headquarters.


Verses 1-10, “In the ninth year of Zedekiah [589/588BC], in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army came against Jerusalem, and besieged it.  In the eleventh year of Zedekiah [586BC], in the fourth month [around August], on the ninth day of the month, the city was penetrated.  Then all the princes of the king of Babylon came in and sat in the Middle Gate:  Nergal-Sharezer, Samgar-Nebo, Sarsechim, Rabsaris, Nergal-Sarezer, Rabmag, with the rest of the princes of the king of Babylon.  So it was, when Zedekiah the king of Judah and all the men of war saw them, that they fled and went out of the city by night, by way of the king’s garden, by the gate between the two walls.  And he went out by way of the plain.  But the Chaldean army pursued them and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho.  And when they had captured him, they brought him up to Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he pronounced judgment on him. Then the king of Babylon killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes in Riblah; the king of Babylon also killed all the nobles of Judah.  Moreover he put out Zedekiah’s eyes, and bond him with bronze fetters to carry him off to Babylon.  And the Chaldeans burned the king’s house and the houses of the people with fire, and broke down the walls of Jerusalem.  Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard [“captain of the guard” is a term often used for the commanding or senior general of a king’s army] carried away captive to Babylon the remnant of the people who remained in the city and those who defected to him, with the rest of the people who remained.  But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left in the land the poor people, who had nothing, and gave them vineyards and fields at the same time.”


Nebuzaradan has Jeremiah located and set free


Verses 11-14, “Now Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon gave charge concerning Jeremiah to Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, saying, ‘Take him and look after him, and do him no harm; but do to him just as he says to you.’  So Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard sent Nebushasban, Rabsaris, Nergal-Sharezer, Rabmag, and all the king of Babylon’s chief officers; then they sent someone to take Jeremiah from the court of the prison, and committed him to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, that he should take him home.  So he dwelt among the people.”

Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian Promised Protection by the LORD

Verses 15-18, “Meanwhile the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah while he was shut up in the court of the prison, saying, ‘Go speak to Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian, saying, Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel:  Behold, I will bring my words upon this city for adversity and not for good, and they shall be performed in that day before you.  But I will deliver you in that day,’ says the LORD, ‘and you shall not be given into the hand of the men of whom you are afraid.  For I will surely deliver you, and you shall not fall by the sword; but your life shall be as a prize to you, because you have put your trust in me,’ says the LORD.”  Comment:  People have often wondered what Matthew 10:40-42 means. Putting it in proper context with the verses we just read, I think is how these words of Jesus ought to be interpreted.  Matthew 10:40-42, “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.  And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”  It will have direct application to those who have mercy within the Beast power who show mercy on true Christians.  It also has application to Matthew 25:31-40, “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.  And he will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.  Then the King will say to those on his right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  for I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  When did we see you a stranger and take you in, or naked and clothe you?  Or when did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?’  And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’”  When Judah fell, the Babylonians let Jeremiah go free and gave him money and offered to assist him to go anywhere he wanted to go. Nebuchadnezzar had good knowledge of Jeremiah’s ministry and the close friendship he had with king Josiah who had actually fought and died in battle trying to stop Pharaoh Necho II from invading Babylonian forces  in order to assist the Assyrians.  Jeremiah, as we’ll see by Nebuchadnezzar’s actions (he was a king of actions, not words), was highly regarded by king Nebuchadnezzar.  Jeremiah 39:11-14, “Now Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon gave charge concerning Jeremiah to Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, saying, ‘Take him and look after him, and do him no harm; but do to him just as he says to you.’  So Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard sent Nebushasban, Rabsaris, Nergal-Sharezer, Rabmag, and all the king of Babylon’s chief officers; then they sent someone to take Jeremiah from the court of the prison, and committed him to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, that he should take him home.  So he dwelt among the people.”  Nebuchadnezzar basically cut Jeremiah a blank check, “Go where you want, do what you want, I’ll pay your way.”  He also had his immediate needs taken care of, like getting him out of prison and putting him in the home of the leader he’s assigning to take charge of those who were to remain in the land of Judah.


Jeremiah 40:1-16


Jeremiah 40:1-6, “The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD after Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had let him go from Ramah, when he had taken him bound in chains among all who were carried away captive from Jerusalem and Judah, who were carried away captive to Babylon.  And the captain of the guard [Nebuzaradan] took Jeremiah and said to him: ‘The LORD your God has pronounced this doom on this place.  Now the LORD has brought it, and has done just as he said.  Because you people have sinned against the LORD, and not obeyed his voice, therefore this thing has come upon you.  And now look, I free you this day from the chains that were on your hand.  If it seems good to you to come with me to Babylon, come, and I will look after you.  But if it seems wrong for you to come with me to Babylon, remain here.  See, all the land is before you; wherever it seems good and convenient for you to go, go there.’  Now while Jeremiah had not yet gone back, Nebuzaradan said, ‘Go back 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 convenient for you to go.’  So the captain of the guard gave him rations and a gift and let him go.  Then Jeremiah went to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, to Mizpah, and dwelt with him among the people who were left in the land.”

Gedaliah made Governor over the poor who were to stay in the land

Verses 7-12, “And when all the captains of the armies who were in the fields, they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam governor of the land, and had committed to him men, women, children, and the poorest of the land who had not been carried away captive to Babylon, then they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah---Ishmael the son of Nethaniah [this guy turns out to be an assassin, wait and see], Johanan and Jonathan the sons of Kereah, Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth, the sons of Ephai the Netophathite, and Jezaniah the son of a Maachathite, they and their men.  And Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, took an oath before them and their men, saying, ‘Do not be afraid to serve the Chaldeans.  Dwell in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you.  As for me, I will indeed dwell at Mizpah and serve the Chaldeans who come to us.  But you, gather wine and summer fruit and oil, put them in your vessels, and dwell in your cities that you have taken.  Likewise, when all the Jews who were in Moab, among the Ammonites, 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 had been driven, and came to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah at Mizpah, and gathered wine and summer fruit in abundance.” Now remember, Jeremiah, Baruch and king Zedekiah’s daughters are living with Gedaliah or somewhere near his official residence in Mizpah.


Evil Plot Against Gadeliah’s life uncovered


And if things hadn’t been bad enough for Jeremiah, a certain Johanan the son of Kareah uncovered a plot by the king of the Ammonites along with a Jewish prince of the royal line who had been hiding in Moab and Ammon, to murder Gedaliah.  Verses 13-16, “Moreover Johanan the son of Kareah and all the captains of the forces that were in the fields came to Gedaliah at Mizpah, and said to him, ‘Do you certainly know that Baalis the king of the Ammonites has sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to murder you?’ But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam did not believe him. Then Johanan the son of Kereah spoke secretly to Gedaliah in Mizpah, saying, ‘Let me go, please, and I will kill Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and no one will know it.  Why should he murder you, so that all the Jews who are gathered to you would be scattered, and the remnant in Judah perish?’  But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said to Johanan the son of Kareah, ‘You shall not do this thing, for you speak falsely concerning Ishmael.    Wrong choice, but inspired of God as we’ll see.  So we see Nebuzaradan, Nebuchadnezzar’s commanding general in the field set a leader up over the poverty-stricken Jews who were to be left behind in the land of Judah, and just told Jeremiah to go lodge with him, or go anywhere he wanted to go, again repeating Nebuchadnezzar’s blank check offer to him.  But just as Jeremiah’s settling in, another not so nice Jewish leader of the royal line of Judah who had been hiding out in Ammon during Judah’s conquest came back to Judea, and conspired to kill this Jewish leader Nebuzaradan had installed over the remaining Jews, and then he took over, trying to kidnap these Jews back to Ammon.


Jeremiah 41:1-18


Jeremiah 41:1-3, “Now it came to pass in the seventh month that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the royal family and of the officers of the king [king Zedekiah, that is], came with ten men to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, at Mizpah.  And there they ate bread together in Mizpah.  Then Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and the ten men who were with him, arose and struck Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, with the sword, and killed him whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land.  Ishmael also struck down all the Jews who were with him, that is, with Gedaliah at Mizpah, and the Chaldeans who were found there, the men of war.”  Lucky for Jeremiah and Baruch, they must not have been around.  This Ishmael is a deceitful murderer, as the next verses reveal, knows how to deceive with crocodile tears, a real performer.  Verses 4-9, “And it happened, on the second day after he had killed Gedaliah, when as yet no one knew it,, that certain men came from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria, eighty men with their beards shaved and their clothes torn, having cut themselves, with offerings and incense in their hand, to bring them to the house of the LORD.  [Some kind of Tabernacle must have been set up.  Maybe the Tabernacle which had been in storage in Jerusalem, the one which had originally been in Shiloh, had been set up in Mizpah.  That’s all I can surmise from this statement “house of the LORD, since the Temple had been destroyed in Jerusalem.]  Now Ishmael the son of Nethaniah went out from Mizpah to meet them, weeping as he went along; and it happened as he met them that he said to them.  ‘Come to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam!’  So it was, when they came into the midst of the city, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah killed them and cast them into the midst of a pit, he and the men who were with him.  But ten men were found among them who said to Ishmael, ‘Do not kill us, for we have treasures of wheat, barley, oil, and honey in the field.’  So he desisted and did not kill them among their brethren.  Now the pit into which Ishmael had cast all the dead bodies of the men whom he had slain, because of Gedaliah, was the same one Asa the king had made for fear of Baasha king of Israel.  Ishmael the son of Nethaniah filled it with the slain.”


Ishmael tries to kidnap the people to the land of Ammon


Verses 10-18, “Then Ishmael carried away captive all the rest of the people who were in Mizpah, the king’s daughters [i.e. Zedekiah’s daughters, who were under Jeremiah’s care], and all the people who remained in Mizpah, whom Nebuzaradan the captain of the king’s guard 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.”  This Ishmael doesn’t get too far, but he’s a slippery character.  “But 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, they took all the men and went to fight with Ishmael the son of Nethaniah; and they found him by the great pool that is in Gibeon.  So it was, when all the people who were with Ishmael saw Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces who were with him, that they were glad.  Then all the people whom Ishmael had carried away captive from Mizpah went to Johanan the son of Kareah.  But Ishmael the son of Nethaniah escaped from Johanan with eight men and went to the Ammonites.”  Didn’t I tell you this Ishmael was a slippery character.  But now all these Jews, soldiers and all, are terrified of what the Babylonians might do to them. “Then Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were with him, took from Mizpah all the rest of the people whom he had recovered from Ishmael the son of Nethaniah after he had murdered Gedaliah the son of Ahikam---the mighty men of war and the women and the children and the eunuchs, whom he had brought back from Gibeon.  And they departed and dwelt in the habitation of Chimham, which is near Bethlehem, as they went on their way to Egypt, because of the Chaldeans; for they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had murdered Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon had made governor in the land.”  They initially plan to flee to Egypt, but then decide to ask Jeremiah to pray about the matter.  God tells Jeremiah to tell them no, don’t go to Egypt, but to stick around.  Then, against God’s instructions, and naturally fearing for his life, this Johanan led the remaining Jews including Jeremiah, Baruch and king Zedekiah’s daughters (as captives) and fled to Tahpanhes in Egypt.  Jeremiah here gives them God’s answer in the next chapter, in verses 13-22.

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