I come to your Word today, loving Father, looking for direction to live my life in ways that please you. Help me to not only receive from it, but to be moved to act in ways that bring you glory.
Read JEREMIAH 40:1 – 41:15
40 The word came to Jeremiah from the Lord after Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard had released him at Ramah. He had found Jeremiah bound in chains among all the captives from Jerusalem and Judah who were being carried into exile to Babylon. 2 When the commander of the guard found Jeremiah, he said to him, “The Lord your God decreed this disaster for this place. 3 And now the Lord has brought it about; he has done just as he said he would. All this happened because you people sinned against the Lord and did not obey him. 4 But today I am freeing you from the chains on your wrists. Come with me to Babylon, if you like, and I will look after you; but if you do not want to, then don’t come. Look, the whole country lies before you; go wherever you please.” 5 However, before Jeremiah turned to go,[a] Nebuzaradan added, “Go back to Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon has appointed over the towns of Judah, and live with him among the people, or go anywhere else you please.”
Then the commander gave him provisions and a present and let him go. 6 So Jeremiah went to Gedaliah son of Ahikam at Mizpah and stayed with him among the people who were left behind in the land.
7 When all the army officers and their men who were still in the open country heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam as governor over the land and had put him in charge of the men, women and children who were the poorest in the land and who had not been carried into exile to Babylon, 8 they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah—Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan and Jonathan the sons of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth, the sons of Ephai the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah[b] the son of the Maakathite, and their men. 9 Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, took an oath to reassure them and their men. “Do not be afraid to serve the Babylonians,[c]” he said. “Settle down in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it will go well with you. 10 I myself will stay at Mizpah to represent you before the Babylonians who come to us, but you are to harvest the wine, summer fruit and olive oil, and put them in your storage jars, and live in the towns you have taken over.”
11 When all the Jews in Moab, Ammon, Edom and all the other countries heard that the king of Babylon had left a remnant in Judah and had appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, as governor over them, 12 they all came back to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah at Mizpah, from all the countries where they had been scattered. And they harvested an abundance of wine and summer fruit.
13 Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers still in the open country came to Gedaliah at Mizpah 14 and said to him, “Don’t you know that Baalis king of the Ammonites has sent Ishmael son of Nethaniah to take your life?” But Gedaliah son of Ahikam did not believe them.
15 Then Johanan son of Kareah said privately to Gedaliah in Mizpah, “Let me go and kill Ishmael son of Nethaniah, and no one will know it. Why should he take your life and cause all the Jews who are gathered around you to be scattered and the remnant of Judah to perish?”
16 But Gedaliah son of Ahikam said to Johanan son of Kareah, “Don’t do such a thing! What you are saying about Ishmael is not true.”
41 In the seventh month Ishmael son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, who was of royal blood and had been one of the king’s officers, came with ten men to Gedaliah son of Ahikam at Mizpah. While they were eating together there, 2 Ishmael son of Nethaniah and the ten men who were with him got up and struck down Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, with the sword, killing the one whom the king of Babylon had appointed as governor over the land. 3 Ishmael also killed all the men of Judah who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah, as well as the Babylonian[d] soldiers who were there.
4 The day after Gedaliah’s assassination, before anyone knew about it, 5 eighty men who had shaved off their beards, torn their clothes and cut themselves came from Shechem, Shiloh and Samaria, bringing grain offerings and incense with them to the house of the Lord. 6 Ishmael son of Nethaniah went out from Mizpah to meet them, weeping as he went. When he met them, he said, “Come to Gedaliah son of Ahikam.” 7 When they went into the city, Ishmael son of Nethaniah and the men who were with him slaughtered them and threw them into a cistern. 8 But ten of them said to Ishmael, “Don’t kill us! We have wheat and barley, olive oil and honey, hidden in a field.” So he let them alone and did not kill them with the others. 9 Now the cistern where he threw all the bodies of the men he had killed along with Gedaliah was the one King Asa had made as part of his defense against Baasha king of Israel. Ishmael son of Nethaniah filled it with the dead.
10 Ishmael made captives of all the rest of the people who were in Mizpah—the king’s daughters along with all the others who were left there, over whom Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard had appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam. Ishmael son of Nethaniah took them captive and set out to cross over to the Ammonites.
11 When Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers who were with him heard about all the crimes Ishmael son of Nethaniah had committed, 12 they took all their men and went to fight Ishmael son of Nethaniah. They caught up with him near the great pool in Gibeon. 13 When all the people Ishmael had with him saw Johanan son of Kareah and the army officers who were with him, they were glad. 14 All the people Ishmael had taken captive at Mizpah turned and went over to Johanan son of Kareah. 15 But Ishmael son of Nethaniah and eight of his men escaped from Johanan and fled to the Ammonites.
- Jeremiah 40:5 Or Jeremiah answered
- Jeremiah 40:8 Hebrew Jezaniah, a variant of Jaazaniah
- Jeremiah 40:9 Or Chaldeans; also in verse 10
- Jeremiah 41:3 Or Chaldean
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Pray for help in times of confusion, that God will give us eyes to see where he is working and wisdom and courage to align with his will.
In history, when two powers or ideologies clash, even when there is an outright winner, there is confusion in the immediate aftermath. Jeremiah had been freed under imperial orders.1 Then he was rounded up again, shackled, and prepared for the grueling journey to Babylon. In Ramah, the imperial commander, Nebuzaradan, recognized him, freed him, and supplied him with resources (40:5b,6). In the end he recommended that Jeremiah join Gedaliah, the newly appointed Jewish governor of the Babylonian province of Judah. In this confusion, God does not lose sight of the welfare of the individual. When you feel overwhelmed by circumstances, remember the Lord is still in control and has not forgotten you.
The words of 40:1 promised a message from the Lord through Jeremiah. Surprisingly, the prophecy comes from the mouth of Nebuzaradan, a pagan commander of the conquering army (vs 2–6). He gives the theological reason for Judah’s demise as covenantal unfaithfulness: Judah’s refusal to obey God. How is it that a pagan gets hold of this theological truth, which Jeremiah had been proclaiming all along, but not the king, his nobles, or most of the people of Judah? Gedaliah, a man of noble descent, established his administration. He would represent the people to the Babylonians, and the people in return should live productive lives. The results in the first year were encouraging but the remnant, even after they were free to settle in the land, refused to accept the ‘submit to Babylon and live’ ideology from God. They remained recalcitrant and so went into a tailspin resulting in more bloodshed. Gedaliah was assassinated and many more people died (41:1–9).
Ask the Lord to give you spiritual insight, through his Word, so that you may discern where he is active and align yourself with him.
As I deal with disappointments, whether large or small, Holy Spirit, bring me peace and comfort. Help me to trust and give me hope.
Last Updated on December 7, 2023 by kingstar