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Jeremiah Forty

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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Jeremiah 40:1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, after that Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had let him go from Ramah, when he had taken him being bound in chains among all that were carried away captive of Jerusalem and Judah, which were carried away captive unto Babylon.

Jeremiah 40:2 And the captain of the guard took Jeremiah, and said unto him, The LORD thy God hath pronounced this evil upon this place.

Jeremiah 40:3 Now the LORD hath brought it, and done according as he hath said: because ye have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed his voice, therefore this thing is come upon you.

Jeremiah 40:4 And now, behold, I loose thee this day from the chains which were upon thine hand. If it seem good unto thee to come with me into Babylon, come; and I will look well unto thee: but if it seem ill unto thee to come with me into Babylon, forbear: behold, all the land is before thee: whither it seemeth good and convenient for thee to go, thither go.

Jeremiah 40:5 Now while he was not yet gone back, he said, Go back also to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon hath made governor over the cities of Judah, and dwell with him among the people: or go wheresoever it seemeth convenient unto thee to go. So the captain of the guard gave him victuals and a reward, and let him go.

Gedaliah. This new Babylonian-designated governor of Judah had been placed in charge of Jeremiah when the Babylonians captured the city (Jeremiah 39:14). His father Ahikam had been a faithful servant of King Josiah (2 Kings 22:10-14), and had supported Jeremiah in his conflicts with Judah's subsequent kings (Jeremiah 26:24). Probably because of this background, Nebuchadnezzar had confidence in Gedaliah and appointed him governor over Judah. Jeremiah chose to stay with Gedaliah rather than go to Babylon or anywhere else.

Jeremiah 40:6 Then went Jeremiah unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah; and dwelt with him among the people that were left in the land.

in the land. Jeremiah was given the choice of going to Babylon or remaining with the people left in the land. He chose the latter, and Part IV of his book (Jeremiah 40-42) relates to this period and its prophecies.

Jeremiah 40:7 Now when all the captains of the forces which 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 unto him men, and women, and children, and of the poor of the land, of them that were not carried away captive to Babylon;

captains. Evidently a number of bands of soldiers, with their captains, had scattered under the Babylonian onslaught and so had escaped capture. These captains came to meet Gedaliah after his appointment as governor, ostensibly to offer support to him. One of them, however, Ishmael, resented his acquiescence to Babylon's control, and began to plot a coup. He was a surviving member of the royal family (Jeremiah 41:1), and perhaps felt that he should have been made governor.

Jeremiah 40:8 Then they came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, even 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 a Maachathite, they and their men.

Jeremiah 40:9 And Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan sware unto them and to their men, saying, Fear not to serve the Chaldeans: dwell in the land, and serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you.

Jeremiah 40:10 As for me, behold, I will dwell at Mizpah to serve the Chaldeans, which will come unto us: but ye, gather ye wine, and summer fruits, and oil, and put them in your vessels, and dwell in your cities that ye have taken.

Jeremiah 40:11 Likewise when all the Jews that were in Moab, and among the Ammonites, and in Edom, and that 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;

set over them Gedaliah. A seal has been found by archaeologists that has Gedaliah's name as being “over the house.”

Jeremiah 40:12 Even all the Jews returned out of all places whither they were driven, and came to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah, unto Mizpah, and gathered wine and summer fruits very much.

Jeremiah 40:13 Moreover Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were in the fields, came to Gedaliah to Mizpah,

Jeremiah 40:14 And said unto him, Dost thou certainly know that Baalis the king of the Ammonites hath sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to slay thee? But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam believed them not.

Baalis the king of the Ammonites. An artifact has been found containing the name of this king. The collaboration of Ishmael with Baalis may suggest (though no proof exists) that Ishmael may have been related (via his mother) to the Ammonites, thereby being named after an ancestor of the Arabs (Ishmael, one of Abraham's sons) rather than being given a more typical Israelite name.

Jeremiah 40:15 Then Johanan the son of Kareah spake to Gedaliah in Mizpah secretly, saying, Let me go, I pray thee, and I will slay Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and no man shall know it: wherefore should he slay thee, that all the Jews which are gathered unto thee should be scattered, and the remnant in Judah perish?

Jeremiah 40:16 But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said unto Johanan the son of Kareah, Thou shalt not do this thing: for thou speakest falsely of Ishmael.