Thursday, September 10, 2015

Gedeliah Unites The People Who Remain

Jeremiah 40:1-16

“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 40:1)

Nebuchadnezzar had given orders that Jeremiah was to be set free.  The provisional government leaders had his taken to Ramah, where he was released when the rest of the people were taken to Babylon as captives. 

“And the captain of the guard took Jeremiah, and said unto him, The LORD thy God hath pronounced this evil upon this place.  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.  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 40:2-4)

When he released Jeremiah, the captain of the guard, a Chaldean soldier reminded Jeremiah that the reason Judah had been defeated and taken captive was because they had sinned against god and he had caused it.  He was setting Jeremiah free to go where ever he chose.  If he chose to go on to Babylon, he would be taken care of and have freedom to do what he wanted.  If he chose to return to Judah, he could have any of the land he chose. 

“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.   Then went Jeremiah unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah; and dwelt with him among the people that were left in the land.” (Jeremiah 40:5-6)

When Jeremiah hesitated about which way to go, the captain of the guard told him that a Jewish man, Gedeliah had been named to govern the Land, and that he might find Jeremiah’s assistance valuable, but in any case they would enable him to choose where he wanted to live.  He gave him provisions and a reward or gift to enable him to start a new life, and Jeremiah went back to Gedeliah and lived among the few who had been left. 

“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; 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.
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.  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.
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; 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 40:7-12)

When the news went out that Nebuchadnezzar had appointed Gedeliah governor, to administer and lead the poor people who had been left behind, many of Jewish leaders  who had escaped returned to Mispeh.  Gedeliah assured them that they would not be punished or killed but would be allowed to live freely with the others if they would just yield to the Babylonian rulers.  Thousands of Jews who  had taken refuge in Edom , In Moab, and in Ammon also returned and Gedeliah promised them the same thing.

“Moreover Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were in the fields, came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, 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.  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? 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.” (Jeremiah 40:13-16)

Several of the military leaders warned Gedeliah that Ishmael had made agreement with Baalis, the Ammonite king to kill Gedeliah and seize control of Judah for the Ammonites.  Jophanan offered to secretly kill Ishmael and eliminate the threat.  Gedeliah thought they were making up the story and refused to believe them, forbidding  them to do it, convinced a loyal Jew and member of the royal family would not do such a thing.   Unfortunately, he forgot that Ishmael might consider yielding to the Babylonians treason and try to set up his own kingdom.  

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