John T. Willis

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Ishmael and the Ammonites murder Gedaliah--Jeremiah 40-41

Throughout Jeremiah's prophetic career, he declared that the Judeans must surrender to Babylon, and after 70 years Yahweh will overthrow the Babylonians and bring penitent, faithful Judeans back to Judah and Jerusalem. Some Judeans accepted Jeremiah's message, but many opposed his view and insisted that the Judeans must continue to fight against the Babylonians, even after the Babylonians destroy Jerusalem including the temple and the walls. Accordingly, the Judeans are divided into two camps or groups: one leader is Ishmael, who champions the idea of opposing the Babylonians and has many followers; another leader is Johanan, who accepts Jeremiah's message to surrender to Babylon and trust in Yahweh for the future. Jeremiah 40-41 relate significant events concerning the division between Ishmael and his group and Johanan and his group. Jeremiah 40-41 naturally fall into five paragraphs.

I. Nebuzaradan sets Jeremiah free. Jeremiah 40:1-6.
a. When Nebuzaradan captures Jerusalem, he kills many opposing Judean soldiers, and puts the rest of the people in fetters. 40:1.
b. Nebuzaradan visits with Jeremiah, and tells Jeremiah that he knows that Jeremiah had told the Judeans to surrender to Babylon. Yahweh, the God of Israel, has done this. 40:2-3.
c. Nebuzaradan release Jeremiah and tells Jeremiah that he can go to live with Gedaliah the governor whom Nebuchadrezzar II had appointed or go wherever he wishes. 40:4-5.
d. Jeremiah goes to Mizpah and stays with Gedaliah and the Judeans left in the land. 40:6.

II. The Judean leaders meet with Gedaliah at Mizpah. Jeremiah 40:7-12.
a. When the Judean leaders learn that Nebuchadrezzar II made Gedaliah governor over the land, they go to Mizpah to meet with Gedaliah. 40:7-8.
b. Gedaliah tells the Judeans to serve the Babylonians and they will be well. Gedaliah will stay at Mizpah to coordinate the people, and the people are to gather wine, summer fruits, and oil to store in their vessels. 40:9-10.
c. The Judeans who had escaped to Moab, Ammon, and Edom return to Mizpah to be with Gedaliah. 40:11-12.

III. Johanan warns that Ishmael and the Ammonites are planning to murder Gedaliah. Jeremiah 40:13-16.
a. Johanan son of Kareah comes to Gedaliah at Mizpah and tells him that Baalis king of the Ammonites and Ishmael have planned to kill Gedaliah, but Gedaliah does not believe this report. 40:13-14.
b. Johanan goes to Gedaliah secretly and begs Gedaliah to allow Johanan to kill Ishmael so that Ishmael will not kill Gedaliah. But Gedaliah emphatically forbids Johanan to kill Ishmael. 40:15-16.

IV. Ishmael and his men kill Gedaliah and kill and capture many other Judeans at Mizpah. Jeremiah 41:1-10.
a. "In the seventh month" [apparently this would be 586 BCE], Ishmael and ten of his men go to Mizpah and murder Gedaliah by the sword as well as all the Judeans who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah and the Babylonians there. 41:1-3.
b. That very day, 80 men arrive from Shechem, Shiloh, and Samaria at Mizpah, and Ishmael and his men kill 70 of these people. 41:4-8.
c. Ishmael and his men throw the dead bodies into the large cistern of King Asa had made for defense against King Baasha of Israel. 41:9.
d. Ishmael captures the rest of the Judeans at Mizpah, and they cross over to the Ammonites. 41:10.

V. Johanan and his men confront Ishmael and his men at the great pool in Gibeon, but Ishmael escapes. Jeremiah 41:11-17.
a. Johanan learns that Ishmael had murdered Gedaliah, and Johanan and his men intercept Ishmael and his men at the pool of Gibeon. 41:11-12.
b. Ishmael's captives flee from Ishmael and go over to Johanan at the pool of Gibeon. 41:13-14.
c. Ishmael and 8 of his men escape from Johanan and flee to the Ammonites. 41:15.
d. Johanan takes the rest of the Judeans who had escaped from Ishmael, and stop at Geruth Chimham near Bethlehem, intending to go to Egypt because they are afraid that the Babylonians will kill them because Ishmael and his men had killed Gedaliah and his associates and some Babylonians at Mizpah. 41:16-17.

Many people are determined to do what they plan to do whether Yahweh commands them to do or not. Yahweh through Jeremiah strictly told them to surrender to Babylon and honor Gedaliah as the new governor of Judah under Nebuchadrezzar II. But Ishmael and his followers disobeyed Yahweh and this caused much trouble among God's people.

Share YOUR insights and experiences with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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