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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 41

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-3




This chapter reveals the folly of Gedaliah, the governor of Judah, in refusing to give credence to, and heaping abuse upon, an officer of his forces for faithfully warning of a threat against his life. Wicked men will act wickedly; nor will trust, honor and liberal hospitality turn them aside from their mischievous designs.


1. Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah, and one of the royal seed in

Judah, came, with ten of his men, to pay a call on Gedaliah, at Mizpah, (vs. 1).

a. This was during the 7th month -evidently only three months after Nebuchadnezzar had appointed Gedaliah as governor.

b. These men were ail invited to share a meal with the governor, (comp. Jeremiah 40:13-14).

2. In an outrage against oriental hospitality, Ishmael and his men arose and slew Gedaliah with a sword BEFORE THE MEAL WAS FINISHED! (vs. 2; comp. Psalms 41:9; Psalms 109:5; John 13:18).

3. Furthermore, Ishmael slew all the Jews that were with Geoaiah, and the Chaldean soldiers who had been left as a sort of honor guard, (vs. 3).

4. No particular motive is given for Ishmael’s rashness, but several possibilities suggest themselves.

a. A member of the royal family, he may have been moved by jealousy-feeling that the governorship should have been his.

b. He may have considered Gedaliah a traitor who deserved to die.

c. It is possible that he was determined to do anything within his power to weaken the authority of Babylon.

d. Or, as Johanan had warned, his only motive may have been to receive the reward offered him by Baalis, the king of Ammon, who wanted to annex Judah to his own territory.

Verses 4-10


1. The bloodthirsty Ishmael was not satisfied with the slaying of Gedaliah and his attendants.

2. On the second day following his murderous adventure, there came eighty mourning men, from Shechem, Shiloh and Samaria, with meal-offerings and frankincense - intent upon offering them in the area of the recently-destroyed temple, (vs. 4-5).

a. They had shaved off their beards.

b. They had torn their clothes.

c. And, contrary to the law of the Lord, they had cut their own flesh, (Leviticus 19:28; Leviticus 21:5; Deuteronomy 14:1; Jeremiah 16:6).

3.Hearing of their approach, Ishmael went out to meet them -feigning sorrow as he went; when he met them he urged them to call upon Gedaliah, at Mizpah, before they presented their offerings, (vs.6).

4. When these men acted upon Ishmael’s request, he and his men swiftly slew 70 of them as soon as they entered into the city -throwing their carcasses into a pit, (vs. 7; comp. Psalms 55:23; Isaiah 59:7; Ezekiel 22:27).

5. The other ten escaped the sword only because they promised to reveal to Ishmael their stores of wheat, barley, oil and honey which were hidden away, (vs. 8).

6. The pit which Ishmael filled with human corpses had been made by Asa, king of Judah, out of his fear of Baasha, the king of Israel, (vs. 9; 1 Kings 15:17-22; 2 Chronicles 16:1-6).

7. Evidently fearing reprisal, Ishmael is then seen leading away captive the remnant of the people who were left at Mizpah - including the princesses whom Nebuzar-adan had committed to the care of Gedaliah; it was his intention to take them with him to Baalis, the king of Ammon, (vs. 10).

Verses 11-18


1. Just as promptly as Johanan had warned Gedaliah of Ishmael’s wicked design, so did he pursue the bloody traitor as soon as he learned of the atrocities at Mizpah and his abduction of the remnant, (vs. 11; comp. Jeremiah 40:13-16).

2. With all the captains of the forces of Judah, Johanan led all the fighting men until they had overtaken Ishmael beside the great pool at Gibeon, (vs. 12; comp. 2 Samuel 2:12-16; Proverbs 28:17).

3. As soon as Ishmael’s captives saw Johanan, and the captains of the forces who accompanied him, he was unable to hold them captive; they quickly and joyfully fled to their rescuer, (vs. 13-14).

4. Ishmael and eight of his men did escape from Johanan, and took refuge among the Ammonites (vs. 15); the other two were evidently slain, (comp. vs. 2).

5. Johanan and the captains then took all the people to the lodging-place of Chimham, which was near Bethlehem -that they might quickly flee to Egypt (vs. 16-17) - presuming that, in Egypt, they would find security from the king of Babylon.

6. This action was taken because they feared a Chaldean reprisal for Ishmael’s wickedness, (vs. 18; comp. Jeremiah 43:2-3; Isaiah 51:12-13; Isaiah 57:11; Luke 12:4-5).

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Jeremiah 41". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/jeremiah-41.html. 1985.
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