For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2003 James Melough

40:1.  “The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, after that Nebuzar-adan 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.”


The reference here to Jeremiah's being “bound in chains” relates to his having been taken with others from Jerusalem to Ramah for examination, he then being released when the Babylonians became aware of his true state as one who had been imprisoned by the evil Zedekiah on the charge of having advised the Jews to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar.


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.”


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.”


It seems that Nebuzar-adan had learned, possibly from other captured Jews, or from those who had defected, that Jeremiah had been imprisoned for having predicted Jerusalem’s fall, and having advised surrender to the Babylonians.  It is clear also that he acknowledged that the capture of the city had been according to the word of God as proclaimed by the prophet.


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.”


Obedience to God brings its own reward.  The Jews might hate and imprison him for having declared God’s word against them, but now while they are either slain or carried away captive out of the land, he is free, not only to go where he may choose in Israel, but in Babylon also.


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 amongst 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.”


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.”


Gedaliah the son of Ahikam was a Jew whom Nebuchadnezzar had appointed to rule as governor over vanquished Judah, he being one of those who accepted the fact that it was God’s will for Judah, because of sin, to be subject to Babylonian rule. 


Nebuzar-adan therefore also suggested that if Jeremiah choose to remain in Judah he should go and dwell with this Gedaliah who would be able to protect him and abundantly supply all his needs.

Having given the prophet his freedom, Nebuzar-adan then gave him provisions and a gift, and set him free to go wherever he choose, and he accordingly accepted the suggestion and went and dwelt with Gedaliah.


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;”


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.”


These forces in the field were roaming bands of Judeans who had not yet been captured or had not surrendered to the Babylonians.


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.”


Gedaliah encouraged them to surrender to the Babylonians, assuring them that it would be in their own best interests, and that they would have nothing to fear.


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.”


He himself, as the governor appointed by Babylon, was going to remain at Mizpah, making it the center of his administration; his encouragement to the Jews who had come to him being that they settle in the towns and villages, and gather in the ripening harvest.


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,”


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.”


It is possible that we may be intended to see in this a symbolic picture of what will follow the Tribulation, for then, as here, an Israel, that will have been scattered amongst the nations, will return to the land; Gedaliah, meaning magnified of Jehovah, being a type of the Lord Jesus Christ?  The abundance of the harvest gathered by that returning remnant, and their enjoyment of the land in peace, are very appropriate symbols of millennial abundance and blessing.


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,”


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.”


These “captains of the forces ... in the fields” were the leaders of the scattered bands of Judeans who had returned to the towns and villages in submission to Babylon’s conquest of the land.  They came to warn Gedaliah of an Ammonite plot to assassinate him, but he refused to believe that it was true.


As to why such a plot should have been hatched, it has been suggested that the Ammonites were afraid that with Judah conquered, Babylon would next turn its attention to them.  Babylon’s occupation with a revolted Judah, however, would  afford Ammon relief from such an attack.


As to why Ishmael should have been the assassin, it is to be remembered that he was a descendant of David, so he may have felt that he, rather than Gedaliah, ought to have been appointed governor.


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 of Judah perish?”


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.”


Gedaliah unfortunately refused to listen, and accused Johanan of lying about Ishmael, with the result that the assassination plot succeeded.

[Jeremiah 41]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough