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

41:1.  “Now it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, and the princes of the king, even ten men with him, came unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah; and there they did eat bread together in Mizpah.”


41:2.  “Then arose Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and the ten men that were with him, and smote Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan with the sword, and slew him, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land.”


That banquet proved to be the last meal that would be eaten by the overcredulous Gedaliah, his refusal to heed warning, costing him his life; nor can we contemplate this man’s folly without being reminded of similar folly committed daily by those who ignore warning relative to dying without having trusted Christ as Savior.


41:3.  “Ishmael also slew all the Jews that were with him, even with Gedaliah, at Mizpah, and the Chaldeans that were found there, and the men of war.”


Not one was spared, nor will anyone who hasn’t trusted Christ as Savior, survive the eternal judgment of God.


41:4.  “And it came to pass the second day after he had slain Gedaliah, and no man knew it,”


41:5.  “That there came certain from Shechem, from Shiloah, and from Samaria, even fourscore men, having their beards shaven, and their clothes rent, and having cut themselves, with offerings and incense in their hand, to bring them to the house of the Lord.”


“... the house of the Lord” was the Temple which had been destroyed, but apparently worshipers still brought their offerings to the site. (Self-cutting, incidentally, was forbidden by God, see Le 19:27-28).


41:6.  “And Ishmael the son of Nethaniah went forth from Mizpah to meet them, weeping all along as he went: and it came to pass, as he met them, he said unto them, Come to Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam.”


41:7.  “And it was so, when they came into the midst of the city, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah slew them, and cast them into the midst of the pit, he, and the men that were with him.”


No reason for this slaughter is recorded, but it is generally believed that it was simply to plunder their possessions, it being very likely that such a large company would have much in the way of supplies and money that would be valuable to Ishmael and his company.


“... the pit” was a cistern, about which more information is furnished in verse 9.


41:8.  “But ten were found among them that said unto Ishmael, Slay us not: for we have treasures in the field, of wheat, and of barley, and of oil, and of honey.  So he forbare, and slew them not among their brethren.”


His savage slaughter of so many other innocent men raises the question of whether he actually did spare these ten once he had discovered the location of their cache.


41:9.  “Now the pit (cistern) wherein Ishmael had cast all the dead bodies of the men, whom he had slain because of Gedaliah, was it which Asa the king had made for fear of Baasha king of Israel: and Ishmael the son of Nethaniah filled it with them that were slain.”


In the recorded history of Asa there is no mention of his having dug this cistern, nor is their any obvious reason for its being mentioned here.


41:10.  “Then Ishmael carried away captive all the residue of the people that were in Mizpah, even the king’s daughters, and all the people that remained in Mizpah, whom Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard had committed to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam: and Ishmael the son of Nethaniah carried them away captive, and departed to go over to the Ammonites.”


Having plundered Mizpah, Ishmael then set out to return to the country of Ammon from which he had come, see 40:14, taking with him a multitude of captives.


41:11.  “But when Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were with him, heard of all the evil that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had done,”


41:12.  “Then they took all the men, and went to fight with Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and found him by the great waters that are in Gibeon.”


Relative to the great waters at Gibeon, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary states that, “Recent excavations there have disclosed an involved waterworks system, with a large storage cistern.”


41:13.  “Now it came to pass, that when all the people which were with Ishmael saw Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were with him, then they were glad.”


41:14.  “So all the people that Ishmael had carried away captive from Mizpah cast about and returned, and went unto Johanan the son of Kareah.”


41:15.  “But Ishmael the son of Nethaniah escaped from Johanan with eight men, and went to the Ammonites.”


Undoubtedly Ishmael had hoped to ingratiate himself further with the Ammonites by sharing with them the plunder from Judah, but it seems that he was fortunate to escape with his life and just eight men, his host of captives having escaped to join their deliverers led by Johanan.


41:16.  “Then took Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were with him, all the remnant of the people whom he had recovered from Ishmael the son of Nethaniah from Mizpah, after that he had slain Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, even mighty men of war, and the women, and the children, and the eunuchs, whom he had brought again from Gibeon:”


41:17.  “And they departed, and dwelt in the habitation of Chimham, which is by Bethlehem, to go to enter into Egypt,”


Chimham is unknown.


41:18.  “Because of the Chaldeans: for they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had slain Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon made governor in the land.”


It was a bitter-sweet victory, for even with Ishmael defeated and the prisoners recovered, the victors were afraid that they themselves would then become the victims of the Babylonians returning to exact vengeance for the murder of Gedaliah, and who in their anger would not bother to distinguish between the innocent and the guilty Judeans.  Now they were going to have to leave their own land and seek asylum in Egypt.


The general anarchy described in this chapter may very well be symbolically anticipative of events that will transpire in the now imminent Tribulation.


[Jeremiah 42]


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