Jeremiah 40:16
But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said to Johanan the son of Kareah, You shall not do this thing: for you speak falsely of Ishmael.
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40:7-16 Jeremiah had never in his prophecies spoken of any good days for the Jews, to come immediately after the captivity; yet Providence seemed to encourage such an expectation. But how soon is this hopeful prospect blighted! When God begins a judgment, he will complete it. While pride, ambition, or revenge, bears rule in the heart, men will form new projects, and be restless in mischief, which commonly ends in their own ruin. Who would have thought, that after the destruction of Jerusalem, rebellion would so soon have sprung up? There can be no thorough change but what grace makes. And if the miserable, who are kept in everlasting chains for the judgment of the great day, were again permitted to come on earth, the sin and evil of their nature would be unchanged. Lord, give us new hearts, and that new mind in which the new birth consists, since thou hast said we cannot without it see thy heavenly kingdom.It is difficult to say what object Baalis can have had in murdering Gedaliah. As an ally of Zedekiah Jeremiah 27:3, he may have had a spite against the family of Ahikam for opposing, as most probably they did at Jeremiah's instigation, the league proposed Jeremiah 27. Ishmael's motive was envy and spite at seeing a subject who had always opposed the war now invested with kingly power, in place of the royal family. 16. thou speakest falsely—a mystery of providence that God should permit the righteous, in spite of warning, thus to rush into the trap laid for them! Isa 57:1 suggests a solution. Thus God dementates those whom he designeth to destroy. Gedaliah in this showeth an excellent temper, not to be over-credulous and suspicious, Charity thinks no ill, but not that prudence which became a chief magistrate. He ought to have been watchful against one against whom he had received such an information, which we shall in the next chapter find he was not, but was slain by him. But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said unto Johanan the son of Kareah,.... In answer to his request, and the motion made by him:

thou shalt not do this thing; or, "do not do this thing" (z); dissuading him from it, as being unlawful to take away a man's life in such a secret manner, without any legal process against him; though it seems to carry more in it, that he laid his commands upon him not to do it, and threatened him if he did:

for thou speakest falsely of Ishmael; or "a lie" (a); a falsehood, a mere calumny; which was not using Johanan well, neither kindly nor genteelly, who had expressed such a concern for him, and for the public good. The event related in the following chapter shows that the information was good, and that it was no lie or calumny that was told; and it would have been well for Gedaliah, and the people of the Jews, had he given credit to it; but the time was not come for the Jewish commonwealth to be restored; and things were thus suffered to be, for the further punishment of the sins of that people.

(z) "noli facere hoc verbum", V. L. "ne facias verbum hoc", Pagninus, Montanus, Schmidt. (a) "mendacium", Schmidt; "falsum", Pagninus, Montanus.

But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said to Johanan the son of Kareah, Thou shalt {h} not do this thing: for thou speakest falsely of Ishmael.

(h) Thus the godly who think no harm to others are soonest deceived and never lack such as conspire their destruction.

Ch. Jeremiah 40:1-6. Jeremiah is released and returns to Gedaliah

Du., Co. and Erbt agree in the view that there were different legendary accounts in connexion with Jeremiah’s fortunes immediately subsequent to the capture of the city and that this section represents one of them. It is certainly difficult, in the absence of further information, to reconcile satisfactorily Jeremiah 39:11-14 with the present passage. It is, however, possible that, in the absence of his protector Gedaliah from Jerusalem, he was again put in fetters through ignorance of his right to immunity and only set free after reaching Ramah, when the mistake was rectified by the intervention of Gedaliah or otherwise. In any case Jeremiah 40:1 is a later addition, as no utterance from the Lord follows. The captain of the guard’s words in Jeremiah 40:2-3 are obviously unsuited to the speaker, although they are such as a Hebrew writer would put into Nebuzaradan’s mouth. Cp. 2 Kings 18:25.

The section may be summarized thus.

Jeremiah 40:1-6. Jeremiah is taken in chains to Ramah. There Nebuzaradan, after declaring that Jerusalem’s fall was a just consequence of the people’s sins, gives the prophet his choice between going with him to Babylon, and dwelling with Gedaliah or elsewhere as he may choose. Jeremiah decides on going to Gedaliah at Mizpah.These captains came to Mizpah, namely (ו explicative), Ishmael the son of Nethaniah (according to Jeremiah 41:1, the grandson of Elishama, and of royal blood), Johanan and Jonathan the sons of Kareah (cf. Jeremiah 40:13 and Jeremiah 41:11, Jeremiah 41:16; Jeremiah 42:1.; the name Jonathan is omitted in 2 Kings 25:23; see on this passage), Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth, and the sons of Ephai the Netophathite (from Netophah in the vicinity of Bethlehem, 1 Chronicles 2:54; Ezra 2:22), Jezaniah (יזניהוּ; but in 2 Kings 25:23 יאזניהוּ), the Maachathite, from Maachah, a district in Syria near Hermon, Deuteronomy 3:14; Joshua 12:5. These men, who had borne arms against the Chaldeans, were concerned for their safety when they returned into the country. Gedaliah sware to them, i.e., promised them on oath, "Be not afraid to serve the Chaldeans; remain in the country and serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you. And as for me, behold, I shall remain at Mizpah to stand before the Chaldeans who will come to us," i.e., as lieutenant of the king of Babylon, to represent you before the Chaldean officers and armies, to maintain your rights and interests, so that you may be able to settle down where you choose, without anxiety, and cultivate the land. "And as for yourselves, father ye wine and fruit (קיץ, see on 2 Samuel 16:1) and oil, and put them in your vessels." אסף is used of the ingathering of the fruits of the ground. It was during the fifth or sixth month (2 Kings 25:8), the end of July or beginning of August, that grapes, figs, and olives became ripe; and these had grown so plentifully in comparison with the small number of those who had returned, that they could gather sufficient for their wants. "And dwell in your cities, cities which ye seize," i.e., which you shall take possession of. Jeremiah 40:11. Those Jews also who had fled, during the war, into the neighbouring countries of Moab, Ammon, Edom, etc., returned to Judah when they learned that the king of Babylon had left a remnant, and placed Gedaliah over them; they came to Mizpah and Gedaliah, who appointed them places to dwell in, and they gathered much wine and fruit, i.e., made a rich vintage and fruit harvest. נתן שׁארית, "to give a remainder," as it were to leave a remainder ('הותיר שׁ'( redniamer, Jeremiah 44:7, or 'שׂוּם שׁ, Genesis 45:7).
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