Jeremiah 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 to them, Come to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam.
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(6) Weeping all along as he went.—The treacherous prince met them as sharing in their grief. He does not tell them of the murder; but assuming that they have heard of Gedaliah’s appointment as Satrap, invites them to come and see him, as being now within the bounds of his jurisdiction. The LXX., it may be noted, represents the pilgrims, and not Ishmael, as weeping.

Jeremiah 41:6-8. And Ishmael went forth to meet them, weeping all along as he went — As if he sympathized with them, and bewailed, as they did, the desolations of Jerusalem. He appears to have been a complete hypocrite. As he met them he said, Come to Gedaliah — He invites them to the new governor for protection, as if he had been one of his courtiers and friends, and by these arts conceals his bloody design against them. And when they came into the midst of the city — Whence they could not easily escape; Ishmael slew them — Though they had given him no provocation, and indeed, as it seems, were entire strangers to him. And, no doubt, he took the offerings they had brought, and converted them to his own use: for he that did not hesitate to commit such a murder certainly would not scruple to commit sacrilege. And cast them into the midst of the pit — The words, and cast them, are not in the Hebrew, which is literally, slew them in the midst of the pit. So also the LXX., εσφαξεν αυτους εις το φρεαρ. The Complutensian edition, however, supplies και ενεβαλεν, and cast them, which accords with the reading of the Syriac. The Vulgate renders the clause, interfecit eos Ismael circa medium laci: Ishmael slew them about the middle of the lake, or, pool; and Blaney reads, Ishmael massacred them at the pit. He and the men that were with him — Hired, it seems, to assist him in this bloody work. But ten men were found that said, Slay us not, for we have treasures, &c. — He slew seventy of them, but the remaining ten pleading for their lives, and urging that they had estates in the country of corn, oil, and honey, his covetousness prevailed over his cruelty, and he spared their lives, to become master of their property.41:1-10 Those who hate the worshippers of God, often put on the appearance of piety, that they may the easier hurt them. As death often meets men where they least expect it, we should continually search whether we are in such a state and frame of mind, as we would wish to be found in when called to appear before our Judge. Sometimes the ransom of a man's life is his riches. But those who think to bribe death, saying, Slay us not, for we have treasures in the field, will find themselves wretchedly deceived. This melancholy history warns us, never to be secure in this world. We never can be sure of peace on this side heaven.Ishmael's conduct seems to have been dictated by the malicious desire utterly to frustrate Gedaliah's work.

Weeping - By this artifice he lured them into Mizpah. The Septuagint: "as they were ... weeping."

6. weeping—pretending to weep, as they did, for the ruin of the temple.

Come to Gedaliah—as if he was one of Gedaliah's retinue.

He cometh out weeping, the better to deceive them into his trap, that they might believe he was as they equally affected with God’s dispensations, and inviteth them to the new governor for protection, as if he had been one of his courtiers and friends: by those arts he concealeth his bloody design against them. And Ishmael the son of Nethaniah went forth to Mizpah to meet them,.... Hearing there was such a number of men upon the road to Jerusalem, in such a habit, and upon such a design, he thought it advisable to go out and meet them, and stop them, and decoy them into the city, and there destroy them; lest, if they should have got any hint of what had been done by him, they should spread it, and raise the country upon him, before he had executed his whole design:

weeping all along as he went; pretending equal concern for the destruction of the land, city, and temple, as they had:

and it came to pass, as he met them; when he came up to them, and some discourse had passed between them:

he said unto them, come to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam; as if he was alive, and for whom he had a great respect, and whose character was well known to these men; and thought that this would be an inducement to come along with him: this he said either to try them, whether they had heard anything upon the road of the death of him; or as an argument to come into the city, suggesting the governor would gladly receive, and liberally entertain them. This looks as if their design was not to come to Mizpah, but to go on their way to Jerusalem, had they not been met with by him, and had he not thus solicited them.

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 to them, Come {e} to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam.

(e) For his death was kept secret, and he pretended that he lamented for the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple but later slew them when they seemed to favour Gedaliah.

6. weeping all along] so as to feign equal concern with them for the fate of the Temple, and thus put them off their guard.

Come to Gedaliah] probably as governor, to whom therefore they should shew respect and offer greeting.Verse 6. - Weeping all along as he went. To testify his sympathy with their grief. But the reading of the Septuagint is more natural, "As they were going along and weeping." Gedaliah is forewarned of Ishmael's intention to murder him. - After the return of those who had taken refuge in Moab, etc., Johanan the son of Kareah, together with the rest of the captains who were scattered here and there through the country, came to Gedaliah at Mizpah, to say to him: "Dost thou know indeed that Baalis the king of the Ammonites hath sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to take thy life?" The words "that were in the country" are neither a gloss, nor a thoughtless repetition by some scribe from Jeremiah 40:7 (as Hitzig and Graf suppose), but they are repeated for the purpose of distinguishing plainly between the captains with their men from the Jews who had returned out of Moab, Ammon, and Edom. הכּות, "to strike the soul, life" equals to kill; cf. Genesis 37:21; Deuteronomy 19:6. What induced the king of Ammon to think of assassination - whether it was personal hostility towards Gedaliah, or the hope of destroying the only remaining support of the Jews, and thereby perhaps putting himself in possession of the country, - cannot be determined. That he employed Ishmael for the accomplishment of his purpose, may have been owing to the fact that this man had a personal envy of Gedaliah; for Ishmael, being sprung from the royal family (Jeremiah 40:1), probably could not endure being subordinate to Gedaliah. - The plot had become known, and Gedaliah was secretly informed of it by Johanan; but the former did not believe the rumour. Johanan then secretly offered to slay Ishmael, taking care that no one should know who did it, and urged compliance in the following terms: "Why should he slay thee, and all the Jews who have gathered themselves round thee be scattered, and the remnant of Judah perish?" Johanan thus called his attention to the evil consequences which would result to the remnant left in the land were he killed; but Gedaliah replied, "Do not this thing, for thou speakest a lie against Ishmael." The Qeri needlessly changes אל־תּעשׂ into אל־תּעשׂה; cf. Jeremiah 39:12.
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