Jeremiah 41:8
But ten men were found among them that said to Ishmael, Slay us not: for we have treasures in the field, of wheat, and of barley, and of oil, and of honey. So he declined, and slew them not among their brothers.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) But ten men were found among them.—The stores which formed the purchase-money by which the ten saved their lives represented probably the produce of the previous year, which, after the manner of the East, had been concealed in pits, far from the habitations of men, while the land was occupied by the Chaldæan armies.

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.Treasures - Hidden stores; which would be of great value to Ishmael in his retreat back to Baalis. 8. treasures—It was customary to hide grain in cavities underground in troubled times. "We have treasures," which we will give, if our lives be spared.

slew … not—(Pr 13:8). Ishmael's avarice and needs overcame his cruelty.

He slew seventy of them, but ten of them pleading for their lives, urged that they had estates in the country, both of corn, oil, and honey. His covetousness prevailed over his cruelty, he spared their lives to become master of what they had. But ten men were found among them, that said unto Ishmael, slay us not,.... They begged for their lives, using what follows as an argument to prevail upon him:

for we have treasures in the field, of wheat, and of barley, and of oil, and of honey; not that they had then a stock upon the ground at this time; for this being the seventh month, not only the barley and wheat harvests had been over long ago, but the rest of the fruits of the earth were gathered in: but this either means storehouses of such things in the field; or else that these things were hid in cells under ground, the land having been invaded, to secure them from the enemy, as is common to do in time of war; and so Josephus says (i), they promised to deliver to him things hid in the fields, household goods, clothes, and corn:

so he forbore, and slew them not among their brethren; but saved them, and kept and carried them with him, in order to take these hidden treasures, which lay in his way to Ammon; for between Gibeon, where he was found, Jeremiah 41:12; and Ammon, lay Samaria, Sichem, and Shiloh; at least it was not far out of his way to take that course; and thus he appears to be a covetous man, as well as a cruel one.

(i) Ibid. (Antiqu. l. 10. c. 9. sect. 4.)

But ten men 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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. we have stores hidden] In the East it is to this day a common custom to use “wells or cisterns for grain. In them the farmers store their crops of all kinds after the grain is threshed and winnowed. These cisterns are cool, perfectly dry, and tight. The top is hermetically sealed with plaster, and covered with a deep bed of earth.” See Thomson, The Land and the Book, pp. 509 f.Verse 8. - Slay us not, etc. Bishop Callaway refers to this passage in his 'Zulu Nursery Tales' (1:242), in illustration of a Zulu form of deprecating death on the ground of having some important work in hand which absolutely requires the life of the person in danger. But the "ten men" do not, as the bishop supposes, beg their lives on the ground that they had not yet harvested, but rather offer a bribe. We have treasures (literally, hidden things) in the field. The allusion is to the "wells or cisterns for grain," in which "the farmers store their crops of all kinds after the grain is threshed and winnowed. These cisterns are cool, perfectly dry, and tight. The top is hermetically sealed with plaster, and covered with a deep bed of earth; and thus they keep out rats, mice, and even ants, the latter by no means a contemptible enemy .... These ten men had doubtless thus hid their treasures to avoid being plundered in that time of utter lawlessness" (Thomson, 'The Land and the Book,' p. 509). Honey. Probably that obtained from wild bees. Murder of Gedaliah and his followers, as well as other Jews, by Ishmael. - Jeremiah 41:1-3. The warning of Johanan had been only too well founded. In the seventh month - only two months, therefore, after the destruction of Jerusalem and the appointment of Gedaliah as governor - Ishmael came with the men to Mizpah, and was hospitably received by Gedaliah and invited to his table. Ishmael is here more exactly described as to his family descent, for the purpose of throwing a stronger light upon the exceeding cruelty of the murders afterwards ascribed to him. He was the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama - perhaps the secretary of state mentioned Jeremiah 36:12, or more likely the son of David who bore this name, 2 Samuel 5:6; 1 Chronicles 3:8; 1 Chronicles 14:7; so that Ishmael would belong to a lateral branch of the house of David, be of royal extraction, and one of the royal lords. ורבּי המּלך cannot be joined with Ishmael as the subject, because in what follows there is no further mention made of the royal lords, but only of Ishmael and his ten men; it belongs to what precedes, מזּרע המּלוּכּה, so that we must repeat מן before רבּי. The objections of Ngelsbach to this view will not stand examination. It is not self-evident that Ishmael, because he was of royal blood, was therefore also one of the royal nobles; for the רבּים certainly did not form a hereditary caste, but were perhaps a class of nobles in the service of the king, to which class the princes did not belong simply in virtue of their being princes. But the improbability that Ishmael should have been able with ten men to overpower the whole of the Jewish followers of Gedaliah, together with the Chaldean warriors, and (according to Jeremiah 41:7) out of eighty men to kill some, making prisoners of the rest, is not so great as to compel us to take רבּי המּלך in such a meaning as to make it stand in contradiction with the statement, repeated twice, over, that Ishmael, with his ten men, did all this. Eleven men who are determined to commit murder can kill a large number of persons who are not prepared against such an attempt, and may also keep a whole district in terror.

(Note: There is still less ground, with Hitzig, Graf, and Ngelsbach, for assuming that ורבּי המּלך is a gloss that has crept into the text. The fact that רבּים, which is used here, is elsewhere applied only to Chaldean nobles, is insufficient to show this; and even Ewald has remarked that "the last king (Zedekiah) may well be supposed to have appointed a number of grandees, after the example of the Chaldeans, and given them, too, Chaldean names.")

"And they did eat bread there together," i.e., they were invited by Gedaliah to his table. While at meat, Ishmael and his ten men rose and slew Gedaliah with the sword. On account of ויּמת אתו, which comes after, Hitzig and Graf would change ויּכּוּ into ויּכּוּ, he slew him, Gedaliah; this alteration is possibly warranted, but by no means absolutely necessary. The words 'ויּמת אתו וגו, "and he killed him," contain a reflection of the narrator as to the greatness of the crime; in conformity with the facts of the case, the murder is ascribed only to the originator of the deed, since the ten men of Ishmael's retinue were simply his executioners. Besides Gedaliah, Ishmael killed "all the Jews that were with him, with Gedaliah in Mizpah, and the Chaldeans that were found there, the men of war." The very expression shows that, of the Jews, only those are meant who were present in the house with Gedaliah, and, of the Chaldean soldiers, only those warriors who had been allowed him as a guard, who for the time being were his servants, and who, though they were not, as Schmidt thinks, hausto liberalius vino inebriati, yet, as Chr. B. Michaelis remarks, were tunc temporis inermes et imparati. The Jews of post-exile times used to keep the third day of the seventh month as a fast-day, in commemoration of the murder of Gedaliah; see on Zechariah 7:3.

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