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not fall by the sword, but thy life shall be for a prey unto thee: because thou hast put thy trust in me, saith the Lord.
Chap. XL. i—6. Jeremiah is released and returns to
The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, after 40 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. And the captain of the guard took Jeremiah, * and said unto him, The Lord thy God hath pronounced this evil upon this place. Now the Lord hath brought it, 3 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. And now behold, 4 I loose thee this day from the chains which were upon thine hand. If it seem good unto thee to come with me into
him out of the dungeon, but, as we see from the next verse, the conquering army in the day of the capture of the city.
18. thy life shall be for a prey unto thee] See for the same phrase xxi. 9, xxxviii. 2, xlv. 5, with note on the first of these.
Ch. XL. 1—6. Jeremiah Is Released And Returns To
1. The word which came] The mode of introduction leads us to expect a prophetic utterance to follow. In fact, however, none such occurs until chap. xlii. 9, etc. We must take the expression then in a wider sense, including history as well as prophecy. This would present no difficulty to a Jew, as the two things were intimately connected in his mind. This is shewn by the including of Historical Books of the Bible under the title of the Prophets. This introduction then serves for both history and prophecy contained in chaps, xl.—xliv.
after that Nebuzar-adan...had let him go from Ramah] See note on xxxix. 14, and for Ramah, note on xxxi. 15.
chains] manacles, confining the hands only. This appears from ver. 4.
2. The language of this and the following verse, although spoken by Nebuzar-adan, is in Jeremiah's style throughout. We must therefore suppose either that the former had acquired a very accurate acquaintance with the prophet's teaching, or that we have here but the substance of his words.
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 s good and convenient for thee to go, thither go. 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 among 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.
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.
7—12. Gedaliah seeks to restore quiet and prosperity to the remaining inhabitants of the country.
7 Now when all the captains of the forces which were in
4. I will look well unto thee] The margin is more literal, Twill set mine eye upon thee. Compare the phrases, to have an eye to, to keep an eye upon.
6. Now while he was not yet gone back] This is perhaps the most satisfactory explanation of the Heb., which is obscure. It has also been rendered, And while he yet answered nothing.
victuals] implying enough for a meal. The same word is rendered "dinner," Prov. xv. 17.
a reward] rather, a present. The Heb. word was used in older times for a mess of food sent from the table (Gen. xliii. 34; 2 Sam. xi. 8), and afterwards for a present in general (2 Chron. xxiv. 6 "collection"; Estherii. 18 "gifts").
6. Mizpah] not the city in Gilead, mentioned from time to time in the history of the Judges, but a city of Benjamin, a short distance southwest of Ramah and north-west of Jerusalem. It was there that Samuel assembled the people, when sorely troubled by Philistine incursions, to confess their sins and seek deliverance (1 Sam. vii. 5), and there too Saul was publicly named King of Israel (1 Sam. x. 17). Asa, King of Judah, had fortified it against the attacks of the northern kingdom (1 Kings xv. 22), and now it became the chief scene of the incidents described in this and the next succeeding chapters. It was probably chosen as standing on a ridge commanding a view of Jerusalem. It seems to be identical with "Nob" (Is. x. 32), from which Sennacherib looked down threateningly on the holy city.
7—12. Gedaliah Seeks To Restore Quiet And Prosperity To The Remaining Inhabitants Of The Country.
7. all the captains of the forces] the various leaders of bands among the Jews, who would keep out of the way during the presence of the 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; then they came to 8 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. And Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of 9 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. As for me, 10 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. Likewise when all n
Babylonian forces and until they found what was likely to be the condition of the country and the nature of the new government.
which were in the fields] which were in the field. See notes on iv. 17, xxxii. 43, and compare ver. 13 below.
8. Ishmael the son of Nethaniah] His full designation (xli. 1, where see further in note) is "Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the seed royal." The last words may mean (a) that he was a son of Zedekiah or of one of the other later kings of Judah, or (b) that he was a descendant of some king of the Jews, perhaps through Elishama the son of David (2 Sam. v. 16), not so probably Elishama of chap, xxxvi. 12, or (c) that, as he took refuge (xli. 10) at the court of Baalis king of the children of Ammon, he may have been on his mother's side related to that royal house.
the Netophathite] Netophah was a village near Bethlehem. See Neh. vii. 26.
Jezaniah the son of a Maachathite] probably not the "Jezaniah" of chap. xlii. 1, where see note.
10. to serve the Chaldeans] The verb is not the same as that translated serve in ver. 9, but is literally stand before, and means to be the minister of another and look after his interests. See xv. 19 and xxxv. 19, with notes.
wine, and summer fruits, and oil] Although, owing to the national troubles, no corn had been sown, yet the fruits here spoken of would be produced as usual, and as Jerusalem was taken about July ("the fourth month," xxxix. 2), they would now be ripening.
taken] seized. There is implied in the verb what was no doubt the case, viz. that these captains had not scrupled to take possession of such walled towns or fortresses of any kind as best suited their purposes.
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; 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.
13—16. Gedaliah is in vain warned of Ishmael's intended treachery.
Moreover Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were in the fields, came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, 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. 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
12. the Jews returned out of all places] The fact that a governor of their own nation had been set over such as were left in the land, gave an assurance to those Jews who were waiting in neighbouring nations to see what would be the issue, that they might return and dwell at peace.
13-16. Gedaliah Is In Vain Warned Of Ishmael's Intended Treachery.
13. yields] See note on ver. 7.
14. Baalis the king of the Ammonites] It is easier to see the motives of Ishmael than those of his instigator Baalis. The former no doubt felt aggrieved that he, although of royal birth, should be set aside in favour of Gedaliah, and at once determined to get rid of him and take his place. Baalis may have had a spite against Gedaliah and his family as friends of Jeremiah, and as having probably taken the side of that prophet openly, when (chap. xxvii.) he sent back the messengers of Ammon and the other neighbouring nations, refusing the alliance against the Chaldaeans which they had desired; or it may have been only a design against Palestine generally which influenced him on this occasion, and the belief that, if he were to get rid of Gedaliah and the Arm and peaceful rule which he seemed to be inaugurating, there would be more chance for himself in carrying out his plans of conquest.
should be scattered, and the remnant in Judah perish? But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said unto Johanan the son 16 of Kareah, Thou shalt not do this thing: for thou speakest falsely of IshmaeL
Chap. XLI. 1—3. Ishmael murders Gedaliah and others.
Now it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael 41 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. Then arose 2 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. Ishmael also 3 slew all the Jews that were with him, even with Gedaliah
15. the remnant in Judah perish] Johanan no doubt hoped to influence a high-minded man like Gedaliah by this argument that on his life depended the welfare of those who remained yet in the country.
Chap. XLI. 1—3. Ishmael Murders Gedaliah And Others.
1. in the seventh month] three months after the capture and two after the burning of the city.
and the princes of the king] The Septuagint omits these words. It is objected (a) that if these princes, as well as Ishmael, had come to Gedaliah, the visit from so many prominent personages would have awakened in his mind a suspicion, from which we see that he was in fact wholly free; (b) that these princes are never again mentioned in the narrative. It is therefore proposed to render the Heb. (of the seed royal) and of the princes of the king; and thus to make the whole to be a description of Ishmael, and to signify that he was not merely of royal blood, but was also one of those who had counselled and assisted the king in affairs of state. In this case we shall render, and ten men with him.
and there they did eat bread together in Mizpah] Josephus (Antiq. X. 9) speaks of Gedaliah's defenceless state as arising from intoxication.
2. Then arose Ishmael.. .and the ten men] That eleven men should be able to overpower and murder so large a number, including men skilled in war, shews that from some cause these last must have been wholly off their guard.
3. all the Jews that were with him] meaning, all that were in the house with him. On their return from the exile the Jews used to keep the third day of the seventh month (Tisri) as a fast in memory of Ishmael's deed (Zech. vii. 5, viii. 19).