Bible Study, Commentary

Jeremiah 41 – Solitary Man

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Jeremiah 41

Febuary 17, 2024 4:23 PM
Solitary Man


Jer 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.

Three months had passed since the capture of the city. Jer 52:12-13 stated that the city was burnt a month later in the 5th month. Gedaliah would not of been ruling more than 2 months at this time. The seventh month would of included the feast of tabernacles. These representatives of the house of David may of came to not only participate in the feast, but to recognize and pay homage to the new governor.

Jer 40:8-9 has already spoken of this lot. Gedaliah had urged them to submit to the current reality. Yet we shall see in the next verse that they did not embrace the exhortation to do so.

Jer 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.

This event occasioned a new fast being instituted in the land (Zech 7:5, 8:19). Jewish tradition states that the murder occurred on the 3rd day of the month, 52 days after the destruction of the temple. If so, it would add a certain symmetry that Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of the city in 52 days (Neh 6:15). If this was indeed the case, they may of been celebrating the new moon at the start of the month.

Ishmael was not a son of Zedekiah, but apparently descended from a more remote branch of the lineage of David. This man would of been stirred by envy and a lust for power, believing that he had a greater claim on the throne. No matter that the real power was in Babylon, he still lusted after the title. He found other unprincipled men to aid him in his plot.

Times of transition are very dangerous times. We are living in such a time. Who knows that will occur during the rest of this year? You don’t need to be a prophet to know that 2024 is a very pivotal year. Already less than two months in, it feels as it the cabal is attempting to accelerate whatever dark plans they have for humanity. There is a sense of urgency. They are trying to destroy any and all avenues of resistance just as fast as they are able. If ever we needed to watch and stay alert, now is the time. No one is really safe.

Jer 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 (or, even) the men of war.

This guy knew how to stage a coup. You need to get rid of any and every person of influence from the old guard. Else they could be used to rally support. Whoever was at this feast was killed. I think the proper rendering of the last phrase should be ‘even’ instead of ‘and’. This would then read that in addition to all the Jews that were with Gedaliah at this feast, so Ishmael and his cronies also slew all the Chaldeans, who were men of war.

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

This act of treachery that had occurred in Mizpah was not known by anyone the day after, because they had killed all the witnesses. We see the tactics of the cabal being practised here in antiquity. Wicked men love to work in the dark, and cover up their foul deeds by all means necessary. How many stories have we been hearing of mysterious deaths of whistle blowers and the like. Because the legacy media does not cover these things, most don’t even know that something has occurred.

Jer 41:5 That there came certain from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria, even fourscore men, having their beards shaven (shave off), and their clothes rent, and having cut themselves, with offerings (min-khaw – food offering) and incense in their hand, to bring them to the house of the LORD.

The min-khaw was the meal offering – cakes of flour with incense. Lev 2:1-16 gives details about this particular type of offering. There were several different types of offerings that were observed at the temple. Some were obligatory, some were voluntary. There were sin offerings, guilt offerings, meat offerings, thanksgiving offerings, to name the major ones. The meat offering was a food offering, not an animal offering. It had elements of both the obligatory and the voluntary. It was used as the offering of the firstfruits of the land, but could be brought for many purposes. The Lord was to notice the smell and accept the worshipper accordingly.

What is fascinating is that besides what is written by Jeremiah in the book of Lamentations, this is the only instance of true repentance found in this most terrible of times. These people were not from Judah. They were from Samaria, the area of the 10 tribes who lost their lands more than 100 years ago. They had had time to properly reflect on their transgressions. They had now lived several generations in a land overrun with the heathen. Their customs had become corrupted, and mixed. Note how they shaved their heads and cut themselves. Lev 19:28 forbade the cutting of oneself.

There are 2 schools of thought on cutting off their beards. Cutting one’s hair seemed to be frowned upon as a heathenish custom (Dt 14:1, Jer 48:37). Some thought that Lev 19:27-28 made these demonstrations of sorrow illegal at funerals, but not at other occasions. Either way, living in a now deeply paganized culture in Samaria would of caused many modifications to the generally accepted cultural practices.

We can have endless debates on which modern cultural practices are permissible, even desirable, and which are not. Which are sin, and which are merely in bad taste. Everyone will have a different opinion. These are the kinds of things that split churches, and destroy friendships. Each will be led (hopefully) by the Lord as to what is permissible in one’s life and what is not, when there may not be an explicit directive in the word itself.

They may of been expressing their grief in a non-kosher sort of way, yet God first and foremost sees their hearts. Kosher or not, no one in Judea was seen lamenting and grieving for the loss of God’s witness in the earth. I am sure most were wailing over their personal losses, but these men, coming from a now foreign land, were the only ones found to actually mourn for the things of God. How many today are mourning for the loss of the true witness of Christ in the land, or are we only interested in the loss of our personal freedoms, our wealth, and our health?

The main point here is that these were Samaritans, not Judeans, come to offer sacrifice to the Lord, full of sorrow and repentance and lamentation for the destruction of Jerusalem. They would of passed Mizpah along the way, and maybe would of even planned to stop there to pay their respects to the new ruler.

We are going to find out something in the next few chapters that I found the most distressing truth out of this whole sorry mess. It was that even after total destruction and total judgment, repentance was nowhere to be found. One can almost begin to understand (especially now that we are living in a virtually identical scenario) that a nation in moral freefall has lost it’s conscience, and have become totally hardened to the things of God. It’s quite another thing to experience total judgment, and have virtually everyone’s heart unmoved, unrepentant, and unchanged.

Jer 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.

This vile traitor could drum up fake emotion at will. He intercepted them on the road as they were passing by, urging them to come and pay respects to the new governor. He pretended to be as devastated as they were that Jerusalem was destroyed. In reality he wanted to keep wiping out any witnesses for as long as possible. You cannot judge anyone by their words alone. Only their actions reveal the true thoughts and intents of the heart.

Jer 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.

The pit was made by Asa to guard against the attack of Baasha (1Ki 15:22, Jer 41:9).

Here is irrefutable evidence of the stupidity of evil. 80 devout men were passing by. There is a chance they might discover his foul deed. So he plans to slay them all, and hide their bodies. The next verse speaks of how some were spared, but what was this guy going to do – kill everyone that came to Mizpah? What was his plan? What was he going to do next? Did he think this through at all? He has killed the Babylonian governmental appointee, as well as Babylonian soldiers. It’s only a matter of time before Babylon finds out. What will he do then? He will be utterly crushed. Does that fact stop him? No, he can only think about what is in front of him. Kill these innocents today. Don’t worry about any consequence that is coming tomorrow.

Jer 41:8 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 (left them alone), and slew them not among their brethren.

The criminals’ greed overcame his cruelty. Everyone would have provisions hidden away in some field to protect it from the invading Babylonians. He would go and grab these things on his way out of the country to his place of refuge in Ammon.

Jer 41:9 Now the pit (cistern, well) 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.

We are told here exactly where he dumped the bodies. This would of been a reservoir to catch rain water, or a cistern, or maybe even a well, in the time when Asa asked Syria for help when Israel, under Baasha, had attacked Judah. Ishmael knew he couldn’t stay here after his treacherous deed, so he didn’t care if he fouled a water supply with the dead. So much for any claims that he was some sort of patriot. He could care less about the land, it was all about power.

Think of the woke marxist garbage that is being foisted upon the west is regards to climate change and the environment. These satanic monsters, while telling us to give up our cars and our home heating, release deadly chemicals in East Palestine. They release many tons of chemicals from planes every day and permanently poison our soil. They discharge direct energy weapons that melt cars, burn trees from the inside out, and ruin acres and acres of land. They turn a blind eye to China who is literally ruining the earth and the sea with their toxic and wholly destructive practices, far too numerous to mention. We are being overrun by marxism. It’s just that they are attacking us via different people and different issues, but the results will be the same. Utter ruination of the land and extreme poverty for the masses that survive.

Jer 41:10 Then Ishmael carried away captive all the residue (remainder) of the people that were in Mizpah, even the king’s daughters, and all the people that remained in Mizpah, whom Nebuzaradan 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.

It seems from Jer 40:14 that the king of Ammon had sent Ishmael to assassinate Gedaliah. Undoubtedly some foul, treacherous deal had been struck. Like hamas supporters today, he feigned friendship with Gedaliah, only to get close and murder them. On October 7 of 2023, many servants from Gaza who worked for the Israelis helped hamas with crucial intelligence in order for their employers to be slaughtered in their homes. Everywhere you find wicked men, you find destruction and chaos.

Ishmael claiming the king’s daughters would see this as his way of stating his right to the throne. Reuben did something similar when he defiled Jacob’s concubine (Gen 35:22, 1 hr 5:1). As a result, he lost the birthright. This guy would lose more than that.

He also took with him any remaining witnesses, so that as much delay and confusion would be sown in the aftermath as possible.

Jer 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,

We have already seen in Jer 40:8,13 that Johanan tried to warn Gedaliah that this would happen, but was ignored. Ultimately, he found out what had occurred, as there was no way a crime of this magnitude could stay hidden for too long.

Jer 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.

This was located about 2 miles from Mizpah. Ishmael must have halted there, thinking he was safe from attack. This was the pool of Gibeon, mentioned in 2 Sam 2:13, where Joab and Abner fought.

Jer 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.

No one likes traitors. No one of any virtue, anyway. How we all long for our traitorous leaders to be swept away in their own iniquity! Yet God allows these vile souls to linger, as instruments of judgment on his own wayward people. We always think God is allowing them far too much leeway. Look at how God allowed Manasseh to rule for 55 years! How is long life for the righteous to be known as a blessing when sometimes God gives the same blessing to the corrupt? I think that there are many factors at play in most situations we encounter. We cannot simply look at one principle in the word and conclude that that is what will rule every situation. In the example above, the principle of cutting the wicked life short is superseded by the principle of using the wicked as an instrument of God’s judgment on his rebellious people. What seems like a contradiction of one biblical principle on the surface, actually is a fulfillment of another biblical principle if we but look deeper. Our prime minister and president are living on borrowed time. Their time is almost up. While it grieves us that they linger, no matter how many lives they have destroyed, we do not wish their ultimate end on any living soul.

This militia was ready for action. They had appointed themselves the local security force. They would not let this treachery go unpunished.

Jer 41:14 So all the people that Ishmael had carried away captive from Mizpah cast about (revolved around) and returned (shoob), and went unto Johanan the son of Kareah.

I was wondering when our old friend the shoob would return! He was simply waiting for a good opportunity to make an appearance. We see that all these citizens of Mizpah in no way supported the actions of this murderous madman. As soon as they saw a force that was capable of fighting this imposter, they quickly ran off to join Johanan. They shoobed just as fast as they could!

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

He had come with 10 (Jer 41:1), and escaped with 8. It is too often the case that the wicked seem to escape earthly consequence. Yet we can rest assured that escaping eternal consequences will never be the case. So much of our Christian walk relies on future hope. Very few of us see an abundance of hopes fulfilled, justice done, and things set right in this life. Our life is truly a life of faith. Faith that the next life will be the place where we will ultimately see all the great and precious promises fulfilled.

In the meantime, we all must endure the trial of faith, in persevering unto the end, regardless of what good thing does or does not come to pass in this life.

Jer 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 (shoob) from Gibeon:
Jer 41:17 And they departed, and dwelt in the habitation of Chimham (pining), which is by Bethlehem, to go to enter into Egypt,

Commentators are not in agreement as to whether or not these survivors of the massacre at Mizpah went willingly or unwillingly to Egypt. The case can be made that they simply traded one upstart rebel for another. When civil war takes place, all sorts of rivals and factions spring up. Johanan may not of usurped the throne in such a treacherous manner, but perhaps he too coerced the people to flee Judah and go to a foreign land, in this case, Egypt.

Yet I think that in this case, the people went willingly with him, for two reasons. One, when Babylon found out about the assassination of Gedaliah, they would be indiscriminate about the application of retribution. They may not listen to the citizens pleas of innocence, and may just wipe out the population of the whole town. Second, when we look at the next chapter, we will find that these survivor’s hearts were in no wise in any sort of right relationship with the Lord. In fact, quite the opposite. They turn out to be as evil as anyone who was already judged and destroyed.

Chimham reminds us of the story of Barzillai the Gileadite (2 Sam 19:37). He gave his servant Chimham into the care of David, who wanted to reward him for his service. David had Solomon promise to care for him (1 Ki 2:7). They most likely gave him some land, and it may of been made into a resting place for travellers. Here the party halts, on the way to Egypt.

Jer 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.

This confirms that the main reason for them to flee was fear of retribution. These people had no trust in the Lord, having given up on him long ago. Once you go down that path of faithlessness, don’t think that someday you can find your way back. Your mind and your heart will often become so hardened that you may not ever have another thought about shoobing back to God ever again.

May we never allow ourselves to become so overwhelmed by catastrophe and loss that fear controls all our decision making. Practise the presence of God, so if and when calamity strikes, you will not blindly follow the crowd unto total destruction.

Solitary Man

Photos courtesy Depositphotos


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