Jeremiah 41:9
Now the pit 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.
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(9) Because of Gedaliah.—Literally, by the hand of Gedaliah; i.e., by using his name to entrap the unsuspecting pilgrims.

Which Asa the king had made for fear of Baasha . . .—See 1Kings 15:22; 2Chronicles 16:6. Baasha had tried to fortify Ramah as an outpost of his kingdom. Asa called in the help of Benhadad, king of Syria, and compelled him to desist, and then carried off the stones and timber to strengthen Mizpah as a position of defence. The “pit” was probably a trench with a drawbridge over it, so constructed as to stop all approach from the neighbouring kingdom; or else one of the tanks or reservoirs constructed to supply the fortress with water. A various reading gives “the pit of Gedaliah,” instead of “because of Gedaliah.”

Jeremiah 41:9. Now the pit was it which Asa had made, &c. — The word בור, here and elsewhere rendered pit, frequently signifies, a cistern, basin, or, reservoir; a large place made for receiving rain-water; which seems to be the meaning of the word here. This pit, or reservoir, Asa, who built and fortified Mizpah, at the time he was at war with Baasha king of Israel, caused to be made in the midst of the city, in order that the people might not be in want of so necessary an article as water in case of a siege. Reservoirs of this kind were much in use in Palestine, as Jerome tells us, in his commentary upon Amos 4:7-8. And Josephus testifies the advantage of them to the besieged when he tells us that, when Masada was reduced to the greatest distress for want of water, it was relieved by a fall of rain in the night, which filled all the reservoirs, Antiq. lib. 14. cap. 14. Each private family seems also to have had one of these reservoirs for its own use. Drink ye every one the waters of his own cistern, בורו, his pit, or, reservoir, says Rabshakeh to the people of Jerusalem, Isaiah 36:16.41:1-10 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.Because of Gedaliah - By the side "of Gedaliah." Ishmael now cast beside Gedaliah's body those of the pilgrims. 9. because of Gedaliah—rather, "near Gedaliah," namely, those intercepted by Ishmael on their way from Samaria to Jerusalem and killed at Mizpah, where Gedaliah had lived. So 2Ch 17:15, "next"; Ne 3:2, Margin, literally, as here, "at his hand." "In the reign of Gedaliah" [Calvin]. However, English Version gives a good sense: Ishmael's reason for killing them was because of his supposing them to be connected with Gedaliah. The word which we translate

because of dyb signifieth in the hand of Gedaliah, which hath given critics a scope to vary in their notion of it, and to translate it, in the power of, by occasion of, &c. But the learned author of our English Annotations saith the sense of the place is plain enough; Jeremiah 38:10, we have the same term twice, where we have translated it with thee, so here it doubtless signifies those who were with Gedaliah under his power or charge. What pit this was is not so well agreed, that is, upon what occasion made; the text telleth us it was digged by Asa king of Judah, and that it was made for fear of Baasha the king of Israel; but whether it was to receive water, or to hinder Baasha’s coming near some weak part of the city, we are not told, and it is but in vain to guess. We read, 1 Kings 15:22, of Asa’s fortifying Mizpah with the stones of Ramah, but of this pit we read nothing. Now the pit wherein Ishmael had cast all the dead bodies,.... Not only of those seventy men of Samaria, &c. but

of the men whom he had slain because of Gedaliah; because of their attachment to him: or, "by the hand of Gedaliah" (k); not by him, as an instrument; unless, as Jarchi observes, because he rejected the advice of Johanan, and provided not for his safety, and his people, it was as if they were slain by him (l); rather the sense is, that they were slain by the side of him, or in the, place where he was, or along with him (m); see a like phrase in Jeremiah 38:10; now both the one and the other were cast into one pit: and this

was that which Asa the king had made for fear of Baasha king of Israel; which was either a ditch that was cast up against the wall that went round the city; or a large pit or well in the midst of it, to hold water in it; and this was made by King Asa, either when he built and fortified Mizpah, 1 Kings 15:22; or, as the Targum here, when Baasha king of Israel besieged it; which he made that he might be provided for with water during the siege; or to hide himself in it; or stop the enemy from proceeding any further, should he enter:

and Ishmael the son of Nethaniah filled it with them that were slain; which shows it rather to be a pit or well within the city than a ditch about it; since it was filled with the slain, with those that were slain with Gedaliah, and those seventy other persons; and by which he made the well useless to the inhabitants hereafter.

(k) "in manu Gedaliae", Montanus, Vatablus. (l) So T. Bab. Nidda, fol. 61. 1.((m) "Ad latus", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "in loco", some in Munster; "cum Gedalia", De Dieu, Gataker.

Now the pit into which Ishmael had cast all the dead bodies of the men, whom he had slain because of Gedaliah, was that which Asa the king had {f} made for fear of Baasha king of Israel: and Ishmael the son of Nethaniah filled it with them that were slain.

(f) Asa fortified Mizpah for fear of the enemy, and dug ditches and trenches, 1Ki 15:22.

9. See 1 Kings 15:22; 2 Chronicles 16:6.

by the side of Gedaliah] With the slightest possible change in the consonants of the MT. we may accept an almost certain correction, and read (with LXX) “was a great cistern” (tank for the storage of water). Cp. the tragic story of the “well” at Cawnpore in the Indian mutiny.Verse 9. - Now the pit... which Arm the king had made, etc. Nothing is said of this "pit" in the historical books, but only (1 Kings 15:22 = 2 Chronicles 16:6) that Asa used the material with which Baasha had fortified Ramah to build Geba and Mizpah. It would seem that this "pit" formed part of Asa's defensive works; probably it was a cistern to supply the town with water during the siege. Because of Gedaliah; was it. The rendering "because of" must be abandoned. The Septuagint has, in this part of the verse, the very natural words, "was a great pit," and this reading is adopted by Movers, Hitzig, and Graft. 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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