The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, after that Nebuzaradan 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.
Verses 1-6. - The liberation of Jeremiah. Verse 1. - The word that came to Jeremiah. The formula seems to announce a prophecy; but no prophecy follows. It is not allowable to suppose, with Keil and others, that "the word" describes the entire body of prophetic utterance in ch. 40-45. (in spite of the fact that ch. 44. and 45. have special headings). The use would be unexampled; and a prologue of forty verses (see Jeremiah 42:7) is equally contrary to prophetic analogy. Apparently the "word," or prophecy, which originally followed the heading has been lost or removed to some other place. Had let him go from Ramah. Here is an apparent discrepancy with the account in Jeremiah 39:14. The brevity of the latter seems to account for it. No doubt the more precise statement in our passage is to be followed. After the capture of the city, a number of captives, including Jeremiah, were probably conducted to Ramah (see on Jeremiah 31:15), where they had to wait for the royal decision as to their fate. Jeremiah, however, had already been in custody in the "court of the watch," and the writer of Jeremiah 29:14 simply omits the second stage of his captivity (Keil). In chains. See ver. 4, "The chains which were upon thine hand."
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, 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.
Verse 3. The Lord hath brought it, etc. The colouring of the speech is that of a Jewish prophet (comp. Isaiah 36:10).
And now, behold, I loose thee this day from the chains which were upon thine hand. If it seem good unto thee to come with me into 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 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.
Verse 5. - Now while he was not yet, etc. This rendering, however, seems against the Hebrew usage. Two renderings are open to us.
1. "But since one returneth not from Babylon, then go back to Gedaliah," etc.; so Hitzig.
2. Taking ver. 5 as a continuation of "but if it seemeth ill to thee," etc., "forbear" (in ver. 4), and, supplying, "I have spoken the word," continue, "and it shall not be reversed; yea, go back;" so Graf, regarding the passage as an explanation of the permission to "forbear." A reward; rather, a present.
Then went Jeremiah unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah; and dwelt with him among the people that were left in the land.
Verse 6. - To Mizpah. A place in the tribe of Benjamin, where Samuel judged, and where Saul was elected king (1 Samuel 7:15, 16; 1 Samuel 10:17).
Now when all the captains of the forces which were in 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;
Verses 7-12. - The Jewish fugitives resort to Gedaliah, who promises them protection as long as they are loyal to Babylon. Verse 7. - In the fields; rather, in the field; i.e. in the open country, as opposed to the towns. Men, and women, and children. Old and worn out men, helpless widows, and fatherless children. Royal princesses were among them (Jeremiah 41:10).
Then they came to 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.
Verse 8. - Jonathan. This name is omitted in the parallel passage (2 Kings 25:23), and by the Septuagint here. It may, of course, be a corruption of Johanan, as Ewald supposes. If so, we must read "son" for "sons," with Septuagint. The Netophathite. Netophah was in the neighbourhood of Benjamin. The son of a Maachathite; rather, the Maachathite. Maachah was a Syrian district in the neighbourhood of Hermon (Deuteronomy 3:14; Joshua 12:5). Jezaniah was, therefore, a naturalized foreigner, like Doeg the Edomite (Hitzig).
And Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of 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, 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.
Verse 10. - To serve the Chaldeans; rather, to stand before the Chaldeans (so literally); i.e. to mediate between you and them (comp. Jeremiah 15:1). Gather ye wine, etc. It was the fifth or sixth month (comp. Jeremiah 41:1; 2 Kings 25:8), the end of July or the beginning of August, when grapes, figs, and olives become ripe. Observe, "wine" is here the wine in the grape; the Hebrew yayin seems originally to have meant a cluster of grapes, like the corresponding word (wain) in Arabic (setup. on ch. 48:33). That ye have taken; rather, that ye shall have taken. (The "captains" had up to this time been in the open country, ver. 7.)
Likewise when all 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.
Moreover Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were in the fields, came to Gedaliah to Mizpah,
Verses 13-16. - Gedaliah receives a warning of a plot against his life.
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.
Verse 14. - Baalis the king of the Ammonites. Perhaps the same king referred to in Jeremiah 27:3 as seeking alliance with Zedekiah. He was naturally opposed to the Babylonian official, Gedaliah. Hath sent Ishmael. Ishmael was connected with the royal family (Jeremiah 41:1), and was probably jealous of Gedaliah.
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 should be scattered, and the remnant in Judah perish?
But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said unto Johanan the son of Kareah, Thou shalt not do this thing: for thou speakest falsely of Ishmael.