Jeremiah Index

Jeremiah Chapter 41


  • Jeremiah 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.

Ishmael was a deceiving conniving person who went to have dinner with Gedaliah the appointed king of Judah. Perhaps Ishmael thought that Gedaliah and the Jews with them were traitors for submitting to the king of Babylon. Perhaps he was just a pawn spurred on my the king of Ammon.

From reading the Old Testament the children of Ammon and Moab were not as a rule on friendly terms with the Jews and really desired that the enemies of the Jews would overcome them. I am reminded of the story here of Balaam. The king of Moab desired Balaam to curse Israel but Balaam could not. They devised a scheme where the daughters of Moab would lure the sons of Israel into a relationship forbidden by the word of God. Then Moab women would entice Israel to worship the false gods of the Moabites, thereby causing God to curse Israel Himself.

The thing they didn't realize that God may judge Israel but He also will judge the nations that cause Israel to sin. We don't get by with evil in any form.

  • Jeremiah 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.
  • 3 Ishmael also slew all the Jews that were with him, even with Gedaliah, at Mizpah, and the Chaldeans that were found there, and the men of war.

For whatever reason, Ishmael slew all that were agreeing with Gedaliah and supporting him whether they were Jews or Chaldean. This gives us a hint as to his motive. He probably never heard or disagreed with Jeremiah's prophecy which instructed the Jews to surrender and accept the reign of Babylon at this time because it was the will of God. He may have thought they were traitors.

  • Jeremiah 41:4 And it came to pass the second day after he had slain Gedaliah, and no man knew it,
  • 5 That there came certain from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria, even fourscore men, having their beards shaven, and their clothes rent, and having cut themselves, with offerings and incense in their hand, to bring them to the house of the LORD.
  • 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 shows Ishmael as a deceiver who pretended to weep and worship with them in order to gain their trust. These people trusted him and Ishmael slew them also. His motive here is hard to discern but I can guess that he wanted to kill all those who even appeared to be supportive of Gedaliah.

  • Jeremiah 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.
  • 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, and slew them not among their brethren.

A few men were able to barter their way out of death by promising treasure to Ishmael. I guess we see a weakness in Ishmael here; he could be bribed.

  • 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.
  • 10 Then Ishmael carried away captive all the residue 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.

Ishmael took the rest captive with him. Why he didn't just kill everyone is not known.

  • Jeremiah 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,
  • 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.

Johanan saw the evil that was done and went to fight against Ishmael. This man could have ignored this and went his own way but he saw injustice being done and dared to get involved.

We have to take a stand against evil and wrongdoing. This is why the free world had to intervene when Hitler destroyed the 6 million Jews. In fact I wonder if the United States would have gotten into that war sooner if more lives would have been saved. We hate war but sometimes war is the only way to stop tyrants and evil rulers from oppressing the weak and innocent.

  • Jeremiah 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.

This shows us here that the people Ishmael took captive were not happy with their situation and were happy to see Johanan come to their rescue.

  • Jeremiah 41:14 So all the people that Ishmael had carried away captive from Mizpah cast about and returned, and went unto Johanan the son of Kareah.
  • 15 But Ishmael the son of Nethaniah escaped from Johanan with eight men, and went to the Ammonites.

Ishmael escapes along with 8 of his men.

  • Jeremiah 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 from Gibeon:
  • 17 And they departed, and dwelt in the habitation of Chimham, which is by Bethlehem, to go to enter into Egypt,
  • 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.

These Jews were now afraid of the wrath of the king of Babylon, not because they did any wrong but because they feared they would get blamed for what Ishmael had done so they were not in direct rebellion against God in this situation. They wanted to hide from the Chaldeans.

This is a natural fear but since the Lord told the remnant to submit to the king of Babylon and remain where they were, God would have taken care of them and not allowed the Chaldeans to slay them.

I will say this here knowing that I'm not always one that lacks fear or trusts in God in bad situations but if we are living in a right relationship with God, God has promised to care for us and keep us from evil. We should never fear if we are walking in the will of God. Its only if we get out of His will and return to the sin He saved us from, that we need to fear.

In most cases of sin and rebellion against God, God doesn't really have to send judgment because we end up doing things that cause our own destruction. Here are some examples:

If we are greedy and buy on credit over and above our means, is it the judgment of God when we go bankrupt or is it our own actions that cause this?

If we allow ourselves to be sexually permissive and we end up with a killer disease, is it God's judgment or our own lust that brought us into that situation?

If we teach evolution in schools and forbid the acknowledging of God or the creation to be taught, is it God's judgment or our own blindness that cause kids to have no respect for authority, rebel, and some have even killed their own classmates in anger. The reason: there is no fear of God.

Why are we graduating kids that can't read? Do we need more money? Do we need bigger schools? Do we need more computers? Or do we need more GOD?

  • Proberbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. 
  • 10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

God is only out for our good yet so many want nothing to do with Him.

  • Isaiah 33:6 And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure. 

Knowledge, strength, wisdom, salvation and treasure comes with acknowledging and serving God.

  • Hosea  4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

This was spoken by Zacharias concerning his son John, the forerunner of Jesus Christ:

  • Luke 1:68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, 
  • 69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; 
  • 70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: 
  • 71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;
  • 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; 
  • 73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, 
  • 74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, 
  • 75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. 
  • 76 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; 
  • 77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, 
  • 78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, 
  • 79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. 
  • 80 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.

There are so many wonderful things in the word of God. We tend to neglect real knowledge and substitute the knowledge of the world which passes away and profits only a short time. Real knowledge is learning of God and His word. Real knowledge is learning of the way of salvation through repentance of sin and accepting Jesus Christ into our lives. Real knowledge is the fear of God and having respect to His word. If we get this knowledge first, we will be better at the other things.

Remember the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Its the base. Those that fear and obey God will make the best workers, wisest rulers, and most honest businessmen.

Once an individual, family or nation loses the fear of God, they begin to go downhill fast. Unless they repent and run back to God, they will go on to destruction and be lost. Good things come from God. If we stray away from God there will be evil. Move God out of schools, society, government etc. and the devil moves in. Sit your kids in front of the TV and video games to keep them occupied instead of teaching them God's word and we lose our kids. As I've heard some say, "If we do not teach our children, the devil will." 

Jeremiah 42