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Jamieson, Fausset & Brown :: Commentary on Jeremiah 41

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The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah

Commentary by A. R. FAUSSET

CHAPTER 41

Jer 41:1-18. ISHMAEL MURDERS GEDALIAH AND OTHERS, THEN FLEES TO THE AMMONITES. JOHANAN PURSUES HIM, RECOVERS THE CAPTIVES, AND PURPOSES TO FLEE TO EGYPT FOR FEAR OF THE CHALDEANS.

      1. seventh month--the second month after the burning of the city ( Jer 52:12, 13 ).
      and the princes--not the nominative. And the princes came, for the "princes" are not mentioned either in Jer 41:2 or in 2Ki 25:25 : but, "Ishmael being of the seed royal and of the princes of the king" [MAURER]. But the ten men were the "princes of the king"; thus MAURER'S objection has no weight: so English Version.
      eat bread together--Ishmael murdered Gedaliah, by whom he was hospitably received, in violation of the sacred right of hospitality ( Psa 41:9 ).

      2. slew him whom the king of Babylon had made governor--This assigns a reason for their slaying him, as well as showing the magnitude of their crime ( Dan 2:21 Rom 13:1 ).

      3. slew all the Jews--namely, the attendants and ministers of Gedaliah; or, the military alone, about his person; translate, "even (not 'and,' as English Version) the men of war." The main portion of the people with Gedaliah, including Jeremiah, Ishmael carried away captive ( Jer 41:10, 16 ).

      4. no man knew it--that is, outside Mizpah. Before tidings of the murder had gone abroad.

      5. beards shaven, &c.--indicating their deep sorrow at the destruction of the temple and city.
      cut themselves--a heathen custom, forbidden ( Lev 19:27, 28 Deu 14:1 ). These men were mostly from Samaria, where the ten tribes, previous to their deportation, had fallen into heathen practices.
      offerings--unbloody. They do not bring sacrificial victims, but "incense," &c., to testify their piety.
      house of. . . Lord--that is, the place where the house of the Lord had stood ( 2Ki 25:9 ). The place in which a temple had stood, even when it had been destroyed, was held sacred [PAPINIAN]. Those "from Shiloh" would naturally seek the house of the Lord, since it was at Shiloh it originally was set up ( Jos 18:1 ).

      6. weeping--pretending to weep, as they did, for the ruin of the temple.
      Come to Gedaliah--as if he was one of Gedaliah's retinue.

      7. and cast them into. . . pit--He had not killed them in the pit (compare Jer 41:9 ); these words are therefore rightly supplied in English Version. "The pit" or cistern made by Asa to guard against a want of water when Baasha was about to besiege the city ( 1Ki 15:22 ). The trench or fosse round the city [GROTIUS]. Ishmael's motive for the murder seems to have been a suspicion that they were coming to live under Gedaliah.

      8. treasures--It was customary to hide grain in cavities underground in troubled times. "We have treasures," which we will give, if our lives be spared.
      slew. . . not-- ( Pro 13:8 ). Ishmael's avarice and needs overcame his cruelty.

      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"; Neh 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.

      10. the king's daughters-- ( Jer 43:6 ). Zedekiah's. Ishmael must have got additional followers (whom the hope of gain attracted), besides those who originally set out with him ( Jer 41:1 ), so as to have been able to carry off all the residue of the people. He probably meant to sell them as slaves to the Ammonites (see on JF & B for Jer 40:14).

      11. Johanan--the friend of Gedaliah who had warned him of Ishmael's treachery, but in vain ( Jer 40:8, 13 ).

      12. the. . . waters-- ( 2Sa 2:13 ); a large reservoir or lake.
      in Gibeon--on the road from Mizpah to Ammon: one of the sacerdotal cities of Benjamin, four miles northwest of Jerusalem, now Eljib.

      13. glad--at the prospect of having a deliverer from their captivity.

      14. cast about--came round.

      16. men of war--"The men of war," stated in Jer 41:3 to have been slain by Ishmael, must refer to the military about Gedaliah's person; "the men of war" here to those not so.
      eunuchs--The kings of Judah had adopted the bad practice of having harems and eunuchs from the surrounding heathen kingdoms.

      17. dwelt--for a time, until they were ready for their journey to Egypt ( Jer 42:1-22 ).
      habitation to Chimham--his "caravanserai" close by Beth-lehem. David, in reward for Barzillai's loyalty, took Chimham his son under his patronage, and made over to him his own patrimony in the land of Beth-lehem. It was thence called the habitation of Chimham (Geruth-Chimham), though it reverted to David's heirs in the year of jubilee. "Caravanserais" (a compound Persian word, meaning "the house of a company of travellers") differ from our inns, in that there is no host to supply food, but each traveller must carry with him his own.

      18. afraid--lest the Chaldeans should suspect all the Jews of being implicated in Ishmael's treason, as though the Jews sought to have a prince of the house of David ( Jer 41:1 ). Their better way towards gaining God's favor would have been to have laid the blame on the real culprit, and to have cleared themselves. A tortuous policy is the parent of fear. Righteousness inspires with boldness ( Psa 53:5 Pro 28:1 ).

Introduction to Isaiah ← Prior Book
Introduction to Lamentations Next Book →
Commentary on Jeremiah 40 ← Prior Chapter
Commentary on Jeremiah 42 Next Chapter →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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