Jeremiah – Chapter 40

Gedaliah in Charge

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

G-d spoke to Jeremiah again, after he was in the custody of Nebuzaradan; Jeremiah was in chains, just like the rest of the exiles from Jerusalem. (We’ll see what G-d said in a moment.)

Nebuzaradan said to Jeremiah, “G-d predicted bad things about this place, and He has brought them to pass because the people would not listen to Him. Because this nation was conquered by G-d, I’m going to remove your shackles. You can come with me to Babylonia and I will take care of you, or you can stay here.”

G-d told Jeremiah to remain with Gedaliah, who had been appointed governor over the people remaining in Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan gave Jeremiah gifts and sent him on his way. Jeremiah came to Gedaliah and lived with the people who remained in Mitzpah, a city in the territory of Benjamin, not far from Jerusalem.

The officers of the army of Judah, who had fled from the Chaldean onslaught and hidden themselves, heard that Gedaliah had been appointed governor over those who remained. A man named Yishmael ben Netanyahu (who was of royal descent), along with Yochanan and Yonasan, the sons of Kareach, and others, went to Gedaliah. Gedaliah told them not to fear; as long as they served the Chaldeans and Nebuchadnezzar, they could remain in the land unmolested. Gedaliah said that he would always remain in Mitzpah, to liaise with the Chaldeans.

Furthermore, the Jews who had fled to the neighboring lands of Amon, Moav and Edom heard about Gedaliah’s appointment and they returned to Judah. Life actually improved in Judah, and the people enjoyed an abundance of wine and figs, without fear that invading armies would seize them.

Then, the aforementioned Yochanan and other officers who had gone into hiding went to Gedaliah and asked, “Did you know that the king of Amon sent Yishmael the son of Netanya to assassinate you?” Gedaliah did not believe the charge, so Yochanan asked for permission to preemptively assassinate Yishmael. If Gedaliah were assassinated, Yochanan said, the Jews would be scattered and lost. But Gedaliah refused to allow this, because he simply didn’t believe the accusation.

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