|<< Jer 40|
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Jeremiah 41-45 Listen
Turns out...Gedaliah was wrong! (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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You'll recall that, after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar (King of Babylon) made a guy named Gedaliah governor of the poor Jews who were not deported at the time of the fall (Jeremiah 40, see notes). This is Gedaliah, son of Ahikam, NOT Gedaliah, son of Pashhur; the latter was cruel to Jeremiah. Gedaliah's (son of Ahikam) residence was actually in Mizpah, a few miles northwest of Jerusalem. In Jeremiah 40 (see notes), a plot was discovered to assassinate Governor Gedaliah, but the new governor ignored it. As it turns out, Ishmael, a descendant of King David, comes to town for an evening of fine dining with the new Babylonian-endorsed governor. The evening takes a turn for the worst when Ishmael does assassinate Gedaliah, along with all of the Jews who were with him (with some help).
After a couple of days passed, he also murders a group of men from towns within the Northern Kingdom's territory headed to the temple site to worship, sparing only those of the group who promised him treasure. The temple had been ransacked by Nebuchadnezzar's army, but these men were taking their non-blood sacrifices to the temple nonetheless. The fact that these pilgrims had cut themselves (verse 5) is somewhat curious. That may have been as a result of a mixture of pagan ritual with Jewish worship; cutting oneself was forbidden by the Law of Moses (Leviticus 19:28, see notes; Deuteronomy 14:1, see notes).
A man named Johanan had warned of the assassination plot back in Jeremiah 40 (see notes), but he was dismissed by Gedaliah without action. He's the one here in chapter 41 who discovers the slaughter of Gedaliah and the others; he pursues the murdering Ishmael as he heads for refuge in Ammon with hostages from the governors house in tow. Ishmael manages to escape, but Johanan does rescue his captives. Now Johanan is faced with a decision; do we stay in Judah or flee to Egypt? Nebuchadnezzar is going to be really steamed when he finds out his appointed governor, Gedaliah, has been assassinated; there's no telling what terror he may bring on Judah as a result.
1 Then all the captains of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least even unto the greatest, came near,
2 And said unto Jeremiah the prophet, Let, we beseech thee, our supplication be accepted before thee, and pray for us unto the LORD thy God, even for all this remnant; (for we are left but a few of many, as thine eyes do behold us:)
3 That the LORD thy God may shew us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do.
4 Then Jeremiah the prophet said unto them, I have heard you; behold, I will pray unto the LORD your God according to your words; and it shall come to pass, that whatsoever thing the LORD shall answer you, I will declare it unto you; I will keep nothing back from you.
5 Then they said to Jeremiah, The LORD be a true and faithful witness between us, if we do not even according to all things for the which the LORD thy God shall send thee to us.
6 Whether it be good, or whether it be evil, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God, to whom we send thee; that it may be well with us, when we obey the voice of the LORD our God.
7 And it came to pass after ten days, that the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah.
8 Then called he Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces which were with him, and all the people from the least even to the greatest,
9 And said unto them, Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto whom ye sent me to present your supplication before him;
10 If ye will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent me of the evil that I have done unto you.
11 Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the LORD: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand.
12 And I will shew mercies unto you, that he may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return to your own land.
13 But if ye say, We will not dwell in this land, neither obey the voice of the LORD your God,
14 Saying, No; but we will go into the land of Egypt, where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor have hunger of bread; and there will we dwell:
15 And now therefore hear the word of the LORD, ye remnant of Judah; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt, and go to sojourn there;
16 Then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine, whereof ye were afraid, shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die.
17 So shall it be with all the men that set their faces to go into Egypt to sojourn there; they shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: and none of them shall remain or escape from the evil that I will bring upon them.
18 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; As mine anger and my fury hath been poured forth upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem; so shall my fury be poured forth upon you, when ye shall enter into Egypt: and ye shall be an execration, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach; and ye shall see this place no more.
19 The LORD hath said concerning you, O ye remnant of Judah; Go ye not into Egypt: know certainly that I have admonished you this day.
20 For ye dissembled in your hearts, when ye sent me unto the LORD your God, saying, Pray for us unto the LORD our God; and according unto all that the LORD our God shall say, so declare unto us, and we will do it.
21 And now I have this day declared it to you; but ye have not obeyed the voice of the LORD your God, nor any thing for the which he hath sent me unto you.
22 Now therefore know certainly that ye shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, in the place whither ye desire to go and to sojourn.
Johanan and his party of rescuers finally go to Jeremiah for a word from God: "Do we stay in Judah or run to Egypt for safety?" After all, the governor of Judah has just been assassinated. Jeremiah tells them that he will seek a word from God on this matter. It took ten days, but Jeremiah finally reports back that their safety rests in Judah not Egypt. Nebuchadnezzar's wrath will be felt in Egypt, but not Judah. That's the message, but it takes Jeremiah 14 verses to say it (9-22). Jeremiah is very meticulous about his warning - don't want any misunderstandings, now, do we? DON'T GO TO EGYPT; STAY IN JUDAH!
It's worth noting that, even though Jeremiah had an inside track with God, it still took him ten days to get a word from God for them. That should serve as a lesson for Believers today; God's will for one's life is not necessarily revealed immediately following one's prayer.
And they still don't listen to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 43)
1 And it came to pass, that when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking unto all the people all the words of the LORD their God, for which the LORD their God had sent him to them, even all these words,
2 Then spake Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the proud men, saying unto Jeremiah, Thou speakest falsely: the LORD our God hath not sent thee to say, Go not into Egypt to sojourn there:
3 But Baruch the son of Neriah setteth thee on against us, for to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans, that they might put us to death, and carry us away captives into Babylon.
4 So Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces, and all the people, obeyed not the voice of the LORD, to dwell in the land of Judah.
5 But Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces, took all the remnant of Judah, that were returned from all nations, whither they had been driven, to dwell in the land of Judah;
6 Even men, and women, and children, and the king’s daughters, and every person that Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had left with Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Jeremiah the prophet, and Baruch the son of Neriah.
7 So they came into the land of Egypt: for they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: thus came they even to Tahpanhes.
8 Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying,
9 Take great stones in thine hand, and hide them in the clay in the brickkiln, which is at the entry of Pharaoh’s house in Tahpanhes, in the sight of the men of Judah;
10 And say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will set his throne upon these stones that I have hid; and he shall spread his royal pavilion over them.
11 And when he cometh, he shall smite the land of Egypt, and deliver such as are for death to death; and such as are for captivity to captivity; and such as are for the sword to the sword.
12 And I will kindle a fire in the houses of the gods of Egypt; and he shall burn them, and carry them away captives: and he shall array himself with the land of Egypt, as a shepherd putteth on his garment; and he shall go forth from thence in peace.
13 He shall break also the images of Bethshemesh, that is in the land of Egypt; and the houses of the gods of the Egyptians shall he burn with fire.
Let's review the players and the action from chapters 41-42.
Despite Jeremiah's word from God that Johanan and company should NOT flee to Egypt, they once again reject his word from God. Why did they even ask? Not only do they pack up their friends and families and head for Egypt, they make Jeremiah and his secretary, Baruch, go with them. Once there, Jeremiah issues another prophecy, complete with stones as an object lesson, emphasizing that moving to Egypt was a big mistake. Babylon is coming to Egypt. As a matter of fact, Nebuchadnezzar did invade Egypt in 568-567 B.C.
Isn't it interesting that, despite Jeremiah's prophetic track record of always being correct, Azariah and Johanan accuse Jeremiah of being a false prophet. They are convinced that Jeremiah has ulterior motives in a conspiracy with Baruch, Jeremiah's secretary. Jeremiah's prophecy had not been unsolicited; they asked him. Many Believers today have their minds made up about their decision before they ever ask God's advice in prayer. They're looking for validation, not direction - just like Azariah and Johanan.
The women take control (Jeremiah 44)
1 The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews which dwell in the land of Egypt, which dwell at Migdol, and at Tahpanhes, and at Noph, and in the country of Pathros, saying,
2 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Ye have seen all the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, and upon all the cities of Judah; and, behold, this day they are a desolation, and no man dwelleth therein,
3 Because of their wickedness which they have committed to provoke me to anger, in that they went to burn incense, and to serve other gods, whom they knew not, neither they, ye, nor your fathers.
4 Howbeit I sent unto you all my servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate.
5 But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense unto other gods.
6 Wherefore my fury and mine anger was poured forth, and was kindled in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; and they are wasted and desolate, as at this day.
7 Therefore now thus saith the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel; Wherefore commit ye this great evil against your souls, to cut off from you man and woman, child and suckling, out of Judah, to leave you none to remain;
8 In that ye provoke me unto wrath with the works of your hands, burning incense unto other gods in the land of Egypt, whither ye be gone to dwell, that ye might cut yourselves off, and that ye might be a curse and a reproach among all the nations of the earth?
9 Have ye forgotten the wickedness of your fathers, and the wickedness of the kings of Judah, and the wickedness of their wives, and your own wickedness, and the wickedness of your wives, which they have committed in the land of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem?
10 They are not humbled even unto this day, neither have they feared, nor walked in my law, nor in my statutes, that I set before you and before your fathers.
11 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will set my face against you for evil, and to cut off all Judah.
12 And I will take the remnant of Judah, that have set their faces to go into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, and they shall all be consumed, and fall in the land of Egypt; they shall even be consumed by the sword and by the famine: they shall die, from the least even unto the greatest, by the sword and by the famine: and they shall be an execration, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach.
13 For I will punish them that dwell in the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence:
14 So that none of the remnant of Judah, which are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall escape or remain, that they should return into the land of Judah, to the which they have a desire to return to dwell there: for none shall return but such as shall escape.
15 Then all the men which knew that their wives had burned incense unto other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying,
16 As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee.
17 But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil.
18 But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.
19 And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men?
20 Then Jeremiah said unto all the people, to the men, and to the women, and to all the people which had given him that answer, saying,
21 The incense that ye burned in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, ye, and your fathers, your kings, and your princes, and the people of the land, did not the LORD remember them, and came it not into his mind?
22 So that the LORD could no longer bear, because of the evil of your doings, and because of the abominations which ye have committed; therefore is your land a desolation, and an astonishment, and a curse, without an inhabitant, as at this day.
23 Because ye have burned incense, and because ye have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, nor walked in his law, nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies; therefore this evil is happened unto you, as at this day.
24 Moreover Jeremiah said unto all the people, and to all the women, Hear the word of the LORD, all Judah that are in the land of Egypt:
25 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying; Ye and your wives have both spoken with your mouths, and fulfilled with your hand, saying, We will surely perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her: ye will surely accomplish your vows, and surely perform your vows.
26 Therefore hear ye the word of the LORD, all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt; Behold, I have sworn by my great name, saith the LORD, that my name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, The Lord GOD liveth.
27 Behold, I will watch over them for evil, and not for good: and all the men of Judah that are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by the famine, until there be an end of them.
28 Yet a small number that escape the sword shall return out of the land of Egypt into the land of Judah, and all the remnant of Judah, that are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall know whose words shall stand, mine, or theirs.
29 And this shall be a sign unto you, saith the LORD, that I will punish you in this place, that ye may know that my words shall surely stand against you for evil:
30 Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give Pharaohhophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his life; as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, his enemy, and that sought his life.
This whole chapter is Jeremiah's prophecy explaining that this Egypt move was the wrong move. An exchange between Jeremiah and the refugees (from Judah) is seen here. Jeremiah pleads with them to hearken to God's voice on this issue. He points out that Judah fell because they did not heed the word of God's prophets, but persisted in their worship of false gods (verses 1-6). Jeremiah then expresses concern that they have removed the remnant of Jews from Judah and carried them off to Egypt in opposition to God's word through Jeremiah (verse 7).
Then in verses 8-14 Jeremiah outlines the punishment in store for these rebels; they will be destroyed in Egypt. It's interesting that they dispute Jeremiah's prophecy once again on the basis that, according to their recollection, when they sacrificed to the pagan gods back in Jerusalem, life was great. Jeremiah points out that the facts do not indicate that their recollection is correct - not even close.
While we're here, let's review those facts. Judah prospered under their last good king, Josiah, for 31 years (640 B.C. to 609 B.C. (II Kings 22-23, see notes). Immediately upon Josiah's death, his evil 23-year-old son, Jehoahaz, becomes king and leads Judah back to their old pre-Josiah wicked ways. The Egyptian Pharaoh takes him captive and appoints his brother Jehoiakim as the new King of Judah. He's also just a puppet king to the Pharaoh. Then, when the Babylonian army shows up, Jehoiakim becomes his puppet king. In reality, through Jehoiachin and Zedekiah all the way down to the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., life in Judah was miserable. Wow! What a flawed memory these people have! Nevertheless, they intend to continue that pagan sacrifice during their stay in Egypt.
Jeremiah then prophesies that Egypt will be given into the hand of the Babylonians just like Jerusalem was along with Pharaohhophra, the King of Egypt. It's a very harsh prophecy (verses 20-30). Except for a small remnant, all of these Jewish refugees will die by the sword here in Egypt.
As an interesting observation in this chapter, notice that the women seem to be exerting the greater influence here; the men speak on their behalf in verses 15 and following. Notice also that the deity they are worshipping is referred to as the "queen of heaven." Only Jeremiah refers to this goddess in these terms (aka Ishtar, Astarte, Astoreth or Ashtaroth). She was the goddess of fertility, the female counterpart to Baal. The women seem to be fed up with those masculine gods and are opting for a kinder, gentler alternative. And the men...well...they're following the women on this one.
It's noteworthy that these women apparently viewed life differently. Reality aside, they obviously viewed as insignificant that they had not known peace in their land since the God-honoring King Josiah some 23+ years ago. Apparently it meant nothing to them that their nation had been kicked around by the Egyptians and Babylonians - friends and relatives deported, temple ransacked. Jeremiah's Book of Lamentations (see notes) relates to us the horrible conditions in Jerusalem leading up to and after the fall - their men doing slave labor, their children starving and even being eaten by their parents. Their paradigm for the good life was totally out of touch with reality. That, combined with selective memory loss, caused them to influence their husbands to make a very bad decision here. You've heard that old saying, "When mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!"
So much for the political career (Jeremiah 45)
1 The word that Jeremiah the prophet spake unto Baruch the son of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book at the mouth of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying,
2 Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto thee, O Baruch;
3 Thou didst say, Woe is me now! for the LORD hath added grief to my sorrow; I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest.
4 Thus shalt thou say unto him, The LORD saith thus; Behold, that which I have built will I break down, and that which I have planted I will pluck up, even this whole land.
5 And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the LORD: but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest.
Here's a listing of the last kings of Judah to give you a little perspective:
Let's turn back the clock now to the 4th year of the reign of Jehoiakim when Jeremiah had Baruch transcribe his prophecy concerning the fall of Jerusalem and take it to the officials of Jerusalem and read it (Jeremiah 36, see notes). That takes this prophecy back to 605 B.C.
Baruch came from a well-connected political family. Working for Jeremiah didn't enhance his political standing. You will recall that as Baruch's scroll was finally read to King Jehoiakim himself, the king had the pages burned in his fireplace as they were being read. So, on this occasion, you may wonder what Baruch was thinking through all of this. Well, here's a short recap from Baruch's perspective in verse 3. This prophecy from Jeremiah indicates that there will be no smooth sailing for Baruch's future. However, rather than poor mouthing about his situation (verse 3), Baruch is told to recognize how much sorrow Judahs sins must have brought to God (verse 4); he should not seek "great things" for himself; his life will be spared (verse 5).