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Jeremiah 41:1 Now it happened in the seventh month- Three months after the capture and two after the burning of the city.

That Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the seed royal and one of the chief officers of the king, and ten men with him, came to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah; and there they ate bread together in Mizpah- Ishmael was from the royal family, and therefore assumed that he ought to be the rightful ruler of Judah rather than Gedaliah, who was but a willing puppet of Babylon. But it was not then the time to restore the Kingdom and throne of David, and certainly not in the form of someone as deceitful as Ishmael. Ishmael clearly disbelieved the prophecies concerning the ending of the royal family. Perhaps Gedaliah's willing naivety about Ishmael in Jer. 40:16 was because he could not entertain any plan to slay a member of the royal family, remembering David's attitude to Saul.

Jeremiah 41:2 Then arose Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and the ten men who were with him, and struck Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan with the sword, and killed him whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land-
They failed to accept that Nebuchadnezzar was Yahweh's servant, doing His will, and therefore the appointment of Gedaliah was also sanctioned by God. Perhaps their game plan was that Baalis of Ammon would take over Judah, and Ishmael would be made the ruler (Jer. 40:14). People will commit murder and any manner of sin for the sake of dreams of power.

Jeremiah 41:3 Ishmael also killed all the Jews who were with him, with Gedaliah, at Mizpah, and the Chaldeans who were found there, the men of war-
If Ishmael truly wished to do the best for Judah by becoming their ruler, he surely would not have killed his fellow Jews. But he did so because he was working for the king of Ammon and was following his agenda, in hope of personal benefit and power thereby; see on :2.

Jeremiah 41:4 It happened the second day after he had killed Gedaliah, and no man knew it-
This perhaps was why he killed all the Jews and Babylonians present (:3); to delay the spreading of the news, and to enable himself to carry out the plans of the king of Ammon and establish his own power.

Jeremiah 41:5 That there came men from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria, even eighty men, having their beards shaved and their clothes torn, and having cut themselves, with meal offerings and frankincense in their hand, to bring them to the house of Yahweh-
This could mean that a shrine had been erected in Mizpeh. Or it could refer to 80 people coming to offer offerings and perform some kind of worship at the site of the Jerusalem temple even after the Babylonian destruction. Significantly, they were from the decimated ten tribe kingdom of Israel. Clearly even amongst them, a minority were still relatively faithful; contrasting with Judah's boast that they alone were faithful and God had rejected Israel. There's ample historical reference to the essential ground plan and some structure still standing even after the Babylonians had effectively destroyed it and rendered it useless (See R.S. Foster, The Restoration Of Israel (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1970) p. 28; John Bright, A History of Israel (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1981) p. 325; Martin Noth, The History of Israel (London: SCM, 1983) p. 291). This makes it more appealing to consider Ezekiel's vision as a blueprint for the exiles' reconstructing the existing temple, rather than a totally new structure. We also must compare this fact against the prophecies in Jeremiah and Ezekiel which speak of total destruction of man, beast and everything in the land. That didn't happen to the extent envisaged. Perhaps God in pity simply didn't carry out all His intended wrath. Or maybe there was a modicum of repentance or intercession which ameliorated His plans. Or perhaps He realized that the intended judgments would not in fact bring about the repentance envisaged at the time, and therefore the full extent of those judgments has been rescheduled and reapplied to the last days.

Jeremiah 41:6 Ishmael the son of Nethaniah went forth from Mizpah to meet them, weeping all along as he went: and it happened, as he met them, he said to them, Come to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam-
This weeping was presumably in pretence grief at the loss of the temple, encouraging them to think that he like they (see on :5) were loyal to Yahweh worship. Perhaps it was their loyalty to Yahweh worship which was his motive for enticing them to come to Mizpah and murdering them; see on :5. We wonder what other motive he may have had.

Jeremiah 41:7 It was so that when they came into the midst of the city, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah killed them, and cast them into the midst of the pit, he, and the men who were with him-
There is an ongoing theme of pits. Jeremiah was cast into the pit; and yet was miraculously saved. It's as if that experience was to connect him with the experiences of the suffering faithful, making him look forward the more to the Lord Jesus as the representative Saviour.

Jeremiah 41:8 But ten men were found among those who said to Ishmael, Don’t kill us; for we have stores hidden in the field, of wheat, barley, oil and honey. So he stopped, and didn’t kill them among their brothers-
These signs of material wealth would have been as the treasure hid in a field. They would have given Ishmael the details of how to find them, or perhaps the keys to the pits. We see here his materialism, crude and plain. There is a strange theme of pits- faithful men were cast into them (see on :7), whilst the unfaithful filled them with their own wealth.

Jeremiah 41:9 Now the cistern in which Ishmael cast all the dead bodies of the men whom he had killed along with Gedaliah was the same which Asa the king had made for fear of Baasha king of Israel. Ishmael the son of Nethaniah filled it with those who were killed-
This connection is perhaps because of the continued theme of civil war between God's people. The men killed by the would be leader of Judah were from the ten tribe kingdom (see on :5). Asa king of Judah had made this pit at the time of his war with Baasha king of the ten tribes.

Jeremiah 41:10 Then Ishmael carried away captive all the remainder of the people who were in Mizpah, even the king’s daughters, and all the people who remained in Mizpah, whom Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had committed to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam; Ishmael the son of Nethaniah carried them away captive, and departed to go over to the children of Ammon-
The daughters of Zedekiah were high value captives and would have been high on the list for deportation. The fact they were allowed to remain in the land was another sign of Yahweh's grace; but that grace was spurned and abused by Ishmael in that he tried to take them out of the land, to Ammon.

Jeremiah 41:11 But when Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces who were with him, heard of all the evil that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had done-
These military commanders were committed to taking Jeremiah's advice and surrendering to Babylon, in recognition of their personal sins against Yahweh and the rightness of the Babylonian domination. What Ishmael had done appeared to totally destroy the potential to do that, as they would have assumed the Babylonians would now kill them and the possibility of such surrender and repentance was now impossible. Hence their great anger with Ishmael.

Jeremiah 41:12 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-
This was only a mile north of Mizpah. the "pool of Gibeon" of 2 Sam. 2:13.

Jeremiah 41:13 Now it happened that when all the people who were with Ishmael saw Johanan the son of Kareah and all the captains of the forces who were with him, then they were glad-
Again we see the power of influence of just one man. Those with him realized the folly of his actions and were glad to see the opposition to them.

Jeremiah 41:14 So all the people whom Ishmael had carried away captive from Mizpah turned about and returned and went to Johanan the son of Kareah-
Again a play is made upon the words for repentance, turning around and turning back to God.

Jeremiah 41:15 But Ishmael the son of Nethaniah escaped from Johanan with eight men, and went to the children of Ammon-
We wonder if those eight men were in fact Ammonites, as Ishmael appears to have been an agent of the king of Ammon, hoping to use him in order to establish himself as some kind of ruler of Judah.

Jeremiah 41:16 Then took Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces who 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 killed Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the men of war, and the women, and the children, and the eunuchs, whom he had brought back from Gibeon-
These women were the daughters of the king; they were high value captives, along with the military leaders and eunuchs, the former leadership. They had been preserved in the land by grace, rather than being taken captive to Babylon. To leave the land was therefore a denial of that grace.

Jeremiah 41:17 And they departed, and lived in Geruth Chimham, which is by Bethlehem, to go to enter into Egypt-
Or, the sheepfolds of Chimham. They ought not to have even though of going into Egypt, but should have trusted Yahweh's further grace to be shown to them, despite the foolish provocation of the Babylonians by Ishmael; see on :16; Jer. 42:2.

Jeremiah 41:18 Because of the Chaldeans; for they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had killed Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon made governor over the land
- Jeremiah was to assure them that in fact God's grace would continue to them through the grace of Nebuchadnezzar; he would not take revenge by slaying all Judah as they feared (Jer. 42:12). Fear is so often based upon lack of faith; and such fear can become gripping and all consuming. This fear of certain revenge proving unfounded, by God's grace, is what Jacob learnt after his sons pillaged Shechem. The surrounding tribes did not attack and destroy him, as he had thought would inevitably follow.