Scripture reading – Jeremiah 41


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Our chronological study of the Scriptures returns to Jeremiah’s prophecies following the destruction of Jerusalem. Having taken captive all the nobility, leaders, and skilled craftsmen of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar left behind a poor remnant of uneducated vinedressers and farmers (Jeremiah 39:8-10). The king of Babylon then appointed one Jewish man named Gedaliah to serve as the governor of Judah (Jeremiah 39:14; 40:5). Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, then set Jeremiah at liberty and promised him protection; however, Jeremiah chose to remain with the remnant in Judah (40:4-6).

Johanan, a faithful man, hearing rumors of a conspiracy to slay Gedaliah, warned him of the threat (Jeremiah40:13-14). The governor of Judah, however, dismissed the warning, saying, “Thou speakest falsely of Ishmael” (Jeremiah 40:16b).


Jeremiah 41 – The Treachery of One’s Brethren


The Slaying of Gedaliah (Jeremiah 41:1-3) 

Sometime later, the governor of Judah set forth a banquet, and among his guests were Ishmael (identified as “of the seed royal”) and others who served the king (Jeremiah 41:1). Ten men accompanied Ishmael who, unbeknownst to Gedaliah, were conspiring to assassinate him (Jeremiah 41:2). Rising from the meal, Ishmael betrayed Gedaliah’s trust, and slew him (Jeremiah 41:2). Knowing the wrath of Nebuchadnezzar would fall upon them, and perhaps hoping to hide his identity, Ishmael and his murderous company slaughtered all who were in attendance at the banquet, including officials of Babylon (Jeremiah 41:3).


The Murderous Rampage of Ishmael (Jeremiah 41:4-10)

Two days later and before his treachery was known (Jeremiah 41:4), Ishmael met 80 men who journeyed from the north and were going to worship in Jerusalem (Jeremiah 41:5). Seeing the ruins of Jerusalem, the men mourned over the sight and were joined by Ishmael who pretended to weep with them (Jeremiah 41:6). With murderous intent, Ishmael invited the men to the city to meet Gedaliah (Jeremiah 41:6).

When they entered Jerusalem, Ishmael and his cohorts set upon the men with swords and slaughtered seventy men. Ten of the eighty men appealed to Ishmael’s greed and were spared. They bribed him with a promise of “treasures in the field, of wheat, and of barley, and of oil, and of honey” (Jeremiah 41:8).

To conceal his murderous spree, Ishmael cast the bodies of the slain into a pit (an empty cistern). He then set out with a remnant of the people he forced to “go over to the Ammonites” (Jeremiah 41:10).

The Slaying of Gedaliah

Johanan Pursued Ishmael to Exact Revenge (Jeremiah 41:11-18)

Having slain the governor of Judah and the officers of Babylon, Ishmael fled Judah. Johanan, who had warned Gedaliah about a conspiracy for his life, followed in pursuit of the assassins (Jeremiah 41:11-12). Coming upon Ishmael before he crossed the river, the people he kidnapped rejoiced at the sight of Johanan and his company and ran to them (Jeremiah 41:13-14). Ishmael and his men continued in their flight and “went to the Ammonites” and were never heard from again in the Scriptures (Jeremiah 41:15).

Johanan and those he saved returned to the region of Bethlehem and tarried there as they considered their future. Fearing Nebuchadnezzar would exact revenge for the deaths of Gedaliah and the men of Babylon, the people prepared “to enter into Egypt” (Jeremiah 41:16-18).


Closing thoughts –

Friend, I hope you enjoy the intrigue of the Scriptures, the rivalry of men, and the overriding, undeniable unfolding of God’s sovereignty recorded in your Bible. Many fail to take the time to read and enjoy prophetic and historical narratives like Jeremiah. Yet, the Scriptures present us with a beautiful insight into the nature of men and evidence that humanity has not changed. From generation to generation, the sinful nature and wickedness of mankind are undeniable. Take comfort, knowing the LORD has not changed. He is the same from day to day. 

Malachi 3:6 – “For I am the Lord, I change not…”

Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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