Jeremiah 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 ( Jeremiah 52:12 Jeremiah 52:13 ).
and the princes--not the nominative. And the princes came, for the "princes" are not mentioned either in Jeremiah 41:2 or in 2 Kings 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 ( Psalms 41:9 ).
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 ( Jeremiah 41:10 Jeremiah 41:16 ).
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 ( Leviticus 19:27 Leviticus 19:28 , Deuteronomy 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 ( 2 Kings 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 ( Joshua 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 Jeremiah 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 ( 1 Kings 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--( Proverbs 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 2 Chronicles 17:15 , "next"; Nehemiah 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--( Jeremiah 43:6 ). Zedekiah's. Ishmael must have got additional followers (whom the hope of gain attracted), besides those who originally set out with him ( Jeremiah 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
12. the . . . waters--( 2 Samuel 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 Jeremiah 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 ( Jeremiah 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 ( Jeremiah 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 ( Psalms 53:5 , Proverbs 28:1 ).