But in midautumn of that year, Ishmael son of Nethaniah and grandson of Elishama, who was a member of the royal family and had been one of the king’s high officials, went to Mizpah with ten men to meet Gedaliah. While they were eating together,
Ishmael and his ten men suddenly jumped up, drew their swords, and killed Gedaliah, whom the king of Babylon had appointed governor.
Ishmael also killed all the Judeans and the Babylonian soldiers who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah.
The next day, before anyone had heard about Gedaliah’s murder,
eighty men arrived from Shechem, Shiloh, and Samaria to worship at the Temple of the LORD . They had shaved off their beards, torn their clothes, and cut themselves, and had brought along grain offerings and frankincense.
Ishmael left Mizpah to meet them, weeping as he went. When he reached them, he said, “Oh, come and see what has happened to Gedaliah!”
But as soon as they were all inside the town, Ishmael and his men killed all but ten of them and threw their bodies into a cistern.
The other ten had talked Ishmael into letting them go by promising to bring him their stores of wheat, barley, olive oil, and honey that they had hidden away.
The cistern where Ishmael dumped the bodies of the men he murdered was the large one dug by King Asa when he fortified Mizpah to protect himself against King Baasha of Israel. Ishmael son of Nethaniah filled it with corpses.
Then Ishmael made captives of the king’s daughters and the other people who had been left under Gedaliah’s care in Mizpah by Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard. Taking them with him, he started back toward the land of Ammon.
But when Johanan son of Kareah and the other guerrilla leaders heard about Ishmael’s crimes,
they took all their men and set out to stop him. They caught up with him at the large pool near Gibeon.
The people Ishmael had captured shouted for joy when they saw Johanan and the other guerrilla leaders.
And all the captives from Mizpah escaped and began to help Johanan.
Meanwhile, Ishmael and eight of his men escaped from Johanan into the land of Ammon.
Then Johanan son of Kareah and the other guerrilla leaders took all the people they had rescued in Gibeon—the soldiers, women, children, and court officials whom Ishmael had captured after he killed Gedaliah.
They took them all to the village of Geruth-kimham near Bethlehem, where they prepared to leave for Egypt.
They were afraid of what the Babylonians would do when they heard that Ishmael had killed Gedaliah, the governor appointed by the Babylonian king.