Archive for October 22nd, 2013

Jeremiah 41

Jeremiah 41 is a rather gruesome chapter about a bad guy names Ishmael, son of Nethaniah.  It seems he was “of the royal family, one of the chief officers of the king” and he was on a mission to take out the appointed governor of the land, a guy by the name of Gedaliah.  Ishmael strolls into town with ten men and meet the governor who invites them and “they ate bread together”.  There was no reason to be suspicious of one of the king’s officers being in town.  The assumption I’m sure was that Ishmael was there to check up on how things were going.

But Ishmael had a different motive, and he killed Gedaliah and “struck down all the Judeans….and the Chaldean soldiers”.  He did it quietly and without fanfare, but he wipes the leadership out.  Eighty other men arrive into town “and Ishmael the son of Nethaniah came out from Mizpah to meet them, weeping as he came”.  Pretty good actor, this Ishmael is. He comes out with a sob story of the killing of Gedaliah and next thing you know he is killing the 80 who have come to town.  He spares ten who told him they had a bunch of stuff hidden in the fields, and greed kept Ishmael from killing them, at least until he can snatch their stuff.

Ishmael threw all the bodies into a cistern which had been dug out by King Asa some years earlier.  “Ishmael took captive all the rest of the people who were in Mizpah, the king’s daughters and all the people who were left at Mizpah, whom Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, had committed to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam. Ishmael the son of Nethaniah took them captive and set out to cross over to the Ammonites”.  He is going to become a traitor and was taking quite a prize of captives along.

But “when Johanan the son of Kareah and all the leaders of the forces with him heard of all the evil that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had done, they took all their men and went to fight against Ishmael the son of Nethaniah”.  Not so fast Ishmael.  It isn’t going to be quite that easy.  Johanan chases after Ishmael and when they are catching up, Ishmael and eight men flee for the Ammonites and leave all their spoils behind.  They are taken back to safety in the kingdom.  Ishmael didn’t get his spoil, but did kill many people and destroyed the leadership structure that had been put in place.

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