The soldiers from Babylon make Jeremiah free.
1 Nebuzaradan, captain of the king's special soldiers, found Jeremiah at Ramah. They had tied him up with all the prisoners from Jerusalem and Judah. Nebuzaradan caused the soldiers to let Jeremiah go free. Then the LORD spoke to Jeremiah. They were taking the prisoners to Babylon. 2 Nebuzaradan said to Jeremiah, ‘The LORD your God promised that he would help me to destroy this place. 3 And now, your God has done that. He has done all that he promised. He did that because your people did not obey the LORD. That was their sin. 4 But today I am taking off the ropes that tie you up. You are a free man. You can come with me to Babylon if you want to do that. If you do come, I will help you. But you do not have to come with me. You can go to any part of the country that you like.’
5 But before Jeremiah left, Nebuzaradan said, ‘Return to Gedaliah, who is Ahikam's son and Shaphan's grandson, and to the people. The king of Babylon has chosen Gedaliah to rule over the towns in Judah. Live with Gedaliah and all the people there. Or you can go to any other place that you want to go to.’
Then Nebuzaradan gave food and a gift to Jeremiah and he let him go. 6 So Jeremiah went to Gedaliah, Ahikam's son, at Mizpah. He stayed there with him and with the people who remained in Judah.
Some people kill Gedaliah.
7 Some Jewish army officers and soldiers were living in the fields in Judah. Somebody told them that the king of Babylon had chosen Gedaliah, Ahikam's son, as the ruler over the people. These people were the poorest men, women and children in the country. The soldiers from Babylon had not taken them to Babylon. 8 Some army officers and their men came to Gedaliah at Mizpah. They were Nethaniah's son Ishmael, and Johanan and Jonathan, who were Kareah's sons. They came with Seraiah, who was Tanhumeth's son. The sons of Ephai from Netophah came. And the son of Jaazaniah from Maachah and their men also came.
9 Gedaliah, Ahikam's son, saw that they were afraid. So he said, ‘Do not be afraid to be servants to the soldiers from Babylon. Stay here and serve the king of Babylon. If you do that, good things will happen. 10 I myself will stay with you. I will speak on your behalf when the men from Babylon come. But you can take in the summer fruits and the food seeds and you can make wine and oil. Then you can store them in jars. And you can live in the towns that you have got power over.’
11 People told this news to the Jews in Moab, Ammon, Edom and all the other countries. People told them that the king of Babylon had let a few people remain in Judah. And they told them that he had chosen Gedaliah, son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, as their ruler. 12 So all those Jews came back to Judah. They came to Gedaliah at Mizpah. They came from all the countries where they were hiding. And they took very much wine and summer fruit from the fields and they stored them.
13 Kareah's son Johanan and all the officers that were in the fields came to Gedaliah. 14 ‘You should know that Baalis, king of Ammon, has sent Ishmael, Nethaniah's son, to kill you’, they said to him. But Gedaliah, son of Ahikam, did not believe them.
15 Johanan, son of Kareah, went to speak to Gedaliah secretly. ‘Let me go and kill Ishmael, son of Nethaniah. And nobody will know about it’, he said. ‘We should not let him kill you. There are many Jews with you. If he kills you, all those Jews will run away to different places. Then the few people from Israel that remain will die.’
16 But Gedaliah, son of Ahikam, spoke to Johanan, son of Kareah. ‘Do not do anything like that’, he said. ‘The things that you are saying about Ishmael are not true.’