Jeremiah 40

Jeremiah becomes free

1 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah again after Captain Nebuzaradan let him go free at Ramah. Jeremiah was with all the other people of Jerusalem and Judah that Captain Nebuzaradan was taking to Babylon. He was taking them in chains, as his prisoners. But he removed the chains from Jeremiah in Ramah. 2 He said this to Jeremiah when they were alone: ‘The Lord your God warned your people that he would bring trouble to this place. 3 Now he has done that. The Lord has done what he promised to do. He sent this trouble because your people did not obey the Lord. They turned against him. 4 But today I am taking the chains off your hands so that you can go free. You can come with me to Babylon, if you choose to do that. If you come, I will take care of you. But if you do not choose to come with me, you do not have to do that. You are a free man. You may go to any part of the land that you choose.’

40:1Gedaliah had been taking care of Jeremiah in Jerusalem. But Babylon's soldiers took hold of Jeremiah together with other people of Judah. They wanted to take him to Babylon as their prisoner. We do not know how this happened. It was a mistake. Ramah was about 6 kilometres north of Jerusalem.

5 But before Jeremiah turned away from him, Captain Nebuzaradan said, ‘Return to Ahikam's son Gedaliah. The king of Babylon chose him to rule over the towns of Judah. Go and live with Gedaliah, among the people of Judah. Or you may go to any other place that you choose.’

Captain Nebuzaradan gave Jeremiah some food and a gift. Then he let him go. 6 So Jeremiah went to live with Gedaliah in Mizpah. He stayed among the few people who continued to live in Judah.

Gedaliah rules Judah

7 Some officers of Judah's army were living in fields in the country, with their soldiers. They heard news that the king of Babylon had chosen Ahikam's son Gedaliah to have authority over Judah. He ruled over the very poor people of Judah who continued to live there. They were the men, women and children that Babylon's soldiers had not taken away as prisoners. 8 These army officers and their soldiers came to meet with Gedaliah at Mizpah. The officers were:

40:7These soldiers and officers of Judah's army were hiding from Babylon's army.
  • Nethaniah's son Ishmael,
  • Kareah's sons, Johanan and Jonathan,
  • Tanhumeth's son, Seraiah,
  • the sons of Ephai, who came from Netophah,
  • and Jaazaniah, whose father came from Maakah.
  • 9 Gedaliah made a serious promise to them that he would not hurt them. He said, ‘Do not be afraid to serve the soldiers from Babylon. Make your homes here in our land, but agree to serve the king of Babylon. If you do that, you will be successful. 10 I myself will stay here in Mizpah. If Babylon's officers come to visit me, I will speak on your behalf. But you should go and live in the towns that you have taken for yourselves. Then you can eat the things that you grow in your fields. You can pick grapes to make wine and olives to make oil. You can pick dates and figs. You can store these things in jars.’

    11 There were people of Judah who had run away to live in Moab, Ammon, Edom and other countries. They heard the news that the king of Babylon had let some people continue to live in Judah. They also heard that he had chosen Ahikam's son Gedaliah to be their ruler. 12 As a result, all those people returned to their homes in Judah. On their way, they stopped in Mizpah to meet Gedaliah. When they arrived, they picked a big harvest of dates, figs and grapes to make wine.

    Ishmael murders Gedaliah

    13 Kareah's son Johanan came to Mizpah to see Gedaliah. He came with the other army officers who had been hiding in the country. 14 They said to Gedaliah, ‘You should know that King Baalis of Ammon has sent Nethaniah's son Ishmael to kill you.’ But Gedaliah did not believe them.

    15 So while Johanan was in Mizpah, he went to speak to Gedaliah alone. He said, ‘Let me go and kill Nethaniah's son Ishmael. Nobody will know who did it. If I do not kill him, he will surely kill you. Then the people of Judah who are here with you will run away. The few people who still remain in Judah will all disappear.’

    16 But Ahikam's son Gedaliah, said to Kareah's son Johanan, ‘Do not do that! I do not believe the things that you tell me about Ishmael.’