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Jeremiah 41:6-16

Context
41:6 Ishmael son of Nethaniah went out from Mizpah to meet them. He was pretending to cry 1  as he walked along. When he met them, he said to them, “Come with me to meet Gedaliah son of Ahikam.” 2  41:7 But as soon as they were inside the city, Ishmael son of Nethaniah and the men who were with him slaughtered them and threw their bodies 3  in a cistern. 41:8 But there were ten men among them who said 4  to Ishmael, “Do not kill us. For we will give you the stores of wheat, barley, olive oil, and honey we have hidden in a field. 5  So he spared their lives and did not kill 6  them along with the rest. 7  41:9 Now the cistern where Ishmael threw all the dead bodies of those he had killed was a large one 8  that King Asa had constructed as part of his defenses against King Baasha of Israel. 9  Ishmael son of Nethaniah filled it with dead bodies. 10  41:10 Then Ishmael took captive all the people who were still left alive in Mizpah. This included the royal princesses 11  and all the rest of the people in Mizpah that Nebuzaradan, the captain of the royal guard, had put under the authority of Gedaliah son of Ahikam. Ishmael son of Nethaniah took all these people captive and set out to cross over to the Ammonites.

Johanan Rescues the People Ishmael Had Carried Off

41:11 Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers who were with him heard about all the atrocities 12  that Ishmael son of Nethaniah had committed. 41:12 So they took all their troops and went to fight against Ishmael son of Nethaniah. They caught up with him near the large pool 13  at Gibeon. 41:13 When all the people that Ishmael had taken captive saw 14  Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers with him, they were glad. 41:14 All those people that Ishmael had taken captive from Mizpah turned and went over to Johanan son of Kareah. 41:15 But Ishmael son of Nethaniah managed to escape from Johanan along with eight of his men, and he went on over to Ammon.

41:16 Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers who were with him led off all the people who had been left alive at Mizpah. They had rescued them from Ishmael son of Nethaniah after he killed Gedaliah son of Ahikam. They led off the men, women, children, soldiers, and court officials whom they had brought away from Gibeon.

1 tn Heb “he was weeping/crying.” The translation is intended to better reflect the situation.

2 tn Heb “Come to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam.” The words that are supplied in the translation are implicit to the situation and are added for clarity.

3 tn The words “and threw their bodies” result from the significant use of the preposition אֶל (’el, so GKC 384 §119.gg and BDB 39 s.v. אֶל 1). Hence the suggestion in BHS (fn a) that the Syriac and two Greek mss are reading a different text is not really a textual issue but a translational one; the versions are supplying the words for stylistic purposes as has been done here.

4 tn Heb “But there were ten men found among them and they said.” However, for the use of “were found” = “be, happened to be” see BDB 594 s.v. מָצָא 2.c and compare the usage in 41:3.

5 tn This sentence is a good example of the elliptical nature of some of the causal connections in the Hebrew Bible. All the Hebrew says literally is “For we have hidden stores of wheat, barley, olive oil, and honey in a field.” However, it is obvious that they are using this as their bargaining chip to prevent Ishmael and his men from killing them. For the use of “for” (כִּי, ki) for such elliptical thoughts see BDB 473-74 s.v. כִּי 3.c.

6 tn Or “So he refrained from killing them”; Heb “he refrained and did not kill them.”

7 tn Heb “in the midst of their brothers/fellow countrymen.”

8 tc The translation here follows the reading of the Greek version. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain; some understand it to mean “because of Gedaliah [i.e., to cover up the affair with Gedaliah]” and others understand it to mean “alongside of Gedaliah.” The translation presupposes that the Hebrew text reads בּוֹר גָּדוֹל הוּא (bor gadol hu’) in place of בְּיַד־גְּדַלְיָהוּ הוּא (bÿyad-gÿdalyahu). The meaning of בְּיַד (bÿyad) does not fit any of the normal ones given for this expression and those who retain the Hebrew text normally explain it as an unparalleled use of “because” or “in the affair of” (so NJPS) or a rare use meaning “near, by the side of “ (see BDB 391 s.v. יָד 5.d where only Ps 141:6 and Zech 4:12 are cited. BDB themselves suggest reading with the Greek version as the present translation does [so BDB 391 s.v. יָד 5.c(3)]). For the syntax presupposed by the Greek text which has been followed consult IBHS 298 §16.3.3d and 133 §8.4.2b. The first clause is a classifying clause with normal order of subject-predicate-copulative pronoun and it is followed by a further qualifying relative clause.

9 sn It is generally agreed that the cistern referred to here is one of several that Asa dug for supplying water as part of the defense system constructed at Mizpah (cf. 1 Kgs 15:22; 2 Chr 16:6).

10 tn Or “with corpses”; Heb “with the slain.”

11 tn Heb “the daughters of the king.” Most commentators do not feel that this refers to the actual daughters of Zedekiah since they would have been too politically important to have escaped exile with their father. As noted in the translator’s note on 36:26 this need not refer to the actual daughters of the king but may refer to other royal daughters, i.e., the daughters of other royal princes.

12 tn Or “crimes,” or “evil things”; Heb “the evil.”

13 tn Heb “the many [or great] waters.” This is generally identified with the pool of Gibeon mentioned in 2 Sam 2:13.

14 tn Heb “all the people who were with Ishmael.” However, this does not refer to his own troops but to those he had taken with him from Mizpah, i.e., the captives. The phrase is specifically clarified in the next verse, i.e. “the people whom Ishmael had taken captive from Mizpah.” Hence the phrase is translated here according to sense, not according to the literal wording.



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