40:6 So Jeremiah went to Gedaliah son of Ahikam at Mizpah 1 and lived there with him. He stayed there to live among the people who had been left in the land of Judah. 2
40:7 Now some of the officers of the Judean army and their troops had been hiding in the countryside. They heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam to govern 3 the country. They also heard that he had been put in charge over the men, women, and children from the poorer classes of the land who had not been carried off into exile in Babylon. 4 40:8 So 5 all these officers and their troops came to Gedaliah at Mizpah. The officers who came were Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan and Jonathan the sons of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth, the sons of Ephai the Netophathite, and Jezaniah son of the Maacathite. 6 40:9 Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, took an oath so as to give them and their troops some assurance of safety. 7 “Do not be afraid to submit to the Babylonians. 8 Settle down in the land and submit to the king of Babylon. Then things will go well for you. 40:10 I for my part will stay at Mizpah to represent you before the Babylonians 9 whenever they come to us. You for your part go ahead and harvest the wine, the dates, the figs, 10 and the olive oil, and store them in jars. Go ahead and settle down in the towns that you have taken over.” 11 40:11 Moreover, all the Judeans who were in Moab, Ammon, Edom, and all the other countries heard what had happened. They heard that the king of Babylon had allowed some people to stay in Judah and that he had appointed Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, to govern them. 40:12 So all these Judeans returned to the land of Judah from the places where they had been scattered. They came to Gedaliah at Mizpah. Thus they harvested a large amount of wine and dates and figs. 12
40:13 Johanan and all the officers of the troops that had been hiding in the open country came to Gedaliah at Mizpah. 40:14 They said to him, “Are you at all aware 13 that King Baalis of Ammon has sent Ishmael son of Nethaniah to kill you?” But Gedaliah son of Ahikam would not believe them. 40:15 Then Johanan son of Kareah spoke privately to Gedaliah there at Mizpah, “Let me go and kill Ishmael the son of Nethaniah before anyone knows about it. Otherwise he will kill you 14 and all the Judeans who have rallied around you will be scattered. Then what remains of Judah will disappear.”
1 sn Mizpah. It is generally agreed that this is the Mizpah that was on the border between Benjamin and Judah. It was located approximately eight miles north of Jerusalem and had been an important military and religious center from the time of the judges on (cf., e.g., Judg 20:1-3; 1 Sam 7:5-14; 1 Sam 10:17; 1 Kgs 15:22). It was not far from Ramah which was approximately four miles north of Jerusalem.
2 tn Heb “So Jeremiah went to Gedaliah…and lived with him among the people who had been left in the land.” The long Hebrew sentence has been divided in two to better conform with contemporary English style.
5 tn Verse 6 consists of a very long conditional clause whose main clause is found in v. 7. The text reads literally “When all the officers of the forces who were in the countryside heard, they and their men, that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah…over the land and that he had committed to him men, women, and children, even from the poorest of the land from those who had not been carried off into exile to Babylon, they came.” The sentence has been broken up to better conform with contemporary English style. The phrase “the forces who were in the countryside” has been translated to reflect the probable situation, i.e., they had escaped and were hiding in the hills surrounding Jerusalem waiting for the Babylonians to leave (cf. Judg 6:2).
6 sn The name of these officers is given here because some of them become important to the plot of the subsequent narrative, in particular, Ishmael and Johanan. Ishmael was a member of the royal family (41:1). He formed an alliance with the king of Ammon, assassinated Gedaliah, killed the soldiers stationed at Mizpah and many of Gedaliah’s followers, and attempted to carry off the rest of the people left at Mizpah to Ammon (40:13; 41:1-3, 10). Johanan was the leading officer who sought to stop Ishmael from killing Gedaliah (40:13-16) and who rescued the Jews that Ishmael was trying to carry off to Ammon (41:11-15). He along with another man named Jezaniah and these other officers were the leaders of the Jews who asked for Jeremiah’s advice about what they should do after Ishmael had killed Gedaliah (43:1-7).
7 tn The words “so as to give them some assurance of safety” are not in the text but are generally understood by all commentators. This would be a case of substitution of cause for effect, the oath, put for the effect, the assurance of safety (NJPS translates directly “reassured them”).
10 tn Heb “summer fruit.” “Summer fruit” is meaningless to most modern readers; dates and figs are what is involved.
11 tn This plus “Things will go well with you” is in essence the substance of the oath. The pronouns are emphatic, “And I, behold I will stay…and you, you may gather.” The imperatives in the second half of the verse are more a form of permission than of command or advice (cf. NJPS, REB, TEV and compare the usage in 40:4 and the references in the translator’s note there).
12 tn Heb “summer fruit.” “Summer fruit” is meaningless to most modern readers; dates and figs are what is involved.
13 tn The translation is intended to reflect the emphasizing infinitive absolute before the finite verb.
14 tn Heb “Why should he kill you?” However, this is one of those cases listed in BDB 554 s.v. מָה 4.d(b) where it introduces a question introducing rhetorically the reason why something should not be done. In cases like this BDB notes that it approximates the meaning “lest” and is translated in Greek by μήποτε (mhpote) or μή (mh) as the Greek version does here. Hence it is separated from the preceding and translated “otherwise” for the sake of English style.