Jer 40:1-16. Jeremiah Is Set
Free at Ramah, and Goes to Gedaliah, to Whom the Remnant of Jews
Repair. Johanan Warns Gedaliah of Ishmael's Conspiracy in Vain.
1. word that came—the heading of a new
part of the book (the forty-first through forty-fourth chapters),
namely, the prophecies to the Jews in Judea and Egypt after the
taking of the city, blended with history. The prophecy does not
begin till Jer 42:7, and
the previous history is introductory to it.
bound in chains—Though released from
the court of the prison (see on Jer 39:14), in
the confusion at the burning of the city he seems to have been led away
in chains with the other captives, and not till he reached Ramah to
have gained full liberty. Nebuzara-dan had his quarters at Ramah, in
Benjamin; and there he collected the captives previous to their removal
to Babylon (Jer 31:15).
He in releasing Jeremiah obeyed the king's commands (Jer 39:11). Jeremiah's "chains" for a time were
due to the negligence of those to whom he had been committed; or else
to Nebuzara-dan's wish to upbraid the people with their perverse
ingratitude in imprisoning Jeremiah [Calvin]; hence he addresses the people (ye
… you) as much as Jeremiah (Jer 40:2, 3).
2. The Babylonians were in some measure aware,
through Jeremiah's prophecies (Jer 39:11), that they were the instruments of
God's wrath on His people.
3. ye—(See on Jer
40:1). His address is directed to the Jews as well as to Jeremiah.
God makes the very heathen testify for Him against them (De 29:24, 25).
4. look well unto thee—the very words of
Nebuchadnezzar's charge (Jer 39:12).
all the land is before thee … seemeth
Margin). Jeremiah alone had the option given him of staying
where he pleased, when all the rest were either carried off or forced
to remain there.
5. while he was not yet gone
back—parenthetical. When Jeremiah hesitated whether it would
be best for him to go, Nebuzara-dan proceeded to say, "Go, then,
to Gedaliah," (not as English Version, "Go back, also"),
if thou preferrest (as Nebuzara-dan inferred from Jeremiah's hesitancy)
to stop here rather than go with me.
reward—rather, "a present." This must
have been a seasonable relief to the prophet, who probably lost his all
in the siege.
6. Mizpah—in Benjamin, northwest of
Jerusalem (Jer 41:5, 6, 9). Not the Mizpah in Gilead, beyond
Jordan (Jud 10:17).
Jeremiah showed his patriotism and piety in remaining in his country
amidst afflictions and notwithstanding the ingratitude of the Jews,
rather than go to enjoy honors and pleasures in a heathen court (Heb
11:24-26). This vindicates
his purity of motive in his withdrawal (Jer 37:12-14).
7. captains … in the fields—The
leaders of the Jewish army had been "scattered" throughout the country
on the capture of Zedekiah (Jer 52:8), in
order to escape the notice of the Chaldeans.
8. Netophathite—from Netophah, a town in
Maachathite—from Maachathi, at the
foot of Mount Hermon (De 3:14).
9. Fear not—They were afraid that they
should not obtain pardon from the Chaldeans for their acts. He
therefore assured them of safety by an oath.
serve—literally, "to stand before"
(Jer 40:10; Jer 52:12), that is, to be at hand ready to
execute the commands of the king of Babylon.
10. Mizpah—lying on the way between
Babylon and Judah, and so convenient for transacting business between
the two countries.
As for me … but ye—He artfully,
in order to conciliate them, represents the burden of the service to
the Chaldeans as falling on him, while they may freely
gather their wine, fruits, and oil. He does not now add that these very
fruits were to constitute the chief part of the tribute to be paid to
Babylon: which, though fruitful in corn, was less productive of grapes,
figs, and olives [Herodotus, 1.193]. The
grant of "vineyards" to the "poor" (Jer 39:10) would give hope to the discontended of
enjoying the best fruits (Jer 40:12).
11. Jews … in Moab—who had fled
thither at the approach of the Chaldeans. God thus tempered the
severity of His vengeance that a remnant might be left.
13. in the fields—not in the city, but
scattered in the country (Jer 40:7).
14. Baalis—named from the idol Baal, as
was often the case in heathen names.
Ammonites—So it was to them that
Ishmael went after murdering Gedaliah (Jer 41:10).
slay—literally, "strike thee in the
soul," that is, a deadly stroke.
Ishmael—Being of the royal seed of
41:1), he envied Gedaliah the
presidency to which he thought himself entitled; therefore he leagued
himself with the ancient heathen enemy of Judah.
believed … not—generous, but
unwise unsuspiciousness (Ec 9:16).
16. thou speakest falsely—a mystery of
providence that God should permit the righteous, in spite of warning,
thus to rush into the trap laid for them! Isa 57:1 suggests a solution.