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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 4 by Jean Calvin

Jeremiah 40:9-10

9. And Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan sware unto them and to their men, saying, Fear not to serve the Chaldeans: dwell in the land, and serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you.

9. Et juravit illis Godolias filius Achikam et viris eorum, dicendo, Ne metuatis a serviendo (hoc est, ne metuatis servire, ne impediat vos timor quo minus serviatis Chaldaeis;) sed subjicite vos et servite regi Babylonis; et bene erit vobis.

10. As for me, behold, I will dwell at Mizpah to serve the Chaldeans, which will come unto us: but ye, gather ye wine, and summer-fruits, and oil, and put them in your vessels, and dwell in your cities that ye have taken.

10. Et ego, ecce ego manebo in Mispath, ut stem coram facie Chaldaeorum (hoc est, ut occurram Chaldaeis) qui venient ad nos; et vos colligite vinum et fructus aestivos (qyph significat oestatem, sed transfertur metaphorice ad oestivos fructus,) et oleum; et reponite in vasis vestris, et habitate in urbibus quas apprehenderitis.

Here, as I have hinted, is explained the great humanity of Gedaliah, and also his pious solicitude for his own nation, in order that the perfidy and cruelty of the son of Nethaniah might appear the more detestable, who slew a man so well deserving in his conduct to him and to others, having been led to do so by reward.

The Prophet says that he swore to them; nor was it strange to interpose an oath in a state of things so disturbed. Hardly could Ishmael and the rest have any confidence, since the Chaldeans had been so extremely hostile to them; they must, indeed, have been in the greatest trepidation. There was, therefore, need of a remedy, even that Gedaliah should assure them of his integrity. This was the reason why he made an oath; for had it been in times of tranquillity, an oath would not have been necessary. But as their life hung, as it were, on a thread, and they saw many dangers on every side, there was need of a confirmation; nor did Gedaliah receive them without some danger; for it was not pleasing to the Chaldeans that such men should continue in the land. For we have seen that the princes had been on this account killed, and then all the chief men among the people had been removed to Chaldea, lest any of them should attempt some new commotions. It was, therefore, the object of Nebuchadnezzar to keep the country quiet; and this was the best way to prevent any disturbance. Gedaliah then, no doubt, saw that this would not be very agreeable to the Chaldeans, and yet his humanity prevailed, and his concern for his own nation, that he not only hospitably received them, but also promised them by an oath, that there would be safety for them. He therefore exhorted them to be confident, and also to serve the Chaldeans. It was, indeed, especially expected of them, that they should surrender up themselves, as their case was hopeless. Then Gedaliah promised that the Chaldeans would be content with a voluntary submission; and he promised them also, that there would be a safe dwelling for them in the land.

And he ordered them to gather wine, and corn, and fruit, and to store them up, as there would be no danger from war. He also ordered them to dwell in the cities which they had taken, or to which they had been driven. The verb here is ambiguous; but I prefer its most literal meaning, which ye have taken. They could not, indeed, have taken a city by force and arms, as they had only a few men, and could never have been equal to their enemies. Then the forcible taking of cities is not what is meant; but Gedaliah's meaning was, that they might safely remain wherever they were, or that they might dwell in any city they came to. But it was a great thing when he said to them, that he would stand for them; for he thus laid down his own life, as though he had said that he would be a surety that nothing grievous should happen to them. And hence it is more clearly seen that he did not regard himself, but that he used the power given him for the public good; for if he had ambition, he would have been, doubtless, more careful to ingratiate himself with the king of Babylon, and he would have resolved to deal no less cruelly with a people so hard and refractory, than their enemies. But when he extended his wings as the hen, to gather under them the residue of his own nation, it appears quite evident that he had no care for his own private safety, but that whatever power had been given him by King Nebuchadnezzar, he employed it wholly for the public good.

Then these words ought to be especially noticed, And I, behold, I will dwell in Mizpah, that I may stand, etc., that is, that I may meet the Chaldeans who may come to us, that is, lest they should come upon you for some hostile purpose. It afterwards follows --

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