Jer 41:1-18. Ishmael Murders Gedaliah and Others, Then Flees to the Ammonites. Johanan Pursues Him, Recovers the Captives, and Purposes to Flee to Egypt for Fear of the Chaldeans.
1. seventh month -- the second month after the burning of the city (Jer 52:12, 13).
and the princes -- not the nominative. And the princes came, for the |princes| are not mentioned either in Jer 41:2 or in 2Ki 25:25: but, |Ishmael being of the seed royal and of the princes of the king| [Maurer]. But the ten men were the |princes of the king|; thus Maurer's objection has no weight: so English Version.
eat bread together -- Ishmael murdered Gedaliah, by whom he was hospitably received, in violation of the sacred right of hospitality (Ps 41:9).
2. slew him whom the king of Babylon had made governor -- This assigns a reason for their slaying him, as well as showing the magnitude of their crime (Da 2:21; Ro 13:1).
3. slew all the Jews -- namely, the attendants and ministers of Gedaliah; or, the military alone, about his person; translate, |even (not 'and,' as English Version) the men of war.| The main portion of the people with Gedaliah, including Jeremiah, Ishmael carried away captive (Jer 41:10, 16).
4. no man knew it -- that is, outside Mizpah. Before tidings of the murder had gone abroad.
5. beards shaven, &c. -- indicating their deep sorrow at the destruction of the temple and city.
cut themselves -- a heathen custom, forbidden (Le 19:27, 28; De 14:1). These men were mostly from Samaria, where the ten tribes, previous to their deportation, had fallen into heathen practices.
offerings -- unbloody. They do not bring sacrificial victims, but |incense,| &c., to testify their piety.
house of ... Lord -- that is, the place where the house of the Lord had stood (2Ki 25:9). The place in which a temple had stood, even when it had been destroyed, was held sacred [Papinian]. Those |from Shiloh| would naturally seek the house of the Lord, since it was at Shiloh it originally was set up (Jos 18:1).
6. weeping -- pretending to weep, as they did, for the ruin of the temple.
Come to Gedaliah -- as if he was one of Gedaliah's retinue.
7. and cast them into ... pit -- He had not killed them in the pit (compare Jer 41:9); these words are therefore rightly supplied in English Version.
the pit -- the pit or cistern made by Asa to guard against a want of water when Baasha was about to besiege the city (Jer 41:9; 1Ki 15:22). The trench or fosse round the city [Grotius]. Ishmael's motive for the murder seems to have been a suspicion that they were coming to live under Gedaliah.
8. treasures -- It was customary to hide grain in cavities underground in troubled times. |We have treasures,| which we will give, if our lives be spared.
slew ... not -- (Pr 13:8). Ishmael's avarice and needs overcame his cruelty.
9. because of Gedaliah -- rather, |near Gedaliah,| namely, those intercepted by Ishmael on their way from Samaria to Jerusalem and killed at Mizpah, where Gedaliah had lived. So 2Ch 17:15, |next|; Ne 3:2, Margin, literally, as here, |at his hand.| |In the reign of Gedaliah| [Calvin]. However, English Version gives a good sense: Ishmael's reason for killing them was because of his supposing them to be connected with Gedaliah.
10. the king's daughters -- (Jer 43:6). Zedekiah's. Ishmael must have got additional followers (whom the hope of gain attracted), besides those who originally set out with him (Jer 41:1), so as to have been able to carry off all the residue of the people. He probably meant to sell them as slaves to the Ammonites (see on Jer 40:14).
11. Johanan -- the friend of Gedaliah who had warned him of Ishmael's treachery, but in vain (Jer 40:8, 13).
12. the ... waters -- (2Sa 2:13); a large reservoir or lake.
in Gibeon -- on the road from Mizpah to Ammon: one of the sacerdotal cities of Benjamin, four miles northwest of Jerusalem, now Eljib.
13. glad -- at the prospect of having a deliverer from their captivity.
14. cast about -- came round.
16. men of war -- |The men of war,| stated in Jer 41:3 to have been slain by Ishmael, must refer to the military about Gedaliah's person; |the men of war| here to those not so.
eunuchs -- The kings of Judah had adopted the bad practice of having harems and eunuchs from the surrounding heathen kingdoms.
17. dwelt -- for a time, until they were ready for their journey to Egypt (Jer 42:1-22).
habitation to Chimham -- his |caravanserai| close by Beth-lehem. David, in reward for Barzillai's loyalty, took Chimham his son under his patronage, and made over to him his own patrimony in the land of Beth-lehem. It was thence called the habitation of Chimham (Geruth-Chimham), though it reverted to David's heirs in the year of jubilee. |Caravanserais| (a compound Persian word, meaning |the house of a company of travellers|) differ from our inns, in that there is no host to supply food, but each traveller must carry with him his own.
18. afraid -- lest the Chaldeans should suspect all the Jews of being implicated in Ishmael's treason, as though the Jews sought to have a prince of the house of David (Jer 41:1). Their better way towards gaining God's favor would have been to have laid the blame on the real culprit, and to have cleared themselves. A tortuous policy is the parent of fear. Righteousness inspires with boldness (Ps 53:5; Pr 28:1).