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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 4 by Jean Calvin

Jeremiah 41:16-18

16 Then took Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were with him, all the remnant of the people whom he had recovered from Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, from Mizpah, after that he had slain Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, even mighty men of war, and the women, and the children, and the eunuchs, whom he had brought again from Gibeon:

16. Et sumpsit Joannes filius Kareah et cuncti principes (duces) copiarum qui erant cum eo omnes reliquias populi, quas reduxerant ab Ismaele filio Nathaniae e Mispath, postquam percusserat Godoliam filium Achikam, viros fortes, viros belli (hoc est, bellicosos,) et mulieres et pueritiam et eunuchos quos reduxerat a Guibeon:

17. And they departed, and dwelt in the habitation of Chimham, which is by Bethlehem, to go to enter into Egypt,

17. Et profecti sunt et sederunt (vel, substiterunt) in Geruth-Chimcham, quae est prope Bethlehem, ut proficiscerentur ad ingrediendum in Aegyptum,

18. Because of the Chaldeans: for they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had slain Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon and made governor in the land.

18. Propter Chaldaeos, quia timebant ab ipsis (ad verbum, a facie ipsorum,) quia percusserat Ismael filius Nathaniae Godoliam filium Achikam, quem praefecerat rex Babylonis in terra.

The Prophet now shews, that though some kind of virtue appeared in John the son of Kareah, he was not yet of a right mind. He was an energetic and a discreet man, but he discovered his unbelief, when he led the remnant of the people into Egypt, while the Prophet was forbidding such a thing. He already knew that this was not lawful, but his obstinacy was two-fold more, when the Prophet repudiated his project, as we shall see. This passage then teaches us, that though the leaders of the forces, who had put Ishmael to flight, and avenged his perfidy, were men of courage, and shewed regard for the public good, they were destitute of faith: there was thus wanting in them the chief thing, that is piety and the fear of God.

Then the Prophet says, that John and the rest took the remnant of the people whom they had recovered from Ishmael, from Mizpah, not that they were recovered from that place, but that Ishmael had brought the unhappy people captives from Mizpah, as we have seen; but they had all been recovered at Gibeon, according to what is said at the end of the verse. But he says that they were valiant men, gvrym, geberim, (he so calls them on account of their courage, for an explanation follows,) and men of war, hmlchmh 'nsy, anushi emelecheme. He then calls them valiant or brave, and afterwards he explains what that virtue was, even because they were warlike men. He says further, that there were women mixed with them, and children, and eunuchs, who once lived in the king's court; and as we have before seen, there were among them the king's daughters. Gedaliah then had collected together a considerable number of men, not only from the lower orders, but also from the higher class, whose wealth and rank were not common while the kingdom was standing.

But the Prophet immediately adds what the purpose was which they had all formed. They dwelt, he says, in Geruth; some render it, |in the peregrination;| but it seems to me to be a proper name, and I agree with those who so render it. But it is called the Geruth of Chimham, of whom mention is made in 2 Samuel 19:31, 37. he was the son of Barzillai, who entertained David when a fugitive from his kingdom, and entertained him bountifully. When David wished to remunerate his kindness, the good man made his age as an excuse, and said, that he was old, so that he could not enjoy the things of this life; but he presented his son to David, and it is probable that this place was given to the son as a reward. It was hence called Geruth-Chimham, the name of its possessor being attached to it. And he says that it was nigh Bethlehem. It is also probable, that when David wished to remunerate his host, he chose a place nigh his own city, where he was born.

It is added, to go, etc. Then the Prophet shews that this was not a settled habitation, but that they intended to go into Egypt They knew that this was forbidden by the Law of God, and the Prophets had often pronounced a curse on such a design. Notwithstanding God's prohibition, they prepared themselves for the journey. Fear was the cause; but how much so ever they might have justly feared, they ought yet to have considered what God permitted: for if a sick man takes poison instead of medicine, he must suffer the punishment that necessarily follows his own presumption and madness; so they who seek to provide for themselves contrary to God's will, gain only their own destruction. This was done, as the Prophet tells us, by the remnant of the people.

He then says, that they were there for a time, but that they looked forward to Egypt, on account, he says, of the Chaldeans, because they feared them, and for this reason, because Ishmael had killed Gedaliah, whom Nebuchadnezzar had set over the land This fear was not without reason; but they might have sent persons to the king of Babylon, and have thrown the blame on the right person, and cleared themselves; and the matter might have been settled. They might then have easily obtained pardon from King Nebuchadnezzar; but as no fear of God prevailed in them, they did not consider what was lawful, and were by a blind impulse led into Egypt. Thus fear was no alleviation to their crime, for there was another remedy at hand, which God would have blessed. But when they disregarded God's word, and followed what their own feelings dictated to them, they contrived in a very bad way for themselves. But far worse is what follows.

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