Study of Jeremiah, Chapters 41-42, Trust

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The definition of trust:  the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.  Now, what is the definition of deceived?  Deceived:  (of a person) cause (someone) to believe something that is not true, typically in order to gain some personal advantage.  Also known as swindled, defrauded, or mislead.  Any time that we place our trust in someone, or something, we are leaving ourselves open to being deceived.

Jeremiah 41:1-3Jeremiah 41:1-3
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

41 1 Now it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, and the princes of the king, even ten men with him, came unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah; and there they did eat bread together in Mizpah. 2 Then arose Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and the ten men that were with him, and smote Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan with the sword, and slew him, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land. 3 Ishmael also slew all the Jews that were with him, even with Gedaliah, at Mizpah, and the Chaldeans that were found there, and the men of war.  

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1 But in midautumn, Ishmael son of Nethaniah and grandson of Elishama, who was a member of the royal family and had been one of the king’s high officials, went to Mizpah with ten men to meet Gedaliah.  While they were eating together, 2 Ishmael and his ten men suddenly jumped up, drew their swords, and killed Gedaliah, whom the king of Babylon had appointed governor.  3 Ishmael also killed all the Judeans and the Babylonian soldiers who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah.

The attack on Gedaliah by Ishmael appears to occur in the month we know as October, approximately three months after the destruction of Jerusalem.  Ishmael had been of high-ranking official of the king and did not agree with Jeremiah’s advice to surrender to the Babylonians either before or after the destruction of Jerusalem.  He and his men cowardly murder Gedaliah during a welcoming meal, while they are eating together.  Ishmael moves on to slaughter everyone else that is present in Mizpah.

Jeremiah 41:4-9Jeremiah 41:4-9
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

4 And it came to pass the second day after he had slain Gedaliah, and no man knew it, 5 That there came certain from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria, even fourscore men, having their beards shaven, and their clothes rent, and having cut themselves, with offerings and incense in their hand, to bring them to the house of the LORD. 6 And Ishmael the son of Nethaniah went forth from Mizpah to meet them, weeping all along as he went: and it came to pass, as he met them, he said unto them, Come to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam. weeping...: Heb. in going and weeping 7 And it was so, when they came into the midst of the city, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah slew them, and cast them into the midst of the pit, he, and the men that were with him. 8 But ten men were found among them that said unto Ishmael, Slay us not: for we have treasures in the field, of wheat, and of barley, and of oil, and of honey. So he forbare, and slew them not among their brethren. 9 Now the pit wherein Ishmael had cast all the dead bodies of the men, whom he had slain because of Gedaliah, was it which Asa the king had made for fear of Baasha king of Israel: and Ishmael the son of Nethaniah filled it with them that were slain. because...: or, near Gedaliah: Heb. by the hand, or, by the side of Gedaliah  

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4 The next day, before anyone had heard about Gedaliah’s murder, 5 eighty men arrived from Shechem, Shiloh, and Samaria to worship at the Temple of the LORD.  They had shaved off their beards, torn their clothes, and cut themselves, and had brought along grain offerings and frankincense.  6 Ishmael left Mizpah to meet them, weeping as he went.  When he reached them, he said, “Oh, come and see what has happened to Gedaliah!”  7 But as soon as they were all inside the town, Ishmael and his men killed all but ten of them and threw their bodies into a cistern.  8 The other ten had talked Ishmael into letting them go by promising to bring him their stores of wheat, barley, olive oil, and honey that they had hidden away.  9 The cistern where Ishmael dumped the bodies of the men he murdered was the large one dug by King Asa when he fortified Mizpah to protect himself against King Baasha of Israel.  Ishmael son of Nethaniah filled it with corpses.

men walking

The eighty men are from three cities from the northern kingdom, coming only to worship at the Temple.  Ishmael appears saddened as he meets and greets them, leading them back to the town.  Once there, he and his men proceed to murder all but ten of the eighty men.  The ten men that were spared were those who were able to convince Ishmael that he would profit by sparing their lives.  Those who were murdered were dumped into the cistern that once served as protection for King Asa against attack on Mizpah [1 Kings 15:221 Kings 15:22
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

22 Then king Asa made a proclamation throughout all Judah; none was exempted: and they took away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha had builded; and king Asa built with them Geba of Benjamin, and Mizpah. exempted: Heb. free  

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; 2 Chronicles 16:62 Chronicles 16:6
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

6 Then Asa the king took all Judah; and they carried away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha was building; and he built therewith Geba and Mizpah.  

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Jeremiah 41:10-18Jeremiah 41:10-18
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

10 Then Ishmael carried away captive all the residue of the people that were in Mizpah, even the king's daughters, and all the people that remained in Mizpah, whom Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had committed to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam: and Ishmael the son of Nethaniah carried them away captive, and departed to go over to the Ammonites. 11 But when Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were with him, heard of all the evil that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had done, 12 Then they took all the men, and went to fight with Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and found him by the great waters that are in Gibeon. 13 Now it came to pass, that when all the people which were with Ishmael saw Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were with him, then they were glad. 14 So all the people that Ishmael had carried away captive from Mizpah cast about and returned, and went unto Johanan the son of Kareah. 15 But Ishmael the son of Nethaniah escaped from Johanan with eight men, and went to the Ammonites. 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: 17 And they departed, and dwelt in the habitation of Chimham, which is by Bethlehem, to go to enter into Egypt, 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 made governor in the land.  

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10 Then Ishmael made captives of the king’s daughters and the other people who had been left under Gedaliah’s care in Mizpah by Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard.  Taking them with him, he started back toward the land of Ammon.  11 But when Johanan son of Kareah and the other guerrilla leaders heard about Ishmael’s crimes, 12 they took all their men and set out to stop him.  They caught up with him at the large pool near Gibeon.  13 The people Ishmael had captured shouted for joy when they saw Johanan and the other guerrilla leaders.  14 And all the captives from Mizpah escaped and began to help Johanan.  15 Meanwhile, Ishmael and eight of his men escaped from Johanan into the land of Ammon.  16 Then Johanan son of Kareah and the other guerrilla leaders took all the people they had rescued in Gibeon – the soldiers, women, children, and court officials whom Ishmael had capture after he killed Gedaliah.  17 They took them all to the village of Geruth-kimham near Bethlehem, where they prepared to leave for Egypt.  18 They were afraid of what the Babylonians would do when they heard that Ishmael had killed Gedaliah, the governor appointed by the Babylonian king.

Johanan was the one that had warned Gedaliah about Ishmael’s plan to assassinate him.  When he and the other leaders had heard what had happened, they gathered all of their men and headed off to stop Ishmael.  The people who had been kidnapped were being taken to the Ammonites.  Although the people kidnapped had safely escaped, Ishmael was able to get away and fled to the land of Ammon.  In chapter 42, we will see that even though God told Johanan and the others to stay in Judah, they had already planned to flee to Egypt, disregarding God’s warning.

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desperate

Many times, when our life feels as though it is falling apart, we may pray to God making promises that we really have no intention of keeping, or we have no way of keeping.  When we are feeling desperate, we are willing to say just about anything to get what we feel we need.  But, it is a tragic mistake to seek God’s guidance or assistance if we have no intention of following it, nor is it wise to ask God for something that you truly, in your heart, do not want.  This is a form of hypocrisy, and God does not tolerate hypocrisy.  We are better to not pray at all during this time than to pray hypocritically.

Jeremiah 42:1-3Jeremiah 42:1-3
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

42 1 Then all the captains of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least even unto the greatest, came near, 2 And said unto Jeremiah the prophet, Let, we beseech thee, our supplication be accepted before thee, and pray for us unto the LORD thy God, even for all this remnant; Let...: or, Let our supplication fall before thee 3 That the LORD thy God may shew us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do.  

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Then all the guerrilla leaders, including Johanan son of Kareah and Jezaniah son of Hoshaiah, and all the people, from the least to the greatest, approached 2 Jeremiah the prophet.  They said, “Please pray to the LORD your God for us.  As you can see, we are only a tiny remnant compared to what we were before.  3 Pray that the LORD your God will show us what to do and where to go.”

With Jerusalem’s walls torn down, and with all the trauma the remnant had been through, they were seeking security.  The people left turn to Jeremiah, and ask him to intercede with God on their behalf.  They needed God’s guidance.  They know that they can no longer depend on Jerusalem to protect them.

Jeremiah 42:4-6Jeremiah 42:4-6
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

4 Then Jeremiah the prophet said unto them, I have heard you; behold, I will pray unto the LORD your God according to your words; and it shall come to pass, that whatsoever thing the LORD shall answer you, I will declare it unto you; I will keep nothing back from you. 5 Then they said to Jeremiah, The LORD be a true and faithful witness between us, if we do not even according to all things for the which the LORD thy God shall send thee to us. 6 Whether it be good, or whether it be evil, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God, to whom we send thee; that it may be well with us, when we obey the voice of the LORD our God.  

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4 “All right,” Jeremiah replied.  “I will pray to the LORD your God, as you have asked, and I will tell you everything he says.  I will hide nothing from you.”
5 Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the LORD your God be a faithful witness against us if we refuse to obey whatever he tells us to do!  6 Whether we like it or not, we will obey the LORD our God to whom we are sending you with our plea.  For if we obey him, everything will turn out well for us.”

Jeremiah agrees to pray to God on their behalf, and he will share with them everything the LORD reveals to him.  The people then pronounce to do whatever it is that God wishes them to do, whether or not they agree with it, acknowledging that if they obey they will have a positive outcome.

Jeremiah 42:7-17Jeremiah 42:7-17
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

7 And it came to pass after ten days, that the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah. 8 Then called he Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces which were with him, and all the people from the least even to the greatest, 9 And said unto them, Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto whom ye sent me to present your supplication before him; 10 If ye will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent me of the evil that I have done unto you. 11 Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the LORD: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand. 12 And I will shew mercies unto you, that he may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return to your own land. 13 But if ye say, We will not dwell in this land, neither obey the voice of the LORD your God, 14 Saying, No; but we will go into the land of Egypt, where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor have hunger of bread; and there will we dwell: 15 And now therefore hear the word of the LORD, ye remnant of Judah; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt, and go to sojourn there; 16 Then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine, whereof ye were afraid, shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die. shall follow...: Heb. shall cleave after you 17 So shall it be with all the men that set their faces to go into Egypt to sojourn there; they shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: and none of them shall remain or escape from the evil that I will bring upon them. So...: Heb. So shall all the men be  

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7 Ten days later the LORD gave his reply to Jeremiah.  8 So he called for Johanan son of Kareah and the other guerrilla leaders, and for all the people, from the least to the greatest.  9 He said to them, “You sent me to the LORD, the God of Israel, with your request, and this is his reply:  10 ‘Stay here in this land. If you do, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you.  For I am sorry about all the punishment I have had to bring upon you.  11 Do not fear the king of Babylon anymore,’ says the LORD.  ‘For I am with you and will save you and rescue from his power.  12 I will be merciful to you by making him kind, so he will let you stay here in your land.’
13 “But if you refuse to obey the LORD your God, and if you say,’We will not stay here; 14 instead, we will go to Egypt where we will be free from war, the call to arms, and hunger,’ 15 then hear the LORD’S message to the remnant of Judah.  This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says:  ‘If you are determined to go to Egypt and live there, 16 the very war and famine you fear will catch up to you, and you will die there.  17 That is the fate awaiting every one of you who insists on going to live in Egypt.  Yes, you will die from war, famine, and disease.  None of you will escape the disaster I will bring upon you there.’

God took ten days before He answered Jeremiah’s prayer.  Once Jeremiah had received the answer, he called for the people to gather and shared God’s response.  Jeremiah told the people that they would prosper if they stayed in Judah and that they had no reason to fear the king of Babylon.  God would protect them by making the king have a kind heart, allowing the people to stay there without reprisal from the king.  God is telling the people that the worst is over and that if they obey His commands, He will nurture them, restoring and rebuilding their city.  But, if the people refused to listen to what God said and go to Egypt, they would all die in Egypt, never to return to their homeland.

Jeremiah 42:18-22Jeremiah 42:18-22
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

18 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; As mine anger and my fury hath been poured forth upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem; so shall my fury be poured forth upon you, when ye shall enter into Egypt: and ye shall be an execration, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach; and ye shall see this place no more. 19 The LORD hath said concerning you, O ye remnant of Judah; Go ye not into Egypt: know certainly that I have admonished you this day. admonished...: Heb. testified against you 20 For ye dissembled in your hearts, when ye sent me unto the LORD your God, saying, Pray for us unto the LORD our God; and according unto all that the LORD our God shall say, so declare unto us, and we will do it. ye dissembled...: or, ye have used deceit against your souls 21 And now I have this day declared it to you; but ye have not obeyed the voice of the LORD your God, nor any thing for the which he hath sent me unto you. 22 Now therefore know certainly that ye shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, in the place whither ye desire to go and to sojourn. to go...: or, to go to sojourn  

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18 “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says:  ‘Just as my anger and fury have been poured out on the people of Jerusalem, so they will be poured out on you when you enter Egypt.  You will be an object of damnation, horror, cursing, and mockery.  And you will never see your homeland again.’
19 “Listen, you remnant of Judah.  The LORD has told you:  ‘Do not go to Egypt!’  Don’t forget this warning I have given you today.  20 For you were not being honest when you sent me to pray to the LORD your God for you.  You said, ‘Just tell us what the LORD our God says, and we will do it!’  21 And today I have told you exactly what he said, but you will not obey the LORD your God any better now than you have in the past.  22 So you can be sure that you will die from war, famine, and disease in Egypt, where you insist on going.”

The people were not honest with Jeremiah when they approached him and asked him to pray to God on their behalf.  They promised they would listen to God and obey his command whether they liked it or not.  The people are insistent on going to Egypt, regardless of the warning Jeremiah shared with them.  In Egypt is where they will be persecuted and die.

Written by Mary Hudak-Collins

Mary Hudak-Collins

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