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Jeremiah 40


(The parentheses represent poetic literary units)

Jeremiah Remains In Judah Jeremiah With Gedaliah the Governor Jeremiah and the Fall of Jerusalem
Jeremiah Stays with Gedaliah Further Details About the Treatment of Jeremiah
40:1-6 40:1-12 40:1-6 40:1 40:1
      40:2-4 40:2-6
    The Third Revolt
Gedaliah, Governor of Judah Gedaliah the Governor; His Assassination
40:7-12   40:7-12 40:7-12 40:7-10
      Gedaliah Is Murdered
40:13-16 40:13-16 40:13-16 40:13-15 40:13-16

READING CYCLE THREE (see introductory section)


This is a study guide commentary,which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.



1The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord after Nebuzaradan captain of the bodyguard had released him from Ramah, when he had taken him bound in chains among all the exiles of Jerusalem and Judah who were being exiled to Babylon. 2Now the captain of the bodyguard had taken Jeremiah and said to him, "The Lord your God promised this calamity against this place; 3and the Lord has brought it on and done just as He promised. Because you people sinned against the Lord and did not listen to His voice, therefore this thing has happened to you. 4But now, behold, I am freeing you today from the chains which are on your hands. If you would prefer to come with me to Babylon, come along, and I will look after you; but if you would prefer not to come with me to Babylon, never mind. Look, the whole land is before you; go wherever it seems good and right for you to go." 5As Jeremiah was still not going back, he said, "Go on back then to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon has appointed over the cities of Judah, and stay with him among the people; or else go anywhere it seems right for you to go." So the captain of the bodyguard gave him a ration and a gift and let him go. 6Then Jeremiah went to Mizpah to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam and stayed with him among the people who were left in the land.

40:1 "The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord" Notice no word/message is recorded. One wonders if the theological quote from vv. 2-3 were a part of that message. The theology recorded is so specific and unexpected from the lips of a Babylonian military commander.

▣ "Nebuzaradan captain of the bodyguard" From II Kgs. 25:3,8 it seems that this man came one month after the capture of Jerusalem to oversee the complete destruction of the city.

▣ "Ramah" This city was on the route of the Judean exiles to Babylon (cf. 31:15).

▣ "he had taken him bound in chains" The Jewish Midrash says Jeremiah saw the young men in chains and joined them. But it seems he was mistakenly arrested and taken as far north as Ramah before Nebuchadnezzar's orders (cf. 39:11-14) were finally carried out.

40:2-4 These verses are often rejected by scholars because of their high theological content. It is quite possible that Jeremiah's prophecies were relayed to the Babylonians after the city's downfall.

40:4 This verse has several idioms and imperatives.

1. "if you would prefer" is literally "it is good in your eyes"

2. "came. . .came" - This is a Qal infinitive construct and a Qal imperative (BDB 97, KB 112)

3. "I will look after you" is literally "set my eyes on"

4. "if you would prefer" is literally "it is evil in your eyes"

5. "never mind" is literally "cease" - BDB 292, KB 292, Qal imperative

6. "look" - BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal imperative

7. "go. . .to go" - This is an infinitive construct and Qal imperative (BDB 229, KB 246). This same phrase is repeated in v. 5.


40:5 "as Jeremiah was still not going back" The Hebrew here is very confusing. Literally "and still he will not remain then return to Gedaliah." Both verbs are BDB 996, KB 1427.

▣ "Gedaliah the son of Ahikam" This man's father was a supporter and helper of Jeremiah (cf. 26:24). Gedaliah was entrusted with Jeremiah's care in 39:14. This was a godly family (cf. II Kgs. 22:14).

40:6 "Mizpah" This means "watchtower" (BDB 859). There are several cities by this name. One of them was the location of Saul being chosen as king (cf. I Sam. 10:17ff). It became a central meeting place for the tribes (cf. Jgds. 20:1-3). This is where Gedaliah had his headquarters.

7Now all the commanders of the forces that were in the field, they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah the son of Ahikam over the land and that he had put him in charge of the men, women and children, those of the poorest of the land who had not been exiled to Babylon. 8So they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah, along with Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Johanan and Jonathan the sons of Kareah, and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth, and the sons of Ephai the Netophathite, and Jezaniah the son of the Maacathite, both they and their men. 9Then Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, swore to them and to their men, saying, "Do not be afraid of serving the Chaldeans; stay in the land and serve the king of Babylon, that it may go well with you. 10Now as for me, behold, I am going to stay at Mizpah to stand for you before the Chaldeans who come to us; but as for you, gather in wine and summer fruit and oil and put them in your storage vessels, and live in your cities that you have taken over." 11Likewise, also all the Jews who were in Moab and among the sons of Ammon and in Edom and who were in all the other countries, heard that the king of Babylon had left a remnant for Judah, and that he had appointed over them Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan. 12Then all the Jews returned from all the places to which they had been driven away and came to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah at Mizpah, and gathered in wine and summer fruit in great abundance.

40:7 "the commanders of the forces that were in the field" This refers to Jewish military units not captured by Nebuchadnezzar's army because they were not in Jerusalem when it fell.

▣ "those of the poorest of the land who had not been exiled to Babylon" This links with 39:10.

40:9 "Gedaliah. . .swore to them" The new governor's first responsibility was convincing the Jewish forces to lay down their arms (cf. II Kgs. 25:23-24).

Notice what Gedaliah swore (BDB 989, KB 1396, Niphal imperfect).

1. do not be afraid - BDB 431, KB 432, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

2. stay in the land - BDB 442, KB 444, Qal imperative

3. serve the king of Babylon - BDB 712, KB 773, Qal imperative

4. that it may go well with you - BDB 405, KB 408, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense


▣ "serving the Chaldeans" The Septuagint has "do not be afraid of the Chaldean officials" (cf. II Kgs. 25:24).

40:10 "to stand before the Chaldeans" This verbal (BDB 763, KB 840, Qal infinitive construct) is often used of priests standing before God on behalf of sinful humans. Therefore, we can understand the word to mean "mediator" in this context.

▣ "gather in wine and summer fruit and oil" The war had left the fields unattended. If this fruit was not gathered it would spoil and they would have no food for winter.

There are three commands in Gedaliah's statement.

1. gather - BDB 62, KB 74, Qal imperative

2. put - BDB 962, KB 1321, Qal imperative

3. live - BDB 442, KB 444, Qal imperative


40:11-12 Many Jewish exiles in the neighboring countries returned to take advantage of the free land and prepare for winter by harvesting the ripe crops.

13Now Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces that were in the field came to Gedaliah at Mizpah 14and said to him, "Are you well aware that Baalis the king of the sons of Ammon has sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to take your life?" But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam did not believe them. 15Then Johanan the son of Kareah spoke secretly to Gedaliah in Mizpah, saying, "Let me go and kill Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and not a man will know! Why should he take your life, so that all the Jews who are gathered to you would be scattered and the remnant of Judah would perish?" 16But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said to Johanan the son of Kareah, "Do not do this thing, for you are telling a lie about Ishmael."

40:14 "Are you well aware" Johanan thought that it was common knowledge that Ishmael was going to attempt to assassinate Gedaliah. This is an infinitive absolute and imperfect verb of the same root (BDB 393, KB 390), used for emphasis.

▣ "Baalis the king of the sons of Ammon" Baalis' name is related to the Canaanite fertility god Ba'al. The Jewish Study Bible (p. 1008) asserts that he may be the "ba'alyash" from a 6th century Ammonite seal impression (also note NASB Study Bible, p. 1122 footnote).

▣ "Ishmael" Ishmael was of the Davidic line (cf. 41:1; II Kgs. 25:25). The exact reason for his assassination of Gedaliah is uncertain.

1. attempt to restore the ancient covenant promises

2. jealousy because he had been overlooked

3. acting on behalf of Baalis, King of Ammon

4. he was just a cruel man (cf. 41:4-10)


40:15-16 Gedaliah did not believe the rumor about Ishmael. He did nothing to protect himself.


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