40 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah 1 after Nebuzaradan the captain of the royal guard had set him free at Ramah. 2 He had taken him there in chains 3 along with all the people from Jerusalem 4 and Judah who were being carried off to exile to Babylon. 2 The captain of the royal guard took Jeremiah aside and said to him, “The Lord your God threatened this place with this disaster. 3 Now he has brought it about. The Lord has done just as he threatened to do. This disaster has happened because you people sinned against the Lord and did not obey him. 5 4 But now, Jeremiah, today I will set you free 6 from the chains on your wrists. If you would like to come to Babylon with me, come along and I will take care of you. 7 But if you prefer not to come to Babylon with me, you are not required to do so. 8 You are free to go anywhere in the land you want to go. 9 Go wherever you choose.” 10 5 Before Jeremiah could turn to leave, the captain of the guard added, “Go back 11 to Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon appointed to govern 12 the towns of Judah. Go back and live with him 13 among the people. Or go wherever else you choose.” Then the captain of the guard gave Jeremiah some food and a present and let him go. 6 So Jeremiah went to Gedaliah son of Ahikam at Mizpah 14 and lived there with him. He stayed there to live among the people who had been left in the land of Judah. 15
7 Now some of the officers of the Judean army and their troops had been hiding in the countryside. They heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam to govern 16 the country. They also heard that he had been put in charge over the men, women, and children from the poorer classes of the land who had not been carried off into exile in Babylon. 17 8 So 18 all these officers and their troops came to Gedaliah at Mizpah. The officers who came were Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan and Jonathan the sons of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth, the sons of Ephai the Netophathite, and Jezaniah son of the Maacathite. 19 9 Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, took an oath so as to give them and their troops some assurance of safety. 20 “Do not be afraid to submit to the Babylonians. 21 Settle down in the land and submit to the king of Babylon. Then things will go well for you. 10 I for my part will stay at Mizpah to represent you before the Babylonians 22 whenever they come to us. You for your part go ahead and harvest the wine, the dates, the figs, 23 and the olive oil, and store them in jars. Go ahead and settle down in the towns that you have taken over.” 24 11 Moreover, all the Judeans who were in Moab, Ammon, Edom, and all the other countries heard what had happened. They heard that the king of Babylon had allowed some people to stay in Judah and that he had appointed Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, to govern them. 12 So all these Judeans returned to the land of Judah from the places where they had been scattered. They came to Gedaliah at Mizpah. Thus they harvested a large amount of wine and dates and figs. 25
13 Johanan and all the officers of the troops that had been hiding in the open country came to Gedaliah at Mizpah. 14 They said to him, “Are you at all aware 26 that King Baalis of Ammon has sent Ishmael son of Nethaniah to kill you?” But Gedaliah son of Ahikam would not believe them. 15 Then Johanan son of Kareah spoke privately to Gedaliah there at Mizpah, “Let me go and kill Ishmael the son of Nethaniah before anyone knows about it. Otherwise he will kill you 27 and all the Judeans who have rallied around you will be scattered. Then what remains of Judah will disappear.” 16 But Gedaliah son of Ahikam said to Johanan son of Kareah, “Do not do that 28 because what you are saying about Ishmael is not true.” 29
41 But in the seventh month 1 Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah and grandson of Elishama who was a member of the royal family and had been one of Zedekiah’s chief officers, came with ten of his men to Gedaliah son of Ahikam at Mizpah. While they were eating a meal together with him there at Mizpah, 2 Ishmael son of Nethaniah and the ten men who were with him stood up, pulled out their swords, and killed Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan. Thus Ishmael killed the man that the king of Babylon had appointed to govern the country. 3 Ishmael also killed all the Judeans 2 who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah and the Babylonian 3 soldiers who happened to be there. 4
4 On the day after Gedaliah had been murdered, before anyone even knew about it, 5 eighty men arrived from Shechem, Shiloh, and Samaria. 5 They had shaved off their beards, torn their clothes, and cut themselves to show they were mourning. 6 They were carrying grain offerings and incense to present at the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. 7 6 Ishmael son of Nethaniah went out from Mizpah to meet them. He was pretending to cry 8 as he walked along. When he met them, he said to them, “Come with me to meet Gedaliah son of Ahikam.” 9 7 But as soon as they were inside the city, Ishmael son of Nethaniah and the men who were with him slaughtered them and threw their bodies 10 in a cistern. 8 But there were ten men among them who said 11 to Ishmael, “Do not kill us. For we will give you the stores of wheat, barley, olive oil, and honey we have hidden in a field. 12 So he spared their lives and did not kill 13 them along with the rest. 14 9 Now the cistern where Ishmael threw all the dead bodies of those he had killed was a large one 15 that King Asa had constructed as part of his defenses against King Baasha of Israel. 16 Ishmael son of Nethaniah filled it with dead bodies. 17 10 Then Ishmael took captive all the people who were still left alive in Mizpah. This included the royal princesses 18 and all the rest of the people in Mizpah that Nebuzaradan, the captain of the royal guard, had put under the authority of Gedaliah son of Ahikam. Ishmael son of Nethaniah took all these people captive and set out to cross over to the Ammonites.
11 Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers who were with him heard about all the atrocities 19 that Ishmael son of Nethaniah had committed. 12 So they took all their troops and went to fight against Ishmael son of Nethaniah. They caught up with him near the large pool 20 at Gibeon. 13 When all the people that Ishmael had taken captive saw 21 Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers with him, they were glad. 14 All those people that Ishmael had taken captive from Mizpah turned and went over to Johanan son of Kareah. 15 But Ishmael son of Nethaniah managed to escape from Johanan along with eight of his men, and he went on over to Ammon.
16 Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers who were with him led off all the people who had been left alive at Mizpah. They had rescued them from Ishmael son of Nethaniah after he killed Gedaliah son of Ahikam. They led off the men, women, children, soldiers, and court officials whom they had brought away from Gibeon. 17 They set out to go to Egypt to get away from the Babylonians, 22 but stopped at Geruth Kimham 23 near Bethlehem. 24 18 They were afraid of what the Babylonians might do 25 because Ishmael son of Nethaniah had killed Gedaliah son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon had appointed to govern the country.
42 Then all the army officers, including Johanan son of Kareah and Jezaniah son of Hoshaiah 1 and all the people of every class, 2 went to the prophet Jeremiah. 2 They said to him, “Please grant our request 3 and pray to the Lord your God for all those of us who are still left alive here. 4 For, as you yourself can see, there are only a few of us left out of the many there were before. 5 3 Pray that the Lord your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do.” 4 The prophet Jeremiah answered them, “Agreed! 6 I will indeed pray to the Lord your God as you have asked. I will tell you everything the Lord replies in response to you. 7 I will not keep anything back from you.” 5 They answered Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not do just as 8 the Lord sends you to tell us to do. 6 We will obey what the Lord our God to whom we are sending you tells us to do. It does not matter whether we like what he tells us or not. We will obey what he tells us to do so that things will go well for us.” 9
7 Ten days later the Lord spoke to Jeremiah. 8 So Jeremiah summoned Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers who were with him and all the people of every class. 10 9 Then Jeremiah said to them, “You sent me to the Lord God of Israel to make your request known to him. Here is what he says to you: 11 10 ‘If you will just stay 12 in this land, I will build you up. I will not tear you down. I will firmly plant you. 13 I will not uproot you. For I am filled with sorrow because of the disaster that I have brought on you. 11 Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon whom you now fear. 14 Do not be afraid of him because I will be with you to save you and to rescue you from his power. I, the Lord, affirm it! 15 12 I will have compassion on you so that he in turn will have mercy on you and allow you to return to your land.’
13 “You must not disobey the Lord your God by saying, ‘We will not stay in this land.’ 14 You must not say, ‘No, we will not stay. Instead we will go and live in the land of Egypt where we will not face war, 16 or hear the enemy’s trumpet calls, 17 or starve for lack of food.’ 18 15 If you people who remain in Judah do that, then listen to what the Lord says. The Lord God of Israel who rules over all 19 says, ‘If you are so determined 20 to go to Egypt that you go and settle there, 16 the wars you fear will catch up with you there in the land of Egypt. The starvation you are worried about will follow you there to 21 Egypt. You will die there. 22 17 All the people who are determined to go and settle in Egypt will die from war, starvation, or disease. No one will survive or escape the disaster I will bring on them.’ 18 For 23 the Lord God of Israel who rules over all 24 says, ‘If you go to Egypt, I will pour out my wrath on you just as I poured out my anger and wrath on the citizens of Jerusalem. 25 You will become an object of horror and ridicule, an example of those who have been cursed and that people use in pronouncing a curse. 26 You will never see this place again.’ 27
19 “The Lord has told you people who remain in Judah, ‘Do not go to Egypt.’ Be very sure of this: I warn you 28 here and now. 29 20 You are making a fatal mistake. 30 For you sent me to the Lord your God and asked me, ‘Pray to the Lord our God for us. Tell us what the Lord our God says and we will do it.’ 31 21 This day 32 I have told you what he said. 33 But you do not want to obey the Lord by doing what he sent me to tell you. 34 22 So now be very sure of this: You will die from war, starvation, or disease in the place where you want to go and live.”