Verse 1 – The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord after Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had let him go from Ramah, when he had taken him bound in chains among all who were carried away captive from Jerusalem and Judah, who were carried away captive to Babylon.
Ramah was about 5 miles from Jerusalem and was used for the staging area of deportation. Apparently the Babylonians had mistakenly put Jeremiah in chains with the rest of the captives.
Verse 2 – And the captain of the guard took Jeremiah and said to him: “The Lord your God has pronounced this doom on this place.
Verse 3 – “Now the Lord has brought it, and has done just as He said. Because you people have sinned against the Lord, and not obeyed His voice, therefore this thing has come upon you.
It was strange that this captain knew that it was their God’s judgment against them, but yet didn’t personally accept Him. Same today: There are a lot of people that know of God, but yet don’t know Him personally enough to have a relationship with Him.
Verse 4 – “And now look, I free you this day from the chains that were on your hand. If it seems good to you to come with me to Babylon, come, and I will look after you. But if it seems wrong for you to come with me to Babylon, remain here. See, all the land is before you; wherever it seems good and convenient for you to go, go there.”
Jeremiah was free to go either back to Judah or go with this captain to Babylon and be taken care of in comfort, although he would be hated by his fellow Judean exiles. In Judah, he would still face hardship, but the people in Judah which were left would know he wasn’t a traitor. He returned to Judah.
Verse 5 – Now while Jeremiah had not yet gone back, Nebuzaradan said, “Go back to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon has made governor over the cities of Judah, and dwell with him among the people. Or go wherever it seems convenient for you to go.” So the captain of the guard gave rations and a gift and let him go.
Verse 6 – Then Jeremiah went to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, to Mizpah, and dwelt with him among the people who were left in the land. (Mizpah served as a refuge after the destruction of Jerusalem.)
Verse 7 – Now when the captain of the armies who were in the fields, they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam governor in the land, and had committed to him men, women, children, and the poorest of the land who had not been carried away captive to Babylon,
Verse 8 – then they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah – Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, Johanan and Jonathan the son of Kareah, Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth, the sons of Ephai the Netophathite, and Jezaniah the son of a Maachathite, they and their men.
Verse 9 – And Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, took an oath before them and their men, saying, “Do not be afraid to serve the Chaldeans. Dwell in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you.
Verse 10 – “As for me, I will indeed dwell at Mizpah and serve the Chaldeans who come to us. But you, gather wine and summer fruit and oil, put them in your vessels, and dwell in your cities that you have taken.”
Verse 11 – Likewise, when all the Jews who were in Moab, among the Ammonites, in Edom, and who were in all the countries, heard that the king of Babylon had left a remnant of Judah, and that he had set over them Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan,
Verse 12 – then all the Jews returned out of all places where they had been driven, and came to the land of Judah to Gedaliah at Mizpah, and gathered wine and summer fruit in abundance.
Verse 13 – Moreover Johanan the son of Kareah and all the captains of the forces that were in the fields came to Gedaliah at Mizpah,
Verse 14 – and said to him, “Do you certainly know that Baalis the king of the Ammonites has sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to murder you?” But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam did not believe them.
Johanan warned Gedaliah that Baalis, king of the Ammonites, had sent Ishmael to kill the newly appointed governor, but he didn’t believe them.
Verse 15 – Then Johanan the son of Kareah spoke secretly to Gedaliah in Mizpah, saying, “Let me go, please, and I will kill Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and no one will know it. Why should he murder you, so that all the Jews who gathered to you would be scattered, and the remnant in Judah perish?”
Verse 16 – But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said to Johanan the son of Kareah, “You shall not do this thing, for you speak falsely concerning Ishmael.”
We are about to see in the next chapter that everything Johanan had told him was true.