-This chapter gives some interesting intrigue narrative during the time of exile as to the leadership and people left in the land of Israel. After Gedaliah had ignored the warning from Johanan concerning the evil intentions Ishmael of the royal family, Ishmael, along with ten men came to Mizpah (for geographical info see http://bibleatlas.org/regional/mizpah.htm) and slew the appointed leader of the land while he was eating bread with his companions (Jeremiah 41:1-2). Ishmael and his men also slew the Jews who were with Gedaliah and the Chaldeans who were found there, the men of war (Jeremiah 41:3). The next day, 80 men from Shechem, Shiloh, and Samaria came to Jerusalem with beards shaven and clothes torn and bodies gashed (sign of repentance and lamentation) to present grain offerings and incense before the LORD at His Temple. Ishmael deceived them and brought them into the city to kill them as well and throw all but ten of them into a cistern built by King Asa of Judah for King Baasha of Israel (1 Kings 15:17-22, 2 Chronicles 16:1-6). The ten begged for their lives and gave information on their stores of wheat, barley, oil, and honey hidden in a field somewhere. From this we can speculate that Ishmael’s intentions on the killing for financial reasons. Then Ishmael took captive all the remnant people in Mizpah and proceeded north to eventually join up with the sons of Ammon (Jeremiah 41:4-10).
-But Johanan and all the commanders of the forces that were with him heard of all the evil Ishmael had done and chase them down by the great pool that is in Gibeon (for geographical info see http://bibleatlas.org/regional/gibeon.htm). When the people taken captive by Ishmael saw Johanan and his forces that were with him, they were glad and turned around and came back with Johanan for safety and protection from their internment. Meanwhile, Ishmael and eight men with him escaped to the sons of Ammon. The remnant of Johanan ventured to Geruth Chimham, which is beside Bethlehem (for geographical info see http://bibleatlas.org/geruth_chimham.htm), on their way to Egypt because they were now afraid that the Chaldeans would be coming on account of the disruptions and unsettled situation in the land on account of Gedaliah’s death (Jeremiah 41:11-18). *Application* What can we take from this twisted and somewhat random historical narrative for our lives today? The answer lies in waiting on the LORD and submitting to His timing. God had told the remnant people His intentions for blessing in the land while their brothers and sisters were away in exile just in the previous chapter (Jeremiah 40:9-12). Ishmael and his zealous companions tried to subvert the peace for their own agenda and nationalistic pride it certainly appears. Our best response in any situation is to be patient and let the LORD have His way with us. When we do, we will find that things will somehow work out in a beneficial manner. When we take matters into our own hands when God isn’t in it, we screw things up every time. Don’t be an Ishmael. Go God’s way!
Verse to Memorize: Jeremiah 41:2