Jeremiah 40

1The message from the Lord came to Jeremiah after he was set free at the city of Ramah. Nebuzaradan, the commander of the king of Babylon’s special guards, found Jeremiah in Ramah. Jeremiah was bound with chains. He was with all the captives from Jerusalem and Judah. Those captives were being taken away in captivity to Babylon. 2When commander Nebuzaradan found Jeremiah, he spoke to him. He said, “Jeremiah, the Lord, your God, announced that this disaster would come to this place. 3And now the Lord has done everything just as he said he would do. This disaster happened because you people of Judah sinned against the Lord. You people didn’t obey the Lord. 4But now, Jeremiah, I will set you free. I am taking the chains off your wrists. If you want to, come with me to Babylon, and I will take good care of you. But if you don’t want to come with me, then don’t come. Look, the whole country is open to you. Go anywhere you want. 5Or go back to Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan. The king of Babylon has chosen Gedaliah to be governor over the towns of Judah. Go and live with Gedaliah among the people. Or you can go anywhere you want.” Then Nebuzaradan gave Jeremiah some food and a present and let him go. 6So Jeremiah went to Gedaliah son of Ahikam at Mizpah. Jeremiah stayed with Gedaliah among the people that were left behind in the land of Judah. 7There were some soldiers from the army of Judah, officers and their men, still out in the open country when Jerusalem was destroyed. Those soldiers heard that the king of Babylon had put Gedaliah son of Ahikam in charge of the people that were left in the land. The people that were left were men, women, and children that were very poor and were not carried off to Babylon as captives. 8So those soldiers came to Gedaliah at Mizpah. Those soldiers were: Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan, and his brother Jonathan, sons of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth, sons of Ephai from Netophah, and Jaazaniah son of the Maacathite, and the men that were with them. 9Gedaliah son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, made an oath to make those soldiers and their men feel more secure. This is what Gedaliah said: “You soldiers, don’t be afraid to serve the Babylonian people. Settle down in the land and serve the king of Babylon. If you do this, things will go well for you. 10I, myself, will live in Mizpah. I will speak for you before the Chaldean people that come here. You people leave that work to me. You should harvest the wine, the summer fruit, and the oil. Put what you harvest in your storage jars. Live in the towns that you have taken control of.” 11All the people of Judah that were in the countries of Moab, Ammon, Edom, and all the other countries heard that the king of Babylon had left some people of Judah in the land. And they heard that the king of Babylon had chosen Gedaliah son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, to be governor over them. 12When those people of Judah heard that news, they came back to the land of Judah. They came back to Gedaliah at Mizpah from all the countries where they had been scattered. So they came back and gathered a large harvest of wine and summer fruit. 13Johanan son of Kareah and all the officers of the army of Judah that were still in the open country came to Gedaliah. Gedaliah was at the town of Mizpah. 14Johanan and those officers with him said to Gedaliah, “Do you know that Baalis, the king of the Ammonite people, wants to kill you? He has sent Ishmael son of Nethaniah to kill you.” But Gedaliah son of Ahikam didn’t believe them. 15Then Johanan son of Kareah spoke to Gedaliah in private at Mizpah. Johanan said to Gedaliah, “Let me go and kill Ishmael son of Nethaniah. No person will know anything about it. We should not let Ishmael kill you. That would cause all the people of Judah that are gathered around you to be scattered to different countries again. And that would mean that the few survivors of Judah would be lost.” 16But Gedaliah son of Ahikam said to Johanan son of Kareah, “Don’t kill Ishmael. The things you are saying about Ishmael are not true.”

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