Jeremiah Remains in Judah
1The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord after Nebuzaradan the captain of the bodyguard had released him from Ramah, when he had taken him bound in chains among all the captives of Jerusalem and Judah who were being taken as exiles to Babylon. 2And the captain of the bodyguard had taken Jeremiah and said to him, “The Lord your God promised this disaster on this place. 3Now the Lord has brought it about and has done just as He promised. Because you [people of Judah] have sinned against the Lord and did not listen to and honor His voice, therefore this thing has happened to you. 4But now, listen carefully, [because of your innocence] I am freeing you today from the chains which are on your hands. If you would prefer to come with me to Babylon, come, and I will look after you [carefully]; but if you would prefer not to come with me to Babylon, then do not do so. Look, all the land is before you; go wherever it seems good and right (convenient) for you to go.” 5While Jeremiah was still hesitating, the captain of the bodyguard said, “Go on back then to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon has appointed [governor] over the cities of Judah, and stay with him among the people; or else go wherever it seems right for you to go.” So the captain of the bodyguard gave him an allowance of food and a gift and let him go. 6Then Jeremiah went to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam at Mizpah and stayed with him among the people who were left in the land.
7Now when all the commanders of the forces that were [scattered] in the open country [of Judah] and their men heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam governor in the land [of Judah] and 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, 8they went to Gedaliah at Mizpah—Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, Johanan and Jonathan the sons of Kareah, Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth, the sons of Ephai the Netophathite, and Jezaniah the son of the Maacathite, they and their men. 9Then Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, swore to them and their men, saying, “Do not be afraid to serve the Chaldeans; stay in this land and serve the king of Babylon, that it may go well with you. 10As for me, I am going to stay at Mizpah to stand [for you] before the Chaldeans who come to us [ministering to them and looking after the king’s interests]; but as for you, gather in wine, summer fruit and oil and store them in your utensils [designed for such purposes], and live in your cities that you have taken over.” 11Likewise, when all the Jews who were in Moab and among the people of Ammon and in Edom and who were in all the [other] countries heard that the king of Babylon had left a remnant [of the people] in Judah and had appointed Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan over them [as governor], 12then all the Jews returned from all the places to which they had been driven and came back to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah at Mizpah, and gathered a great abundance of wine and summer fruits.
13Moreover, Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces that were [scattered] in the open country came to Gedaliah at Mizpah 14and said to him, “Do you know that Baalis the king of the Ammonites 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 [who is responsible]. Why should he kill you and cause all the Jews who are gathered near you to be scattered and the remnant of Judah to perish?” 16But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said to Johanan the son of Kareah, “Do not do this thing, for you are lying about Ishmael.”