Jeremiah 41

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Read Jeremiah 41

41 In the seventh month Ishmael son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, who was of royal blood and had been one of the king’s officers, came with ten men to Gedaliah son of Ahikam at Mizpah. While they were eating together there, Ishmael son of Nethaniah and the ten men who were with him got up and struck down Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, with the sword, killing the one whom the king of Babylon had appointed as governor over the land. Ishmael also killed all the men of Judah who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah, as well as the Babylonian soldiers who were there.

The day after Gedaliah’s assassination, before anyone knew about it,eighty men who had shaved off their beards, torn their clothes and cutthemselves came from Shechem, Shiloh and Samaria, bringing grain offerings and incense with them to the house of the Lord. Ishmael son of Nethaniah went out from Mizpah to meet them, weeping as he went. When he met them, he said, “Come to Gedaliah son of Ahikam.” When they went into the city, Ishmael son of Nethaniah and the men who were with him slaughtered them and threw them into a cistern. But ten of them said to Ishmael, “Don’t kill us! We have wheat and barley, olive oil and honey, hidden in a field.” So he let them alone and did not kill them with the others. Now the cistern where he threw all the bodies of the men he had killed along with Gedaliah was the one King Asa had made as part of his defense against Baasha king of Israel. Ishmael son of Nethaniah filled it with the dead.

10 Ishmael made captives of all the rest of the people who were in Mizpah—the king’s daughters along with all the others who were left there, over whom Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard had appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam. Ishmael son of Nethaniah took them captive and set out to cross over to the Ammonites.

11 When Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers who were with him heard about all the crimes Ishmael son of Nethaniah had committed, 12 they took all their men and went to fight Ishmael son of Nethaniah. They caught up with him near the great pool in Gibeon. 13 When all the people Ishmael had with him saw Johanan son of Kareah and the army officers who were with him, they were glad. 14 All the people Ishmael had taken captive at Mizpah turned and went over to Johanan son of Kareah. 15 But Ishmael son of Nethaniah and eight of his men escaped from Johanan and fled to the Ammonites.

Flight to Egypt

16 Then Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers who were with him led away all the people of Mizpah who had survived, whom Johanan had recovered from Ishmael son of Nethaniah after Ishmael had assassinated Gedaliah son of Ahikam—the soldiers, women, children and court officials he had recovered from Gibeon. 17 And they went on, stopping at Geruth Kimham near Bethlehem on their way to Egypt 18 to escape the Babylonians.They were afraid of them because Ishmael son of Nethaniah had killed Gedaliah son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon had appointed as governor over the land.

Go Deeper

Yesterday, we read that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah, one of the Jewish leaders, as governor over the provinces of Judah. People were returning to their homeland even though it was controlled by the Chaldeans. Theologians believe Ishmael was jealous and angry being overlooked for this governorship given to Gedaliah. We read in the previous chapter that Gedaliah was warned by Johanan and other officers, but he refused to believe the evil intended for him. As we read through verses 1-10 today, Ishmael murdered Gedaliah and all his officers and others, and then lied publicly to lead others to believe that the event occurred without his knowledge. 

In all the cruel and deceitful activity in this chapter, we can still see the hand of God then and His words for us now. First, He protected Jeremiah from death. Although the prophet suffered greatly at the hands of his own people and their enemies, he never stopped speaking God’s word to both. Jeremiah was unwavering in his call and commitment to God, His word, and His people, and we can find this same strength and resolve in our own walk with Christ.

Second, it was hard to read that even those who humbly returned to mourn, seek the Lord, and worship were not spared. Like Jeremiah, and these humble worshippers, we must never stop our pursuit of God, His will, and His ways no matter our circumstances. This story asks us if we are willing to do the same no matter what we are facing. Jesus, facing the crucifixion, fell on his knees in the Garden of Gethsemane in Luke 22:42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 

There is no possible way to dismiss the power in this prayer, and it is a prayer for us as well. Jesus overcame death. As we bend the knee to God’s will in our own lives, we are promised His power and strength to overcome in this life along with the promise of eternity in heaven. In Luke 23:42-43, the man hanging on his cross next to Jesus said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you today you will be with me in paradise.”  

Today, let these words comfort and capture your heart no matter what you may be facing. His promises are true and surrendering to His will unleashes the supernatural power you desire and need to overcome anything. To Him be the glory now and forever!


  1. What do you think prompted Ishmael to choose to destroy Gedalia?
  2. Why did Gedalia disregard the warning from his officers? Was that wise? Why or why not?
  3. When faced with such extreme circumstances, how can we overcome them? Discuss this with your Life Group.

A Quote

Matthew Henry, a 17th century theologian wrote, “The success of villainy is short, and none can prosper who harden their hearts against God. This melancholy history warns us, never to be secure in this world. We never can be sure of peace on this side of heaven. Only those are happy and steady who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.”

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2 thoughts on “Jeremiah 41”

  1. Wow, the assassination of Gedaliah and the slaughter of all the innocents around him seems like yet another example of “bad things happening to good people”. Always heartbreaking and faith-shaking. Nevertheless, God is sovereign. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

  2. My main takeaway from this chapter—when God’s presence is removed due to our disobedience, chaos results. There is no limit to the evil inside the human heart, left unchecked it results in death. Genesis 4:7 describes sin as “crouching at your door desiring to have dominion over you, but you must rule over it.” Think of a predator watching its prey. By God’s ultimate gift of his Son who trampled and triumphed over sin and death, we can be victorious through the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.

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