Containing The Interval Of One Hundred And Eighty-Two Years And A Half.
From The Captivity Of The Ten Tribes To The First Year Of Cyrus.
How Nebuzaradan Set Gedaliah Over The Jews That Were Left In Judea Which Gedaliah Was A Little Afterward Slain By Ishmael; And How Johanan After Ishmael Was Driven Away Went Down Into Egypt With The People Which People Nebuchadnezzar When He Made An Expedition Against The Egyptians Took Captive And Brought Them Away To Babylon.
1. NOW the general of the army, Nebuzaradan, when he had carried the people of the Jews into captivity, left the poor, and those that had deserted, in the country, and made one, whose name was Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, a person of a noble family, their governor; which Gedaliah was of a gentle and righteous disposition. He also commanded them that they should cultivate the ground, and pay an appointed tribute to the king. He also took Jeremiah the prophet out of prison, and would have persuaded him to go along with him to Babylon, for that he had been enjoined by the king to supply him with whatsoever he wanted; and if he did not like to do so, he desired him to inform him where he resolved to dwell, that he might signify the same to the king. But the prophet had no mind to follow him, nor to dwell any where else, but would gladly live in the ruins of his country, and in the miserable remains of it. When the general understood what his purpose was, he enjoined Gedaliah, whom he left behind, to take all possible care of him, and to supply him with whatsoever he wanted. So when he had given him rich presents, he dismissed him. Accordingly, Jeremiah abode in a city of that country, which was called Mispah; and desired of Nebuzaradan that he would set at liberty his disciple Baruch, (16) the son of Neriah, one of a very eminent family, and exceeding skillful in the language of his country.
2. When Nebuzaradan had done thus, he made haste to Babylon. But as to those that fled away during the siege of Jerusalem, and had been scattered over the country, when they heard that the Babylonians were gone away, and had left a remnant in the land of Jerusalem, and those such as were to cultivate the same, they came together from all parts to Gedaliah to Mispah. Now the rulers that were over them were Johanan, the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah, and Seraiah, and others beside them. Now there was of the royal family one Ishmael, a wicked man, and very crafty, who, during the siege of Jerusalem, fled to Baalis, the king of the Ammonites, and abode with him during that time; and Gedaliah persuaded them, now they were there, to stay with him, and to have no fear of the Babylonians, for that if they would cultivate the country, they should suffer no harm. This he assured them of by oath; and said that they should have him for their patron, and that if any disturbance should arise, they should find him ready to defend them. He also advised them to dwell in any city, as every one of them pleased; and that they would send men along with his own servants, and rebuild their houses upon the old foundations, and dwell there; and he admonished them beforehand, that they should make preparation, while the season lasted, of corn, and wine, and oil, that they might have whereon to feed during the winter. When he had thus discoursed to them, he dismissed them, that every one might dwell in what place of the country he pleased.
3. Now when this report was spread abroad as far as the nations that bordered on Judea, that Gedaliah kindly entertained those that came to him, after they had fled away, upon this [only] condition, that they should pay tribute to the king of Babylon, they also came readily to Gedaliah, and inhabited the country. And when Johanan, and the rulers that were with him, observed the country, and the humanity of Gedaliah, they were exceedingly in love with him, and told him that Baalis, the king of the Ammonites, had sent Ishmael to kill him by treachery, and secretly, that he might have the dominion over the Israelites, as being of the royal family; and they said that he might deliver himself from this treacherous design, if he would give them leave to slay Ishmael, and nobody should know it, for they told him they were afraid that, when he was killed by the other, the entire ruin of the remaining strength of the Israelites would ensue.
But he professed that he did not believe what they said, when they told him of such a treacherous design, in a man that had been well treated by him; because it was not probable that one who, under such a want of all things, had failed of nothing that was necessary for him, should be found so wicked and ungrateful towards his benefactor, that when it would be an instance of wickedness in him not to save him, had he been treacherously assaulted by others, to endeavor, and that earnestly, to kill him with his own hands: that, however, if he ought to suppose this information to be true, it was better for himself to be slain by the other, than to destroy a man who fled to him for refuge, and intrusted his own safety to him, and committed himself to his disposal.
4. So Johanan, and the rulers that were with him, not being able to persuade Gedaliah, went away. But after the interval of thirty days was over, Ishmael came again to Gedaliah, to the city Mispah, and ten men with him; and when he had feasted Ishmael, and those that were with him, in a splendid manner at his table, and had given them presents, he became disordered in drink, while he endeavored to be very merry with them; and when Ishmael saw him in that case, and that he was drowned in his cups to the degree of insensibility, and fallen asleep, he rose up on a sudden, with his ten friends, and slew Gedaliah, and those that were with him at the feast; and when he had slain them, he went out by night, and slew all the Jews that were in the city, and those soldiers also which were left therein by the Babylonians. But the next day fourscore men came out of the country with presents to Gedaliah, none of them knowing what had befallen him; when Ishmael saw them, he invited them in to Gedaliah, and when they were come in, he shut up the court, and slew them, and cast their dead bodies down into a certain deep pit, that they might not be seen; but of these fourscore men Ishmael spared those that entreated him not to kill them, till they had delivered up to him what riches they had concealed in the fields, consisting of their furniture, and garments, and corn: but he took captive the people that were in Mispah, with their wives and children; among whom were the daughters of king Zedekiah, whom Nebuzaradan, the general of the army of Babylon, had left with Gedaliah. And when he had done this, he came to the king of the Ammonites.
5. But when Johanan and the rulers with him heard of what was done at Mispah by Ishmael, and of the death of Gedaliah, they had indignation at it, and every one of them took his own armed men, and came suddenly to fight with Ishmael, and overtook him at the fountain in Hebron. And when those that were carried away captives by Ishmael saw Johanan and the rulers, they were very glad, and looked upon them as coming to their assistance; so they left him that had carried them captives, and came over to Johanan: then Ishmael, with eight men, fled to the king of the Ammonites; but Johanan took those whom he had rescued out of the hands of Ishmael, and the eunuchs, and their wives and children, and came to a certain place called Mandra, and there they abode that day, for they had determined to remove from thence and go into Egypt, out of fear, lest the Babylonians should slay them, in case they continued in the country, and that out of anger at the slaughter of Gedaliah, who had been by them set over it for governor.
6. Now while they were under this deliberation, Johanan, the son of Kareah, and the rulers that were with him, came to Jeremiah the prophet, and desired that he would pray to God, that because they were at an utter loss about what they ought to do, he would discover it to them, and they sware that they would do whatsoever Jeremiah should say to them. And when the prophet said he would be their intercessor with God, it came to pass, that after ten days God appeared to him, and said that he should inform Johanan, and the other rulers, and all the people, that he would be with them while they continued in that country, and take care of them, and keep them from being hurt by the Babylonians, of whom they were afraid; but that he would desert them if they went into Egypt, and, out of this wrath against them, would inflict the same punishments upon them which they knew their brethren had already endured. So when the prophet had informed Johanan and the people that God had foretold these things, he was not believed, when he said that God commanded them to continue in the country; but they imagined that he said so to gratify Baruch, his own disciple, and belied God, and that he persuaded them to stay there, that they might be destroyed by the Babylonians. Accordingly, both the people and Johanan disobeyed the counsel of God, which he gave them by the prophet, and removed into Egypt, and carried Jeremiah and Barnch along with him.
7. And when they were there, God signified to the prophet that the king of Babylon was about making an expedition against the Egyptians, and commanded him to foretell to the people that Egypt should be taken, and the king of Babylon should slay some of them and, should take others captive, and bring them to Babylon; which things came to pass accordingly; for on the fifth year after the destruction of Jerusalem, which was the twenty-third of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, he made an expedition against Celesyria; and when he had possessed himself of it, he made war against the Ammonites and Moabites; and when he had brought all these nations under subjection, he fell upon Egypt, in order to overthrow it; and he slew the king that then reigned (17) and set up another; and he took those Jews that were there captives, and led them away to Babylon.
And such was the end of the nation of the Hebrews, as it hath been delivered down to us, it having twice gone beyond Euphrates; for the people of the ten tribes were carried out of Samaria by the Assyrians, in the days of king Hoshea; after which the people of the two tribes that remained after Jerusalem was taken [were carried away] by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon and Chaldea. Now as to Shalmanezer, he removed the Israelites out of their country, and placed therein the nation of the Cutheans, who had formerly belonged to the inner parts of Persia and Media, but were then called Samaritans, by taking the name of the country to which they were removed; but the king of Babylon, who brought out the two tribes, (18) placed no other nation in their country, by which means all Judea and Jerusalem, and the temple, continued to be a desert for seventy years; but the entire interval of time which passed from the captivity of the Israelites, to the carrying away of the two tribes, proved to be a hundred and thirty years, six months, and ten days.
(16) Of this character of Baruch, the son of Neriah, and the genuineness of his book, that stands now in our Apocrypha, and that it is really a canonical book, and an appendix to Jeremiah, see Authent. Rec. Part I. p. 1--11.
(17) Herodotus says, this king of Egypt [Pharaoh Hophra, or Apries] was slain by the Egyptians, as Jeremiah foretold his slaughter by his enemies, Jeremiah 44:29, 30, and that as a sign of the destruction of Egypt [by Nebuchadnezzar]. Josephus says, this king was slain by Nebuchadnezzar himself.
(18) We see here that Judea was left in a manner desolate after the captivity of the two tribes and was not I with foreign colonies, perhaps as an indication of Providence that the Jews were to repeople it without opposition themselves. I also esteem the latter and present desolate condition of the same country, without being repeopled by foreign colonies, to be a like indication, that the same Jews are hereafter to repeople it again themselves, at their so long expected future restoration.