1 In the seventh month, Ishmael son of Nethaniah (the son of Elishama) came to Gedaliah son of Ahikam. Ishmael came with ten of his men. They came to the town of Mizpah. Ishmael was a member of the king’s family. He had been one of the officers of the king of Judah. Ishmael and his men ate a meal with Gedaliah. 2 While they were eating together, Ishmael and his ten men got up and killed Gedaliah son of Ahikam with a sword. Gedaliah was the man the king of Babylon had chosen to be governor of Judah. 3 Ishmael also killed all the men of Judah who were with Gedaliah at the town of Mizpah. He also killed the Babylonian soldiers who were there with Gedaliah.
4-5 The day after Gedaliah was murdered, 80 men came to Mizpah. They were bringing grain offerings and incense to the LORD’S Temple. They had shaved off their beards, torn their clothes, and cut themselves.* shaved … cut themselves The men did this to show that they were sad about the destruction of the Lord’s Temple in Jerusalem. They came from Shechem, Shiloh, and Samaria. None of these men knew that Gedaliah had been murdered. 6 Ishmael left Mizpah and went to meet the 80 men. He cried† He cried Ishmael was acting like he was sad about the destruction of the Temple. while he walked out to meet them. Ishmael met them and said, “Come with me to meet with Gedaliah son of Ahikam.” 7-8 As soon as they were in the city, Ishmael and the men with him began to kill the 80 men and throw them into a deep cistern! But ten of the men said to Ishmael, “Don’t kill us! We have hidden some things in a field. We have wheat and barley and oil and honey.” So Ishmael stopped and didn’t kill them with the others. 9 (Ishmael threw the dead bodies into the cistern until it was full, and that cistern was very big! It had been built by a king of Judah named Asa. King Asa had made the cistern so that during war there would be water in the city.‡ King Asa … city King Asa lived about 300 years before the time of Gedaliah. See 1 Kings 15:22 for the story about Asa building defenses for Mizpah. Asa did this to protect his city from King Baasha of Israel.)
10 Ishmael captured all the other people in the town of Mizpah and started to cross over to the country of the Ammonites. They included the king’s daughters, and all those who were left there. Nebuzaradan, the commander of the king of Babylon’s special guards, had chosen Gedaliah to watch over those people.
11 Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers who were with him heard about all the evil things Ishmael had done. 12 So Johanan and the army officers with him took their men and went to fight Ishmael son of Nethaniah. They caught Ishmael near the big pool of water that is at the town of Gibeon. 13 When the captives that Ishmael had taken saw Johanan and the army officers, they were very happy. 14 Then all the captives who Ishmael had taken from the town of Mizpah ran to Johanan son of Kareah. 15 But Ishmael and eight of his men escaped from Johanan and ran away to the Ammonites.
16 So Johanan son of Kareah and all his army officers rescued the captives. Ishmael had murdered Gedaliah and then he had taken those people from Mizpah. Among the survivors were soldiers, women, children, and court officials. Johanan brought them back from the town of Gibeon.
The Escape to Egypt
17-18 Johanan and the other army officers were afraid of the Chaldeans. The king of Babylon had chosen Gedaliah to be governor of Judah. But Ishmael murdered Gedaliah, and Johanan was afraid that the Chaldeans would be angry. So they decided to run away to Egypt. On the way to Egypt, they stayed at Geruth Kimham, near the town of Bethlehem.
*41:4-5 shaved … cut themselves The men did this to show that they were sad about the destruction of the Lord’s Temple in Jerusalem.
†41:6 He cried Ishmael was acting like he was sad about the destruction of the Temple.