Johanan asks Jeremiah for help (Jer 42:1-42:3)

“Then all the commanders

Of the forces,

With Johanan,

The son of Kareah,

Also with Azariah,

The son of Hoshaiah,

All the people,

From the least

To the greatest,

Approached

The prophet Jeremiah.

They said to him.

‘Be good enough

To listen

To our plea!

Pray to Yahweh!

Your God!

For us!

For all this remnant!

There are only a few

Of us left

Out of the many,

As you can see.

Let Yahweh

Your God

Show us

Where we should go!

What we should do!’”

Apparently this small group of Judeans, with the leaders Johanan and Azariah decided to approach Jeremiah. As he had been released to the protection of Governor Gedaliah, he probably was at Mizpah while the attack of Ishmael had taken place. Thus he was with the freed group at Gibeon. Interesting enough, they referred to Yahweh as Jeremiah’s God not their God. They wanted Jeremiah to intercede for them with Yahweh, as Moses had done centuries earlier. They were only a small group or remnant of what had been many people. They wanted to know where they should go and what to do. Like the preceding chapter, this section has a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapters 49 and 50, not chapter 42 as here.

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The revolt against Ishmael (Jer 41:13-41:14)

“When all the people

Who were with Ishmael

Saw Johanan,

The son of Kareah,

With all the leaders

Of the forces with him,

They were glad.

So all the people,

Whom Ishmael

Had carried away captive

From Mizpah,

Turned around.

They came back.

They went to Johanan,

The son of Kareah.”

When all the people with Ishmael saw Johanan with all his leaders and troops, they were happy. Instead of being taken captive, they now rebelled against Ishmael. They turned around and ran back to Johanan with his forces. Their captivity came to a quick end a few miles outside of Mizpah at Gibeon.

Johanan goes to Gibeon (Jer 41:11-41:12)

“But Johanan,

The son of Kareah,

With all the leaders

Of the forces with him,

Heard of all the crimes

That Ishmael,

The son of Nethaniah,

Had done.

They then took

All their men.

They went to fight

Against Ishmael,

The son of Nethaniah.

They came upon him

At the great pool

That is in Gibeon.”

Johanan, the son of Kareah, who had wanted to kill Ishmael before this, heard about what had happened at Mizpah. It is not clear how he found out about all the killings there. Johanan got all the open field leaders and their troops, and then he set out to fight against Ishmael. They actually found him about a couple miles outside of Mizpah, at the ancient Canaanite and Levitical city of Gibeon in the Benjamin territory, by the great pool.

The prophet Hananiah speaks (Jer 28:2-28:4)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

‘I have broken the yoke

Of the king of Babylon.

Within two years,

I will bring back

To this place

All the vessels

Of Yahweh’s house

That King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon

Took away from this place.

He carried them

To Babylon.

I will also bring back

To this place

King Jeconiah,

The son of King Jehoiakim

Of Judah,

With all the exiles

From Judah

Who went to Babylon.

I will break

The yoke

Of the king of Babylon.’

Says Yahweh.”

Hananiah, the prophet from Gibeon, then uttered an oracle of Yahweh, the God of Israel, much like Jeremiah had done. He claimed that he had broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. He said that within 2 years all the vessels from the Temple sanctuary would be returned to Jerusalem. He was also going to bring back the deposed King Jeconiah or King Jehoiachin or King Coniah as he was known as, who had been king for only a couple of months in 598 BCE after his father King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE) had been killed. In the meantime, King Nebuchadnezzar had put King Jeconiah’s uncle on the throne, King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE). The exiled King Jeconiah was in Babylon in captivity. He was part of the first captivity of 598 BCE, when the sacred vessels and the other exiles also went to Babylon. Clearly, Hananiah the prophet said that Yahweh wanted to break the yoke of the king of Babylon. However, Jeremiah the prophet had said that Yahweh was in favor of this yoke. Let’s see what happens as these 2 prophets interpret the will of Yahweh as regards Babylon.

Jeremiah meets the prophet Hananiah (Jer 28:1-28:1)

“In that same year,

At the beginning

Of the reign

Of King Zedekiah

Of Judah,

In the fifth month

Of the fourth year,

Hananiah,

The son of Azzur,

From Gibeon,

Spoke to me

In the house of Yahweh,

In the presence

Of the priests

With all the people.”

Once again we have an exact time frame for this confrontation with Hananiah. This meeting of Jeremiah and Hananiah took place at the beginning of the reign of King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE), the son of King Josiah (640-609 BCE) who was installed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (605-562 BCE) at the age of 21. Hananiah was a prophet from Gibeon, north of Jerusalem in the Benjamin territory, whose father was Azzur. Thus this meeting between Jeremiah and Hananiah in the Temple of Yahweh took place around 594 BCE, during the 4th year of the reign of King Zedekiah in the presence of the priests and all the people, as much as that was possible. Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 35, not 28 as here.

Yahweh comes (Isa 28:20-28:22)

“The bed is too short

To stretch oneself on it.

The covering is too narrow

To wrap oneself in it.

Yahweh will rise up

As on Mount Perazim.

He will rage

As in the valley of Gibeon.

To do his deed!

Strange is his deed!

To work his work!

Alien is his work!

Now therefore do not scoff!

Your bonds will be made stronger.

I have heard a decree of destruction

From Yahweh God of hosts

Upon the whole land.”

Isaiah explains that your beds will be too short and the covers on your beds too narrow to cover you. This would indicate that he was referring to taller people like giants who could not get a comfortable bed. Yahweh was going to rise in anger as he had done at Mount Perazim and Gibeon. Perazim was a place between Jerusalem and Hebron where King David defeated the Philistines in 2 Samuel, chapter 5 and 1 Chronicles, chapter 14. There it was called Baal-Perazim. Gibeon was a place north of Jerusalem where Joshua defeated 5 kings in Joshua, chapter 10. Yahweh’s work was going to happen, even if an alien had to do it. They were not to be scoffers. Yahweh, God of hosts, had issued a decree of destruction for the whole land.

The list of men by towns returning (Neh 7:25-7:38)

“The men of Gibeon were ninety-five. The men of Bethlehem and Netophah were one hundred eighty-eight. The men of Anathoth were one hundred twenty-eight. The men of Beth-Azmaveth were forty-two. The men of Kiriath-jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth were seven hundred forty-three. The men of Ramah and Geba were six hundred twenty-one. The men of Michmas were one hundred twenty-two. The men of Bethel and Ai were one hundred twenty-three. The men of the other Nebo were fifty-two. The descendents of the other Elam were one thousand two hundred fifty-four. The descendents of Harim were three hundred twenty. The men of Jericho were three hundred forty-five. The men of Lod, Hadid, and Ono were seven hundred twenty-one. The men of Senaah were three thousand nine hundred thirty.”

Once again, we have a very close similarity with Ezra, chapter 2, almost word for word. This list refers to the towns that they had come from in Judah, but also a lot from the Benjamin territory. These were the leaders there that had been taken into captivity. Gibbar or the town of Gibeon had a mere 95 people, the same as Ezra. Bethlehem had 188 not 123 people. Here it is combined with Netophah, a small town near Bethlehem that only had 56 people, so that the net change is only 9 more people here. Anathoth, another small town in Benjamin, had exactly the same amount of 128 people. Beth-Azmaveth or just Azmaveth, a town near Jerusalem, had 42 people, the smallest amount, but exactly the same as in Ezra. There was a group of 3 towns near Jerusalem in the Benjamin territory of Kiriath-jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth with exactly the same amount of 743 people. Ramah and Geba were northern towns in Benjamin with exactly the same amount of 621 people. Michmas was another Benjamin town with exactly the same amount of 122 people. Bethel and Ai were 2 northern Benjaminite towns with 123 instead of 223 people as in Ezra. This Nebo was a small town near Bethel and Ai with exactly the same amount of 52 people. There was no mention here of Magbish, a small town in Benjamin with 156 people as there was in Ezra. This other Elam had 1,254 people, but that is the exact amount as mentioned in the previous paragraph and in Ezra. Harim with 320 people was exactly the same as in Ezra. Lod, Hadid, and Ono were 3 Benjaminite towns with 721 instead of 725 people. Jericho had exactly the same amount of 345 people. Senaah, a town in northern Benjamin had the largest group with 3,930 instead of 3,630 people as in Ezra. Thus there were only minor discrepancies between this account and the one in Ezra.