The alarming situation in Benjamin (Hos 5:8-5:8)

“Blow the horn

In Gibeah!

Blow the trumpet

In Ramah!

Sound the alarm

At Beth-aven!

Tremble!

O Benjamin!”

Yahweh, via Hosea, wanted them to blow the horn in Gibeah, a hill about 5 miles north of Jerusalem. They were to blow the horn at Ramah, a place near Mizpah. Then they were to sound the alarm at Beth-aven, Bethel, the capital of the northern Israelite kingdom. Benjamin should also tremble, because it was between Ephraim and Judah.

The false leaders of Israel (Hos 5:1-5:2)

“Hear this!

O priests!

Give heed!

O house of Israel!

Listen!

O house of the king!

The judgment

Pertains to you.

You have been a snare

at Mizpah.

You have spread

A net

Upon Tabor.

You have dug

A deep pit

In Shittim.

But I will punish

All of them.”

Yahweh, via Hosea, spoke to all the people of Israel. He told the priests to listen. He wanted the people of Israel and the royal household to listen also. This judgement pertained to all of them. They had been a snare at Mizpah, the Transjordan city, north of Jerusalem. They had also spread their net over Tabor, Mount Tabor, where there was an idol sanctuary also. They had dug a deep pit at Shittim, where there was religious intermarriage. Yahweh was going to punish them for these anti-Yahweh activities.

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.

Johanan intends to go to Egypt (Jer 41:16-41:18)

“Then Johanan,

The son of Kareah,

With all the leaders

Of the forces with him,

Took all the rest

Of the people

Whom Ishmael,

The son of Nethaniah,

Had carried away captive

From Mizpah.

This was after

He had slain Gedaliah,

The son of Ahikam.

This included

Soldiers,

Women,

Children,

Eunuchs,

Whom Johanan brought back

From Gibeon.

They set out.

They stopped at

Geruth Chimham

Near Bethlehem.

They intended

To go to Egypt

Because of the Chaldeans.

They were afraid of them.

Because Ishmael,

The son of Nethaniah,

Had killed Gedaliah,

The son of Ahikam,

Whom the king of Babylon

Had made governor

Over the land.”

Johanan and his forces, along with the now freed captives of Mizpah that included soldiers, women, children, and eunuchs, were going to go to Egypt. They set out on their way in a reverse kind of Exodus. However, they stopped at Geruth Chimham, near Bethlehem, south of Jerusalem. They were afraid that the Chaldeans would be mad at them, because of the death of Governor Gedaliah, who had been appointed by King Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon.

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.

Ishmael captured the people of Mizpah (Jer 41:10-41:10)

“Then Ishmael

Took captive

All the rest of the people

Who were in Mizpah.

This included

The king’s daughters

With all the people

Who were left at Mizpah.

Nebuzaradan,

The captain of the guard,

Had committed them

To Governor Gedaliah,

The son of Ahikam.

Ishmael,

The son of Nethaniah,

Took them captive.

He set out to cross over

To the Ammonites.”

As Ishmael had killed so many people already, there were not too many people left in Mizpah. Thus Ishmael took the remaining people captive. Of special mention were the daughters of King Zedekiah. The Babylonians had killed the king’s sons, but the captain of the troops, Nebuzaradan, committed the daughters of the king to the care of the new governor, Gedaliah. Thus the remaining people and these young women set out as captives to go to Ammon, on the other side of the Jordan. Ishmael must have had some kind of deal with the king of the Ammonites, since King Baalis of Ammon was mentioned in the last chapter.