Reading through the Bible together
In this chapter the good governor Gedaliah and his supporters in Mizpah died because he did not consult with Jeremiah, the prophet of God about the assassination plot by Ishmael reported by Johahan. It reminds us of a story of Josiah who had been doing good things for God for many years, but died because later he did not inquire God whether he was to fight against the Egyptian army (2 Chronicles 35:20-24). The leader of God’s people was supposed to be a man of God who would seek God for His guidance. This chapter is full of terrible disasters that could be avoided if the leader was a man of prayer or a humble-hearted man asking Jeremiah what he should do.
Ishmael and the other ten high officials of the last king Zedekiah were peacefully eating together with Gedaliah and other Judean people in Mizpah with some Chaldean soldiers. Ishmael and his ten men suddenly came in and killed Gedaliah together with the people who were with him. The report of Johanan to Gedaliah regarding the plan of Ishmael to kill him was proven true, and now Gedaliah and his supporters were dead. The next day Ishmael also killed 70 people who came bringing offerings to the temple of God from Shechem, Shilo and Samaria. Ishmael dumped their dead bodies into a pit that was supposed to be used for the protection of life against an oncoming enemy, until the pit was full.
Ishmael captured other people in Mizpah and started to leave for the land of the Ammonites. When they arrived at the pool of Gibeon on the way, Johanan and his soldiers met Ishmael and his men with the captured people of Mizpah. Ishmael with eight men fled before Johanan and went to the land of the Ammonites. Johanan brought back the captured people of Mizpah. Then Johanan and other army captains wanted to flee to Egypt because Ishmael had assassinated Gedaliah, and they feared what the Babylonians would do to Johanan and the other army captains for letting this happen. So they left Mizpah and came to the inn of Chimham near Bethlehem on the way to Egypt.
If Gedaliah had prayed and asked the prophet what to do, God would have shown him and protected him. Do we have a habit of praying to God and inquire about God’s will? Are we ready to follow God’s command whatever it is?
Yoshitaka Kobayashi, Ph.D., Japan