Go and Live Wherever You Wish
1God’s Message to Jeremiah after Nebuzaradan captain of the bodyguard set him free at Ramah. When Nebuzaradan came upon him, he was in chains, along with all the other captives from Jerusalem and Judah who were being herded off to exile in Babylon.
2-3The captain of the bodyguard singled out Jeremiah and said to him, “Your God pronounced doom on this place. God came and did what he had warned he’d do because you all sinned against God and wouldn’t do what he told you. So now you’re all suffering the consequences.
4-5“But today, Jeremiah, I’m setting you free, taking the chains off your hands. If you’d like to come to Babylon with me, come along. I’ll take good care of you. But if you don’t want to come to Babylon with me, that’s just fine, too. Look, the whole land stretches out before you. Do what you like. Go and live wherever you wish. If you want to stay home, go back to Gedaliah son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan. The king of Babylon made him governor of the cities of Judah. Stay with him and your people. Or go wherever you’d like. It’s up to you.”
The captain of the bodyguard gave him food for the journey and a parting gift, and sent him off.
6Jeremiah went to Gedaliah son of Ahikam at Mizpah and made his home with him and the people who were left behind in the land.
Take Care of the Land
7-8When the army leaders and their men, who had been hiding out in the fields, heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam as governor of the land, putting him in charge of the men, women, and children of the poorest of the poor who hadn’t been taken off to exile in Babylon, they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah: Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan and Jonathan the sons of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth, the sons of Ephai the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah son of the Maacathite, accompanied by their men.
9Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, promised them and their men, “You have nothing to fear from the Chaldean officials. Stay here on the land. Be subject to the king of Babylon. You’ll get along just fine.
10“My job is to stay here in Mizpah and be your advocate before the Chaldeans when they show up. Your job is to take care of the land: Make wine, harvest the summer fruits, press olive oil. Store it all in pottery jugs and settle into the towns that you have taken over.”
11-12The Judeans who had escaped to Moab, Ammon, Edom, and other countries heard that the king of Babylon had left a few survivors in Judah and made Gedaliah son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, governor over them. They all started coming back to Judah from all the places where they’d been scattered. They came to Judah and to Gedaliah at Mizpah and went to work gathering in a huge supply of wine and summer fruits.
13-14One day Johanan son of Kareah and all the officers of the army who had been hiding out in the backcountry came to Gedaliah at Mizpah and told him, “You know, don’t you, that Baaliss king of Ammon has sent Ishmael son of Nethaniah to kill you?” But Gedaliah son of Ahikam didn’t believe them.
15Then Johanan son of Kareah took Gedaliah aside privately in Mizpah: “Let me go and kill Ishmael son of Nethaniah. No one needs to know about it. Why should we let him kill you and plunge the land into anarchy? Why let everyone you’ve taken care of be scattered and what’s left of Judah destroyed?”
16But Gedaliah son of Ahikam told Johanan son of Kareah, “Don’t do it. I forbid it. You’re spreading a false rumor about Ishmael.”