The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Jeremiah 41

Jer 41:1

"The grossest act of base treachery is committed by Ishmael against the trusting Gedaliah. This tragic incident, which sealed the fate of those left in the Land, was commemorated by a fast (Zec 7:3), which was continued until the blessing of Yahweh was experienced in the return of the people to the Land (Zec 8:19), which fast and feasts foreshadow the conversion of the former to the latter at Messiah's return. The record reveals the sad state of apostasy within the brotherhood: (1) Massacre at Mizpeh: vv 1-3; (2) Slaughter of the pilgrims: vv 4-7; (3) The escape of ten: vv 8-9. (4) Ishmael's flight: v 10; (5) Jonathan avenges the massacre: vv 11-14; (6) Ishmael's escape: v 15; (7) Retreat to Bethlehem: vv 16-18" (GEM).

Jer 41:17

GERUTH KIMHAM: Geruth Kimham is literally "the residence of Chimham". What is the point of this? JJ Blunt, in his book, "Undesigned Scriptural Coincidences", suggests the following, which connects this incident with one in the days of David and the rebellion of Absalom: "David having won the battle, and recovered his throne, prepares to repass the Jordan, and return once more to his capital. His friends again congregate around him, for the prosperous have many friends. Amongst them, however, were some who had been true to him in the day of his adversity; and the aged Barzillai, a Gileadite, who had provided the king with sustenance whilst he lay at Mahanaim, and when his affairs were critical, presents himself before him. He had won David's heart. The king now entreats him to accompany him to his court, 'Come thou over with me, and I will feed thee with me in Jerusalem' [2Sa 19:23]. But the unambitious Barzillai pleads fourscore years as a bar against beginning the life of a courtier, and chooses rather to die in his own city, and be buried by the grave of his father and of his mother. His son, however, had life before him: 'Behold thy servant Chimham; let him go over with my lord the king; and do to him what shall seem good unto thee. And the king answered, Chimham shall go over with me, and I will do to him that which shall seem good unto thee' (2Sa 19:37). So he went with the king. Thus begins, and thus ends, the history of Chimham; he passes away from the scene, and what David did for him, or whether he did anything for him, beyond providing him a place at his table, and recommending him, in common with many others, to Solomon before he died, does not appear. Singular, however, it is, and if ever there was a coincidence which carried with it the stamp of truth, it is this, that in Jer 41, an historical chapter, in which an account is given of the murder of Gedaliah, the officer whom Nebuchadnezzar had left in charge of Judea, as its governor, when he carried away the more wealthy of its inhabitants captive to Babylon, we read that the Jews, fearing for the consequences of this bloody act, and apprehending the vengeance of the Chaldeans, prepared for a flight into Egypt, so 'they departed,' the narrative continues, 'and dwelt in the habitation of Chimham, which is by Bethlehem, to go to enter into Egypt' (Jer 41:17). It is impossible to imagine anything more incidental than the mention of this estate near Bethlehem, which was the habitation of Chimham -- yet how well does it tally with the spirit of David's speech to Barzillai, some four hundred years before! for what can be more probable, than that David, whose birthplace was this very Bethlehem, and whose patrimony in consequence lay there, having undertaken to provide for Chimham, should have bestowed it in whole, or in part, as the most flattering reward he could confer, a personal, as well as a royal, mark of favour, on the son of the man who had saved his life, and the lives of his followers in the hour of their distress; and that, to that very day, when Jeremiah wrote, it should have remained in the possession of the family of Chimham, and have been a land called after his own name?" (USC).

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