No more kings for Judah. Nebuchadnezzar makes the grandson of King Josiah’s secretary governor over the people instead of appointing another king.
I had to get that link to him from my bible helps. How on earth did this man wind up in charge of what was left of Judah? Did he have some kind of relationship with Nebuchadnezzar? Was he an official already that Nebuchadnezzar felt he could trust? Did he approach Nebuchadnezzar and ask for the position? Did Nebuchadnezzar bring him back from Babylon after seeing him in action there?
Nebuchadnezzar had even moved the seat of power from Jerusalem. This is no shock since he burned it to the ground. The seat of power was moved to Mizpah. This is a familiar location from many stories. The first stories to include Mizpah was when Jacob and Laben set up a monument between the two of them. Neither was to pass this point in going towards one another. Samuel sought the Lord on behalf of the people at Mizpah after the ark was taken by the Philistines and returned. He made a sacrifice for their sins. Saul was first identified by God through Samuel as Israel’s first king at Mizpah. The story of the Levite’s wife who was raped includes Mizpah as the location where the people gathered to avenge this wrong. Mizpah is also right on the border between the kingdoms of Judah and Israel. Maybe this is why it was chosen as the new seat of power. A location that unites the two halves of the deported kingdoms.
Gedaliah was in favor of the people settling down to a quiet life of service to Nebuchadnezzar. I have no doubt that he believed they would be safe if they did so. And they may well have been. But that was NOT the direction the men who approached him wanted to take. These were most likely the same men who fled with Zedekiah through the breach in the wall. They still had resistance in their hearts.
It took seven months before Ishmael took it upon himself to rid the people of Gedaliah’s government. Was it because things were not going as Gedaliah had promised? Was it because he felt he should be leader as he was “of the royal family” (verse 25b)? If so, he didn’t stick around and try uniting the people after he dispatched Nebuchadnezzar’s servant and all those who were with him. (We will see more detail on this when we reach Jeremiah.)
I think it is interesting how Ishmael got up the courage to stage an assassination but he didn’t have the courage to face those he had just ‘freed’ the people from. He wasn’t standing up to the Chaldeans but removing Nebuchadnezzar’s eyes and ears so the people could get away. Gedaliah wasn’t the only one watching out for Nebuchadnezzar’s interests. There were both Jews and Chaldeans working with him. These also felt the blade of Ishmael and his small strike force. None were left to report back to Nebuchadnezzar what had happened and who had done it.
What would God have told the people to do if they had asked Him? Would He have said for them to humble themselves and serve Nebuchadnezzar? Would He have told them to revolt? I believe these questions will be answered when we reach Jeremiah. One thing I do know for certain is that God warned them about going back to Egypt and they didn’t listen. They were in for more trouble because they continued to ignore the Lord and ‘look after themselves’.
Father God, I see Gedaliah as a ‘peace maker’ between Judah and Babylon. I don’t know if this was really his heart’s desire or not. Maybe he was just afraid of more punishment raining down on them if the peace wasn’t kept. I don’t know if he favored one side over the other either. He certainly knew where the earthly power lay at the time. But did he consider Your power? Did he turn to You at all.
I feel like that is the place I’ve been put in lately. I know I would NEVER be able to do this task if not for the work You have done in my life. Thank You for that work Father. I pray I use those skills to Your glory and bless those who turn to me in this way. I also PRAY that I never meddle and make a bigger mess than was originally there. Let my words be sweet and filled with Your wisdom.