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40 Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, took Jeremiah to Ramah along with all the exiled people of Jerusalem and Judah who were being sent to Babylon, but then released him.

2-3 The captain called for Jeremiah and said, “The Lord your God has brought this disaster on this land, just as he said he would. For these people have sinned against the Lord. That is why it happened. Now I am going to take off your chains and let you go. If you want to come with me to Babylon, fine; I will see that you are well cared for. But if you don’t want to come, don’t. The world is before you—go where you like. If you decide to stay, then return to Gedaliah, who has been appointed as governor of Judah by the king of Babylon, and stay with the remnant he rules. But it’s up to you; go where you like.”

Then Nebuzaradan gave Jeremiah some food and money and let him go. So Jeremiah returned to Gedaliah and lived in Judah with the people left in the land.

Now when the leaders of the Jewish guerrilla bands in the countryside heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah as governor over the poor of the land who were left behind, and had not exiled everyone to Babylon, they came to see Gedaliah at Mizpah, where his headquarters were. These are the names of the leaders who came: Ishmael (son of Nethaniah), Johanan and Jonathan (sons of Kareah), Seraiah (son of Tanhumeth), the sons of Ephai (the Netophathite), Jezaniah (son of a Maacathite), and their men. And Gedaliah assured them that it would be safe to surrender to the Babylonians.

“Stay here and serve the king of Babylon,” he said, “and all will go well for you. 10 As for me, I will stay at Mizpah and intercede for you with the Babylonians who will come here to oversee my administration. Settle in any city you wish and live off the land. Harvest the grapes and summer fruits and olives and store them away.”

11 When the Jews in Moab and among the Ammonites and in Edom and the other nearby countries heard that a few people were still left in Judah, and that the king of Babylon had not taken them all away, and that Gedaliah was the governor, 12 they all began to return to Judah from the many places to which they had fled. They stopped at Mizpah to discuss their plans with Gedaliah and then went out to the deserted farms and gathered a great harvest of wine grapes and other crops.

13-14 But soon afterwards Johanan (son of Kareah) and the other guerrilla leaders came to Mizpah to warn Gedaliah that Baalis, king of the Ammonites, had sent Ishmael (son of Nethaniah) to assassinate him. But Gedaliah wouldn’t believe them. 15 Then Johanan had a private conference with Gedaliah. Johanan volunteered to kill Ishmael secretly.

“Why should we let him come and murder you?” Johanan asked. “What will happen then to the Jews who have returned? Why should this remnant be scattered and lost?”

16 But Gedaliah said, “I forbid you to do any such thing, for you are lying about Ishmael.”

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