40 The Lord spoke his word to Jeremiah after Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, let him go at Ramah. Nebuzaradan found Jeremiah in chains along with the captives of Jerusalem and Judah who were being taken to Babylon. 2 The captain of the guard took Jeremiah aside and said to him, “The Lord your God threatened to bring this disaster on this place. 3 He has carried out his threat. The Lord did as he promised because you Israelites have sinned against him and refused to obey him. That is why this has happened to you. 4 Today I’m removing the chains from your hands. If you would like to come with me to Babylon, come, and I’ll look after you. But if you don’t want to come with me to Babylon, don’t come. The whole land is yours. Go wherever you want.
5 “If you wish to remain,[a] then go back to Gedaliah, son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon appointed to govern the cities of Judah. Live among the people with him, or go anywhere you want.” The captain of the guard gave Jeremiah some food and a present and let him go. 6 Jeremiah went to Gedaliah, son of Ahikam, at Mizpah and lived with him among the people who were left in the land.
7 All the army commanders and their men who were in the field heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah, son of Ahikam, to govern the country and some of the country’s poorest men, women, and children who had not been taken away to Babylon. 8 These are the commanders who went with their men to Gedaliah at Mizpah: Ishmael (son of Nethaniah), Johanan and Jonathan (sons of Kareah), Seraiah (son of Tanhumeth), the sons of Ephai from Netophah, and Jezaniah, who was the son of a man from Maacah. 9 Gedaliah, son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, swore an oath to them and their men. He said, “Don’t be afraid to serve the Babylonians. Live in this country, serve the king of Babylon, and you will prosper. 10 I’m going to live in Mizpah and represent you when the Babylonians come to us. Gather grapes, summer fruit, and olive oil, and put them in storage jars. Live in the cities you have taken over.”
11 Now, all the Jews who were in Moab, Ammon, Edom, and in all the other countries heard that the king of Babylon had left a few survivors in Judah and had appointed Gedaliah, son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, to govern them. 12 So all the Jews returned from all the places where they had been scattered. They came to Judah and to Gedaliah at Mizpah. They gathered a large harvest of grapes and summer fruit.
13 Kareah’s son Johanan and all the army commanders who were still in the country came to Gedaliah at Mizpah. 14 They asked him, “Do you know that King Baalis of the Ammonites has sent Ishmael, Nethaniah’s son, to kill you?” However, Gedaliah, son of Ahikam, didn’t believe them.
15 Then Johanan, Kareah’s son, secretly asked Gedaliah at Mizpah, “Let me kill Ishmael, Nethaniah’s son. No one will know about it. Why should he kill you? All the Jews who have gathered around you would scatter. What is left of Judah would disappear.”
16 Gedaliah, son of Ahikam, told Johanan, Kareah’s son, “Don’t do that! What you are saying about Ishmael is a lie.”
Jeremiah 40:5Hebrew meaning of “If you wish to remain” uncertain.
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