- Jer. 40:7-16; 41:1-18; 42:1-22; 43:1-13; 44:1-30; 51:64b
Only two months after Jerusalem's fall conflict arises within the remnant of Judah. Recall that Nebuchadnezzar had setup Gedaliah as governor of Judah. Only the poorest Israelites had been left in Judah, the rest were carried to Babylon. Some of these men, led by a man named Ishmael, plotted to kill Gedaliah. A man named Johanan along with the army officers alerted Gedaliah to the plot but he did not believe them. Ishmael and company killed Gedaliah along with all of the Jews and Babylonian soldiers who were present at the town of Mizpah with Gedaliah. The very next day, before anyone knew Gedaliah was dead, Ishmael and company then killed 70 men who came to talk with Gedaliah. They threw their bodies in a well. Ishmael took the remaining people of Mizpah captive and was going to flee to the Ammonites.
Afterward, Johanan and the army officers with him heard what happened and went searching for Ishmael. They caught up with him and rescued the people of Mizpah who were captive but Ishmael escaped along with eight of his men. Johanan then went to Jeremiah to seek advice from GOD. They were afraid that if they remained in the land of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar would kill them because of the death of Gedaliah, the king's governor, even though they were innocent of Gedaliah's death. They wanted to go to Egypt to be safe. Regardless of GOD's response, they promised to obey.
Jeremiah inquired of GOD and, after 10 days, GOD responded. He told the Jews to remain in Judah and He would ensure they were safe. However, if they went to Egypt they would all die by sword or famine. The people broke their promise, once Jeremiah reported what GOD said, and went to Egypt anyway, taking Jeremiah with them. There, they offered incense and worshiped the Egyptian idol Queen of Heaven. GOD spoke to Jeremiah again to tell him what would happen to those who went to Egypt, and yet again they refused to believe.
Obviously the Israelites needed 70 years of punishment in order to bring about true repentance. GOD rebuked this remnant who went to Egypt because, despite the suffering they had endured, they refused to repent.
9 Have you forgotten the wickedness committed by your ancestors and by the kings and queens of Judah and the wickedness committed by you and your wives in the land of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem? 10 To this day they have not humbled themselves or shown reverence, nor have they followed my law and the decrees I set before you and your ancestors.
(Jer. 44:9-10 NIV)