A Bloody Account of Treachery

No treachery is worse than betrayal by a family member or friend. Julius Caesar knew such treachery. Among the conspirators who assassinated the Roman leader on March 15, 44 B. C. was Marcus Junius Brutus. Caesar not only trusted Brutus, he had favored him as a son. According to … More

This is a bloody account, an account of treachery, of jealously. Ishmael was of the royal family, one of the chief officers of the king. Perhaps that accounts for his jealousy of the man who, though of humble origin, had been appointed governor of the land. So in a scene of apparent harmony, while they were eating bread together, he rises and smites him with the sword and kills him – and not only Gedaliah but all the others who were with him in the palace at Mizpah (vv 1-3). This is a picture of treachery and murder. Is it not strange that this can lie hidden in our hearts? Any time we get angry and upset we feel this same kind of murderous rage within. At that moment, given the opportunity, if we felt that nothing bad would result to us, we would probably take somebody’s life. Because that is exactly what hate is. Hating a brother is murder, the Scriptures say.

As we read on, the account gets worse. This man Ishmael trapped eighty men who arrived in Mizpah bringing their offerings. He slew them and filled a cistern with their bodies (vv. 4-9). Then he took captive the rest of the inhabitants of Mizpah, including Jeremiah, intending to deliver them to the Ammonites. But the forces led by Johanan the son of Kareah rescued them (vv. 10-18). That is strange! These people were fleeing from the Babylonians. Yet it was the Babylonians who had appointed Gedaliah governor over the land, and they would have avenged his death. These men, who were not involved in this murder, had no reason to fear the Babylonians. But they fled from them nevertheless. Again, this is a picture of what the evil heart within us does to us. It makes us afraid of that which we need not fear. 


Hating another person is a terrible thing and I can never allow it to fester in my life.

Jeremiah 41:1-18 (English Standard Version)

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