II Kin. 25:22-26; Jer. 39:11-41:18
Political upheaval begets political turmoil. The Babylonians had destroyed Judah and their capitol, Jerusalem. Many of the Judeans had been killed and many had been taken as captives into Babylon, but Nebuchadnezzar had allowed a remnant to remain and care for the land.
Judah would have no king of their own to lead them, but Nebuchadnezzar appointed Gedaliah, a close friend of the prophet Jeremiah as governor over them. His government was set up at Mizpah, a town near the destroyed Jerusalem. The new governor was not of the lineage of David, but he was well known in governmental circles. He began his difficult task of leading a broken nation by urging all to serve the Babylonians and it would be well for them.
Jeremiah had been on good terms with the Babylonian king, but as people were being rounded up to be taken captive to Babylon, he was also taken. Upon the king’s orders he was released and allowed to remain in Judah.
When word reached the Jews who had been residing in other countries that a remnant had been left in Judah with Gedaliah as their governor, they returned to their homeland. There was still much unrest among the people.
Johanan, of the governor’s security forces reported that the Ammonite king had sent Ishmael, an assassin to kill him. Gedaliah did not believe him and ignored the threat upon his life. However, after only two months as governor, Gedaliah and those with him were killed as they hosted a meal with their killers. Among the chain of events that took place, other people were killed and many captives taken to the Ammonites. In the end, Johanan and his forces rescued the captives, but Ishmael and eight of his men escaped. Johanan and those with him turned toward Egypt to find refuge there.