Who was King Gedaliah in the Bible?

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King Gedaliah reigned during the time of the Babylonian siege and defeat of Jerusalem. He ruled after king Nebuchadnezzar plundered and ruined the Jerusalem temple in 587 BC. The Babylonians took Judah’s King Zedekiah and most of the Jews captive to Babylon. The ones that remained were the poor and helpless inhabitants. They were left to take care of the land.

Appointed governor of Judah

Then, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon selected Gedaliah to serve as his Jewish governor over the Mizpah, north of Jerusalem. The prophet Jeremiah advised the people to “Settle down in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it will go well with you” (2 Kings 25:24). The Babylonians would not harm them if they submitted to them. And the prophet Jeremiah, came to Mizpah to support the governor.

To aid Gedaliah in keeping peace, Nebuchadnezzar left some of his soldiers to protect against further revolt. And Judah had a short season of peace. For the people who remained in the land “harvested an abundance of wine and summer fruit” (Jeremiah 40:12). Unfortunately, this period of peace didn’t last.

The death of Gedaliah

A group of Jewish soldiers who had not been captured by the Chaldeans returned to Jerusalem. Johanan, a captain in that group, informed Gedaliah about a conspiracy against him by another captain called Ishmael. This latter captain was planning with the support of the Ammonites to kill Gedaliah. So, Johanan asked Gedaliah to kill Ishmael to maintain peace, but he declined Johanan’s request for he didn’t believe that Ismael would actually harmful him.

Not heeding the warnings of Johanan, he instead invited Ishmael and ten men to eat bread with him  (Jeremiah 41:1). Seizing the opportunity, Ishmael and his men killed Gedaliah, his people, and his Babylonian guard. In total, Gedaliah served as a governor for only 2 months. The next day, Ishmael also killed 70 visitors who had come from the north to worship God at the temple.

Revenge for Gedaliah

Also, Ishmael imprisoned everyone in Mizpah and attempted to flee to Ammon. But before he could escape, Johanan caught up with him and liberated all of the prisoners. However, Ishmael fled back to the Ammonites.  Then, Johanan and all the captains took from Mizpah all the rest of the people and they departed and dwelt in the habitation of Chimham, which is near Bethlehem, on their way to Egypt for they feared the Babylonians (Jeremiah 41).

Later on, Jewish leaders set a minor fast to remember the death of Gedaliah, the governor of Judah, on the third day of the Hebrew month of Tishri. His death ended Jewish independence following the devastation of the First Temple.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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