1The soldiers from Babylonia captured me and many other people from Jerusalem and other places in Judah. They planned to take us to Babylon. So they fastened chains around our wrists and took us to Ramah town north of Jerusalem. While we were there, I was released. This is how it happened:
2Nebuzaradan, the captain of the king's bodyguards, found that I was there. He summoned me and said to me, “Yahweh your God said that he would cause this land to experience a disaster.
3And now he has caused it to happen. He has done just what he said that he would do, because you people sinned against Yahweh and refused to obey him.
4But today I am going to take the chains off your wrists and release you. If you want to come with me to Babylon, that will be fine. I will take care of you. But if you do not want to come with me, do not come. Stay here. Look, the entire country is available; you can choose whatever part you want to go to. You can go wherever you wish.” Then he took the chains off my wrists.
5He said, “If you decide to stay here, go to Gedaliah. The King of Babylon appointed him to be the governor of Judah. You will be allowed to stay here with the people that he is governing. But you can do whatever you want to.” Then Nebuzaradan gave me some food and some money, and he allowed me to go.
6I returned to Gedaliah at Mizpah, and I stayed in Judah with the people who still remained in the land.
7The Israeli soldiers who had not surrendered to the army of Babylonia were roaming around in the countryside. Then their leaders heard someone say that the King of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah to be the governor of the very poor people who were still in Judah, who had not been taken to Babylon.
8So they went to talk to Gedaliah at Mizpah. Those who went included Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, Johanan and Jonathan the sons of Kareah, Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth, the sons of Ephai from Netophath, and Jezaniah from Maacah, and the soldiers who were with them.
9Gedaliah solemnly promised that the soldiers from Babylonia would not harm them. He said, “Do not be afraid to do things for them. Stay here in this land and do things for the King of Babylon. If you do that, things will go well for you.
10As for me, I will stay here at Mizpah to be your representative to the officials from Babylonia who come to talk with us. But you should return to your towns, and eat the things that are produced on your land. Harvest the grapes and the fruit that ripen in the ◄summer/hot season► and the olives, make wine and olive oil, and store it.”
11Then the Jews who had fled to Moab, Ammon, Edom, and other nearby countries heard people say that the King of Babylon had allowed a few people to remain in Judah, and that he had appointed Gedaliah to be their governor.
12So they began to return to Judah. They stopped at Mizpah to talk with Gedaliah. Then they went to various places in Judea, and they harvested a great amount of grapes and summer fruit.
13Some time later, Johanan and all the other leaders of the Israeli soldiers who had not surrendered to the army of Babylonia came to Gedaliah at Mizpah.
14They said to him, “Do you know that Baalis, the king of the Ammon people-group, has sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to assassinate you?” But Gedaliah did not believe what they said.
15Later Johanan talked with Gedaliah privately. He said, “Allow me to go and murder Ishmael secretly. It would not be good RHQ to allow him to come and murder you! If you are killed, what will happen to all the Jews who have returned to this area? They will be scattered, and the other people who remain in Judah will all be killed!”
16But Gedaliah said to Johanan, “ No, I will not allow you to do that. I think that you are lying about Ishmael.”