The Murder of Gedaliah: Lessons for us

'Stay in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it will go well with you.' For the Fast of Gedaliah, the day following Rosh Hashanah.

Professor Gerald Aranoff, | updated: 13:05

Judaism Prof. G. Aranoff
Prof. G. Aranoff

Today we fast, mourning the murder/assassination death of the righteous Gedaliah who lived in the time of the prophet Jeremiah.  I suggest that the lesson for us today is to remain steadfast in living, building, and defending Israel---the repeated warnings/admonitions of Jeremiah and Gedaliah .

In the Bible:

“The king of Babylon had them struck down and put to death at Riblah, in the region of Hamath. Thus Judah was exiled from its land. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon put Gedaliah son of Ahikam son of Shaphan in charge of the people whom he left in the land of Judah. When the officers of the troops and their men heard that the king of Babylon had put Gedaliah in charge, they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah with Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan son of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah son of the Maachite, together with their men.

"Gedaliah reassured [lit. took an oath to them] them and their men, saying, Do not be afraid [Jeremiah 40.9 reads “to serve the Chaldeans”] of the servants of the Chaldeans. Stay in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it will go well with you. In the seventh month, Ishmael son of Nethaniah son of Elishama, who was of royal descent, came with ten men, and they struck down Gedaliah and he died; [they also killed] the Judeans and the Chaldeans who were present with him at Mizpah. And all the people, young and old, and the officers of the troops set out and went to Egypt because they were afraid of the Chaldeans.” (Kings 2:25:21-26)."

Jeremiah promises us, more than once in the Book of Jeremiah, and Gedaliah here that if we stay in Israel, all will be well.  In the Book of Jeremiah God did promise Baruch Ben Neriah survival wherever he would go:

“Thus said the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning you, Baruch: You say, Woe is me! The Lord has added grief to my pain. I am worn out with groaning, and I have found no rest. Thus shall you speak to him: Thus said the Lord: I am going to overthrow what I have built, and uproot what I have planted-this applies to the whole land. And do you expect great things for yourself ? Don’t expect them. For I am going to bring disaster upon all flesh—declares the Lord—but I will at least grant you your life [lit. he shall have his life as booty] in all the places where you may go.” (Jeremiah 45:2-5)

The wicked/cruel King of Ammon sent the assassin

Encyclopedia Judaica (1910): “Baalis, king of the Ammonites, envious of the Jewish colony’s prosperity, or jealous of the might of the Babylonian king, instigated Ishmael, son of Nathaniel, of the royal seed, to make an end of the Judean rule in Palestine. Ishmael, being an unscrupulous character, permitted himself to become the tool of the Ammonite king in order to realize his own ambition to become the ruler of the deserted land.”

Lessons for us

What are lessons for us?  

First: stay, build, and defend Israel.

Second: watch out for conspiracy theories of foreign enemies that seek our harm, such as was the wicked/cruel King of Ammon. Parts of Europe and the Left in the USA etc are largely anti-Semitic and a danger to us.

Third: pray to God.  May it be His Will that we have the full redemption speedily in our time.