Nebuchadnezzar made a man named Gedaliah ruler over the handful of people who were left in Judea. He was a good man, and ruled justly. He took Jeremiah out of prison, and treated him kindly, and suffered him to live in the city of Mizpah, as he wished to do. Now, there were a certain number of the Jews who had fled from Jerusalem when it was taken. Hearing that the Babylonians had gone, they returned to their own country and submitted to the rule of Gedaliah. But there was among them a man named Ishmael, who was of the royal family of David, and he determined to wrest the government from Gedaliah. So he came with ten men to the house of Gedaliah, and Gedaliah, suspecting nothing, invited him and his men to dinner. But after they had eaten they rose up and slew the governor, and Ishmael fled to the land of the Ammonites.
The Jews were angry at what Ishmael had done, and were also greatly afraid, thinking the king of Babylon would avenge the death of his governor. They came in their distress to Jeremiah, and asked him what they should do. Jeremiah advised them to remain in Judea. But though they had asked his counsel, they would not accept it after he had given it, and they all removed into Egypt, carrying Jeremiah with them. So the land of Judah was left desolate and without any inhabitants.