ISHMAEL, son of Nethaniah son of Elishama, one of the military commanders in the period after the destruction of the First Temple (II Kings 25:25; Jer. 41:1). Ishmael, a descendant of the Judahite royal family, assassinated gedaliah son of Ahikam (Jer. 40:13–14), who presided over the Judean puppet government set up by Nebuchadnezzar. It would appear that Ishmael's assassination of Gedaliah at Mizpah was both personally and politically motivated. Ishmael may have been jealous of Gedaliah, who had been appointed by the Babylonians as head of the remnant of the population in Judah, and therefore may have wished to kill him for that reason alone; but he could hardly have hoped that the Babylonians would reward him for the murder by appointing him in Gedaliah's stead. His only hope to gain a positive advantage lay in continued resistance to Babylon, which would, if successful, result in his succession to the throne of David. baalis , the king of Ammon, with whom Ishmael found refuge, apparently encouraged Ishmael, because Gedaliah was a collaborator whereas the Ammonites were in open revolt against Babylon (cf. Ezek. 21:24–27, and Zedekiah's attempt to flee across the Jordan, II Kings 25:4–5), and not, as some scholars maintain, because they hoped that after the murder of Gedaliah, the Babylonians would punish the Judahite remnant and attach what was left of the territory of Judah to Ammon. After killing Gedaliah (and 70 other Israelites who had later come to Mizpah to worship), Ishmael attempted the forcible transfer to Ammon of the remnants of the Judean population left at Mizpah (Jer. 41:2–10). However, this plan was frustrated by johanan son of Kareah and the military commanders with him. They met Ishmael and his captives at Gibeon and took them back to Mizpah; only Ishmael and eight of his men escaped to the Ammonite king (Jer. 41: 11–15). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Bright, Hist, 310; Klausner, Bayit Sheni, 1 (19635), 55ff.; Ginsberg, in: A. Marx Jubilee Volume (1950), 366ff.; Yeivin, in: Tarbiz, 12 (1940/41), 261–2, 265–6; W. Rudolph, Jeremia (Ger., 1947), 685ff. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB; 1988), 326–27. (Josef Segal)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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