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Gedaliah - (Hebrew, meaning "made great by Jehovah")

Any one of several Biblical persons:

(1.) The son of Jeduthum (1 Chr. 25:3, 9).

(2.) The grandfather of the prophet Zephaniah, and the father of Cushi (Zeph. 1:1).

(3.) One of the nobles who conspired against Jeremiah (Jer. 38:1).

(4.) The son of Ahikam, and grandson of Shaphan, secretary of king Josiah (Jer. 26:24). After the destruction of Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar left him to govern the country as tributary to him (2 Kings 25:22; Jer. 40:5; 52:16). Gedaliah was a wise man, gentle and modest. He zealously began to encourage the people to cultivate the fields and vineyards, and thus lay the foundation of security. Many who had fled to places of safety in neighboring lands during the war of destruction, were attracted by the news of the revival of the community. They came to Gedaliah in Mizpah and were warmly welcomed by him. Among the refugees who had joined Gedaliah in Mizpah was Ishmael, the son of Nataniah, a descendant of the royal house of Zedekiah, the last king. Ishmael was an ambitious man who would stop at nothing to attain his goal. Ishmael began to plot against Gedaliah. He found an ally in the king of Ammon, who had been following with apprehension the growth of the new colony.

Ishmael rose against Gedaliah, and killed him and those who were around him (Jer. 41:2, 3) at Mizpah. This happened about three months after the destruction of Jerusalem. He was, however, overtaken by Johanan and routed. He fled with such of his followers as escaped to the Ammonites (41:15). The little remnant of the Jews now fled to Egypt.

In memory of the assassination of Gedaliah and the tragedy that it brought upon the people in those days so soon after the destruction of the Temple, Jews fast on the third day of Tishrei -- the Fast of Gedaliah.