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Can there be anything more treacherous than sharing a meal with someone even as you prepare to destroy him? Such was the character of Ishmael, who fiendishly assassinated Gedaliah, the governor of Judah.

Ishmael was a Judean official who assassinated Gedaliah. After the Babylonians conquered Judah and exiled most of the nobility to Babylon, they appointed a Judean named Gedaliah to govern the people that remained. Gedaliah appealed to the Jewish officials who remained to live at peace with the Babylonians. Ishmael, who was of royal blood (Jeremiah 41:1), was among those who came to him—but it appears that his intentions were not at all honorable, for at some point he was hired by the king of nearby Ammon to assassinate Gedaliah.

Word got out about Ishmael’s plans, and an official named Johanan offered to assassinate Ishmael, but Gedaliah refused to believe the rumors. Later, when Gedaliah was eating with Ishmael and his men, they rose up and killed him along with all the other Jewish and Babylonian officials who were there.

The next day some Jewish pilgrims were passing through the area on their way to Jerusalem, and Ishmael acted as though he were mourning to convince them to stop and visit. When they did, Ishmael killed most of them, except for ten of them who offered to show Ishmael where they had stored some food. Johanan pursued Ishmael and his men, but they escaped to Ammon (Jeremiah 40–41).

Ishmael’s treachery resembles that of Judas, who also betrayed his Lord during a meal. During the Passover with Jesus, Judas rose up and went out into the night to meet with the soldiers who would arrest Jesus and lead Him to His crucifixion (John 13).