John Gills Exposition of the Bible Commentary

Verse 5 (Jeremiah 41:5)

That there came certain from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria ,.... Places in the ten tribes, and which belonged to the kingdom of Israel; so that it seems even at this distance of time, though the body of the ten tribes had been many years ago carried captive, yet there were still some religious persons sons remaining, and who had a great regard to the temple worship at Jerusalem:

even fourscore men, having their beards shaven, and their clothes rent, and having cut themselves ; as mourners for the destruction of Jerusalem, and the captivity of the people. The two first of these rites, shaving the beard, and rending of clothes, were agreeably to the law; but that of cutting themselves, their flesh with their nails, or knives, was forbidden by it, Leviticus 19:28 ; so that these people seemed to have retained some of the Heathenish customs of the places where they lived; for the king of Assyria had placed colonies of Heathens in Samaria, and the cities of it, 2 Kings 17:24 ; these came

with offerings and incense in their hands : a meat offering made of fine flour, as the word signifies; and incense, or frankincense, which used to be put upon such an offering, Leviticus 2:1 ;

to bring them to the house of the Lord ; but the temple was now destroyed; wherefore either they thought there was a tabernacle or sanctuary erected at Mizpah for divine service and sacrifice; or they intended to offer these offerings on the spot where the temple of Jerusalem stood; and where they hoped to find an altar, if only of earth, and priests to sacrifice; though the Jewish commentators, Jarchi and Kimchi, observe, that when they first set out, they had not heard of the destruction of the temple, but heard of it in the way; and therefore came in a mourning habit; but before knew nothing of it; and therefore brought offerings with them, according to the former; but, according to the latter, they had heard before they set out of the destruction of Jerusalem, and the captivity of the people; but not of the burning of the temple, until they were on their journey.

- John Gills Exposition of the Bible Commentary