And they went and stayed at Geruth Chimham near Bethlehem, intending to go to Egypt because of the Chaldeans. For they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had struck down Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land.
What looked like an act of Jewish patriotism was really a rebellion against God. The Lord had instructed the feeble survivors in Judah to obey the authority of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar left Gedaliah in control to manage Judah for the Babylonian empire. But again, the Jews would not abide by the Word of God despite the fall of Jerusalem and the experience of having the resources and people of Judah led away to Babylon.
Ishmael gathered together discontented mercenary forces and successfully led a rebel revolt. He struck down Gedaliah and several officials, along with members of the Chaldean army. He was suddenly on Babylon's "most wanted" list and the inevitable full force of the empire would roll against him. It was not a good place to be.
So an escape plan was in the works. Ishmael hoped to lead his rebel band to Egypt... perhaps hoping to form an alliance there against Babylon. The chances of success were already zero since it was really God Whom they had offended... not just to power of Babylon. The brief rebel success came at the price of disobeying God. This would not end well.