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25 that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel,[a] has a message for him.[b] Tell him,[c] ‘On your own initiative[d] you sent a letter[e] to the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah[f] and to all the other priests and to all the people in Jerusalem. In your letter you said to Zephaniah,[g]

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  1. Jeremiah 29:25 tn Heb “Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel.”sn See study notes on 2:19 and 7:3 for the explanation of this title.
  2. Jeremiah 29:25 tn Heb “Tell Shemaiah the Nehelamite, ‘Thus says Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel….” The indirect quotation is used in the translation to avoid the complexity of embedding a quotation within a quotation.
  3. Jeremiah 29:25 sn Jer 29:24-32 are concerned with Jeremiah’s interaction with a false prophet named Shemaiah. The narrative in this section is not in strict chronological order and is somewhat elliptical. It begins with a report of a message that Jeremiah appears to have delivered directly to Shemaiah and refers to a letter that Shemaiah sent to the priest Zephaniah, encouraging him to reprimand Jeremiah for what Shemaiah considered treasonous words in his letter to the exiles (vv. 24-28; compare v. 28 with v. 5). However, Jeremiah is in Jerusalem, and Shemaiah is in Babylon. The address must then be part of a second letter Jeremiah sent to Babylon. Following this the narrative refers to Zephaniah reading Shemaiah’s letter to Jeremiah and Jeremiah sending a further letter to the captives in Babylon (vv. 29-32). This is probably not a third letter but part of the same letter in which Jeremiah reprimands Shemaiah for sending his letter to Zephaniah (vv. 25-28; the same letter referred to in v. 29). So here is the order of events. Jeremiah sent a letter to the captives counseling them to settle down in Babylon (vv. 1-23). Shemaiah sent a letter to Zephaniah asking him to reprimand Jeremiah (vv. 26-28). After Zephaniah read that letter to Jeremiah (v. 29), Jeremiah wrote a further letter to Babylon reprimanding Shemaiah (vv. 25-28, 31) and pronouncing judgment on him (v. 32). The elliptical nature of the narrative is reflected in the fact that vv. 25-27 are part of a long causal sentence that sets forth an accusation but has no corresponding main clause or announcement of judgment. This kind of construction involves a rhetorical figure (called aposiopesis) where what is begun is not finished for various rhetorical reasons. Here the sentence that is broken off is part of an announcement of judgment that is not picked up until v. 32 after a further (though related) accusation (v. 31b).
  4. Jeremiah 29:25 tn Heb “In your [own] name.” See the study note on 23:27 for the significance of this idiom.
  5. Jeremiah 29:25 tn Heb “letters.” Though GKC 397 §124.b, n. 1 denies it, this is probably a case of the plural of extension. For a similar usage see Isa 37:14, where the plural “letters” is referred to later as an “it.” Even if there were other “letters,” the focus is on the letter to Zephaniah.
  6. Jeremiah 29:25 sn According to Jer 52:24 and 2 Kgs 25:18, Zephaniah son of Maaseiah was second in command to the high priest. He was the high ranking priest who was sent, along with a civic official, by Zedekiah to inquire of the Lord’s will from Jeremiah on two separate occasions (Jer 21:1; 37:3).
  7. Jeremiah 29:25 tn The words “In your letter you said to Zephaniah” are not in the text: Heb “you sent a letter to…, saying.” The sentence has been broken up to conform better to contemporary English style, and these words have been supplied in the translation to make the transition to the address to Zephaniah in vv. 26-28.