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Jeremiah’s Letter to the Exiles in Babylon

29 These are the words of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining elders among the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. This was after King Jeconiah, and the queen mother, the court officials, the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the artisans, and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem. The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah son of Shaphan and Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom King Zedekiah of Judah sent to Babylon to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. It said: Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let the prophets and the diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream,[a] for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, says the Lord.

10 For thus says the Lord: Only when Babylon’s seventy years are completed will I visit you, and I will fulfil to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12 Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13 When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, 14 I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

15 Because you have said, ‘The Lord has raised up prophets for us in Babylon’— 16 thus says the Lord concerning the king who sits on the throne of David, and concerning all the people who live in this city, your kinsfolk who did not go out with you into exile: 17 Thus says the Lord of hosts, I am going to let loose on them sword, famine, and pestilence, and I will make them like rotten figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten. 18 I will pursue them with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence, and will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be an object of cursing, and horror, and hissing, and a derision among all the nations where I have driven them, 19 because they did not heed my words, says the Lord, when I persistently sent to you my servants the prophets, but they[b] would not listen, says the Lord. 20 But now, all you exiles whom I sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon, hear the word of the Lord: 21 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying a lie to you in my name: I am going to deliver them into the hand of King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon, and he shall kill them before your eyes. 22 And on account of them this curse shall be used by all the exiles from Judah in Babylon: ‘The Lord make you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire’, 23 because they have perpetrated outrage in Israel and have committed adultery with their neighbours’ wives, and have spoken in my name lying words that I did not command them; I am the one who knows and bears witness, says the Lord.

The Letter of Shemaiah

24 To Shemaiah of Nehelam you shall say: 25 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: In your own name you sent a letter to all the people who are in Jerusalem, and to the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, and to all the priests, saying, 26 The Lord himself has made you priest instead of the priest Jehoiada, so that there may be officers in the house of the Lord to control any madman who plays the prophet, to put him in the stocks and the collar. 27 So now why have you not rebuked Jeremiah of Anathoth who plays the prophet for you? 28 For he has actually sent to us in Babylon, saying, ‘It will be a long time; build houses and live in them, and plant gardens and eat what they produce.’

29 The priest Zephaniah read this letter in the hearing of the prophet Jeremiah. 30 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 31 Send to all the exiles, saying, Thus says the Lord concerning Shemaiah of Nehelam: Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you, though I did not send him, and has led you to trust in a lie, 32 therefore thus says the Lord: I am going to punish Shemaiah of Nehelam and his descendants; he shall not have anyone living among this people to see[c] the good that I am going to do to my people, says the Lord, for he has spoken rebellion against the Lord.

Footnotes

  1. Jeremiah 29:8 Cn: Heb your dreams that you cause to dream
  2. Jeremiah 29:19 Syr: Heb you
  3. Jeremiah 29:32 Gk: Heb and he shall not see

A Letter to the Exiles

29 This is the text of the letter(A) that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.(B) (This was after King Jehoiachin[a](C) and the queen mother,(D) the court officials and the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the skilled workers and the artisans had gone into exile from Jerusalem.) He entrusted the letter to Elasah son of Shaphan and to Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. It said:

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried(E) into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build(F) houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.(G) Also, seek(H) the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray(I) to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets(J) and diviners among you deceive(K) you. Do not listen to the dreams(L) you encourage them to have.(M) They are prophesying lies(N) to you in my name. I have not sent(O) them,” declares the Lord.

10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years(P) are completed for Babylon, I will come to you(Q) and fulfill my good promise(R) to bring you back(S) to this place. 11 For I know the plans(T) I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper(U) you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.(V) 12 Then you will call(W) on me and come and pray(X) to me, and I will listen(Y) to you. 13 You will seek(Z) me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.(AA) 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back(AB) from captivity.[b] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”(AC)

15 You may say, “The Lord has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,” 16 but this is what the Lord says about the king who sits on David’s throne and all the people who remain in this city, your fellow citizens who did not go with you into exile— 17 yes, this is what the Lord Almighty says: “I will send the sword, famine and plague(AD) against them and I will make them like figs(AE) that are so bad they cannot be eaten. 18 I will pursue them with the sword, famine and plague and will make them abhorrent(AF) to all the kingdoms of the earth, a curse[c](AG) and an object of horror,(AH) of scorn(AI) and reproach, among all the nations where I drive them. 19 For they have not listened to my words,”(AJ) declares the Lord, “words that I sent to them again and again(AK) by my servants the prophets.(AL) And you exiles have not listened either,” declares the Lord.

20 Therefore, hear the word of the Lord, all you exiles whom I have sent(AM) away from Jerusalem to Babylon. 21 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says about Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying lies(AN) to you in my name: “I will deliver them into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will put them to death before your very eyes. 22 Because of them, all the exiles from Judah who are in Babylon will use this curse: ‘May the Lord treat you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon burned(AO) in the fire.’ 23 For they have done outrageous things in Israel; they have committed adultery(AP) with their neighbors’ wives, and in my name they have uttered lies—which I did not authorize. I know(AQ) it and am a witness(AR) to it,” declares the Lord.

Message to Shemaiah

24 Tell Shemaiah the Nehelamite, 25 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You sent letters in your own name to all the people in Jerusalem, to the priest Zephaniah(AS) son of Maaseiah, and to all the other priests. You said to Zephaniah, 26 ‘The Lord has appointed you priest in place of Jehoiada to be in charge of the house of the Lord; you should put any maniac(AT) who acts like a prophet into the stocks(AU) and neck-irons. 27 So why have you not reprimanded Jeremiah from Anathoth, who poses as a prophet among you? 28 He has sent this message(AV) to us in Babylon: It will be a long time.(AW) Therefore build(AX) houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.’”

29 Zephaniah(AY) the priest, however, read the letter to Jeremiah the prophet. 30 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 31 “Send this message to all the exiles: ‘This is what the Lord says about Shemaiah(AZ) the Nehelamite: Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you, even though I did not send(BA) him, and has persuaded you to trust in lies, 32 this is what the Lord says: I will surely punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite and his descendants.(BB) He will have no one left among this people, nor will he see the good(BC) things I will do for my people, declares the Lord, because he has preached rebellion(BD) against me.’”

Footnotes

  1. Jeremiah 29:2 Hebrew Jeconiah, a variant of Jehoiachin
  2. Jeremiah 29:14 Or will restore your fortunes
  3. Jeremiah 29:18 That is, their names will be used in cursing (see verse 22); or, others will see that they are cursed.

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