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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.(A) 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:(B) 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.(C) 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.(D) 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 your dreams that you dream,(E) for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, says the Lord.(F)

10 For thus says the Lord: Only when Babylon’s seventy years are completed will I visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.(G) 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.(H) 12 Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.(I) 13 When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart,(J) 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.(K)

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:(L) 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.(M) 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,(N) 19 because they did not heed my words, says the Lord, when I persistently sent to them my servants the prophets, but you would not listen, says the Lord.(O) 20 But now, all you exiles whom I sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon, hear the word of the Lord:(P) 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,”(Q) 23 because they have perpetrated outrage in Israel and have committed adultery with their neighbors’ 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.(R)

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 letters to all the people who are in Jerusalem and to the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah and to all the priests, saying,(S) 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.(T) 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,(U) 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[a] the good that I am going to do to my people, says the Lord, for he has spoken rebellion against the Lord.(V)

Restoration Promised for Israel and Judah

30 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you.(W) For the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah, says the Lord, and I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their ancestors, and they shall take possession of it.(X)

These are the words that the Lord spoke concerning Israel and Judah:

Thus says the Lord:
We have heard a cry of panic,
    of terror, and no peace.(Y)
Ask now and see:
    Can a man bear a child?
Why then do I see every man
    with his hands on his loins like a woman in labor?
    Why has every face turned pale?(Z)
Alas! that day is so great
    there is none like it;
it is a time of distress for Jacob,
    yet he shall be rescued from it.(AA)

On that day, says the Lord of hosts, I will break his yoke from off your neck, and I will burst your bonds, and strangers shall no more make a servant of him.(AB) But they shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.(AC)

10 But as for you, have no fear, my servant Jacob, says the Lord,
    and do not be dismayed, O Israel,
for I am going to save you from far away
    and your offspring from the land of their captivity.
Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease,
    and no one shall make him afraid.(AD)
11 For I am with you, says the Lord, to save you;
I will make an end of all the nations
    among which I scattered you,
    but of you I will not make an end.
I will chastise you in just measure,
    and I will by no means leave you unpunished.(AE)

12 For thus says the Lord:
Your hurt is incurable;
    your wound is grievous.(AF)
13 There is no one to uphold your cause,
    no medicine for your wound,
    no healing for you.(AG)
14 All your lovers have forgotten you;
    they care nothing for you,
for I have dealt you the blow of an enemy,
    the punishment of a merciless foe,
because your guilt is great,
    because your sins are so numerous.(AH)
15 Why do you cry out over your hurt?
    Your pain is incurable.
Because your guilt is great,
    because your sins are so numerous,
    I have done these things to you.
16 Therefore all who devour you shall be devoured,
    and all your foes, every one of them, shall go into captivity;
those who plunder you shall be plundered,
    and all who prey on you I will make a prey.(AI)
17 For I will restore health to you,
    and your wounds I will heal,
            says the Lord,
because they have called you an outcast:
    “It is Zion; no one cares for her!”(AJ)

18 Thus says the Lord:
I am going to restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob
    and have compassion on his dwellings;
the city shall be rebuilt upon its mound
    and the citadel set on its rightful site.(AK)
19 Out of them shall come thanksgiving
    and the sound of merrymakers.
I will make them many, and they shall not be few;
    I will make them honored, and they shall not be disdained.(AL)
20 Their children shall be as of old;
    their congregation shall be established before me,
    and I will punish all who oppress them.
21 Their prince shall be one of their own;
    their ruler shall come from their midst;
I will bring him near, and he shall approach me,
    for who would otherwise dare to approach me?
            says the Lord.(AM)
22 And you shall be my people,
    and I will be your God.(AN)

23 Look, the storm of the Lord!
    Wrath has gone forth,
a whirling[b] tempest;
    it will burst upon the head of the wicked.(AO)
24 The fierce anger of the Lord will not turn back
    until he has executed and accomplished
    the intents of his mind.
In the latter days you will understand this.(AP)


  1. 29.32 Gk: Heb and he shall not see
  2. 30.23 Meaning of Heb uncertain