Jeremiah’s Letter to the Exiles
1This is the text of the letter#2Sm 11:14–15; 1Kg 21:8–11 that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining exiled elders, the priests, the prophets, and all the people Nebuchadnezzar#2Kg 24:11; 25:22; 2Ch 36:6–13 had deported from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2This was after King Jeconiah,#29:2 = Jehoiachin#Jr 24:1; 27:20; 28:4 the queen mother, the court officials, the officials of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the metalsmiths had left Jerusalem. 3He sent the letter with Elasah son of Shaphan and Gemariah son of Hilkiah,#1Ch 6:13 whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The letter stated:
4This is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the exiles I deported from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5“Build houses and live in them.#Jr 29:28 Plant gardens and eat their produce. 6Find wives for yourselves, and have sons and daughters. Find wives for your sons and give your daughters to men in marriage so that they may bear sons and daughters. Multiply there; do not decrease.#Gn 17:5–6; 35:10–11 7Pursue the well-being#29:7 Or peace of the city I have deported you to. Pray to the Lord on its behalf,#Ezr 6:10; 1Tm 2:1–2 for when it thrives, you will thrive.”
8For this is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Don’t let your prophets who are among you#Jr 27:9 and your diviners deceive you,#Jr 27:15 and don’t listen to the dreams you elicit from them, 9for they are prophesying falsely to you in my name. I have not sent them.”#Jr 5:31; 14:14; 20:6; 23:25–26,32; 27:10,14–16; 29:21,31 This is the Lord’s declaration.
10For this is what the Lord says: “When seventy years for Babylon are complete,#Jr 25:12; Dn 9:2 I will attend to you and will confirm my promise concerning you to restore you to this place. 11For I know the plans I have for you”#Ps 33:10; Jr 26:3; 36:3 — this is the Lord’s declaration — “plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12You will call to me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.#Dt 30:1–10; Jr 3:12 13You will seek me#Dt 4:29; 1Ch 28:9; 2Ch 15:2 and find me when you search for me with all your heart. 14I will be found by you” — this is the Lord’s declaration — “and I will restore your fortunes#29:14 Or will end your captivity#Jb 42:10; Jr 32:44; 49:39; Ezk 16:53; 39:25; Hs 6:11; Zph 2:7 and gather you from all the nations and places where I banished you” — this is the Lord’s declaration. “I will restore you to the place from which I deported you.”#Dt 30:3; Jr 30:3
15You have said, “The Lord has raised up prophets for us in Babylon!” 16But this is what the Lord says concerning the king sitting on David’s throne#Jr 17:25; 22:2,30; 36:30 and concerning all the people living in this city — that is, concerning your brothers who did not go with you into exile. 17This is what the Lord of Armies says: “I am about to send sword, famine, and plague against them,#Jr 14:12; 21:9; 24:10 and I will make them like rotten figs that are inedible because they are so bad. 18I will pursue them with sword, famine, and plague. I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth — a curse and a desolation, an object of scorn and a disgrace among all the nations#Dt 28:37; 2Ch 29:8; 30:7; Jr 5:30; 19:8; 25:9,18; 29:18; 42:18; 44:12,22; 49:17; 50:13; Mc 6:16; Zph 2:15 where I have banished them.#Dt 30:1; Jr 8:3; 16:15 19I will do this because they have not listened to my words” — this is the Lord’s declaration — “the words that I sent to them with my servants the prophets time and time again.#29:19 Lit prophets, rising up early and sending#Jr 7:13,25; 11:7; 25:3; 26:5; 32:33; 35:14–15; 44:4 And you too have not listened.” This is the Lord’s declaration.
20Hear the word of the Lord, all you exiles I have sent from Jerusalem to Babylon.#Jr 24:5 21This is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says about Ahab son of Kolaiah and concerning Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, the ones prophesying a lie to you in my name:#Jr 14:14; 29:9 “I am about to hand them over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, and he will kill them before your very eyes. 22Based on what happens to them, all the exiles of Judah who are in Babylon will create a curse#Is 65:15 that says, ‘May the Lord make you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire! ’ #Dn 3:6 23because they have committed an outrage#Gn 34:7; Dt 22:21; Jos 7:15 in Israel by committing adultery with their neighbors’ wives and have spoken in my name a lie, which I did not command them. I am he who knows, and I am a witness.” This is the Lord’s declaration.
24To Shemaiah the Nehelamite you are to say, 25“This is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says: You#29:25 Lit Because you in your own name have sent out letters to all the people of Jerusalem, to the priest Zephaniah#Jr 21:1; 37:3; 52:24–27 son of Maaseiah, and to all the priests, saying, 26‘The Lord has appointed you priest in place of the priest Jehoiada to be the chief officer#2Ch 31:13; Jr 20:1 in the temple of the Lord, responsible for every madman#2Kg 9:11; Hs 9:7 who acts like a prophet. You must confine him in the stocks#2Ch 16:10; Jr 20:2 and an iron collar. 27So now, why have you not rebuked Jeremiah of Anathoth who has been acting like a prophet among you?#Jr 1:1 28For he has sent word to us in Babylon, claiming, “The exile will be long. Build houses and settle down. Plant gardens and eat their produce.”’” #Jr 29:5
29The priest Zephaniah read this letter in the hearing of the prophet Jeremiah.
A Message about Shemaiah
30Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 31“Send a message to all the exiles, saying, ‘This is what the Lord says concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite. Because Shemaiah prophesied to you, though I did not send him, and made you trust a lie,#Jr 27:10,14–16; 28:15; 29:9,21,23 32this is what the Lord says: I am about to punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite and his descendants. There will not be even one of his descendants living among these people,#Jr 17:6 nor will any ever see the good that I will bring to my people — this is the Lord’s declaration — for he has preached rebellion against the Lord.’”#Jr 28:16