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After Seventy Years, a Future Hope
1Now these are the words of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the elders remaining in exile, as well as to the kohanim, the prophets and to all the people Nebuchadnezzar had carried off captive from Jerusalem to Babylon
2(after Jeconiah the king, the queen-mother, the officers, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, and the craftsmen and the smiths, had to leave Jerusalem). The letter was sent
3by the hand of Elasah son of Shaphan, and Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom King Zedekiah of Judah sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, saying,
4thus says Adonai-Tzva’ot, the God of Israel, to all those in captivity, whom I removed as captives into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:
5“Build houses and live in them; also plant gardens and eat their fruit;
6take wives and have sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there, and do not decrease.
7Also seek the shalom of the city where I took you as captives in exile, and pray to Adonai for it—for in its shalom will you have shalom.”
8For thus says Adonai, the God of Israel: “Do not let your prophets who are among you or your diviners beguile you, and pay no attention to the dreams which you make them keep dreaming.
9For they prophesy falsely to you in My Name; I have not sent them.” It is a declaration of Adonai.
10For thus says Adonai: “After 70 years for Babylon are complete, I will visit you, and fulfill My good word toward you—to bring you back to this place.
11For I know the plans that I have in mind for you,” declares Adonai, “plans for shalom and not calamity—to give you a future and a hope.
12“Then you will call on Me, and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
13You will seek Me and find Me, when you will search for Me with all your heart.
14Then I will be found by you,” says Adonai, “and I will return you from exile, and gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,” says Adonai, “and I will bring you back to the place from which I removed you as captives into exile.”
15For you have said: “Adonai has raised up prophets for us in Babylon.”
16For thus says Adonai about the king who sits on the throne of David and about all the people who dwell in this city, your kinsmen who did not go with you into captivity,
17thus says Adonai-Tzva’ot: “I am about to send on them the sword, famine and pestilence, and will make them like vile figs, that cannot be eaten, they are so bad.
18I will pursue them with the sword, famine and pestilence, and will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth—a curse and an astonishment, a hissing and a disgrace—among all the nations where I have driven them,
19because they have not listened to My words,” declares Adonai, “which I sent to them by My servants the prophets, sending them early and often, but you would not hear.” It is a declaration of Adonai.
20“But you, hear the word of Adonai, all you of the exile whom I have sent from Jerusalem to Babylon,”
21thus says Adonai-Tzva’ot, the God of Israel, “concerning Ahab son of Kolaiah, and concerning Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, who prophesy a lie to you in My name: I will soon deliver them into the hand of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon—and he will slay them before your eyes.
22So a curse will be taken up by everyone in exile from Judah who are in Babylon, saying: ‘May Adonai make you like Zedekiah and like Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire’—
23because they have been disgraceful in Israel, committing adultery with their neighbors’ wives and speaking words in My Name falsely, which I did not command them. But I am the One who knows and I am witness.” It is a declaration of Adonai.
24Now concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite you will surely say,
25thus declares Adonai-Tzva’ot, the God of Israel, saying: “Because you have sent letters in your own name to all the people who are at Jerusalem, to Zephaniah son of Maaseiah the kohen, and to all the kohanim, saying:
26Adonai has made you kohen instead of Jehoiada the kohen, so that there should be officers in the House of Adonai for every madman prophesying and so that you will put him in the stocks and iron collar.
27So now, why haven’t you rebuked Jeremiah of Anathoth, who makes himself out to be a prophet to you?
28For he has sent word to us in Babylon, saying: “The exile will be long—build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit.’”
29So Zephaniah the kohen read this letter in the ears of the prophet Jeremiah.
30Then the word of Adonai came to Jeremiah, saying:
31Send word to all of the captivity, saying, thus says Adonai concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite: “Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you, though I did not send him, and he has caused you to trust in a lie,”
32therefore thus says Adonai, “I will indeed punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite and his offspring. There will be none living among this people, and he will not see the good that I will do to My people,” declares Adonai, “because he has spoken rebellion against Adonai.”
Jeremiah's Letter to the Jews in Babylonia
1I, the prophet Jeremiah, sent a letter from Jerusalem to Babylonia. It was for the Jewish elders who were still alive there. It was also for the priests and prophets in Babylonia. And it was for all of the other people Nebuchadnezzar had taken from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2It was sent to them after King Jehoiachin had been forced to leave Jerusalem. His mother and the court officials were taken with him. The leaders of Judah and Jerusalem and all of the skilled workers had also been forced to go to Babylon.
3I gave the letter to Elasah and Gemariah. Zedekiah, the king of Judah, had sent them to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. Elasah was the son of Shaphan. Gemariah was the son of Hilkiah. Here is what the letter said.
4The Lord who rules over all is the God of Israel. He speaks to all those he forced to go from Jerusalem to Babylon. He says, 5"Build houses and settle down. Plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6Get married. Have sons and daughters. Find wives for your sons. Give your daughters to be married. Then they too can have sons and daughters. Increase your numbers there. Do not let the number of your people get smaller.
7"Also work for the success of the city I have sent you to. Pray to the Lord for that city. If it succeeds, you too will enjoy success."
8The Lord who rules over all is the God of Israel. He says, "Do not let the prophets trick you. Do not be fooled by those who claim to have secret knowledge. Do not listen to people who try to explain their dreams to you. 9All of them are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them," announces the Lord.
10The Lord says, "You will be forced to live in Babylonia for 70 years. After they are over, I will come to you. My gracious promise to you will come true. I will bring you back home.
11"I know the plans I have for you," announces the Lord. "I want you to enjoy success. I do not plan to harm you. I will give you hope for the years to come. 12Then you will call out to me. You will come and pray to me. And I will listen to you. 13When you look for me with all your heart, you will find me.
14"I will be found by you," announces the Lord. "And I will bring you back from where you were taken as prisoners. I will gather you from all of the nations. I will gather you from the places where I have forced you to go," announces the Lord. "I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you away."
15You might say, "The Lord has given us prophets in Babylonia." 16But here is what the Lord says about the king who now sits on David's throne. He also says it about all of the people who remain in this city. And he says it about all those who did not go with you to Babylon. 17The Lord who rules over all says, "I will send war, hunger and plague against them. I will make them like bad figs. They are so bad they can't be eaten. 18I will hunt them down with war, hunger and plague. I will make all of the kingdoms on earth displeased with them. They will call down curses on them. All of the nations where I drive them will be shocked at them. They will make fun of them. And they will bring shame on them.
19"That is because they have not listened to my words," announces the Lord. "I sent messages to them again and again. I sent them through my servants the prophets. And you who were taken to Babylon have not listened either," announces the Lord.
20So listen to the Lord's message. Listen, all of you whom he has sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon. 21The Lord who rules over all is the God of Israel. He speaks about Ahab and Zedekiah. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. Ahab is the son of Kolaiah. Zedekiah is the son of Maaseiah. The Lord says about Ahab and Zedekiah, "I will hand them over to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylonia. He will put them to death. You will see it with your own eyes.
22"Because of what happens to them, people will use their names when they call down curses on someone. All those who have been taken from Judah to Babylon will use their names in that way. They will say, 'May the Lord treat you like Zedekiah and Ahab. The king of Babylonia burned them in the fire.'
23"That will happen because they have done awful things in Israel. They have committed adultery with their neighbors' wives. They have spoken lies in my name. I did not tell them to do that. I know what they have done. And I am a witness to it," announces the Lord.
Shemaiah Opposes Jeremiah
24Tell Shemaiah, the Nehelamite, 25"The Lord who rules over all is the God of Israel. He says, 'You sent letters in your own name to all of the people in Jerusalem. You also sent them to the priest Zephaniah, the son of Maaseiah. And you sent them to all of the other priests.
" 'You said to Zephaniah, 26"The Lord has appointed you priest in place of Jehoiada. He has put you in charge of the Lord's house. You are supposed to arrest any crazy person who claims to be a prophet. You should put him in prison. You should put iron bands around his neck.
27" ' "So why haven't you punished Jeremiah from Anathoth? He claims to be a prophet among you. 28He has sent a message to us in Babylon. It says, 'You will be there a long time. So build houses and settle down. Plant gardens and eat what they produce.' " ' "
29But the priest Zephaniah read the letter to me. 30Then a message came to me from the Lord. He said, 31"Send a message to all of the people who were taken away. Tell them, 'The Lord speaks about Shemaiah, the Nehelamite. He says, "Shemaiah has prophesied to you. But I did not send him. He has made you believe a lie.
32" ' "So I say, 'I will certainly punish Shemaiah, the Nehelamite. I will also punish his children after him. He will not have any children left among these people. I will do good things for my people. But he will not see them,' " ' " announces the Lord. " ' " 'That is because he has taught people to turn against me.' " ' "