Disturbing hope: Settle down in Babylon
1The prophet Jeremiah sent a letter from Jerusalem to the few surviving elders among the exiles, to the priests and the prophets, and to all the people Nebuchadnezzar had taken to Babylon from Jerusalem. 2The letter was sent after King Jeconiah, the queen mother, the court officials, the government leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, and the craftsmen and smiths had left Jerusalem. 3It was delivered to Babylon by Elasah, Shaphan’s son, and Gemariah, Hilkiah’s son—two men dispatched to Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar by King Zedekiah.
4The Lord of heavenly forces, the God of Israel, proclaims to all the exiles I have carried off from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5Build houses and settle down; cultivate gardens and eat what they produce. 6Get married and have children; then help your sons find wives and your daughters find husbands in order that they too may have children. Increase in number there so that you don’t dwindle away. 7Promote the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because your future depends on its welfare.
8The Lord of heavenly forces, the God of Israel, proclaims: Don’t let the prophets and diviners in your midst mislead you. Don’t pay attention to your dreams. 9They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I didn’t send them, declares the Lord.
10The Lord proclaims: When Babylon’s seventy years are up, I will come and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. 11I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope. 12When you call me and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. 13When you search for me, yes, search for me with all your heart, you will find me. 14I will be present for you, declares the Lord, and I will end your captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have scattered you, and I will bring you home after your long exile,#Or I will restore you to the place from which I exiled you. declares the Lord.
15Yet you say, The Lord has raised up prophets for us in Babylon:
16This is what the Lord proclaims concerning the king sitting on David’s throne and all the people who live in this city, that is, those among you who didn’t go into exile: 17The Lord of heavenly forces proclaims: I’m going to send the sword, famine, and disease against them. I will make them like rotten figs that are too spoiled to eat. 18I will pursue them with the sword, famine, and disease; and I will make them an object of horror to all nations on earth and an object of cursing, scorn, shock, and disgrace among all the countries where I have scattered them, 19because they wouldn’t listen to my words, declares the Lord, which I sent them time and again through my servants the prophets. They#Syr; MT you wouldn’t listen, declares the Lord.
20But now, all you exiles I deported from Jerusalem to Babylon, listen to the Lord’s word. 21This is what the Lord of heavenly forces, the God of Israel, proclaims concerning Ahab, Kolaiah’s son, and Zedekiah, Maaseiah’s son, who are prophesying lies to you in my name: I will hand them over to Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar, and he will slay them before your very eyes. 22Because of them, all the Judean exiles in Babylon will use this curse: "The Lord make you like Zedekiah and Ahab, who were burned alive by the king of Babylon." 23They committed a horrible scandal in Israel—adultery with their neighbors’ wives and deceit spoken in my name, with which I had nothing to do. Yet I’m still aware of it and am witness to it, declares the Lord.
24Tell Shemaiah the Nehelamite, 25This is what the Lord of heavenly forces, the God of Israel, proclaims: #Or because you sentYou sent letters on your own accord to all the people in Jerusalem, to the priest Zephaniah, Maaseiah’s son, and to the rest of the priests. 26You said to Zephaniah:#Heb lacks You said to Zephaniah. The Lord has appointed you priest in charge of the Lord’s temple instead of Jehoiada. You are responsible for putting every madman who prophesies into stocks and neck irons. 27So why haven’t you threatened Jeremiah of Anathoth, who pretends to be a prophet among you? 28He has sent a letter telling those of us in Babylon: "You are going to be there a long time, so build houses and settle down, plant gardens and eat what they produce."
29The priest Zephaniah read this letter to the prophet Jeremiah. 30Then the Lord’s word came to Jeremiah: 31Send word to all the exiles: The Lord proclaims concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite: Because Shemaiah prophesied to you when I didn’t send him, and because he convinced you to believe a lie, 32I will punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite and his descendants, declares the Lord. Not one member of this people will be around to see the good that I have in store for my people, declares the Lord, for he incited rebellion against me.