1 NOW THESE are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the rest of the elders in exile and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon.
2 This was after King Jeconiah [also called Coniah and Jehoiachin] and the queen mother, the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem.
3 [The letter was sent] by the hand of Elasah son of Shaphan and Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. It said:
4 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the captives whom I have caused to be carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:
5 Build yourselves houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat the fruit of them.
6 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 be diminished.
7 And seek (inquire for, require, and request) the peace and welfare of the city to which I have caused you to be carried away captive; and pray to the Lord for it, for in the welfare of [the city in which you live] you will have welfare.
8 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Let not your [false] prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you; pay no attention and attach no significance to your dreams which you dream or to theirs,
9 For they prophesy falsely to you in My name. I have not sent them, says the Lord.
10 For thus says the Lord, When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you and keep My good promise to you, causing you to return to this place.
11 For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.
12 Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you.
13 Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. [Deut. 4:29-30.]
14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will release you from captivity and gather you from all the nations and all the places to which I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I caused you to be carried away captive.
15 [But as for those still in Jerusalem] because you have said, The Lord has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,
16 Thus says the Lord concerning the king who sits upon the throne of David and concerning all the people who dwell in this city, your brethren who did not go forth with you into captivity–
17 Thus says the Lord of hosts: Behold, I am sending on them the sword, famine, and pestilence, and I will make them like vile figs which are so bad they cannot be eaten.
18 And I will pursue them with the sword, famine, and pestilence and will give them up to be tossed to and fro and to be a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, an astonishment, and a terror, a hissing and a reproach among all the nations to which I have driven them,
19 Because they have not listened to and heeded My words, says the Lord, which I sent to them persistently by My servants the prophets; but you [exiles] would not listen [either], says the Lord. [Ezek. 2:5, 7.]
20 Hear therefore the word of the Lord, all you exiles whom I have sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon.
21 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning Ahab son of Kolaiah and concerning Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying lies to you in My name: Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and he will slay them [those false prophets whom you say I have raised up for you in Babylon] before your eyes! [Jer. 29:15.]
22 And because of them, this curse shall be taken up and used by all from Judah who are in captivity in Babylon: The Lord make you like Zedekiah and like Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire–
23 Because they have committed folly in Israel and have committed adultery with their neighbors' wives and have spoken words in My name falsely, which I had not commanded them. I am the One Who knows and I am witness, says the Lord.
24 Also you shall say this concerning and to Shemaiah of Nehelam [among the exiles in Babylon]:
25 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Because you have sent letters in your [own] name to all the people who are in Jerusalem and to Zephaniah son of Maaseiah the priest and to all the priests, saying,
26 The Lord has made you [Zephaniah] priest instead of Jehoiada the [deputy] priest, that you should have oversight in the house of the Lord over every madman who makes himself a prophet, that you should put him in the stocks and collar.
27 Now therefore [continued the letter from Shemaiah in Babylon to Zephaniah in Jerusalem], why have you not rebuked Jeremiah of Anathoth, who makes himself a prophet to you?
28 For he has sent to us in Babylon, saying, [This captivity of yours] is to be long; build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat the fruit of them.
29 And Zephaniah the priest read this letter in the hearing of Jeremiah the prophet.
30 Then came the word of the Lord to Jeremiah:
31 Send [this message] to all those in captivity, saying, Thus says the Lord concerning Shemaiah of Nehelam: Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you, though I did not send him, and has caused you to trust in a lie,
32 Therefore thus says the Lord: Behold, I will punish Shemaiah of Nehelam and his offspring. He will not have anyone [born] to dwell among this people, nor will he see the good that I will do to My people, says the Lord, because he has spoken and taught rebellion against the Lord.