Jeremiah’s Letter to the Exiles
1 This is the text of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets, and all the others Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 (This was after King Jeconiah, a the queen mother, the court officials, the officials of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the metalsmiths had been exiled from Jerusalem.) 3 The letter was entrusted to Elasah son of Shaphan and Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. It stated:
4 This is what the LORD of Hosts, the God of Israel, says to all the exiles who were carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down. Plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters. Take wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Multiply there; do not decrease. 7 Seek the prosperity of the city to which I have sent you as exiles. Pray to the LORD on its behalf, for if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
8 For this is what the LORD of Hosts, the God of Israel, says: “Do not be deceived by the prophets and diviners among you, and do not listen to the dreams you elicit from them. 9 For they are falsely prophesying to you in My name; I have not sent them, declares the LORD.” b
10 For this is what the LORD says: “When Babylon’s seventy years are complete, I will attend to you and confirm My promise to restore you to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore you from captivity c and gather you from all the nations and places to which I have banished you, declares the LORD. I will restore you to the place from which I sent you into exile.”
15 Because you may say, “The LORD has raised up for us prophets in Babylon,” 16 this is what the LORD says about the king who sits on David’s throne and all the people who remain in this city, your brothers who did not go with you into exile— 17 this is what the LORD of Hosts says:
“I will send against them sword and famine and plague, and I will make them like rotten figs, so bad they cannot be eaten. 18 I will pursue them with sword and famine and plague. I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth—a curse, a desolation, and an object of scorn and reproach among all the nations to which I banish them. 19 I will do this because they have not listened to My words, declares the LORD, which I sent to them again and again d through My servants the prophets. And neither have you exiles listened, declares the LORD.”
20 So hear the word of the LORD, all you exiles I have sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon. 21 This is what the LORD of Hosts, the God of Israel, says about Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying to you lies in My name: “I will deliver them to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will kill them before your very eyes. 22 Because of them, all the exiles of Judah who are in Babylon will use this curse: ‘May the LORD make you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire!’ 23 For they have committed an outrage in Israel by committing adultery with the wives of their neighbors and speaking lies in My name, which I did not command them to do. I am He who knows, and I am a witness, declares the LORD.”
The Message to Shemaiah
24 You are to tell Shemaiah the Nehelamite that 25 this is what the LORD of Hosts, the God of Israel, says: “In your own name you have sent out letters to all the people of Jerusalem, to the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, and to all the priests. You said to Zephaniah: e
26 ‘The LORD has appointed you priest in place of Jehoiada, to be the chief officer in the house of the LORD, responsible for any madman who acts like a prophet—you must put him in stocks and neck irons. 27 So now, why have you not rebuked Jeremiah of Anathoth, who poses as a prophet among you? 28 For he has sent to us in Babylon, claiming: Since the exile will be lengthy, build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat their produce.’ ”
29 (Zephaniah the priest, however, had read this letter to Jeremiah the prophet.)
30 Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: 31 “Send a message telling all the exiles what the LORD says concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite. Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you—though I did not send him—and has made you trust in a lie, 32 this is what the LORD says: ‘I will surely punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite and his descendants. He will have no one left among this people, nor will he see the good that I will bring to My people, declares the LORD, for he has preached rebellion against the LORD.’ ”
2 a Jeconiah is a variant of Jehoiachin ; see 2 Kings 24:12.
9 b Some translators close the written portion of this letter later in the chapter.
14 c Or restore your fortunes
19 d Literally I sent to them, rising up early and sending (to them)
25 e Hebrew You said ; the addressee Zephaniah is added for clarity.