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A Letter to the Exiles

29 This is the text of the letterz that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.a (This was after King Jehoiachina b and the queen mother,c the court officials and the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the skilled workers and the artisans had gone into exile from Jerusalem.) He entrusted the letter to Elasah son of Shaphan and to Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. It said:

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carriedd into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Builde houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.f Also, seekg the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Prayh to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophetsi and diviners among you deceivej you. Do not listen to the dreamsk you encourage them to have.l They are prophesying liesm to you in my name. I have not sentn them,” declares the Lord.

10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy yearso are completed for Babylon, I will come to youp and fulfill my good promiseq to bring you backr to this place. 11 For I know the planss I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prospert you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.u 12 Then you will callv on me and come and prayw to me, and I will listenx to you. 13 You will seeky me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.z 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you backa from captivity.b I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”b

15 You may say, “The Lord has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,” 16 but 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 fellow citizens who did not go with you into exile—17 yes, this is what the Lord Almighty says: “I will send the sword, famine and plaguec against them and I will make them like figsd that are so bad they cannot be eaten. 18 I will pursue them with the sword, famine and plague and will make them abhorrente to all the kingdoms of the earth, a cursec f and an object of horror,g of scornh and reproach, among all the nations where I drive them. 19 For they have not listened to my words,”i declares the Lord, “words that I sent to them again and againj by my servants the prophets.k And you exiles have not listened either,” declares the Lord.

20 Therefore, hear the word of the Lord, all you exiles whom I have sentl away from Jerusalem to Babylon. 21 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says about Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying liesm to you in my name: “I will deliver them into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will put them to death before your very eyes. 22 Because of them, all the exiles from Judah who are in Babylon will use this curse: ‘May the Lord treat you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon burnedn in the fire.’ 23 For they have done outrageous things in Israel; they have committed adulteryo with their neighbors’ wives, and in my name they have uttered lies—which I did not authorize. I knowp it and am a witnessq to it,” declares the Lord.

Message to Shemaiah

24 Tell Shemaiah the Nehelamite, 25 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You sent letters in your own name to all the people in Jerusalem, to the priest Zephaniahr son of Maaseiah, and to all the other priests. You said to Zephaniah, 26 ‘The Lord has appointed you priest in place of Jehoiada to be in charge of the house of the Lord; you should put any maniacs who acts like a prophet into the stockst and neck-irons. 27 So why have you not reprimanded Jeremiah from Anathoth, who poses as a prophet among you? 28 He has sent this messageu to us in Babylon: It will be a long time.v Therefore buildw houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.’ ”

29 Zephaniahx the priest, however, read the letter to Jeremiah the prophet. 30 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 31 “Send this message to all the exiles: ‘This is what the Lord says about Shemaiahy the Nehelamite: Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you, even though I did not sendz him, and has persuaded you to trust in lies, 32 this is what the Lord says: I will surely punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite and his descendants.a He will have no one left among this people, nor will he see the goodb things I will do for my people, declares the Lord, because he has preached rebellionc against me.’ ”


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