Jeremiah 29

Chapter 29

The Letter to the Exiles. 1 This is the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 This was after King Jeconiah and the queen mother, the court officials, the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the artisans, and the skilled workmen had gone into exile from Jerusalem. 3 He entrusted the letter to Elasah, the son of Shaphan, and to Gema-riah, the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah, the king of Judah, had sent to Babylon, to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The letter stated:

4 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I deported from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and beget sons and daughters; choose wives for your sons and husbands for your daughters, so that they may bring forth sons and daughters. While you are there, you must increase in number, not decrease.

7 In addition, seek to promote the prosperity of the city to which I have exiled you. Pray to the Lord on its behalf, for on its welfare will depend your welfare. 8 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not be deceived by the prophets and the diviners who are in your midst or listen to the dreams they relate, 9 for they are prophesying lies to you in my name. I did not send them, says the Lord.

10 For thus says the Lord: When the seventy years that I have granted to Babylon have been completed, I will visit you and fulfill my promise to you and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know full well the plans I have for you, plans for your welfare and not for your misfortune, plans that will offer you a future filled with hope.

12 When you call out to me and come forth and pray to me, I will listen to you. 13 When you search for me, you will find me. When you seek me with all your heart, 14 I will allow you to discover me, says the Lord. I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

15 You have said that the Lord has raised up prophets for you in Babylon. 16 This is what the Lord has to say concerning the king who sits on the throne of David and concerning all the people who live in this city, your countrymen who did not go forth with you into exile: 17 Thus says the Lord of hosts: I will afflict them with sword, famine, and pestilence; I will make them like rotten figs that are so repulsive they cannot be eaten.

18 I will pursue them with sword, famine, and pestilence, and I will make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth. They will be an object of cursing and horror, of scorn and derision, to all the nations among whom I have driven them. 19 For they refused to listen to my words, says the Lord, despite the fact that I persisted in sending them my servants the prophets. They continued in their stubbornness and refused to listen, says the Lord.

20 But now, all you exiles whom I sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon, hear the voice of the Lord. 21 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning Ahab, the son of Kolaiah, and Zedekiah, the son of Maaseiah, who prophesy lies to you in my name: I intend to hand them over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, and he will put them to death before your very eyes.

22 Because of them, all the exiles from Judah who were sent to Babylon will use this curse. “May the Lord make you like Zede-kiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted to death in a blazing fire.” 23 For they have perpetrated outrageous crimes in Israel; not only did they commit adultery with their neighbors’ wives, but in my name they have spoken lies that I never commanded them to utter. I know these things and bear witness to them, says the Lord.

24 Prophecy of Shemaiah. Address these words to Shemaiah the Nehelamite. 25 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Acting on your own authority, you have sent a letter to all the people in Jerusalem, to the priest Zephaniah, the son of Maaseiah, and to all the other priests 26 asserting that the Lord has appointed you as priest in place of Jehoiada, and that you are to appoint officers to be in charge of the Lord’s house and place any madman into the stocks or the pillory who poses as a prophet. 27 Why then have you not rebuked Jeremiah of Anathoth who poses as a prophet among you? 28 He has even sent us a message in Babylon, saying, ‘It will be a long time. Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce.’ ”

29 When the priest Zephaniah read this letter to the prophet Jeremiah, 30 the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. 31 “Send this message to all of the exiles. ‘Thus says the Lord in regard to Shemaiah of Nehelam, “Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you even though I did not send him to do so, and has led you to place your trust in false prophecies, 32 therefore, says the Lord, I intend to punish Shemaiah of Nehelam and his descendants. None of them will survive among this people to witness the happiness that I will bestow on my people, says the Lord, because he has preached rebellion against the Lord.” ’ ”

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