Message to the Exiles
1Now these are the words of the letter which 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 taken into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2(This was after King Jeconiah and the queen mother, the eunuchs, the princes (court officials) of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem.) 3The letter was hand-carried by Elasah the son of Shaphan and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, saying, 4“So says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the captives whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, 5‘Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. 6Take 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 decrease [in number]. 7Seek peace and well-being for the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its peace (well-being) you will have peace.’ 8For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Do not let your [false] prophets who are among you and your diviners deceive you; pay no attention and attach no significance to the dreams which they dream or to yours, 9for 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 [of exile] have been completed for Babylon, I will visit (inspect) you and keep My good promise to you, to bring you back to this place. 11For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12Then you will call on Me and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear [your voice] and I will listen to you. 13Then [with a deep longing] you will seek Me and require Me [as a vital necessity] and [you will] find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. 14I will be found by you,’ says the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and I will [free you 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 where I sent you into exile.’
15“Because you [who have remained in Jerusalem] have said, ‘The Lord has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,’ 16thus says the Lord concerning the king who sits on the throne of David, and concerning all the people who live in this city, your brothers (fellow people of Judah) who did not go with you into captivity— 17thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Behold (listen very carefully), I am sending the sword, famine, and virulent disease (pestilence) on them, and I will make them like rotten figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten. 18I will pursue them with the sword, with famine and with virulent disease; and I will make them a terror (warning) to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, a horror, a hissing, and a disgrace among all the nations to which I have driven them, 19because they have not listened to and honored My words,’ says the Lord, ‘which I sent to them again and again by My servants the prophets. Moreover, you [exiles] did not listen [either],’ says the Lord. 20Hear, 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 the son of Kolaiah and concerning Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying lies to you in My Name, ‘Behold, I will hand them over to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will slaughter them before your eyes [yes, all the false prophets in Babylon whom you follow shall die]! 22Because of them, this curse shall be taken up and used by all the exiles from Judah who are in Babylon, saying, “May the Lord make you like Zedekiah and like Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire, 23because they have acted foolishly in Israel and have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives and in My Name have spoken false and concocted words, which I did not command them. I am He who knows and I am a witness,” says the Lord.’ ”
24Also you shall speak to Shemaiah of Nehelam [among the exiles in Babylon], saying, 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 the 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, to be the overseer in the house of the Lord over every madman who prophesies, to put him in the stocks and in the iron collar, 27now therefore [continued the letter from Shemaiah in Babylon to Zephaniah in Jerusalem], why have you not rebuked Jeremiah of Anathoth, who prophesies to you? 28For he has sent word to us in Babylon, saying, ‘This captivity [of yours] will be long; build houses and live in them and plant gardens and eat their fruit.’ ” ’ ”
29Zephaniah the priest read this letter to Jeremiah the prophet. 30Then came the word of the Lord to Jeremiah, saying, 31“Send [this message] to all the exiles, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord concerning Shemaiah of Nehelam, “Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you, although I did not send him, and he has made you trust in a lie,” 32therefore thus says the Lord, “Behold, I am about to punish Shemaiah of Nehelam and his descendants. He will not have anyone [born] to live among this people, nor will he see the good that I am about to do to My people,” says the Lord, “because he has spoken and preached rebellion against the Lord.” ’ ”