Jeremiah’s Letter to the Exiles
29 These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to ithe surviving elders of the exiles, and to jthe priests, jthe prophets, and jall the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 This was after kKing Jeconiah and the queen mother, the eunuchs, the officials of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the metal workers had departed from Jerusalem. 3 The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah the son of lShaphan and Gemariah the son of mHilkiah, 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 exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 nBuild houses and live in them; 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, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and opray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. 8 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: pDo not let your prophets and qyour diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream,1 9 for rit is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; sI did not send them, declares the Lord.
10 “For thus says the Lord: tWhen seventy years are completed for Babylon, uI will visit you, vand I will fulfill to you my promise vand bring you back to this place. 11 wFor I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare2 and not for evil, xto give you a future and a hope. 12 yThen you will call upon me and come and pray to me, yand I will hear you. 13 zYou will seek me and find me, when you seek me awith all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, band I will restore your fortunes and cgather you from all the nations and all the places dwhere I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
15 “Because you have said, ‘The Lord has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,’ 16 thus says the Lord concerning ethe king who sits on the throne of David, and concerning all the people who dwell in this city, your kinsmen who did not go out with you into exile: 17 ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, behold, I am sending on them fsword, famine, and pestilence, and I will make them like gvile figs that are so rotten they cannot be eaten. 18 I will pursue them with fsword, famine, and pestilence, hand will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, ito be a curse, a terror, a hissing, and a reproach among all the nations dwhere I have driven them, 19 because they did not pay attention to my words, declares the Lord, jthat I persistently sent to you by my servants the prophets, but you would not listen, declares the Lord.’ 20 Hear the word of the Lord, all you exiles kwhom I sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon: 21 ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning Ahab the son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, lwho are prophesying a lie to you in my name: Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he shall strike them down before your eyes. 22 mBecause of them nthis curse shall be used by all the exiles from Judah in Babylon: “The Lord make you like Zedekiah and Ahab, owhom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire,” 23 because they have done an outrageous thing in Israel, pthey have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and pthey have spoken in my name lying words that I did not command them. qI am the one who knows, qand I am witness, declares the Lord.’”
Shemaiah’s False Prophecy
24 To rShemaiah of Nehelam you shall say: 25 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: You have sent letters in your name to all the people who are in Jerusalem, and to sZephaniah the son of tMaaseiah the priest, and to all the priests, saying, 26 ‘The Lord has made you priest instead of Jehoiada the priest, to have ucharge in the house of the Lord vover every madman who prophesies, to put him in wthe stocks and neck irons. 27 Now why have you not rebuked Jeremiah xof Anathoth who is prophesying to you? 28 For he has sent to us in Babylon, saying, “Your exile will be long; ybuild houses and live in them, and plant gardens and eat their produce.”’”
29 sZephaniah the priest read this letter in the hearing of Jeremiah the prophet. 30 zThen the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 31 “Send to all the exiles, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord concerning aShemaiah of Nehelam: Because aShemaiah had prophesied to you bwhen I did not send him, and has made you trust in a lie, 32 therefore thus says the Lord: Behold, I will punish aShemaiah of Nehelam and his descendants. He shall not have anyone living among this people, cand he shall not see the good that I will do to my people, declares the Lord, dfor he has spoken rebellion against the Lord.’”
The Broken Covenant
11 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 a“Hear the words of this covenant, and speak to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 3 You shall say to them, Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: bCursed be the man who does not hear the words of this covenant 4 that I commanded your fathers when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, cfrom the iron furnace, saying, dListen to my voice, and do all that I command you. dSo shall you be my people, and I will be your God, 5 ethat I may confirm the oath that I swore to your fathers, fto give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as at this day.” Then I answered, “So be it, Lord.”
6 And the Lord said to me, g“Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: hHear the words of this covenant and do them. 7 For I solemnly warned your fathers when I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, iwarning them persistently, even to this day, saying, dObey my voice. 8 jYet they did not obey or incline their ear, kbut everyone walked in the stubbornness of his evil heart. Therefore I brought upon them all hthe words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but they did not.”
9 Again the Lord said to me, l“A conspiracy exists among the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 10 They have turned back to mthe iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear my words. mThey have gone after other gods to serve them. nThe house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant that I made with their fathers. 11 Therefore, thus says the Lord, Behold, I am bringing disaster upon them that they cannot escape. oThough they cry to me, I will not listen to them. 12 Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem pwill go and cry to the gods to whom they make offerings, pbut they cannot save them in the time of their trouble. 13 pFor your gods have become as many as your cities, O Judah, and as many as the streets of Jerusalem are the altars you have set up to shame, qaltars to make offerings to Baal.
14 “Therefore rdo not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, ofor I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble. 15 sWhat right has my beloved in my house, twhen she has done many vile deeds? Can even sacrificial flesh avert your doom? uCan you then exult? 16 The Lord once called you v‘a green olive tree, beautiful with good fruit.’ But wwith the roar of a great tempest he will set fire to it, and xits branches will be consumed. 17 The Lord of hosts, ywho planted you, has decreed disaster against you, because of the evil that the house of Israel and the house of Judah have done, zprovoking me to anger by making offerings to Baal.”
18 The Lord made it known to me and I knew;
then you showed me their deeds.
19 But I was alike a gentle lamb
led to the slaughter.
I did not know bit was against me
they devised schemes, saying,
“Let us destroy the tree with its fruit,
that his name be remembered no more.”
20 But, O Lord of hosts, who judges righteously,
glet me see your vengeance upon them,
for to you have I committed my cause.
21 Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the men of hAnathoth, iwho seek your life, and say, j“Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord, or you will die by our hand”— 22 therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: “Behold, I will punish them. The young men shall die by the sword, their sons and their daughters shall die by famine, 23 and none of them shall be left. For I will bring disaster upon the men of kAnathoth, lthe year of their punishment.”