The letter to the exiles
1 This is the text of the letter the prophet Jeremiah sent to the rest of the elders, to the priests, the prophets and to all the people that Nebu chad nezzar had deported from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 This was after King Jeko niah, the queen mother, the officials, the prin ces of Judah and Jerusalem, the smiths and metalworkers had left Jerusalem.
3 The letter was hand-carried by Elasah son of Shaphan and Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to King Nebu chadnezzar in Babylon. It said:
4 This is what Yahweh God of hosts and God of Israel says to all those deported from Jeru salem to Babylon:
5 “Build houses and live in them, plant gardens and eat what they produce, 6 marry and have children, seek wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too will have children. While there, in crease in number; do not decrease. 7 Pull yourselves together for the welfare of the land to which I have sent you and intercede on its behalf as you pray to Yahweh; for its welfare will be your welfare.”
10 This is what Yahweh says, “When the seventy years allowed to Babylon have been completed I will come to you and fulfill my promise of restoring you back to this place. 11 For I know what my plans for you are, plans to save you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and to give you hope.”
12 And Yahweh says, “When you call on me I will listen. 13 You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.” 14 For Yahweh says, “I will let myself be found by you and I will gather you from among all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you and bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
15 Indeed you are trusting in prophets allegedly raised for you by Yahweh in Babylon. 16 But this is the word of Yah weh: 8 Do not be de ceived by the pro phets and seers who are among you. Do not believe in their dreams or be confident in their illusions. 9 For I did not send them and they take advantage of my name to foretell lies. As for the king who sits on the throne of David and all the people who live in this city (your kinsfolk who did not go into exile with you); 17 thus says Yahweh God of hosts, “I am sending sword, famine and plague against them. I will make them like rotten figs, so rotten they cannot be eaten. 18 I will pursue them with sword, famine and plague. They will be a horror for all the kingdoms of the earth, a curse, an abomination, a sign of desolation, mockery and ridicule among all the nations where I scatter them. 19 For they did not heed my words when I sent them again and again my servants, the prophets. They refused to pay attention.
20 As for you, exiles, whom I sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon, hear the word of Yah weh. 21 This is what Yahweh the God of hosts and the God of Israel says concerning Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah who prophesy lies in my name, “I will hand them over to Nebu chadnezzar, king of Babylon and he will slay them before your eyes. 22 This will give rise to a curse widely used by the captives from Judah in Babylon: ‘May the Lord treat you like Zedekiah and Ahab, who were roasted in the fire by the king of Babylon!’ 23 for they have acted outrageously: they have com mitted adult ery with their neighbors’ wives and have used my name to proclaim lies which I did not command them. I know it and have witnessed it,” declares Yahweh.
24 After that Shemaiah of Nehelam 25 sent letters in his own name to all the people in Jerusalem and to Zephaniah, son of Maa seiah the priest and to all the priests saying, 26 “Yahweh has made you priest in place of Jehoiada to be in charge in the House of Yahweh to arrest every mad prophet and put him in the stocks and neck-irons. 27 So why have you not rebuked Jeremiah of Anathoth, a would-be prophet in your midst? 28 In this role he sent a message to us in Babylon: You will be there for a long time! Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce.”
29 When Zephaniah the priest read this letter in the hearing of the prophet Jere miah, 30 the word of Yahweh came to Jere miah, 31 “Send this message to all the exiles: This is what Yah weh says concerning Shemaiah of Nehelam: Shemaiah pro phesied although I did not send him and he made you trust in lies. 32 Because of that I will punish Shemaiah and his descendants; none of them will live to witness the blessings I will bestow on my people, for he incited my people to rebel against Yahweh.”