1 Jeremiah sent a letter from Jerusalem to Babylon. He sent it to the Jewish leaders and to the priests, prophets and people who were still there. Nebuchadnezzar had taken them from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 (That was after Nebuchadnezzar had taken King Jeconiah and his mother. He had taken them to Babylon with Jeconiah's officers. The leaders of Judah and Jerusalem and all the men who worked with clever hands had gone with them.) 3 Zedekiah was the king of Judah. He sent some men to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. They were Elasah, son of Shaphan, and Gemariah, son of Hilkiah. Jeremiah gave his letter to them. It said this:
4 The great and powerful Lord, Israel's God, says this to all the people. They were the people that he sent away to Babylon. 5 ‘Build houses and get comfortable. Plant gardens. And eat what grows in them. 6 You must marry each other and you must have sons and daughters. Find wives for your sons, and let your daughters marry. Then they too can have sons and daughters. I want the numbers of the people of Israel in Babylon to grow more. I do not want them to become fewer. 7 Try to make the city where you are living rich. Pray to the Lord that it will do well. If it does become rich, you will become rich too.’
8 Yes, the great and powerful Lord, Israel's God says, ‘The prophets and the people look for signs. They tell false stories to you. Do not listen to them. Do not listen to the dreams that you ask them to have. 9 They say that they are prophesying with my authority. But the things that they are telling you are not true. I have not sent them,’ says the Lord.
10 The Lord says, ‘I will come to you when you have been in Babylon for 70 years. Then I will do as I kindly promised you. I will bring you back to this place. 11 I want to do many good things for you,’ the Lord says. ‘I want you to become rich and strong, and I do not want to hurt you. I want you to believe that you will have a good future life. 12 Then you will ask for my help. And you will come and you will pray to me. And I will listen to you. 13 You will look for me. And you will find me when you really want to find me.’
14 ‘You will find me,’ says the Lord. ‘And I will bring you back from the foreign countries where you were slaves. I will bring you back from all the countries and from among the people that I sent you to,’ he says. ‘I will bring you back from the places that I sent you away to.’
15 You may say, ‘The Lord has made prophets for us here in Babylon.’ 16 But I must tell you what the Lord says about all the people in this city (Jerusalem). He is speaking to the king who sits on David's throne. And he speaks to all his people who are still in this city. They are the people who did not go with you to Babylon. 17 Yes, the great powerful Lord says, ‘I will send men with swords to hurt them. They will not have enough to eat and I will make them ill. They will be like bad figs that nobody can eat. 18 I will send men to run after them with swords. They will not have any food and I will make them ill. I will cause the people in all the other countries to hate them. People will say many bad things about them. I will send them to many nations. The people in other countries will all think that they are worth nothing. 19 I will cause that to happen because they have not listened to my words,’ says the Lord. ‘I sent these words to them again and again by my servants the prophets. And you, my people in Babylon, have not listened either,’ says the Lord.
20 ‘So you people that I have sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon must listen to me. 21 The great and powerful Lord, Israel's God, says this: Ahab, son of Kolaiah, and Zedekiah, son of Maaseiah, say that they are prophesying with my authority. But they are telling you things that are not true. So I will give them to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and he will kill them in front of you. 22 Because of them, the people from Judah that I sent to Babylon will use this curse. “We want the God of Israel to make you like Zedekiah and Ahab. He caused them to burn in the fire.” 23 That is because they have done very bad things in Israel. They have had sex with other men's wives. They have used my name to speak words that are not true. I did not tell them to say those words. I know this and I have seen it,’ says the Lord.
A message to Shemaiah
24 You must say to Shemaiah from Nehelam, 25 ‘You sent letters on your own behalf to all the people in Jerusalem,’ says the great and powerful Lord, Israel's God. ‘You wrote to Zephaniah, son of Maaseiah the priest, and to all the other priests. You said to Zephaniah, 26 “The Lord has made you priest instead of Jehoiada to care for the house of the Lord. You should put silly men who say that they are prophets into the stocks. You should put their feet between two pieces of wood and you should put their neck in an iron ring. 27 So I do not know why you have not punished Jeremiah from Anathoth. He is among you. And he says that he is a prophet. 28 He has sent a message to us in Babylon. He says that we will be here for a long time. He tells us that we should build houses. He says that we should make ourselves comfortable. And he says that we should grow food to eat.” ’
29 But Zephaniah the priest read the letter to Jeremiah the prophet. 30 Then the Lord said to Jeremiah, 31 ‘Send this message to all the people from Judah who are now in Babylon: The Lord says about Shemaiah from Nehelam, “Shemaiah has prophesied to you. But I did not send him. And he has caused you to believe a lie.” 32 So the Lord says, “I will certainly punish Shemaiah and his descendants. He will not have any descendants that are still alive among my people. He will not see the good things that I will do for my people”, says the Lord, “That is because he has taught my people not to obey me.” ’