1 Jeremiah sent a letter from Jerusalem to the people of Judah who were in Babylon. He sent it to the Israelite leaders and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people who were there. Nebuchadnezzar had taken them there as prisoners from Jerusalem. 2 He sent the letter after King Nebuchadnezzar had taken King Jeconiah and his mother away from Jerusalem. He had taken them to Babylon with Jeconiah's officers, and the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem. He had also taken away to Babylon the men who had special skills to work with wood or metal. 3 King Zedekiah of Judah was sending some men to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. They were Shaphan's son Elasah, and Hilkiah's son Gemariah. Jeremiah gave his letter to them to take to Babylon. This is what the letter said:
4 The Lord Almighty, Israel's God, sends this message to all the people of Judah who are in Babylon. He sent them there from Jerusalem as prisoners. 5 He says, ‘Build houses for yourselves. Make Babylon your home. Plant gardens. Eat the food that grows in them. 6 Marry, so that you have sons and daughters. Find wives for your sons to marry. Let your daughters marry too. Then they also can give birth to sons and daughters. Your descendants should become more and more, not fewer. 7 Work well to help the foreign place where I have sent you to live. Try to make it a successful place. Pray to the Lord that it will do well. If it does well, you will also do well.’
8 Yes, the Lord Almighty, Israel's God, says, ‘Some of the prophets and the other people use magic to tell you what will happen in the future. Do not let them deceive you with their lies. Do not listen to the dreams that they tell you about. 9 They say that they are speaking with my authority. But the things that they prophesy are lies. I have not sent them to speak to you.’ That is what the Lord says.
10 The Lord says, ‘You will live in Babylon for 70 years. Then I will choose to help you. I will be kind to you, as I promised. I will bring you back here to your home. 11 I, the Lord, tell you this: I have decided what I will do for you. I have plans to help you to do well. I do not want to hurt you. I want to give you hope for a good life in the future. 12 At that time, when you call out to me for help, I will hear your prayers. 13 You will want to find me, and I will be ready to meet with you. If you really want to find me, 14 I will be there for you.’ That is what the Lord says. ‘I will bring you back from the nations and all the places where I sent you as prisoners. You will no longer have to live in those foreign places.’
15 You may say, ‘The Lord has chosen prophets to bring his message to us here in Babylon.’ 16 But listen to what the Lord says about the people who are still here in Jerusalem. The enemy did not take them with you as prisoners to Babylon. That includes the king who now rules David's kingdom. 17 The Lord Almighty says, ‘I will send war, famine and disease to hurt them. They will be like bad figs that nobody can eat. 18 I will use war, famine and disease to chase them away from their homes. I will send them to live among other nations. The people of all the nations in the world will see how disgusting they are. People will use their names as a curse. They will see how foolish they are and they will laugh at them. 19 I will do that because they have not listened to my message. I sent my servants, the prophets, to speak to them many times, but the people in Jerusalem refused to listen.’ That is what the Lord says.
29:16When King Nebuchadnezzar took King Jeconiah away as his prisoner, he chose Zedekiah to rule in Jerusalem. See Jeremiah 29:2-3.
The Lord also says, ‘You people of Judah who are now in Babylon have not listened to my message either. 20 I sent you away from Jerusalem as prisoners to Babylon. All of you must also listen carefully to my message.’
21 The Lord Almighty, Israel's God, says this about Kolaiah's son Ahab and Maaseiah's son Zedekiah: ‘They are speaking to you in my name, but they are prophesying lies. So I will put them under the power of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. He will kill them while you watch. 22 They will be an example to the people of Judah who are now living in Babylon. When they want to curse someone, they will say, “May the Lord punish you in the same way that the king of Babylon killed Zedekiah and Ahab. He burned them to death in a fire!” 23 That will happen to them because of the terrible sins that they have done in Israel. They have sex with the wives of their neighbours. They have used my name to tell lies. They have spoken messages that I did not command them to speak. I know what they have done because I have seen it all.’ That is what the Lord says.
A message to Shemaiah
24 The Lord told Jeremiah to send this message to Shemaiah, who came from Nehelam: 25 ‘The Lord Almighty, Israel's God says, “You sent a letter on your own authority to all the people in Jerusalem. Those people included the priest Zephaniah, Maaseiah's son, and all the other priests. In your letter, you said to Zephaniah: 26 The Lord chose you to be priest instead of Jehoiada. You are the officer who has authority over the Lord's temple. If there is any crazy man who says that he is a prophet, you must take hold of him. It is your duty to tie him up. Put heavy pieces of wood on his legs and iron chains around his neck. 27 That is your job, so I do not know why you have not punished Jeremiah, the man from Anathoth. He is there and he is prophesying to you. 28 He has even sent a message to us here in Babylon. He told us that we will be here for a long time. He told us to build houses and make our homes here. He says that we should plant gardens to grow food for ourselves.” ’
29 When Zephaniah the priest received Shemaiah's letter, he read it to the prophet Jeremiah. 30 Then the Lord said to Jeremiah, 31 ‘Send a message to all the people of Judah who are now in Babylon. Tell them that the Lord says this about Shemaiah, the man from Nehelam: “Shemaiah has prophesied to you. But I did not send him to you. He has caused you to believe a lie.” 32 So the Lord says, “I will certainly punish Shemaiah and his family. He will not have any descendants who remain among my people. None of them will receive any of the good things that I will do for my people. I will punish him because he has taught my people to turn against me.” That is what the Lord has said.’