This is the text of the lettera that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the rest of the elders of the exiles, the priests, the prophets, and all the people Nebuchadnezzarb had deported from Jerusalem to Babylon.
[This was] after King Jeconiah,cdthe queen mother, the court officials, the officials of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the metalsmiths had left Jerusalem.
[The letter was sent] by Elasah son of Shaphan and Gemariah son of Hilkiah whom Zedekiah king of Judah had sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. [The letter] stated:
This is what the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, says to all the exiles I deported from Jerusalem to Babylon:
"Build houses and live [in them]. Plant gardens and eat their produce.
Take wives and have sons and daughters. Take wives for your sons and give your daughters to men [in marriage] so that they may bear sons and daughters. Multiply there; do not decrease.
Seek the welfare of the city I have deported you to. Pray to the Lord on its behalf, for when it has prosperity, you will prosper."
For this is what the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, says: "Don't let your prophets who are among you and your diviners deceive you, and don't listen to the dreams you elicit from them,
for they are prophesying falsely to you in My name. I have not sent them." [This is] the Lord's declaration.
For this is what the Lord says: "When 70 years for Babylon are complete,e I will attend to you and will confirm My promise concerning you to restore you to this place.
For I know the plans I have for you"f-[this is] the Lord's declaration-"plans for [your] welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.g13
You will seek Meh and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
I will be found by you"-the Lord's declaration-"and I will restore your fortunesijand gather you from all the nations and places where I banished you"-the Lord's declaration. "I will restore you to the place I deported you from."
You have said, "The Lord has raised up prophets for us in Babylon!"
But this is what the Lord says concerning the king sitting on David's throne and concerning all the people living in this city-that is, concerning your brothers who did not go with you into exile.
This is what the Lord of Hosts says: "I am about to send against them sword, famine, and plaguek and will make them like rotten figs that are inedible because they are so bad.
I will pursue them with sword, famine, and plague. I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth-a curse and a desolation, an object of scorn and a disgrace among all the nations where I will have banished them.l19
[I will do this] because they have not listened to My words"-[this is] the Lord's declaration-"that I sent to them with My servants the prophets time and time again.mnAnd you too have not listened." [This is] the Lord's declaration.
Hear the word of the Lord, all you exiles I have sent from Jerusalem to Babylon.
This is what the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, says to Ahab son of Kolaiah and to Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, the ones prophesying a lie to you in My name: "I am about to hand them over to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will kill them before your very eyes.
Based on [what happens to] them, all the exiles of Judah who are in Babylon will create a curse that says: May the Lord make you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire!
because they have committed an outrageo in Israel by committing adultery with their neighbors' wives and have spoken a lie in My name, which I did not command them. I am He who knows, and I am a witness." [This is] the Lord's declaration.
To Shemaiah the Nehelamite you are to say,
"This is what the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, says: Youp in your own name have sent out letters to all the people of Jerusalem, to the priest Zephaniahq son of Maaseiah, and to all the priests, saying:
The Lord has appointed you priest in place of Jehoiada the priest to be the chief officerr in the temple of the Lord, responsible for every madmans who acts like a prophet. You must confine him in stockst and an iron collar.
So now, why have you not rebuked Jeremiah of Anathoth who has been acting like a prophet among you?
For he has sent [word] to us in Babylon, claiming: The exile will be long. Build houses and settle down. Plant gardens and eat their produce."u29
Zephaniah the priest read this letter in the hearing of Jeremiah the prophet.