These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to 1the surviving elders of the exiles, and to 2the priests, 3the prophets, and 4all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.
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This was after 5King Jeconiah and the queen mother, the eunuchs, the officials of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the metal workers had departed from Jerusalem.
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The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah the son of 6Shaphan and Gemariah the son of 7Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. It said:
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"Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:
8Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce.
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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.
But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and 9pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
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For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: 10Do not let your prophets and 11your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream,
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for 12it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; 13I did not send them, declares the LORD.
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"For thus says the LORD: 14When seventy years are completed for Babylon, 15I will visit you, 16and I will fulfill to you my promise 17and bring you back to this place.
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18For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, 19to give you a future and a hope.
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20Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, 21and I will hear you.
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22You will seek me and find me, when you seek me 23with all your heart.
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I will be found by you, declares the LORD, 24and I will restore your fortunes and 25gather you from all the nations and all the places 26where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
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"Because you have said, 'The LORD has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,'
thus says the LORD concerning 27the 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:
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'Thus says the LORD of hosts, behold, I am sending on them 28sword, famine, and pestilence, and I will make them like 29vile figs that are so rotten they cannot be eaten.
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I will pursue them with 30sword, famine, and pestilence, 31and will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, 32to be a curse, a terror, a hissing, and a reproach among all the nations 33where I have driven them,
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because they did not pay attention to my words, declares the LORD, 34that I persistently sent to you by my servants the prophets, but you would not listen, declares the LORD.'
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Hear the word of the LORD, all you exiles 35whom I sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon:
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'Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning Ahab the son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, 36who 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.
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37Because of them 38this curse shall be used by all the exiles from Judah in Babylon: "The LORD make you like Zedekiah and Ahab, 39whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire,"
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because they have done an outrageous thing in Israel, 40they have committed adultery with their neighbors' wives, and 41they have spoken in my name lying words that I did not command them. 42I am the one who knows, 43and I am witness, declares the LORD.'"
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To 44Shemaiah of Nehelam you shall say:
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"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 45Zephaniah the son of 46Maaseiah the priest, and to all the priests, saying,
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'The LORD has made you priest instead of Jehoiada the priest, to have 47charge in the house of the LORD 48over every madman who prophesies, to put him in 49the stocks and neck irons.
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Now why have you not rebuked Jeremiah 50of Anathoth who is prophesying to you?
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For he has sent to us in Babylon, saying, "Your exile will be long; 51build houses and live in them, and plant gardens and eat their produce."'"
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52Zephaniah the priest read this letter in the hearing of Jeremiah the prophet.
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[See ver. 25 above]
53Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah:
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"Send to all the exiles, saying, 'Thus says the LORD concerning 54Shemaiah of Nehelam: Because 55Shemaiah had prophesied to you 56when I did not send him, and has made you trust in a lie,
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therefore thus says the LORD: Behold, I will punish 57Shemaiah of Nehelam and his descendants. He shall not have anyone living among this people, 58and he shall not see the good that I will do to my people, declares the LORD, 59for he has spoken rebellion against the LORD.'"
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