Jeremiah wrote a letter from Jerusalem to the elders, priests, prophets, and all the people who had been exiled to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar.
This was after King Jehoiachin, the queen mother, the court officials, the leaders of Judah, and all the craftsmen had been deported from Jerusalem.
He sent the letter with Elasah son of Shaphan and Gemariah son of Hilkiah, when they went to Babylon as King Zedekiah's ambassadors to Nebuchadnezzar. This is what Jeremiah's letter said:
The LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, sends this message to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem:
"Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food you produce.
Marry, and have children. Then find spouses for them, and have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away!
And work for the peace and prosperity of Babylon. Pray to the LORD for that city where you are held captive, for if Babylon has peace, so will you."
The LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says, "Do not let the prophets and mediums who are there in Babylon trick you. Do not listen to their dreams
because they prophesy lies in my name. I have not sent them," says the LORD.
"The truth is that you will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.
For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
In those days when you pray, I will listen.
If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me.
I will be found by you," says the LORD. "I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and bring you home again to your own land."
You may claim that the LORD has raised up prophets for you in Babylon.
But this is what the LORD says about the king who sits on David's throne and all those still living here in Jerusalem -- your relatives who were not exiled to Babylon.
This is what the LORD Almighty says: "I will send war, famine, and disease upon them and make them like rotting figs -- too bad to eat.
Yes, I will pursue them with war, famine, and disease, and I will scatter them around the world. In every nation where I send them, I will make them an object of damnation, horror, contempt, and mockery.
For they refuse to listen to me, though I have spoken to them repeatedly through my prophets. And you who are in exile have not listened either," says the LORD.
Therefore, listen to this message from the LORD, all you captives there in Babylon.
This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says about your prophets -- Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah -- who are telling you lies in my name: "I will turn them over to Nebuchadnezzar for a public execution.
Their terrible fate will become proverbial, so that whenever the Judean exiles want to curse someone they will say, 'May the LORD make you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon burned alive!'
For these men have done terrible things among my people. They have committed adultery with their neighbors' wives and have lied in my name. I am a witness to this," says the LORD.
The LORD sent this message to Shemaiah the Nehelamite in Babylon:
"This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You wrote a letter on your own authority to Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, the priest, and you sent copies to the other priests and people in Jerusalem. You said to Zephaniah,
'The LORD has appointed you to replace Jehoiada as the priest in charge of the house of the LORD. You are responsible to put anyone who claims to be a prophet in the stocks and neck irons.
So why have you done nothing to stop Jeremiah from Anathoth, who pretends to be a prophet among you?
Jeremiah sent a letter here to Babylon, predicting that our captivity will be a long one. He said we should build homes and plan to stay for many years. He said we should plant fruit trees, because we will be here to eat the fruit for many years to come.'"
But when Zephaniah the priest received Shemaiah's letter, he took it to Jeremiah and read it to him.
Then the LORD gave this message to Jeremiah:
"Send an open letter to all the exiles in Babylon. Tell them, 'This is what the LORD says concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite: Since he has prophesied to you when I did not send him and has tricked you into believing his lies,
I will punish him and his family. None of his descendants will see the good things I will do for my people, for he has taught you to rebel against me. I, the LORD, have spoken!'"