Jeremiah 29

1 Following is the text of the letter Yirmeyahu the prophet sent from Yerushalayim to the leaders remaining in exile, as well as to the cohanim, the prophets and all the people N'vukhadnetzar had carried off captive from Yerushalayim to Bavel.
2 This was after Y'khanyah the king, the queen mother, the officers, the leaders of Y'hudah and Yerushalayim, and the artisans and skilled workers had left Yerushalayim.
3 The letter was entrusted to El'asah the son of Shafan and G'maryah the son of Hilkiyah; Tzidkiyah king of Y'hudah sent them to Bavel, to N'vukhadnetzar king of Bavel. The letter said:
4 "Here is what ADONAI-Tzva'ot, the God of Isra'el, says to all those in exile, whom I have caused to be carried off captive from Yerushalayim to Bavel:
5 'Build yourselves houses, and live in them. Plant gardens, and eat what they produce.
6 Choose women to marry, and have sons and daughters. Choose wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage to men, so that they can have sons and daughters - increase your numbers there, don't decrease.
7 Seek the welfare of the city to which I have caused you to go in exile, and pray to ADONAI on its behalf; for your welfare is bound up in its welfare.'
8 For this is what ADONAI-Tzva'ot, the God of Isra'el, says: 'Don't let your prophets who are living among you and your diviners deceive you, and don't pay attention to the dreams you urge them to dream.
9 For they are prophesying falsely in my name; I have not sent them,' says ADONAI.
10 "For here is what ADONAI says: 'After Bavel's seventy years are over, I will remember you and fulfill my good promise to you by bringing you back to this place.
11 For I know what plans I have in mind for you,' says ADONAI,'plans for well-being, not for bad things; so that you can have hope and a future.
12 When you call to me and pray to me, I will listen to you.
13 When you seek me, you will find me, provided you seek for me wholeheartedly;
14 and I will let you find me,' says ADONAI. 'Then I will reverse your exile. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have driven you,' says ADONAI, 'and bring you back to the place from which I exiled you.'
15 "You say that ADONAI has raised up prophets for you in Bavel.
16 But here is what ADONAI says about the king occupying David's throne and about all the people living in this city, your kinsmen who did not go into exile with you -
17 thus says ADONAI-Tzva'ot: 'I will attack them with sword, famine and plague; I will make them like bad figs, so bad they are inedible.
18 I will pursue them with sword, famine and plague and make them an object of horror to all the kingdoms of the earth; and they will bring on themselves cursing, astonishment, ridicule and reproach among all the nations where I have driven them;
19 because they have not paid attention to my words,' says ADONAI, 'which I sent to them through my servants the prophets. I sent them frequently, but you refused to listen,' says ADONAI.
20 "So pay attention now to the word of ADONAI, all of you in exile, whom I sent away from Yerushalayim to Bavel.
21 Here is what ADONAI-Tzva'ot, the God of Isra'el, says about Ach'av the son of Kolayah and Tzidkiyahu the son of Ma'aseiyah, who prophesy lies to you in my name: 'I will hand them over to N'vukhadretzar king of Bavel, and he will put them to death before your eyes.
22 In fact, all those exiled from Y'hudah who are in Bavel will take up this formula for cursing: "May ADONAI make you like Tzidkiyahu and Ach'av, whom the king of Bavel roasted in the fire!"
23 because they have done vile things in Isra'el, committing adultery with their neighbors' wives and speaking words in my name, falsely, which I did not order them to say. For I am he who knows; I am witness to this,' says ADONAI.
24 "To Sh'ma'yah the Nechelami you are to communicate this message:
25 'This is a word from ADONAI-Tzva'ot, the God of Isra'el, because of the letters you sent in your own name to all the people in Yerushalayim, including Tz'fanyah the son of Ma'aseiyah the cohen and all the cohanim.
26 Your letter said, "ADONAI has made you cohen in place of Y'hoyada the cohen, in order to have officials in ADONAI's house who will arrest any crazy person who makes himself out to be a prophet, so that you can restrain him in stocks and collar.
27 So why haven't you rebuked Yirmeyahu of 'Anatot, who makes himself out to be a prophet for you?
28 He even sends word to us in Bavel saying that the exile will last a long time; so build houses and live in them, plant gardens and eat what they produce."
29 Tz'fanyah the cohen read this letter to Yirmeyahu the prophet, and afterwards
30 the word of ADONAI came to Yirmeyahu,
31 instructing him to send to all those in exile this message: "Here is what ADONAI says about Sh'ma'yah the Nechelami: 'This Sh'ma'yah has prophesied to you, even though I did not send him, and has caused you to put your trust in a lie.
32 Because of this,' ADONAI says, 'I will punish Sh'ma'yah the Nechelami and his offspring. He will not have a man to live among this people, and he will not see the good I am planning to do for my people,' says ADONAI, 'because he has preached rebellion against ADONAI.'"'"

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Jeremiah 29 Commentary

Chapter 29

Two letters to the captives in Babylon; In the first, they are recommended to be patient and composed. (1-19) In the second, judgments are denounced against the false prophets who deceived them. (20-32)

Verses 1-7 The written word of God is as truly given by inspiration of God as his spoken word. The zealous servant of the Lord will use every means to profit those who are far off, as well as those who are near him. The art of writing is very profitable for this end; and by the art of printing it is rendered most beneficial for circulating the knowledge of the word of God. God's sending to the captives by this letter would show that he had not forsaken them, though he was displeased, and corrected them. If they live in the fear of God, they may live comfortably in Babylon. In all conditions of life, it is our wisdom and duty not to throw away the comfort of what we may have, because we have not all we would have. They are directed to seek the good of the country where they were captives. While the king of Babylon protected them, they must live quiet and peaceable lives under him, in all godliness and honesty; patiently leaving it to God to work deliverance for them in due time.

Verses 8-19 Let men beware how they call those prophets whom they choose after their own fancies, and how they consider their fancies and dreams to be revelations from God. False prophets flatter people in their sins, because they love to be flattered; and they speak smoothly to their prophets, that their prophets may speak smoothly to them. God promises that they should return after seventy years were accomplished. By this it appears, that the seventy years of the captivity are not to be reckoned from the last captivity, but the first. It will be the bringing to pass of God's good word to them. This shall form God's purposes. We often do not know our own minds, but the Lord is never at an uncertainty. We are sometimes ready to fear that God's designs are all against us; but as to his own people, even that which seems evil, is for good. He will give them, not the expectations of their fears, or the expectations of their fancies, but the expectations of their faith; the end he has promised, which will be the best for them. When the Lord pours out an especial spirit of prayer, it is a good sign that he is coming toward us in mercy. Promises are given to quicken and encourage prayer. He never said, Seek ye me in vain. Those who remained at Jerusalem would be utterly destroyed, notwithstanding what the false prophets said to the contrary. The reason has often been given, and it justifies the eternal ruin of impenitent sinners; Because they have not hearkened to my words; I called, but they refused.

Verses 20-32 Jeremiah foretells judgments upon the false prophets, who deceived the Jews in Babylon. Lying was bad; lying to the people of the Lord, to delude them into a false hope, was worse; but pretending to rest their own lies upon the God of truth, was worst of all. They flattered others in their sins, because they could not reprove them without condemning themselves. The most secret sins are known to God; and there is a day coming when he will bring to light all the hidden works of darkness. Shemaiah urges the priests to persecute Jeremiah. Their hearts are wretchedly hardened who justify doing mischief by having power to do it. They were in a miserable thraldom for mocking the messengers of the Lord, and misusing his prophets; yet in their distress they trespass still more against the Lord. Afflictions will not of themselves cure men of their sins, unless the grace of God works with them. Those who slight the blessings, deserve to lose the benefit of God's word, like Shemaiah. The accusations against many active Christians in all ages, amount to no more than this, that they earnestly counsel men to attend to their true interest and duties, and to wait for the performance of God's promises in his appointed way.

Chapter Summary


Thus chapter contains a letter of Jeremiah to the captives in Babylon; and gives an account of another sent from thence by Shemaiah to the people at Jerusalem; and is closed with threatening him with punishment for so doing. Jeremiah's letter concerns both the captives at Babylon, and the people left at Jerusalem, The persons to whom and by whom it was sent, and the time of writing and sending it, are mentioned in Jer 29:1-3; and though the prophet was the amanuensis, God was the author of it, as well as of their captivity, Jer 29:4; the contents of, it, respecting the captives, are advices to them to provide for their comfortable settlement in Babylon, and not think of returning quickly, by building houses, planting gardens, marrying, and giving in marriage, Jer 29:5,6; and to seek and pray for the prosperity of the place where they were; in which their own was concerned, Jer 29:7; to give no heed to their false prophets and diviners, Jer 29:8,9; and to expect a return to Jerusalem at the end of seventy years; which they might be assured of, since God had resolved upon it in his own mind, Jer 29:10,11; and especially if they called upon him, prayed to him, and sought him heartily, Jer 29:12-14; the other part of the letter respects the Jews in Jerusalem; concerning whom the captives are directed to observe, that both the king and people should suffer much by sword, famine, pestilence, and captivity, with the reason of it, Jer 29:15-19; particularly it is foretold, that Ahab and Zedekiah, two lying prophets, should be made an example of vengeance; and a proverbial curse should be taken of them, because of their villany, lewdness, and lies, Jer 29:20-23; next follows some account of Shemaiah's letter from Babylon, to the people and priests at Jerusalem, stirring them up against Jeremiah the prophet; which came to be known, by the priests reading it to him, Jer 29:24-29; upon which Shemaiah is threatened with punishment, and his seed after him, Jer 29:30-32.

Jeremiah 29 Commentaries

Complete Jewish Bible Copyright 1998 by David H. Stern. Published by Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.