1 The prophet Jeremiah sent a letter from Jerusalem to the rest of the leaders among the captives. He also sent it to the priests, the prophets, and all the people that Nebuchadnezzar took away as captives from Jerusalem to Babylon.
2 This was after King Jehoiakin and his mother, the court officials, the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and metal workers left Jerusalem.
3 He sent the letter with Shaphan's son Elasah and Hilkiah's son Gemariah, whom King Zedekiah of Judah had sent to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. The letter said:
4 »This is what Jehovah of Hosts, the God of Israel, says to all those who were taken captive from Jerusalem to Babylon:
5 Build houses and live in them. Plant gardens and eat what they produce.
6 Get married and have sons and daughters. Find wives for your sons and let your daughters get married so they can have sons and daughters. Grow in number there and do not decrease.
7 Work for the good of the city where I have taken you as captives. Pray to Jehovah for that city. When it prospers, you will also prosper.
8 »This is what Jehovah of Hosts, the God of Israel, says: Do not let the prophets or the mediums among you trick you. Do not even listen to your own dreams.
9 These people prophesy lies to you in my name. I did not send them, declares Jehovah.
10 »This is what Jehovah says: When Babylon's seventy years are over I will come to you. I will keep my promise to you and bring you back to this place.
11 I know the plans that I have for you, says Jehovah. They are plans for peace and not disaster. They are plans to give you a future filled with hope.
12 Then you will call to me. You will come and pray to me and I will hear you.
13 When you look for me, you will find me. When you wholeheartedly seek me,
14 I will let you find me, declares Jehovah. I will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have scattered you, declares Jehovah. I will bring you back from the place where you are being held captive.
15 »You said, Jehovah gave us prophets in Babylon.
16 »This is what Jehovah says about the king who sits on David's throne. And this is what he says about all the people who live in this city, the people who are your relatives and who were not taken away as captives:
17 Jehovah of Hosts says: »I am going to send them wars, famines, and plagues. These people are like rotten figs to me, figs that are so bad that they cannot be eaten.
18 »I will chase them with wars, famines, and plagues. I will make them a terror to all the kingdoms on the earth. They will become something cursed, ridiculed, and hissed at, and they will be a disgrace among all the nations where I scatter them.
19 They did not listen to me, says Jehovah. I sent them my servants the prophets again and again, but they refused to listen, says Jehovah.
20 »Therefore listen to the word of Jehovah, all you captives who were sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon.
21 »This is what Jehovah of Hosts, the God of Israel, says about Kolaiah's son Ahab and about Maaseiah's son Zedekiah, who prophesy lies to you in my name: I am going to hand them over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. I will kill them as you watch.
22 Because of them, all the captives from Judah who are in Babylon will use this curse: »May Jehovah curse you as he cursed Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon burned to death.«
23 They have done scandalous and disgraceful things in Israel. They committed adultery with their neighbors' wives and spoke lies in my name. I did not command them to do this. »»I know what they have done. I am a witness,« says Jehovah.«
24 Jehovah says: »Say to Shemaiah from Nehelam,
25 This is what Jehovah of Hosts, the God of Israel, says: »You sent letters in your own name to all the people who are in Jerusalem, to the priest Zephaniah, son of Maaseiah, and to all the priests. These letters said:
26 Jehovah made you priest instead of Jehoiada so that there would be officials for Jehovahs temple. You should put every madman who acts like a prophet in prison and in shackles.
27 Why have you not arrested Jeremiah from Anathoth? After all, he acts like a prophet among you.
28 That is why Jeremiah sent this message to us in Babylon: You will be captives a long time. Build houses, and live in them. Plant gardens, and eat what they produce,--« «»
29 The priest Zephaniah read this letter to the prophet Jeremiah.
30 Then Jehovah spoke his word to Jeremiah. He said:
31 »Send this message to all the captives. This is what Jehovah says about Shemaiah from Nehelam: »Shemaiah prophesied to you, but I did not send him. He has made you believe a lie.
32 »Jehovah says: I will punish Shemaiah from Nehelam. I will also punish his descendants. No one from his family will be left alive. He will not see the blessings that I am going to send my people, declares Jehovah, because he has encouraged rebellion against Jehovah.« «