Jeremiah 29: Jeremiah writes to the exiles
Comment: The chapter falls into two obvious parts. In
the first Part Jeremiah writes to those who have already been
taken into exile in Babylon to encourage then to settle there
for it will be seventy years before the Lord returns His people
to their own land. In the second Part, Jeremiah has to contend,
first with two false prophets from Israel now among the exiles,
and then with an Israelite who had wrongly written from Babylon
to Judah negatively about Jeremiah.]
1: v.1-20: Jeremiah writes to the exiles in Babylon
Jeremiah's letter to the exiles in Zedekiah's reign
is the text of the lett er that the prophet Jeremiah
sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the
exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other
people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to
was after King Jehoiachin [597BC]
and the queen mother, the court officials
and the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the skilled workers and
the craftsmen had gone into exile from Jerusalem.) [Nebuchadnezzar's
second of three deportations]
entrusted the letter to Elasah son of Shaphan and to Gemariah
son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to King Nebuchadnezzar
in Babylon. It said:
Settle down in the new land, flourish there and bless them
is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those
I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:
houses and settle down; [ii] plant
gardens and eat what they produce.
and have sons and daughters; [iv] find
wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that
they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there;
do not decrease.
the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you
into exile. [vi] Pray to the
Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.'
this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Do not
let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen
to the dreams you encourage them to have.
are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,'
declares the Lord.
the Old Testament it is made clear that Israel are to be a light
to the rest of the world. Their time in Babylon is not to be wasted:
not only will it be a time when the Lord changes the hearts of
those who are open to Him, but He will also make them a light
to the people around then by the way they prosper.]
A Promise of Restoration after Exile
is what the Lord says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon,
I will come to you and fulfil my good promise to bring you back
to this place.
I know the plans I have for you,' declares the
Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans
to give you hope and a future.
you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen
will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
will be found by you,' declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you
back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and
places where I have banished you,' declares the Lord, ‘and will
bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.'
famous quote from verse 11, so often given a wider application,
is in fact here a declaration of a good future for Israel who
are about to go into exile. Verses 12 & 13 are part of the
heart-changing process we referred to in the previous Comment.]
Those who remain here, including royalty, will die or be driven
may say, ‘The Lord has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,'
this is what the Lord says about the king who sits on David's
throne and all the people who remain in this city, your fellow
citizens who did not go with you into exile –
this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will send the sword, famine
and plague against them and I will make them like figs that are
so bad they cannot be eaten.
will pursue them with the sword, famine and plague and will make
them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth, a curse and an
object of horror, of scorn and reproach, among all the nations
where I drive them.
they have not listened to my words,' declares the Lord, ‘words
that I sent to them again and again by my servants the prophets.
And you exiles have not listened either,' declares the Lord.
hear the word of the Lord, all you exiles whom I have sent away
from Jerusalem to Babylon.
2: v.21-32: False Jewish leaders in Babylon
The two false prophets in Babylon will be killed by Nebuchadnezzar
is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says about Ahab
son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying
lies to you in my name: ‘I will deliver them into the hands of
Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will put them to death
before your very eyes.
of them, all the exiles from Judah who are in Babylon will use
this curse: “May the Lord treat you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom
the king of Babylon burned in the fire.”
they have done outrageous things in Israel; they have committed
adultery with their neighbours' wives, and in my name they have
uttered lies – which I did not authorise. I know it and am
a witness to it,' declares the Lord .
Shemaiah writes wrongly from Babylon
Shemaiah the Nehelamite,
is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: you sent letters
in your own name to all the people in Jerusalem, to the priest
Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, and to all the other priests. You said
Lord has appointed you priest in place of Jehoiada to be in charge
of the house of the Lord ; you should put any maniac who acts
like a prophet into the stocks and neck-irons.
why have you not reprimanded Jeremiah from Anathoth, who poses
as a prophet among you?
has sent this message to us in Babylon: it will be a long time.
Therefore build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat
what they produce.”'
he is rebuked by the Lord
the priest, however, read the letter to Jeremiah the prophet.
the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah:
this message to all the exiles: “This is what the Lord says about
Shemaiah the Nehelamite: because Shemaiah has prophesied to you,
even though I did not send him, and has persuaded you to trust
is what the Lord says: I will surely punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite
and his descendants. He will have no one left among this people,
nor will he see the good things I will do for my people, declares
the Lord, because he has preached rebellion against me.”'
to Chapter 30