29:1 The prophet Jeremiah sent a letter to the exiles Nebuchadnezzar had carried off from Jerusalem 1 to Babylon. It was addressed to the elders who were left among the exiles, to the priests, to the prophets, and to all the other people who were exiled in Babylon. 2 29:2 He sent it after King Jeconiah, the queen mother, the palace officials, 3 the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the metal workers had been exiled from Jerusalem. 4 29:3 He sent it with Elasah son of Shaphan 5 and Gemariah son of Hilkiah. 6 King Zedekiah of Judah had sent these men to Babylon to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. 7 The letter said:
29:4 “The Lord God of Israel who rules over all 8 says to all those he sent 9 into exile to Babylon from Jerusalem, 10 29:5 ‘Build houses and settle down. Plant gardens and eat what they produce. 29:6 Marry and have sons and daughters. Find wives for your sons and allow your daughters get married so that they too can have sons and daughters. Grow in number; do not dwindle away. 29:7 Work to see that the city where I sent you as exiles enjoys peace and prosperity. Pray to the Lord for it. For as it prospers you will prosper.’
29:8 “For the Lord God of Israel who rules over all 11 says, ‘Do not let the prophets or those among you who claim to be able to predict the future by divination 12 deceive you. And do not pay any attention to the dreams that you are encouraging them to dream. 29:9 They are prophesying lies to you and claiming my authority to do so. 13 But I did not send them. I, the Lord, affirm it!’ 14
29:10 “For the Lord says, ‘Only when the seventy years of Babylonian rule 15 are over will I again take up consideration for you. 16 Then I will fulfill my gracious promise to you and restore 17 you to your homeland. 18 29:11 For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. 19 ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you 20 a future filled with hope. 21 29:12 When you call out to me and come to me in prayer, 22 I will hear your prayers. 23 29:13 When you seek me in prayer and worship, you will find me available to you. If you seek me with all your heart and soul, 24 29:14 I will make myself available to you,’ 25 says the Lord. 26 ‘Then I will reverse your plight 27 and will regather you from all the nations and all the places where I have exiled you,’ says the Lord. 28 ‘I will bring you back to the place from which I exiled you.’
29:15 “You say, ‘The Lord has raised up prophets of good news 29 for us here in Babylon.’ 29:16 But just listen to what the Lord has to say about 30 the king who occupies David’s throne and all your fellow countrymen who are still living in this city of Jerusalem 31 and were not carried off into exile with you. 29:17 The Lord who rules over all 32 says, ‘I will bring war, 33 starvation, and disease on them. I will treat them like figs that are so rotten 34 they cannot be eaten. 29:18 I will chase after them with war, 35 starvation, and disease. I will make all the kingdoms of the earth horrified at what happens to them. I will make them examples of those who are cursed, objects of horror, hissing scorn, and ridicule among all the nations where I exile them. 29:19 For they have not paid attention to what I said to them through my servants the prophets whom I sent to them over and over again,’ 36 says the Lord. 37 ‘And you exiles 38 have not paid any attention to them either,’ says the Lord. 39 29:20 ‘So pay attention to what I, the Lord, have said, 40 all you exiles whom I have sent to Babylon from Jerusalem.’
29:21 “The Lord God of Israel who rules over all 41 also has something to say about Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying lies to you and claiming my authority to do so. 42 ‘I will hand them over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and he will execute them before your very eyes. 29:22 And all the exiles of Judah who are in Babylon will use them as examples when they put a curse on anyone. They will say, “May the Lord treat you like Zedekiah and Ahab whom the king of Babylon roasted to death in the fire!” 43 29:23 This will happen to them because they have done what is shameful 44 in Israel. They have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives and have spoken lies while claiming my authority. 45 They have spoken words that I did not command them to speak. I know what they have done. I have been a witness to it,’ says the Lord.” 46
29:24 The Lord told Jeremiah, “Tell 47 Shemaiah the Nehelamite 48 29:25 that the Lord God of Israel who rules over all 49 has a message for him. 50 Tell him, 51 ‘On your own initiative 52 you sent a letter 53 to the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah 54 and to all the other priests and to all the people in Jerusalem. 55 In your letter you said to Zephaniah, 56 29:26 “The Lord has made you priest in place of Jehoiada. 57 He has put you in charge in the Lord’s temple of controlling 58 any lunatic 59 who pretends to be a prophet. 60 And it is your duty to put any such person in the stocks 61 with an iron collar around his neck. 62 29:27 You should have reprimanded Jeremiah from Anathoth who is pretending to be a prophet among you! 63 29:28 For he has even sent a message to us here in Babylon. He wrote and told us, 64 “You will be there a long time. Build houses and settle down. Plant gardens and eat what they produce.”’” 65
29:29 Zephaniah the priest read that letter to the prophet Jeremiah. 66 29:30 Then the Lord spoke to Jeremiah. 29:31 “Send a message to all the exiles in Babylon. Tell them, ‘The Lord has spoken about Shemaiah the Nehelamite. “Shemaiah has spoken to you as a prophet even though I did not send him. He is making you trust in a lie. 67 29:32 Because he has done this,” 68 the Lord says, “I will punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite and his whole family. There will not be any of them left to experience the good things that I will do for my people. I, the Lord, affirm it! For he counseled rebellion against the Lord.”’” 69
[29:1] 2 tn Jer 29:1-3 are all one long sentence in Hebrew containing a parenthetical insertion. The text reads “These are the words of the letter which the prophet Jeremiah sent to the elders…people whom Nebuchadnezzar had exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon after King Jeconiah…had gone from Jerusalem by the hand of Elasah…whom Zedekiah sent…saying, ‘Thus says the
[29:2] 3 tn This term is often mistakenly understood to refer to a “eunuch.” It is clear, however, in Gen 39:1 that “eunuchs” could be married. On the other hand it is clear from Isa 59:3-5 that some who bore this title could not have children. In this period, it is possible that the persons who bore this title were high officials like the rab saris who was a high official in the Babylonian court (cf. Jer 39:3, 13; 52:25). For further references see HALOT 727 s.v. סָרִיס 1.c.
[29:3] 5 sn Elasah son of Shaphan may have been the brother of Ahikam, who supported Jeremiah when the priests and the prophets in Jerusalem sought to kill Jeremiah for preaching that the temple and the city would be destroyed (cf. 26:24).
[29:3] 6 sn This individual is not the same as the Gemariah mentioned in 36:10, 11, 12, 25 who was one of the officials who sought to have the first scroll of Jeremiah’s prophecies preserved. He may, however, have been a son or grandson of the High Priest who discovered the book of the law during the reign of Josiah (cf., e.g., 2 Kgs 22:8, 10) which was so instrumental in Josiah’s reforms.
[29:3] 7 sn It is unclear whether this incident preceded or followed those in the preceding chapter. It is known from 52:59 that Zedekiah himself had made a trip to Babylon in the same year mentioned in 28:1 and that Jeremiah had used that occasion to address a prophecy of disaster to Babylon. It is not impossible that Jeremiah sent two such disparate messages at the same time (see Jer 25:8-11, 12-14, 17-18, 26).
[29:4] 9 tn Heb “I sent.” This sentence exhibits a rapid switch in person, here from the third person to the first. Such switches are common to Hebrew poetry and prophecy (cf. GKC 462 §144.p). Contemporary English, however, does not exhibit such rapid switches and it creates confusion for the careful reader. Such switches have regularly been avoided in the translation.
[29:4] sn Elsewhere Nebuchadnezzar is seen as the one who carried them into exile (cf. 27:20; 29:1). Here and in v. 14 the
[29:10] 17 tn Verse 10 is all one long sentence in the Hebrew original: “According to the fullness of Babylon seventy years I will take thought of you and I will establish my gracious word to you by bringing you back to this place.” The sentence has been broken up to conform better to contemporary English style.
[29:11] 21 tn Or “the future you hope for”; Heb “a future and a hope.” This is a good example of hendiadys where two formally coordinated nouns (adjectives, verbs) convey a single idea where one of the terms functions as a qualifier of the other. For this figure see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 658-72. This example is discussed on p. 661.
[29:12] 22 tn Heb “come and pray to me.” This is an example of verbal hendiadys where two verb formally joined by “and” convey a main concept with the second verb functioning as an adverbial qualifier.
[29:12] 23 tn Or “You will call out to me and come to me in prayer and I will hear your prayers.” The verbs are vav consecutive perfects and can be taken either as unconditional futures or as contingent futures. See GKC 337 §112.kk and 494 §159.g and compare the usage in Gen 44:22 for the use of the vav consecutive perfects in contingent futures. The conditional clause in the middle of 29:13 and the deuteronomic theology reflected in both Deut 30:1-5 and 1 Kgs 8:46-48 suggest that the verbs are continent futures here. For the same demand for wholehearted seeking in these contexts which presuppose exile see especially Deut 30:2, 1 Kgs 8:48.
[29:13] 24 tn Or “If you wholeheartedly seek me”; Heb “You will seek me and find [me] because you will seek me with all your heart.” The translation attempts to reflect the theological nuances of “seeking” and “finding” and the psychological significance of “heart” which refers more to intellectual and volitional concerns in the OT than to emotional ones.
[29:14] 25 tn Heb “I will let myself be found by you.” For this nuance of the verb see BDB 594 s.v. מָצָא Niph.1.f and compare the usage in Isa 65:1; 2 Chr 15:2. The Greek version already noted that nuance when it translated the phrase “I will manifest myself to you.”
[29:14] 27 tn Heb “restore your fortune.” Alternately, “I will bring you back from exile.” This idiom occurs twenty-six times in the OT and in several cases it is clearly not referring to return from exile but restoration of fortunes (e.g., Job 42:10; Hos 6:11–7:1; Jer 33:11). It is often followed as here by “regather” or “bring back” (e.g., Jer 30:3; Ezek 29:14) so it is often misunderstood as “bringing back the exiles.” The versions (LXX, Vulg., Tg., Pesh.) often translate the idiom as “to go away into captivity,” deriving the noun from שְׁבִי (shÿvi, “captivity”). However, the use of this expression in Old Aramaic documents of Sefire parallels the biblical idiom: “the gods restored the fortunes of the house of my father again” (J. A. Fitzmyer, The Aramaic Inscriptions of Sefire [BibOr], 100-101, 119-20). The idiom means “to turn someone's fortune, bring about change” or “to reestablish as it was” (HALOT 1386 s.v. 3.c). In Ezek 16:53 it is paralleled by the expression “to restore the situation which prevailed earlier.” This amounts to restitutio in integrum, which is applicable to the circumstances surrounding the return of the exiles.
[29:16] sn Jeremiah answers their claims that the
[29:17] 34 tn The meaning of this word is somewhat uncertain. It occurs only here in the Hebrew Bible. BDB 1045 s.v. שֹׁעָר relates it to the noun “horrible thing” (translated “something shocking”) in Jer 5:30; 23:14 and defines it as “horrid, disgusting.” HALOT 1495 s.v. שֹׁעָר relates it to the same noun and define it as “rotten; corrupt.” That nuance is accepted here.
[29:20] 40 tn Heb “pay attention to the word of the
[29:22] 43 sn Being roasted to death in the fire appears to have been a common method of execution in Babylon. See Dan 3:6, 19-21. The famous law code of the Babylonian king Hammurabi also mandated this method of execution for various crimes a thousand years earlier. There is a satirical play on words involving their fate, “roasted them to death” (קָלָם, qalam), and the fact that that fate would become a common topic of curse (קְלָלָה, qÿlalah) pronounced on others in Babylon.
[29:23] 44 tn It is commonly assumed that this word is explained by the two verbal actions that follow. The word (נְבָלָה, nÿvalah) is rather commonly used of sins of unchastity (cf., e.g., Gen 34:7; Judg 19:23; 2 Sam 13:12) which would fit the reference to adultery. However, the word is singular and not likely to cover both actions that follow. The word is also used of the greedy act of Achan (Josh 7:15) which threatened Israel with destruction and the churlish behavior of Nabal (1 Sam 25:25) which threatened him and his household with destruction. The word is also used of foolish talk in Isa 9:17 (9:16 HT) and Isa 32:6. It is possible that this refers to a separate act, one that would have brought the death penalty from Nebuchadnezzar, i.e., the preaching of rebellion in conformity with the message of the false prophets in Jerusalem and other nations (cf. 27:9, 13). Hence it is possible that the translation should read: “This will happen because of their vile conduct. They have propagated rebellion. They have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives. They have spoken words that I did not command them to speak. They have spoken lies while claiming my authority.”
[29:24] 47 tn The words “The
[29:25] 50 tn Heb “Tell Shemaiah the Nehelamite, ‘Thus says Yahweh of armies the God of Israel….” The indirect quotation is used in the translation to avoid the complexity of embedding a quotation within a quotation.
[29:25] 51 sn Jer 29:24-32 are concerned with Jeremiah’s interaction with a false prophet named Shemaiah. The narrative in this section is not in strict chronological order and is somewhat elliptical. It begins with a report of a message that Jeremiah appears to have delivered directly to Shemaiah and refers to a letter that Shemaiah sent to the priest Zephaniah encouraging him to reprimand Jeremiah for what Shemaiah considered treasonous words in his letter to the exiles (vv. 24-28; compare v. 28 with v. 5). However, Jeremiah is in Jerusalem and Shemaiah is in Babylon. The address must then be part of a second letter Jeremiah sent to Babylon. Following this the narrative refers to Zephaniah reading Shemaiah’s letter to Jeremiah and Jeremiah sending a further letter to the captives in Babylon (vv. 29-32). This is probably not a third letter but part of the same letter in which Jeremiah reprimands Shemaiah for sending his letter to Zephaniah (vv. 25-28; the same letter referred to in v. 29). The order of events thus is: Jeremiah sent a letter to the captives counseling them to settle down in Babylon (vv. 1-23). Shemaiah sent a letter to Zephaniah asking him to reprimand Jeremiah (vv. 26-28). After Zephaniah read that letter to Jeremiah (v. 29), Jeremiah wrote a further letter to Babylon reprimanding him (vv. 25-28, 31) and pronouncing judgment on him (v. 32). The elliptical nature of the narrative is reflected in the fact that vv. 25-27 are part of a long causal sentence which sets forth an accusation but has no corresponding main clause or announcement of judgment. This kind of construction involves a rhetorical figure (called aposiopesis) where what is begun is not finished for various rhetorical reasons. Here the sentence that is broken off is part of an announcement of judgment which is not picked up until v. 32 after a further (though related) accusation (v. 31b).
[29:25] 53 tn Heb “letters.” Though GKC 397 §124.b, n. 1 denies it, this is probably a case of the plural of extension. For a similar usage see Isa 37:14 where the plural “letters” is referred to later as an “it.” Even if there were other “letters,” the focus is on the letter to Zephaniah.
[29:25] 54 sn According to Jer 52:24 and 2 Kgs 25:18 Zephaniah son of Maaseiah was second in command to the high priest. He was the high ranking priest who was sent along with a civic official to inquire of the
[29:25] 56 tn The words “In your letter you said to Zephaniah” are not in the text: Heb “you sent a letter to…, saying.” The sentence has been broken up to conform better to contemporary English style and these words have been supplied in the translation to make the transition to the address to Zephaniah in vv. 26-28.
[29:26] 58 tc Heb “The
[29:26] 59 sn The Hebrew term translated lunatic applies to anyone who exhibits irrational behavior. It was used for example of David who drooled and scratched on the city gate to convince Achish not to arrest him as a politically dangerous threat (1 Sam 21:14). It was often used contemptuously of the prophets by those who wanted to play down the significance of their words (2 Kgs 9:11; Hos 9:7 and here).
[29:26] 60 tn The verb here is a good example of what IBHS 431 §26.2f calls the estimative-declarative reflexive where a person presents himself in a certain light. For examples of this usage see 2 Sam 13:5; Prov 13:7.
[29:26] 62 tn This word only occurs here in the Hebrew Bible. All the lexicons are agreed as seeing it referring to a collar placed around the neck. The basis for this definition are the cognate languages (see, e.g., HALOT 958-59 s.v. צִינֹק for the most complete discussion).
[29:32] 69 sn Compare the same charge against Hananiah in Jer 28:16 and see the note there. In this case, the false prophesy of Shemaiah is not given but it likely had the same tenor since he wants Jeremiah reprimanded for saying that the exile will be long and the people are to settle down in Babylon.