The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Prophecy of Jeremias
To those other elders, priests and prophets who had already gone into exile, to all the citizens Nabuchodonosor had carried off with him to Babylon, the prophet Jeremias sent a message in writing.
Among these were king Jechonias and the queen-mother, and the chamberlains, and all that were of note in realm or capital; nor were any carpenters or smiths left in Jerusalem.
The new king of Juda, Sedecias, was sending Elasa, the son of Saphan, and Gamarias, the son of Helcias, on a mission to Nabuchodonosor at Babylon, and to their hands the letter of Jeremias was entrusted.
It ran thus: A message from the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to the men of Jerusalem he has sent into exile at Babylon!
I would have you build yourselves houses of your own to dwell in, plant yourselves gardens of your own to support you,
wive and gender, and of your sons and daughters wed man with maid, maid with man, to breed sons and daughters in their turn; grow numerous, that are now so few, there in your land of exile.
A new home I have given you; for the welfare of that realm be ever concerned, ever solicit the divine favour; its welfare is yours.
And this warning he sends you, the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Never allow prophet and soothsayer that are of your company to mislead you; his dreams let the dreamer abandon;
prophets there are, the Lord says, that claim falsely to be my spokesmen, and warrant from me have none.
All but seventy years, he tells you, must have run their course before Babylon’s time is up; then I will come to relieve you, and make good the promise of your return.
I have not lost sight of my plan for you, the Lord says, and it is your welfare I have in mind, not your undoing; for you, too, I have a destiny and a hope.
Cry out to me then, and your suit shall prosper;✻ plead with me, and I will listen;
look for me, and you shall find me, if you will but look for me in good earnest.
Find me you shall, the Lord says, and your sentence of exile shall be reversed; the same Lord who scattered them among alien folk and in far countries will bring the exiles home.
So much for your claim that✻ the Lord has revived the gift of prophecy among you, there in Babylon.
As for the king who now sits on David’s throne, and the citizens who dwell here now, instead of sharing your exile, this is the divine sentence:
I mean to plague them, says the Lord of hosts, with sword and famine and pestilence; of no more account will I make them than a basket of foul figs, so foul there is no eating them.
Sword and famine and pestilence shall follow at their heels; bane they shall be to all the kingdoms of the world, a name to curse by, a thing of wonder and of scorn, a laughing-stock among all the countries I have appointed for their banishment.
All this, because they would not listen to any word of mine, the Lord says; early to their doors I sent the prophets that were servants of mine, I, your Lord, and could get no hearing.
Listen, then, to the Lord’s decree, men of Jerusalem I have sent into exile at Babylon.
This doom the Lord has pronounced upon Achab, the son of Colias, and Sedecias the son of Maasias, false prophets both of them, that speak to you as in my name; I mean to hand them over for punishment to Nabuchodonosor king of Babylon, and that punishment you shall witness for yourselves.
Wherever exiles from Juda are found in the Chaldaean country, this shall be the curse they use: Such doom the Lord give thee as he gave to Sedecias and Achab, that the king of Babylon roasted over a fire!
This is great shame they have brought on Israel, bedding with their neighbours’ wives, and uttering in my name counterfeit prophecies that had no warrant of mine; of these misdoings I am judge and witness both.
And another message must be given to Semeias of Nehelam
from the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, about the letter he sent to the citizens left in Jerusalem, and namely to the high priest Sophonias, the son of Maasias, and his fellow priests. This letter ran,
If the Lord would have thee follow Joiada in the high priesthood, it was to make thee master of his house, ready with stocks and gaol for any mad fellow that came a-prophesying.
Why does Jeremias of Anathoth go unrebuked, and prophesy among you still?
He has written to us here in Babylon for the very purpose of telling us our exile shall be long; we must build ourselves houses to dwell in, we must plant gardens to support us!
This letter was read aloud to Jeremias by the high priest;
and then it was that the Lord’s word came to Jeremias,
with a message he must send to the exiles: This doom the Lord utters against Semeias of Nehelam. Would he prophesy in my name, a man that has no warrant from me, and give you confidence in false hopes?
I will call Semeias of Nehelam to account for it, the Lord says, and his children after him. Man of his race there shall be none surviving among this people of mine, the Lord says, to see my bounty bestowed on it. Against me, the Lord, he has used the language of rebellion.
The Holy Bible