Jeremiah 29

1 Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the residue of the elders of the captivity, and to the priests, to the prophets, and to all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon, 2 (after that Jeconiah the king, the queen mother, the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the smiths, had departed from Jerusalem), 3 by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, (whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), saying, 4 the LORD of Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captivity, whom I have caused to be carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat their fruit. 6 Take wives, and father sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there, and don’t be diminished. 7 Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you shall have peace.” 8 For the LORD of Armies, the God of Israel says: “Don’t let your prophets who are amongst you, and your diviners, deceive you; neither listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed. 9 For they prophesy falsely to you in my name. I have not sent them,” says the LORD. 10 For the LORD says, “After seventy years are accomplished for Babylon, I will visit you, and perform my good word towards you, in causing you to return to this place. 11 For I know the thoughts that I think towards you,” says the LORD, “thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope and a future. 12 You shall call on me, and you shall go and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” says the LORD, “and I will turn again your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD; and I will bring you again to the place from where I caused you to be carried away captive.” 15 Because you have said, “the LORD has raised us up prophets in Babylon;” 16 the LORD says concerning the king who sits on David’s throne, and concerning all the people who dwell in this city, your brothers who haven’t gone with you into captivity; 17 the LORD of Armies says: “Behold, I will send on them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like vile figs, that can’t be eaten, they are so bad. 18 I will pursue after them with the sword, with the famine, and with the pestilence, and will deliver them to be tossed back and forth amongst all the kingdoms of the earth, to be an object of horror, and an astonishment, and a hissing, and a reproach, amongst all the nations where I have driven them; 19 because they have not listened to my words,” says the LORD, “with which I sent to them my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; but you would not hear,” says the LORD. 20 Hear therefore the LORD’s word, all you of the captivity, whom I have sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon. 21 the LORD of Armies, the God of Israel, says concerning Ahab the son of Kolaiah, and concerning Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, who prophesy a lie to you in my name: “Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and he shall kill them before your eyes. 22 A curse shall be taken up about them by all the captives of Judah who are in Babylon, saying, ‘the LORD make you like Zedekiah and like Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire;’ 23 because they have done foolish things in Israel, and have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and have spoken words in my name falsely, which I didn’t command them. I am he who knows, and am witness,” says the LORD. 24 Concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite you shall speak, saying, 25 “Thus speaks the LORD of Armies, the God of Israel, saying, ‘Because you have sent letters in your own name to all the people who are at Jerusalem, and to Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, the priest, and to all the priests, saying, 26 “The LORD has made you priest in the place of Jehoiada the priest, that there may be officers in the LORD’s house, for every man who is mad, and makes himself a prophet, that you should put him in the stocks and in shackles. 27 Now therefore, why have you not rebuked Jeremiah of Anathoth, who makes himself a prophet to you, 28 because he has sent to us in Babylon, saying, The captivity is long: build houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat their fruit?”’” 29 Zephaniah the priest read this letter in the ears of Jeremiah the prophet. 30 Then the LORD’s word came to Jeremiah, saying, 31 “Send to all them of the captivity, saying, ‘the LORD says concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite: “Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you, and I didn’t send him, and he has caused you to trust in a lie;” 32 therefore the LORD says, “Behold, I will punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite, and his offspring. He shall not have a man to dwell amongst this people, neither shall he see the good that I will do to my people,” says the LORD, “because he has spoken rebellion against the LORD.”’”

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

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.

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