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Jeremiah 29:20-24

29:20 ‘So pay attention to what I, the Lord, have said, 1  all you exiles whom I have sent to Babylon from Jerusalem.’

29:21 “The Lord God of Israel who rules over all 2  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. 3  ‘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!” 4  29:23 This will happen to them because they have done what is shameful 5  in Israel. They have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives and have spoken lies while claiming my authority. 6  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.” 7 

A Response to the Letter and a Subsequent Letter

29:24 The Lord told Jeremiah, “Tell 8  Shemaiah the Nehelamite 9 

Jeremiah 29:31-32

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. 10  29:32 Because he has done this,” 11  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.”’” 12 

1 tn Heb “pay attention to the word of the Lord.” However, the Lord is speaking in the words just previous to this and in the words which follow (“whom I have sent”). This is another example of the shift from third person referent to first person which is common in Hebrew poetry and prophecy but is not common in English style. The person has been adjusted in the translation to avoid confusion.

2 tn Heb “Yahweh of armies, the God of Israel.”

sn See study notes on 2:19 and 7:3 for the explanation of this title.

3 tn Heb “prophesying lies in my name.” For an explanation of this idiom see the study notes on 14:14 and 23:27.

4 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.

5 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.”

6 tn Heb “prophesying lies in my name.” For an explanation of this idiom see the study notes on 14:14 and 23:27.

7 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”

8 tn The words “The Lord told Jeremiah” are not in the text. They are supplied in the translation here to indicate the shift in topic and the shift in addressee (the imperative “tell” is second singular). The introduction supplied in the translation here matches that in v. 30 where the words are in the text.

9 tn It is unclear whether this is a family name or a place name. The word occurs nowhere else in the Hebrew Bible.

10 tn Or “is giving you false assurances.”

11 tn Heb “Therefore.”

12 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.

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