Chapter 29

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1 Now these are the words of the letter, that Ieremiah the prophet sent from Ierusalem vnto the residue of the elders which were caried away captiues, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchad-nezzar had caried away captiue from Ierusalem to Babylon,

2 (After that Ieconiah the king, and the queene, and the eunuches, the princes of Iudah and Ierusalem, and the carpenters and the smithes were departed from Ierusalem)

3 By the hand of Elasah the sonne of Shaphan, and Gemariah the sonne of Hilkiah, whome Zedekiah king of Iudah sent vnto Babylon to Nebuchad-nezzar king of Babylon, saying,

4 Thus saith the Lord of hosts the God of Israel vnto all that are caried away captiues, whom I haue caused to be caried away from Ierusalem vnto Babylon:

5 Build ye houses and dwell in them, and plant gardens, and eate the fruit of them.

6 Take ye wiues, and beget sonnes and daughters, and take wiues for your sonnes, and giue your daughters to husbands, that they may beare sonnes and daughters, that ye may bee increased there, and not diminished.

7 And seeke the peace of the citie, whither I haue caused you to be caried away captiues, & pray vnto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall yee haue peace.

8 For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Let not your prophets and your diuiners, that bee in the midst of you, deceiue you, neither hearken to your dreames which yee cause to be dreamed.

9 For they prophecie falsly vnto you in my name: I haue not sent them, saith the Lord.

10 For thus saith the Lord, That after seuentie yeeres be accomplished at Babylon, I will visite you, and performe my good word towards you, in causing you to returne to this place.

11 For I knowe the thoughts that I thinke towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of euill, to giue you an expected end.

12 Then shall ye call vpon me, and ye shall goe and pray vnto mee, and I will hearken vnto you.

13 And ye shall seeke me, and finde me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

14 And I will be found of you, saith the Lord, and I will turne away your captiuitie, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I haue driuen you, saith the Lord, and I will bring you againe into the place whence I caused you to be caried away captiue.

15 Because yee haue said, The Lord hath raised vs vp prophets in Babylon:

16 Know that thus saith the Lord, of the king that sitteth vpon the throne of Dauid, and of all the people that dwelleth in this citie, and of your brethren that are not gone foorth with you into captiuitie.

17 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Beholde, I will send vpon them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like vile figges, that cannot be eaten, they are so euill.

18 And I will persecute them with the sword, with the famine, and with the pestilence, and will deliuer them to be remooued to all the kingdomes of the earth, to be a curse and an astonishment, and an hissing, and a reproch among all the nations, whither I haue driuen them.

19 Because they haue not hearkened to my words, saith the Lord, which I sent vnto them by my seruants the Prophets, rising vp early, and sending them, but ye would not heare, saith the Lord.

20 Heare yee therefore the word of the Lord, all ye of the captiuitie, whom I haue sent from Ierusalem to Babylon.

21 Thus saith the Lord of hosts the God of Israel, of Ahab the sonne of Kolaiah, and of Zedekiah the sonne of Maaseiah, which prophecie a lye vnto you in my Name, Behold, I will deliuer them into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and hee shall slay them before your eyes.

22 And of them shall bee taken vp a eurse by all the captiuitie of Iudah which are in Babylon, saying, The Lord make thee like Zedekiah, and like Ahab, whom the king of Babylon rosted in the fire.

23 Because they haue committed villanie in Israel, and haue committed adulterie with their neighbors wiues, and haue spoken lying wordes in my Name, which I haue not commanded them, euen I know, and am a witnesse, saith the Lord.

24 Thus shalt thou also speake to Shemaiah the Nehelamite, saying:

25 Thus speaketh the Lord of hostes the God of Israel, saying, Because thou hast sent letters in thy name vnto all the people that are at Ierusalem, and to Zephaniah the sonne of Maaseiah the Priest, and to all the priests, saying;

26 The Lord hath made thee Priest in the stead of Iehoiada the Priest, that ye should be Officers in the house of the Lord, for euery man that is madde, and maketh himselfe a Prophet, that thou shouldest put him in prison, and in the stockes:

27 Now therefore why hast thou not reproued Ieremiah of Anathoth, which maketh himselfe a Prophet to you?

28 For therefore he sent vnto vs in Babylon, saying, This captiuitie is long, build ye houses and dwell in them, and plant gardens, and eate the fruit of them.

29 And Zephaniah the Priest read this letter in the eares of Ieremiah the Prophet.

30 Then came the word of the Lord vnto Ieremiah, saying;

31 Send to all them of the captiuitie, saying, Thus saith the Lord, concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite, Because that Shemaiah hath prophecied vnto you, and I sent him not, and he caused you to trust in a lye.

32 Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite and his seed: he shall not haue a man to dwell among this people, neither shall hee behold the good that I will doe for my people, saith the Lord, because he hath taught rebellion against the Lord.

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Commentary for Jeremiah 29

Two letters to the captives in Babylon; In the first, they are recommended to be patient and composed. (1-19) In the second, judgments are denounced against the false prophets who deceived them. (20-32)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.

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.

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.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

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