That same year,28.1 One ancient translation That same year; Hebrew That same year at the beginning of his reign. in the fifth month of the fourth year that Zedekiah was king, Hananiah son of Azzur, a prophet from the town of Gibeon, spoke to me in the Temple. In the presence of the priests and of the people he told me 2that the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, had said: “I have broken the power of the king of Babylonia. 3Within two years I will bring back to this place all the temple treasures that King Nebuchadnezzar took to Babylonia. 4I will also bring back the king of Judah, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, along with all the people of Judah who went into exile in Babylonia. Yes, I will break the power of the king of Babylonia. I, the LORD, have spoken.”
5Then in the presence of the priests and of all the people who were standing in the Temple, I said to Hananiah: 6“Wonderful! I hope the LORD will do this! I certainly hope he will make your prophecy come true and will bring back from Babylonia all the temple treasures and all the people who were taken away as prisoners. 7But listen to what I say to you and to the people. 8The prophets who spoke long ago, before my time and yours, predicted that war, starvation, and disease would come to many nations and powerful kingdoms. 9But a prophet who predicts peace can only be recognized as a prophet whom the LORD has truly sent when that prophet's predictions come true.”
10Then Hananiah took the yoke off my neck, broke it in pieces, 11and said in the presence of all the people: “The LORD has said that this is how he will break the yoke that King Nebuchadnezzar has put on the neck of all the nations; and he will do this within two years.” Then I left.
12Some time after this the LORD told me 13to go and say to Hananiah: “The LORD has said that you may be able to break a wooden yoke, but he28.13 One ancient translation he; Hebrew you. will replace it with an iron yoke. 14The LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, has said that he will put an iron yoke on all these nations and that they will serve King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia. The LORD has said that he will make even the wild animals serve Nebuchadnezzar.”
15Then I told Hananiah this, and added, “Listen, Hananiah! The LORD did not send you, and you are making these people believe a lie. 16And so the LORD himself says that he is going to get rid of you. Before this year is over you will die because you have told the people to rebel against the LORD.”
17And Hananiah died in the seventh month of that same year.
I wrote a letter to the priests, the prophets, the leaders of the people, and to all the others whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken away as prisoners from Jerusalem to Babylonia. 2I wrote it after King Jehoiachin, his mother, the palace officials, the leaders of Judah and of Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the skilled workmen had been taken into exile. 3I gave the letter to Elasah son of Shaphan and to Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom King Zedekiah of Judah was sending to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia. It said:
4“The LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those people whom he allowed Nebuchadnezzar to take away as prisoners from Jerusalem to Babylonia: 5‘Build houses and settle down. Plant gardens and eat what you grow in them. 6Marry and have children. Then let your children get married, so that they also may have children. You must increase in numbers and not decrease. 7Work for the good of the cities where I have made you go as prisoners. Pray to me on their behalf, because if they are prosperous, you will be prosperous too. 8I, the LORD, the God of Israel, warn you not to let yourselves be deceived by the prophets who live among you or by any others who claim they can predict the future. Do not pay any attention to their29.8 Probable text their; Hebrew your. dreams. 9They are telling you lies in my name. I did not send them. I, the LORD Almighty, have spoken.’
“The LORD says, ‘When Babylonia's seventy years are over, I will show my concern for you and keep my promise to bring you back home. 11I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.29.11 the future you hope for; or a future full of hope. 12Then you will call to me. You will come and pray to me, and I will answer you. 13
You will seek me, and you will find me because you will seek me with all your heart. 14Yes, I say, you will find me, and I will restore you to your land. I will gather you from every country and from every place to which I have scattered you, and I will bring you back to the land from which I had sent you away into exile. I, the LORD, have spoken.’
15“You say that the LORD has given you prophets in Babylonia. 16Listen to what the LORD says about the king who rules the kingdom that David ruled and about the people of this city, that is, your relatives who were not taken away as prisoners with you. 17The LORD Almighty says, ‘I am bringing war, starvation, and disease on them, and I will make them like figs that are too rotten to be eaten. 18I will pursue them with war, starvation, and disease, and all the nations of the world will be horrified at what they see. Everywhere I scatter them, people will be shocked and terrified at what has happened to them. People will mock them and use their name as a curse. 19This will happen to them because they did not obey the message that I kept on sending to them through my servants the prophets. They refused to listen. 20All of you whom I sent into exile in Babylonia, listen to what I, the LORD, say.’
21“The LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, has spoken about Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, who are telling you lies in his name. He has said that he will hand them over to the power of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia, who will put them to death before your eyes. 22When the people who were taken away as prisoners from Jerusalem to Babylonia want to bring a curse on someone, they will say, ‘May the LORD treat you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylonia roasted alive!’ 23This will be their fate because they are guilty of terrible sins — they have committed adultery and have told lies in the LORD's name. This was against the LORD's will; he knows what they have done, and he is a witness against them.29.23 done, and he… them; or done; he saw them do it. The LORD has spoken.”
24-25The LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, gave me a message for Shemaiah of Nehelam, who had sent a letter in his own name to all the people of Jerusalem and to the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah and to all the other priests. In this letter, Shemaiah wrote to Zephaniah:
26“The LORD made you a priest in place of Jehoiada, and you are now the chief officer29.26 Some ancient translations officer; Hebrew officers. in the Temple. It is your duty to see that every madman who pretends to be a prophet is placed in chains with an iron collar round his neck. 27Why haven't you done this to Jeremiah of Anathoth, who has been speaking as a prophet to the people? 28He must be stopped because he told the people in Babylonia that they would be prisoners there a long time and should build houses, settle down, plant gardens, and eat what they grow.”
29Zephaniah read the letter to me, 30and then the LORD told me 31-32to send to all the prisoners in Babylon this message about Shemaiah: “I, the LORD, will punish Shemaiah and all his descendants. I did not send him, but he spoke to you as if he were a prophet, and he made you believe lies. He will have no descendants among you. He will not live to see the good things that I am going to do for my people, because he told them to rebel against me. I, the LORD, have spoken.”
301The LORD, the God of Israel, 2said to me: “Write down in a book everything that I have told you, 3because the time is coming when I will restore my people, Israel and Judah. I will bring them back to the land that I gave their ancestors, and they will take possession of it again. I, the LORD, have spoken.”
4The LORD says to the people of Israel and Judah:
5“I heard a cry of terror,
a cry of fear and not of peace.
6Now stop and think!
Can a man give birth to a child?
Why then do I see every man with his hands on his stomach
like a woman in labour?
Why is everyone so pale?
7A terrible day is coming;
no other day can compare with it —
a time of distress for my people,
but they will survive.”
8The LORD Almighty says: “When that day comes, I will break the yoke that is round their necks and remove their chains, and they will no longer be the slaves of foreigners. 9Instead, they will serve me, the LORD their God, and a descendant of David, whom I will enthrone as king.
“My people, do not be afraid;
people of Israel, do not be terrified.
I will rescue you from that distant land,
from the land where you are prisoners.
You will come back home and live in peace;
you will be secure, and no one will make you afraid.
11I will come to you and save you.
I will destroy all the nations
where I have scattered you,
but I will not destroy you.
I will not let you go unpunished;
but when I punish you, I will be fair.
I, the LORD, have spoken.”
12The LORD says to his people,
“Your wounds are incurable,
your injuries cannot be healed.
13There is no one to take care of you,
no remedy for your sores,
no hope of healing for you.
14All your lovers have forgotten you;
they no longer care about you.
I have attacked you like an enemy;
your punishment has been harsh
because your sins are many
and your wickedness is great.
15Complain no more about your injuries;
there is no cure for you.
I punished you like this
because your sins are many
and your wickedness is great.
16But now, all who devour you will be devoured,
and all your enemies will be taken away as prisoners.
All who oppress you will be oppressed,
and all who plunder you will be plundered.
17I will make you well again;
I will heal your wounds,
though your enemies say,
‘Zion is an outcast;
no one cares about her.’
I, the LORD, have spoken.”
18The LORD says,
“I will restore my people to their land
and have mercy on every family;
Jerusalem will be rebuilt,
and its palace restored.
19The people who live there will sing praise;
they will shout for joy.
By my blessing they will increase in numbers;
my blessing will bring them honour.
20I will restore the nation's ancient power
and establish it firmly again;
I will punish all who oppress them.
21-22Their ruler will come from their own nation,
their prince from their own people.
He will approach me when I invite him,
for who would dare come uninvited?
They will be my people,
and I will be their God.
I, the LORD, have spoken.”
23-24The LORD's anger is a storm, a furious wind that will rage over the heads of the wicked. It will not end until he has done all that he intends to do. In days to come his people will understand this clearly.