The response of Shemaiah to Jeremiah’s letter (Jer 29:24-29:28)

“Shemaiah of Nehelam

Sent a letter to

All the people

Who are in Jerusalem,

The priest Zephaniah,

The son of Maaseiah,

As well as to all the priests.

Saying.

‘Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

Yahweh has made you priest

Instead of the priest Jehoiada.

Thus there may be officers

In the house of Yahweh

To control any madman

Who plays the prophet.

Thus you can put him

In the stocks

With a collar.

Now why have you not rebuked

Jeremiah of Anathoth

Who plays the prophet for you?

He has actually sent to us

In Babylon,

Saying.

‘It will be a long time.

Build houses!

Live in them!

Plant gardens!

Eat what they produce!’”

Apparently this prophet Shemaiah of Nehelam in Babylon was upset at the letter that Jeremiah sent. So he responded with another letter to the priests at Jerusalem, especially Zephaniah, who had the same father as the slain prophet Zedekiah, so that he would have been his brother. He indicated that Zephaniah had replaced Jehoiada as the chief priest. Thus he had the power to control mad men who pretended to be prophets. In particular, he named Jeremiah as this kind of mad man who told them in Babylon to stay there, build houses, live in them, plant gardens, and eat from them. Shemaiah thought that this was a crazy idea.

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