A Contest between True and False Prophets

Jeremiah 27:1–15|28:1–17

Biblical Period

Chapter 27

1At the beginning of the reign of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord:

2Thus said the Lord to me: Make for yourself thongs and bars of a yoke, and put them on your neck. 3And send them to the king of Edom, the king of Moab, the king of the Ammonites, the king of Tyre, and the king of Sidon, by envoys who have come to King Zedekiah of Judah in Jerusalem; 4and give them this charge to their masters: Thus said the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel: Say this to your masters:

5“It is I who made the earth, and the men and beasts who are on the earth, by My great might and My outstretched arm; and I give it to whomever I deem proper. 6I herewith deliver all these lands to My servant, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon; I even give him the wild beasts to serve him. 7All nations shall serve him, his son and his grandson—until the turn of his own land comes, when many nations and great kings shall subjugate him. 8The nation or kingdom that does not serve him—King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon—and does not put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation I will visit—declares the Lord—with sword, famine, and pestilence, until I have destroyed it by his hands. 9As for you, give no heed to your prophets, augurs, dreamers, diviners, and sorcerers, who say to you, ‘Do not serve the king of Babylon.’ 10For they prophesy falsely to you—with the result that you shall be banished from your land; I will drive you out and you shall perish. 11But the nation that puts its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serves him, will be left by Me on its own soil—declares the Lord—to till it and dwell on it.”

12I also spoke to King Zedekiah of Judah in just the same way: “Put your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon; serve him and his people, and live! 13Otherwise you will die together with your people, by sword, famine, and pestilence, as the Lord has decreed against any nation that does not serve the king of Babylon. 14Give no heed to the words of the prophets who say to you, ‘Do not serve the king of Babylon,’ for they prophesy falsely to you. 15I have not sent them—declares the Lord—and they prophesy falsely in My name, with the result that I will drive you out and you shall perish, together with the prophets who prophesy to you.” [ . . . ]

Chapter 28

1That year, early in the reign of King Zedekiah of Judah, in the fifth month of the fourth year, the prophet Hananiah son of Azzur, who was from Gibeon, spoke to me in the House of the Lord, in the presence of the priests and all the people. He said: 2“Thus said the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel: I hereby break the yoke of the king of Babylon. 3In two years, I will restore to this place all the vessels of the House of the Lord which King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took from this place and brought to Babylon. 4And I will bring back to this place King Jeconiah son of Jehoiakim of Judah, and all the Judean exiles who went to Babylon—declares the Lord. Yes, I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.”

5Then the prophet Jeremiah answered the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and of all the people who were standing in the House of the Lord. 6The prophet Jeremiah said: “Amen! May the Lord do so! May the Lord fulfill what you have prophesied and bring back from Babylon to this place the vessels of the House of the Lord and all the exiles! 7But just listen to this word which I address to you and to all the people: 8The prophets who lived before you and me from ancient times prophesied war, disaster, and pestilence against many lands and great kingdoms. 9So if a prophet prophesies good fortune, then only when the word of the prophet comes true can it be known that the Lord really sent him.”

10But the prophet Hananiah removed the bar from the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, and broke it; 11and Hananiah said in the presence of all the people, “Thus said the Lord: So will I break the yoke of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon from off the necks of all the nations, in two years.” And the prophet Jeremiah went on his way.

12After the prophet Hananiah had broken the bar from off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 13“Go say to Hananiah: Thus said the Lord: You broke bars of wood, but you shall make bars of iron instead. 14For thus said the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel: I have put an iron yoke upon the necks of all those nations, that they may serve King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon—and serve him they shall! I have even given the wild beasts to him.”

15And the prophet Jeremiah said to the prophet Hananiah, “Listen, Hananiah! The Lord did not send you, and you have given this people lying assurances. 16Assuredly, thus said the Lord: I am going to banish you from off the earth. This year you shall die, for you have urged disloyalty to the Lord.”

17And the prophet Hananiah died that year, in the seventh month.


Reprinted from Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. Copyright 1985 by the Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia.

Published in: The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization, vol. 1.

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