Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders which were carried away captives, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon;
Captives — There were two carryings into Babylon, the latter about eleven or twelve years after the former, the first was in the time of Jehoiakim, When the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths were carried away.
 By the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, (whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent unto Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon) saying,
By the hand — Zedekiah having some occasion to send two messengers to Babylon. Jeremiah knowing that as there were false prophets at Jerusalem, who fed people with hopes of a speedy return, so there were some with them in Babylon, writes the following letter, and sends it by these two messengers, to quiet the peoples minds.
 For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.
After — From this text it appears that the seventy years captivity, were to be accounted from the first carrying into captivity in the time of Jehoiakim, so that eleven years of it were elapsed, before Zedekiah was carried away.
 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
To give — This deliverance will not depend upon your merits, but upon my own mercy, and kind thoughts and purposes I have for the seed of Abraham my servant, and I am resolved in my own thoughts what to do, I intend not the blotting out of the name of Israel from the earth, but to give such an end to their trouble as themselves expect and desire.
 Because ye have said, The LORD hath raised us up prophets in Babylon;
Because — The prophet here turns his speech to some wicked Jews, that were in Babylon, or in Judea.
 Know that thus saith the LORD of the king that sitteth upon the throne of David, and of all the people that dwelleth in this city, and of your brethren that are not gone forth with you into captivity;
Of the king — Zedekiah.
 Thus shalt thou also speak to Shemaiah the Nehelamite, saying,
Nehelamite — It is probable there was such a place as Nehelam, from whence he was.
 The LORD hath made thee priest in the stead of Jehoiada the priest, that ye should be officers in the house of the LORD, for every man that is mad, and maketh himself a prophet, that thou shouldest put him in prison, and in the stocks.
Priest — Zephaniah was the second priest.
In the stead — In the stead signifies, that thou shouldest be like the good high priest Jehoiada.
Mad — That thou mightest take care of persons, who being mad or frantick make themselves prophets.