Jeremiah 20
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Now Pashur the son of Immer the priest, who was also chief governor in the house of the LORD, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things.
Jeremiah 20:1. Now Pashhur the son of Immer the priest] The name seems to have been a common one. In Jeremiah 21:1 and Jeremiah 38:1 a P. “son of Malchiah” is mentioned, and in the latter v. we find a third (possibly, however, identical with the present one), who was father of Gedaliah. Doubt has been thrown on the authentic character of this passage, inasmuch as in later times Immer (Ezra 2:37; Ezra 10:20; Nehemiah 7:40; Nehemiah 11:13) and apparently Pashhur (see on Ezra 2:38 in C.B.) were the names of priestly families, while in Jeremiah they are personal names. Moreover, since in b.c. 537 the priestly house of Immer was 1052 strong (Ezra 2:37 and so Nehemiah 7:40), it cannot have been named after the father of this P. But “son of Immer,” as Co. points out, may only mean a member of the family named after him as ancestor. Du. maintains that there is no room for the P. of the text here, as Jeremiah 29:26 shews that the predecessor of the Zephaniah, there mentioned as holding the same office, was not P. but Jehoiada. Erbt, on the other hand, points out that the office need not be the same, for in Jeremiah 52:24 we find that Zephaniah is but one of several officers of the Temple, and so, at the time to which Jeremiah 29:26 belongs, may have been the chief of the three “keepers of the door,” and not successor to the office here held by Pashhur.

chief officer] lit. overseer, ruler, but the latter word in MT. “is probably a gloss, identifying Jeremiah’s ‘overseer’ (see Jeremiah 29:26) with the ‘ruler’ often mentioned in later times in connexion with the Temple, 1 Chronicles 9:11 (= Nehemiah 11:11); 2 Chronicles 31:13; 2 Chronicles 35:8.” Dr.

Then Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the LORD.
2. the stocks] Cp. Jeremiah 29:26. See HDB. I. 527 for anything that is known with reference to this mode of punishment as applied then.

upper gate of Benjamin, which was in, etc.] the northern gate (built by Jotham, 2 Kings 15:35) of the upper (inner) court of the Temple, and to be distinguished from the city gate of the same name (Jeremiah 37:13, Jeremiah 38:7).

And it came to pass on the morrow, that Pashur brought forth Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then said Jeremiah unto him, The LORD hath not called thy name Pashur, but Magormissabib.
3. Magor-missabib] meaning, terror on every side. The LXX wrongly render, foreigner, obtaining this sense from the fact that the Hebrew roots for terror and sojourn in a foreign country are identical in form. The name is to be significant of his fate, which doubtless was to go into exile with Jehoiachin, as well as of the consternation of himself and his friends at the failure of their policy of reliance on Egypt against Chaldaea. For the expression cp. Jeremiah 20:10, Jeremiah 6:25, Jeremiah 46:5, Jeremiah 49:29; Lamentations 2:22, and for the protest on the part of the prophet cp. Isaiah 22:15 ff.; Amos 7:10 ff; Acts 16:37.

For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will make thee a terror to thyself, and to all thy friends: and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and thine eyes shall behold it: and I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive into Babylon, and shall slay them with the sword.
Moreover I will deliver all the strength of this city, and all the labours thereof, and all the precious things thereof, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah will I give into the hand of their enemies, which shall spoil them, and take them, and carry them to Babylon.
And thou, Pashur, and all that dwell in thine house shall go into captivity: and thou shalt come to Babylon, and there thou shalt die, and shalt be buried there, thou, and all thy friends, to whom thou hast prophesied lies.
6. prophesied falsely] He thus would appear to have assumed the functions of a prophet, and to have insisted that the warnings of Jeremiah were absurd. See Jeremiah 14:13 ff.

O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me.
7. deceived] mg. enticed; induced him to undertake duties, the gravity of which together with the resulting sufferings was hidden from him. Cp. use of the same Hebrew word in Proverbs 1:10; Proverbs 16:29.

7–9. These vv. shew us that the prophets did not speak of their own will. It was an influence which they could not resist that urged them forward, in spite of the certain ills that should follow to themselves. “Here there rings out clearly the prophet’s unfaltering certainty of the real inspiration which is the source of all his message.” Pe. Cp. Jeremiah 23:29; so Amos 3:8 and 1 Corinthians 9:16.

Ch. Jeremiah 20:7-18. The prophet bitterly complains to God of his lot

The passage opens to us the depths of the prophet’s soul, and we see him in intimate converse with God, and possessed now by the emotions of despair, and now by confident hope. We have here the thoughts, as Gi. and Co. observe, which may well have occupied his mind when in confinement, and Jeremiah 20:7-13 at any rate are thus closely connected both in time and subject-matter with Jeremiah 20:1-6. As derision was still the prophet’s fate (Jeremiah 20:7), they can hardly be later than the early part of Jehoiakim’s reign, when the hope that danger would be averted was still prevalent. On the other hand Jeremiah 20:14-18 most naturally belong to the latter days of Zedekiah, when the prophet stood alone, hated as the enemy of his people and a traitor to his country.

It may be summarized thus.

(i) Jeremiah 20:7-10. O Lord, Thou hast beguiled me. My human weakness cannot cope with the Divine strength. Perforce I utter Thy message, and therefore am become an object of perpetual scorn. Yet that message, whatever I may resolve to the contrary, insists on utterance. Denunciation, craft, revenge—even my intimates employ these weapons against me. (ii) Jeremiah 20:11-13. After all, I have Jehovah on my side. My foes shall be put to perpetual shame. May He, who searches my heart and theirs, grant me to see their discomfiture. Praise be to Him for deliverance. (iii) Jeremiah 20:14-18. Accursed be the day of my birth and he who announced it. May his doom be terrible as that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Why did he not cut me off from life ere I was born? Wherefore was I, wretched man that I am, given a share in human existence?

For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the LORD was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily.
8. Violence and spoil] directed generally against himself. Cp. Jeremiah 5:26-28, Jeremiah 9:4.

a reproach unto me, and a derision] Words applied to his own case by the great Florentine, Savonarola, “I have had nothing but tribulations, derision, and reproach.” Clark’s Savonarola, p. 169.

Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.
9. make mention] rather, think thereon, i.e. on “the word.”

I am weary with forbearing] rather, as in Jeremiah 6:11, “weary with holding in.”

For I heard the defaming of many, fear on every side. Report, say they, and we will report it. All my familiars watched for my halting, saying, Peradventure he will be enticed, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him.
10. defaming] lit. probably, whispering. Cp. Psalm 31:13.

watch for my halting] Cp. Psalm 35:15; Psalm 38:17.

enticed] into some act, which will lay him open to attack.

But the LORD is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten.
11. dealt wisely] mg. prospered. The Hebrew word includes the notion of success as the result of wise action.

11–13. See summary at commencement of section. The prophet’s courage is renewed.

But, O LORD of hosts, that triest the righteous, and seest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I opened my cause.
12. Virtually identical with Jeremiah 11:20 and therefore here perhaps an insertion from the margin of a Hebrew MS.

Sing unto the LORD, praise ye the LORD: for he hath delivered the soul of the poor from the hand of evildoers.
13. This exclamation of praise may be compared with those which break out from time to time in the course, or at the conclusion, of many even among the most mournful and despondent of the Psalms, e.g. Psalm 35:9-10; Psalm 35:28.

Cursed be the day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed.
14. “The days of the year are not for the Hebrew mind mere marks of time, they are objective entities, each of which in its turn visits the world (cp. the twelve months in the fairy tale).” Pe.

14–18. See summary at commencement of section. Cp. Job 3:3-12. The latter passage is even more vehement than this and also bears traces of artificiality as compared with this natural and spontaneous outburst of a deeply moved human soul. We can hardly therefore doubt that the Job passage is based upon this one and not vice versâ. The words express in the intense language of Eastern emotions the bitterness of the pangs which ever and again seized upon the prophet’s mind and heart, as he contemplated his position and that of his country. Cp. 2 Samuel 1:21.

Cursed be the man who brought tidings to my father, saying, A man child is born unto thee; making him very glad.
15. “No man of course can curse his father or his mother, so Jeremiah curses the messenger, who brought the joyful news from the women’s quarters.” Du.

And let that man be as the cities which the LORD overthrew, and repented not: and let him hear the cry in the morning, and the shouting at noontide;
16. let that man, etc.] Du. and Co. object to so much being made of the messenger, and therefore consider that for “man” we should substitute, or at any rate understand, “day” of the previous v. The meaning then would be, Let that day assuredly bring disaster. But the change is unnecessary. The text only expresses a counterpart of the Eastern custom of rewarding the messenger who brought good tidings.

the cities] Cp. Isaiah 13:19.

cry] Cp. Jeremiah 18:22.

shouting] mg. an alarm, the same Hebrew word as that rendered “alarm” in Jeremiah 4:19.

Because he slew me not from the womb; or that my mother might have been my grave, and her womb to be always great with me.
17. from] better (with LXX), as shewn by the context, in. The consonants which represent the two prepositions were written similarly in Hebrew MSS.

Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?
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