Jeremiah 20:2
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.
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(2) Then Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet.—It is the first time that he has been so described, the office to which he was called being apparently named to emphasise the outrage which had been inflicted on him. Other prophets had, under Ahab or Manasseh, been slain with the sword, but none, so far as we know (with the one exception of Hanani the seer in 2Chronicles 16:10), had ever before been subjected to an ignominious punishment such as this. It was so far analogous to the outrage against which St. Paul protested in Acts 23:2-3. The word “smote” implies a blow struck with the priest’s own hands rather than the infliction of the legal punishment of forty stripes save one (Deuteronomy 25:3). The English word “stocks” expresses adequately enough the instrument of torture which, like the nervus of Roman punishment, kept the body (as in Acts 16:24) in a crooked and painful position. The word here used occurs in the Hebrew of 2Chronicles 16:10, as above, and in Jeremiah 29:26, but the A. V. there renders it as “prison-house.” In that humiliating position the prophet was left for the whole night in one of the most conspicuous places of the city, the temple-gate of Benjamin (the upper gate) on the northern side of the inner court, probably the higher or northern gate of Ezekiel 8:3; Ezekiel 8:5; Ezekiel 9:2.

Jeremiah 20:2. Then Pashur smote Jeremiah, &c. — He thought, no doubt, that Jeremiah’s speaking so plainly of the overthrow of Jerusalem, and of the miseries which should befall it, deserved that he should be arrested and put in confinement, to prevent his speaking thus freely: and accordingly he treats him as they treated, or rather, ought to have treated, the false prophets. And put him in the stocks — The word המהפכת, here translated the stocks, is rendered the prison by Houbigant, and the house of correction by Blaney. It occurs twice besides, namely, Jeremiah 29:26, and 2 Chronicles 16:10, in both which places it is rendered simply a prison, and is mentioned as a punishment due to, or inflicted on, one who assumed the character of a prophet, without a proper call, or was presumed to have behaved unbecomingly as such. The word which properly signifies the stocks, is סד: see Job 13:27; Job 33:11. It is very natural to understand here that Pashur, having caused Jeremiah to be beaten, or scourged, ordered him into confinement afterward; from whence he released him the next day.20:1-6 Pashur smote Jeremiah, and put him in the stocks. Jeremiah was silent till God put a word into his mouth. To confirm this, Pashur has a name given him, Fear on every side. It speaks a man not only in distress, but in despair; not only in danger, but in fear on every side. The wicked are in great fear where no fear is, for God can make the most daring sinner a terror to himself. And those who will not hear of their faults from God's prophets, shall be made to hear them from their consciences. Miserable is the man thus made a terror to himself. His friends shall fail him. God lets him live miserably, that he may be a monument of Divine justice.Jeremiah the prophet - Jeremiah is nowhere so called in the first 19 chapters. In this place he thus characterizes himself, because Pashur's conduct was a violation of the respect due to the prophetic office.

The stocks - This instrument of torture comes from a root signifying to "twist." It thus implies that the body was kept in a distorted position. Compare Acts 16:24.

The high gate ... - Rather, "the upper gate of Benjamin in the house of Yahweh (compare 2 Kings 15:35);" to be distinguished from the city gate of Benjamin leading toward the north.

2. The fact that Pashur was of the same order and of the same family as Jeremiah aggravates the indignity of the blow (1Ki 22:24; Mt 26:67).

stocks—an instrument of torture with five holes, in which the neck, two hands, and two feet were thrust, the body being kept in a crooked posture (Jer 29:26). From a Hebrew root, to "turn," or "rack." This marks Pashur's cruelty.

high—that is, the upper gate (2Ki 15:35).

gate of Benjamin—a gate in the temple wall, corresponding to the gate of Benjamin, properly so called, in the city wall, in the direction of the territory of Benjamin (Jer 7:2; 37:13; 38:7). The temple gate of Benjamin, being on a lofty position, was called "the high gate," to distinguish it from the city wall gate of Benjamin.

Then Pashur smote Jeremiah; it is not said how he struck him, though some think it most probable that it was with his fist, as the false prophet struck Micaiah, 1 Kings 22:24. We are as uncertain what is here meant by

stocks, whether such an engine as is in use amongst us to punish offenders, which we call by that name; or, as others. an engine like our pillory, where malefactors are fastened by the necks; or, as others, with three holes, one for the neck of the offender, one for each hand; or whether merely a prison, where he was kept all night a prisoner; the Hebrew word will not determine us further than that it was a place of restraint, and where that will not determine, other conjectures are as uncertain as needless. There is as much uncertainty as to the place where this prison or these stocks were; we are told it was near the temple, and

in the high gate of Benjamin; but whether this was a gate belonging to the temple that opened toward that part of the country which was the lot of Benjamin, or a gate of the city that opened that way, whether in the inner wall or outer wall, whether called the high gate, because nearer the temple, or upon some other account, are nice and curious speculations, the determination of which is of no moment for us to know. Then Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet,.... Either with his fist, or with a rod, while he was prophesying, to stop his mouth, and hinder him from going on, and to show his resentment, and influence, the people not to believe him; or he ordered him to be smitten and scourged by some inferior officer. This was very ill treatment of a prophet, a prophet of the Lord, and one that was a priest too, of the same order with himself;

and put him in the stocks; or ordered him to be put there; but whether it was such an engine or instrument as we call "stocks", in which the feet of prisoners are put, is not certain. Kimchi's father says, it was an instrument made of two pieces of wood, in which the necks of prisoners were put; and some say it had besides two holes for the two hands to be put in; and so the same with our "pillory". The Septuagint render it "a cataract", a ditch or dungeon. Jarchi interprets it a prison; and so our translators render the word in Jeremiah 29:26; however, it was a place of confinement, if not of torture and pain;

that were in the high gate of Benjamin; here were these stocks, pillory, or prison; which was either a gate of the city of Jerusalem, so called, because it looked towards and led out to the tribe of Benjamin, Jeremiah 37:13; or a gate of the temple, which stood on that side of it that belonged to the tribe of Benjamin; both the city and temple being partly in the tribe of Judah, and partly in the tribe of Benjamin; and it seems by this that there was an upper and lower gate of this name; and the following clause seems to incline to this sense:

which was by the house of the Lord; or, "in the house of the Lord" (w); the temple.

(w) "in domo Jehovae", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Piscator, Cocceius, Schmidt.

Then Pashur struck Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the {a} stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the LORD.

(a) Thus we see that the thing which neither the king nor the princes nor the people dared to undertake against the prophet of God, this priest as a chief instrument of Satan first attempted, read Jer 18:18.

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).Verse 2. - Pashur, being charged with the police of the temple, smites Jeremiah, i.e. causes stripes to be given him (a legal punishment, Deuteronomy 25:3; comp. 2 Corinthians 11:24), and then orders him to be put into the stocks; literally, that which distorts - some instrument of punishment which held the body in a bent or crooked position (comp. Jeremiah 29:26). The "stocks" were sometimes kept in a special house (2 Chronicles 16:10); these mentioned here, however, apparently stood in public, at the high - or rather, upper - gate of Benjamin, which was by - or, at - the house of the Lord. The gate, then, was one of the temple gates, and is called "the upper" to distinguish it from one of the city gates which bore the same name (Jeremiah 37:13; Jeremiah 38:7). It is presumably the same which is called "the new gate of the Lord's house" (Jeremiah 26:10; Jeremiah 36:10), as having been comparatively lately built (2 Kings 15:35). In Jeremiah 19:6-13 the threatened punishment is given again at large, and that in two strophes or series of ideas, which explain the emblematical act with the pitcher. The first series, Jeremiah 19:6-9, is introduced by בּקּותי, which intimates the meaning of the pitcher; and the other, Jeremiah 19:10-13, is bound up with the breaking of the pitcher. But both series are, Jeremiah 19:6, opened by the mention of the locality of the act. As Jeremiah 19:5 was but an expansion of Jeremiah 7:31, so Jeremiah 19:6 is a literal repetition of Jeremiah 7:32. The valley of Benhinnom, with its places for abominable sacrifices (תּפת, see on Jeremiah 7:32), shall in the future be called Valley of Slaughter; i.e., at the judgment on Jerusalem it will be the place where the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judah will be slain by the enemy. There God will make void (בּקּותי, playing on בּקבּק), i.e., bring to nothing; for what is poured out comes to nothing; cf. Isaiah 19:3. There they shall fall by the sword in such numbers that their corpses shall be food for the beasts of prey (cf. Jeremiah 7:33), and the city of Jerusalem shall be frightfully ravaged (Jeremiah 19:8, cf. Jeremiah 18:16; Jeremiah 25:9, etc.). מכּתה (plural form of suffix without Jod; cf. Ew. 258, a), the wounds she has received. - In Jeremiah 19:9 is added yet another item to complete the awful picture, the terrible famine during the siege, partly taken from the words of Deuteronomy 28:53. and Leviticus 26:29. That this appalling misery did actually come about during the last siege by the Chaldeans, we learn from Lamentations 4:10. - The second series, Jeremiah 19:10-13, is introduced by the act of breaking the pitcher. This happens before the eyes of the elders who have accompanied Jeremiah thither: to them the explanatory word of the Lord is addressed. As the earthen pitcher, so shall Jerusalem - people and city - be broken to pieces; and that irremediably. This is implied in: as one breaks a potter's vessel, etc. (הרפה for הרפא). The next clause: and in Tophet they shall bury, etc., is omitted by the lxx as a repetition from Jeremiah 7:32, and is object to by Ew., Hitz., and Graf, as not being in keeping with its context. Ew. proposes to insert it before "as one breaketh;" but this transposition only obscures the meaning of the clause. It connects very suitably with the idea of the incurable breaking in sunder. Because the breaking up of Jerusalem and its inhabitants shall be incurable, shall be like the breaking of a pitcher dashed into countless fragments, therefore there will be lack of room in Jerusalem to bury the dead, and the unclean places of Tophet will need to be used for that purpose. With this the further thought of Jeremiah 19:12 and Jeremiah 19:13 connects simply and suitably. Thus (as had been said at Jeremiah 19:11) will I do unto this place and its inhabitants, ולתת, and that to make the city as Tophet, i.e., not "a mass of sherds and rubbish, as Tophet now is" (Graf); for neither was Tophet then a rubbish-heap, nor did it so become by the breaking of the pitcher. But Josiah had turned all the place of Tophet in the valley of Benhinnom into an unclean region (2 Kings 23:10). All Jerusalem shall become an unclean place like Tophet. This is put in so many words in Jeremiah 19:13 : The houses of Jerusalem shall become unclean like the place Tophet, namely, all houses on whose roofs idolatry has been practised. The construction of הטּמאים causes some difficulty. The position of the word at the end disfavours our connecting it with the subject בּתּי, and so does the article, which does not countenance its being taken as predicate. To get rid of the article, J. D. Mich. and Ew. sought to change the reading into תּפתּה טמאים, after Isaiah 30:33. But תּפתּה means a Tophet-like place, not Tophet itself, and so gives no meaning to the purpose. No other course is open than to join the word with "the place Tophet:" like the place Tophet, which is unclean. The plural would then be explained less from the collective force of מקום than from regard to the plural subject. "All the houses" opens a supplementary definition of the subject: as concerning all houses; cf. Ew. 310, a. On the worship of the stars by sacrifice on the housetops, transplanted by Manasseh to Jerusalem, see the expos. of Zephaniah 1:5 and 2 Kings 21:3. 'והסּך, coinciding literally with Jeremiah 7:18; the inf. absol. being attached to the verb. finit. of the former clause (Ew. 351, c.). - Thus far the word of the Lord to Jeremiah, which he was to proclaim in the valley of Benhinnom. - The execution of the divine commission is, as being a matter of course, not expressly recounted, but is implied in Jeremiah 19:14 as having taken place.
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