Jeremiah 20:3

3. And it came to pass on the morrow, that Pashur brought Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then said Jeremiah unto him, The Lord hath not called thy name Pashur, but Magor-missabib.

3. Et accidit postridie (die crastino) ut educeret Phassur Jeremiam e carcere; et dixit ei Jeremias, Non Phassur vocavit Jehova nomen tuum, sed potius terrorem undique.


No doubt Pashur called other priests to examine the case. It was, indeed, a specious pretense, for he seemed as though he did not wish to condemn the holy Prophet hastily, or without hearing his defense. But Jeremiah only says briefly that he was brought out of prison: we at the same time gather that he was not dismissed, for he was summoned before Pashur to give a reason for his prophecy.

But here the Prophet shews that he was not cast down or disheartened, though he had been most contemptuously treated; he bore patiently the buffetings and stripes he had received, and also his incarceration. We know that such outrages are so bitter to ingenuous minds, that they can hardly sustain them. But Jeremiah teaches us, by his own example, that our constancy and firmness ought not to be weakened though the whole world loaded or almost overwhelmed us with reproaches. We ought, then, to understand that courage of mind ought not to fail or be weakened in God's servants, however wickedly and contumeliously they may be treated by the world. For Jeremiah, when he came out of prison, spoke more boldly than before; nor was he beyond the reach of danger. Courage increases when one obtains the victory, and he can then safely and securely insult his enemies; but Jeremiah was yet a captive, though he had been brought out of prison, and he might have been afterwards cast there again and treated more cruelly than before. But neither the wrong he had received, nor the fear of new contumely, deterred him from denouncing God's judgment on the ungodly priest. Such magnanimity becomes all God's servants, so that they ought not to feel shame, nor grow soft, nor be disheartened, when the world treats them with indignity and reproach; nor ought they to fear any dangers, but advance courageously in the discharge of their office.

It must in the second place be noticed, -- that God's Prophet here closes his eyes to the splendor of the priestly office, which otherwise might have hindered him to denounce God's judgment,. And this ought to be carefully observed; for we know the ungodly he hid under masks, as the case is in the present day with the Pope and all his filthy clergy: for what do they allege but the name of Catholic Church and perpetual priesthood and apostolical dignity? Doubtless, Pashur was of the priestly order; but what the Papacy is, the Scripture neither mentions nor teaches, except that it condemns it as altogether filthy and abominable. And the Levitical priesthood, as I have said, was founded on God's Law; and yet Jeremiah, guided by the command of God, hesitated not severely to reprove the priest and to treat him as he deserved. It is, therefore, then only that we tightly and faithfully discharge the prophetic office, when we shew no respect of persons, and disregard those external masks by which the ungodly deceive the simple, and are haughty towards God while they falsely pretend his name.1

Now he says, Jehovah has called thy name not Pashur, but terror on every side. Some render the words, "Because there will be terror to thee on every side;" but incorrectly, for in the next verse a reason is given which explains what the Prophet means. Jeremiah no doubt had a regard to the meaning of the word Pashur, otherwise it would have been unmeaning and even foolish to say, "Thy name shall be called not Pashur, but terror on every side." Interpreters have expounded the word Pashur as meaning an increasing prince, or one who extends power, deriving it from hsp, peshe, to increase, and transitively, to extend; and they add to it the word rs, sher, which means a prince; and so they render it, a prince extending power, or a prince who increases. But as there is some doubt as to the points, I know not whether this etymology can be maintained. I am more inclined to derive the word from xsp, peshech, to cut or break. It is indeed but once found in this sense in Scripture, but often in the Chaldee language. However this may be, it is taken in this sense once by Jeremiah in the third Chapter of Lamentations.2 And hence by a metaphor it means to open; and a, aleph, may be deemed quiescent in the second word, so that it means one who breaks or opens the light. The words which follow -- "terror on every side" -- induce and compel me to give this interpretation. He does not say that he would be a terror on every side; but that terrors surrounded him, bybom, mesabib, so that there was no escape. As then the name of Pashur was honorable, signifying to open light, he mentions this, (it is indeed a metaphor, by which breaking means opening:) as then he had this name, which means to bring forth light, Jeremiah says, "Thou shalt be called a terror on every side;" that is, a terror that so surrounds all that no escape is possible.3 We see that the contrast is most suitable between the opening of light and that terror which spread on every side, so that there is no opening and no escape; and the explanation follows:

1 I would render the verse thus: --

3. And it happened on the morrow that Pashur brought out Jeremiah from the stocks; and Jeremiah said to him, -- Not Pashur does Jehovah call thy name, But, Terror on every side.

I take arq to be a participle, and not a verb in the past tense. -- Ed.

2 The word is not spelt with h, but with x; it is "Pashchur." Therefore, the former derivation cannot be admitted. Venema derives it from swp, to be proud, or ferocious, and rwx, which means "white," or splendid; then the meaning is, "splendid prince." Gataker seems to prefer the opinion of those who derive the word from sp, diffusion, and rwx, paleness, because he diffused, or spread fear, which produces paleness to all around. Instead of this, a terror, the cause of paleness, would be to him and to all his friends, as stated in the following verse. -- Ed.

3 The Vulg. alone gives this meaning to the phrase; the Sept. has "me>toikon -- emigrant," and the Syr. "stranger and wanderer." And then in the fourth verse both these versions give a correspondent meaning. "I will deliver thee into emigration (or captivity) with all thy friends." That this word, rendered "terror," may be derived from rwg, which means to sojourn, to peregrinate, is undeniable; as a participle noun from Hiphil, it may mean a sojourner, or an emigrant. The word in this sense is found often in the plural number. See Genesis 47:9; Exodus 6:4. But the phrase, as found here, occurs four times in this book, where it can have no other meaning than "terror (or fear) on every side," Jeremiah 6:25; Jeremiah 20:10; Jeremiah 46:5; Jeremiah 49:29; and it occurs once elsewhere, in Psalm 32:13; where also its meaning is evident from the context. -- Ed.