Lecture Seventy-Six

Jeremiah 20:6

6. And thou, Pashur, and all that dwell in thine house, shall go, into captivity: and thou shalt come into Babylon, and there thou shalt die, and shalt be buried there, thou, and all thy friends, to whom thou hast prophesied lies.

6. Et tu Phashur et omnes habitatores domus tuae (hoc est omnes domestici tui) venietis captivitatem; tu venies Babylonem, et illic morieris, et illic sepeheris, et omnes amici tui, quibus vaticinatus es in mendacio.


Now Jeremiah declares that Pashur himself would be a proof, that he had truly foretold the destruction of the city and the desolation of the whole land. He had indeed before exposed his vanity; but he now brings the man himself before the public; for it was necessary to exhibit a remarkable instance, that all might know that God's judgment ought to have been dreaded.

Though that impostor flattered the people, yet Jeremiah says, that he and all his domestics would be led into captivity; that is, that the whole family would be as it were a spectacle, so that all the Jews might see that Pashur would be brought to nothing. "Let all the Jews then know," he seems to have said, "that he is a false prophet."

But what follows might have raised a question; for Jeremiah declares as a punishment, that Pashur dying in Babylon would be buried there; but he had said before, "I will give their carcasses for meat to the birds of heaven and to the beasts of the earth;" and now it is not consistent in the Prophet to represent that as a punishment which is reckoned as one of God's favors. In answer to this, let it be especially noticed, that God does not always punish the ungodly alike, or in the same way. He would have some to be cast away unburied, as they were unworthy of that common lot of humanity; but he would have others buried, but for a different, purpose; for there is weight in the particle there, for Babylon is put in contrast with the holy land. Whosoever were buried in the land of Canaan, had even in their death a pledge of the eternal inheritance; for as it is well known, God wished them while they lived so to enjoy the land, that they might look forward to heaven. Hence burial in the land of Canaan was as it were a visible mark or symbol of God's adoption, as though all the children of Abraham were gathered into his bosom until they arose into a blessed and immortal life. Hence Pashur, by being buried in Babylon, became an outcast from God's Church; for it was in a manner a repudiation, as though God would thus openly put on him a mark of infamy.

If it be objected and said, that the same thing happened to Daniel, and to some of the best servants of God, and that Jeremiah himself was buried in Egypt, which was far worse; the answer we give is this, -- that temporal punishments which happen to the elect and God's children for their good do in a manner change their nature as to them; though, indeed, it must be held, that all punishments are evidences of the wrath and curse of God. Whatever evils then happen to us in this life ought to be regarded as the fruits of sin, as though God thereby shewed himself openly to be displeased with us. This is one thing. Then, when poverty, famine, diseases, and exile, and even death itself, are viewed in themselves, we must always say that they are the curses of God, that is, when they are regarded, as I have said, in their own nature. But God consecrates these punishments as to his own children, so they turn to their benefit, and thereby cease to be curses. Whenever then God declares, "Thou shalt be unburied," it is no wonder that this dishonor should be deemed an evidence of his wrath and a proof of his curse. And farther, whenever he formerly said thus, "Thou shalt be buried out of the holy land," it was also an evidence of his curse, that is, with regard to the reprobate. At the same time God turned to good whatever might otherwise be a curse to his elect; and hence Paul says, that all things turn out for good and benefit to the faithful, who love God. (Romans 8:28.)

Now, then, we understand why the Prophet says, that Pashur would be buried in Babylon; nor is there a doubt but that there was more disgrace in that burial, than if his body was cast out and devoured by wild beasts; for God intended to render him conspicuous, that all might for a long time turn their eyes to him, according to what is said in Psalm 59:12,

"Slay them not, O God, for thy people may forget them."

God then intended that the life and death of Pashur should be a memorial, in order that the minds of the people might be more impressed. At the same time, were the word burial taken in a wider sense, there would be nothing wrong, as though it was said, "There shall his carcass lie until it becomes putrified."

Then Jeremiah adds, Thou and thy friends to whom thou hast prophesied falsely.1 This passage teaches us that a just reward is rendered to the ungodly who wish to be deceived, when they sustain a twofold judgment from God. Behold, then, what all the wicked who seek flatterers that promise them wonderful things, gain for themselves! they thus earn for themselves a heavier vengeance. The more they strive to put afar off God's judgment, the more, no doubt, they increase and inflame it. This is the reason why the Prophet denounces a special judgment on the friends of Pashur, to whom he had prophesied; they had wilfully laid hold on those false promises by which he had flattered them, so that they boldly despised God. Since, then, they wished of their own accord to be thus deceived, it was right that these deceptions through which they slandered the prophetic threatenings, and which they usually set up as a shield against them, should bring on them a heavier punishment. It then follows --

1 This verse ought to be thus arranged, --

6. And thou, Pashur, and all who dwell in thine house, Go shall ye into captivity: Yea, to Babylon shalt thou go, And there shalt thou die, and there be buried -- Thou and all thy friends, To whom thou hast prophesied falsely.

There is here an instance of the free and unmodified manner in which statements are often made in Scripture. It is said in Jeremiah 20:4, that "his friends" would fall by the sword; but here, that they would be carried into Babylon, die, and be buried there. The hearers of Jeremiah, no doubt, understood him, though a captious hearer could have made out a contradiction against him. But the meaning is, that many of them would be slain by the sword, and that many of them, or most of such as remained, would be led into captivity. A great number were to be slain, and a great number would be taken captives. -- Ed.