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Jeremiah Persecuted by Pashhur


Now the priest Pashhur son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the L ord, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things. 2Then Pashhur struck the prophet Jeremiah, and put him in the stocks that were in the upper Benjamin Gate of the house of the L ord. 3The next morning when Pashhur released Jeremiah from the stocks, Jeremiah said to him, The L ord has named you not Pashhur but “Terror-all-around.” 4For thus says the L ord: I am making you a terror to yourself and to all your friends; and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies while you look on. And I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon; he shall carry them captive to Babylon, and shall kill them with the sword. 5I will give all the wealth of this city, all its gains, all its prized belongings, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah into the hand of their enemies, who shall plunder them, and seize them, and carry them to Babylon. 6And you, Pashhur, and all who live in your house, shall go into captivity, and to Babylon you shall go; there you shall die, and there you shall be buried, you and all your friends, to whom you have prophesied falsely.


Jeremiah Denounces His Persecutors


O L ord, you have enticed me,

and I was enticed;

you have overpowered me,

and you have prevailed.

I have become a laughingstock all day long;

everyone mocks me.


For whenever I speak, I must cry out,

I must shout, “Violence and destruction!”

For the word of the L ord has become for me

a reproach and derision all day long.


If I say, “I will not mention him,

or speak any more in his name,”

then within me there is something like a burning fire

shut up in my bones;

I am weary with holding it in,

and I cannot.


For I hear many whispering:

“Terror is all around!

Denounce him! Let us denounce him!”

All my close friends

are watching for me to stumble.

“Perhaps he can be enticed,

and we can prevail against him,

and take our revenge on him.”


But the L ord is with me like a dread warrior;

therefore my persecutors will stumble,

and they will not prevail.

They will be greatly shamed,

for they will not succeed.

Their eternal dishonor

will never be forgotten.


O L ord of hosts, you test the righteous,

you see the heart and the mind;

let me see your retribution upon them,

for to you I have committed my cause.



Sing to the L ord;

praise the L ord!

For he has delivered the life of the needy

from the hands of evildoers.



Cursed be the day

on which I was born!

The day when my mother bore me,

let it not be blessed!


Cursed be the man

who brought the news to my father, saying,

“A child is born to you, a son,”

making him very glad.


Let that man be like the cities

that the L ord overthrew without pity;

let him hear a cry in the morning

and an alarm at noon,


because he did not kill me in the womb;

so my mother would have been my grave,

and her womb forever great.


Why did I come forth from the womb

to see toil and sorrow,

and spend my days in shame?


Jeremiah relates here what sort of reward he had received for his prophecy, — that he had been smitten and cast into prison, not by the king or by his courtiers, but by a priest who had the care of the Temple. It was a grievous and bitter trial when God’s servant found that he was thus cruelly treated by one of the sacred order, who was of the same tribe, and his colleague; for the priests who were then in office had not been without right appointed, for God had chosen them. As, then, their authority was founded on the Law and on God’s inviolable decree, Jeremiah might well have been much terrified; for this thought might have occurred to him, — “What can be the purpose of God? for he has set priests of the tribe of Levi over his Temple and over his whole people. Why, then, does he not rule them by his Spirit? Why does he not render them fit for their office?

Why does he suffer his Temple, and the sacred office which he so highly commends to us in his Law, to be thus profaned? or why, at least, does he not stretch forth his hand to defend me, who am also a priest, and sincerely engaged in my calling?” For we know that God commands in his Law, as a proof that the priests had supreme power, that whosoever disobeyed them should be put to death.

(Deuteronomy 17:12.) “Since, then, it was God’s will to endue the priests with so much authority and power, why therefore did he not guide them by his grace, that they might faithfully execute the office committed to them?”

Nor was Jeremiah alone moved and shaken by this trial, but all who then truly worshipped God. Small, indeed, was the number of the godly; but there was surely no one who was not astonished at such a spectacle as this.

Pashur was not the chief priest, though he was of the first order of priests; and it is probable that Immer, his father, was the high priest, and that he was his vicar, acting in his stead as the ruler of the Temple. 44     The account which Blayney gives is the most probable: that he was the first of his order. There were twenty-four courses of priests, as appointed by David, 1 Chronicles 24; and the head of each course was for the time the ruler or governor of the Temple. These heads of the courses were no doubt the “chief priests” mentioned in the New Testament, for in fact there was only one chief priest. They were also called the “captains” of the Temple. “The chief overseer in the house of Jehovah” is the most suitable rendering. The whole verse might be rendered as follows, — “When Pashur, the son of Immer, the priest, while he was the chief overseer in the house of Jehovah, heard Jeremiah prophesying these words, then Pashur smote Jeremiah,” etc. So the Syriac, and so does Blayney connect the first with the second verse. The family of “Immer” formed the sixteenth course. See 1 Chronicles 24:14. “The priest” refers to Pashur, and not to “Immer;” and it is so rendered by the Sept., Vulg., and the Arab., though not by the Syr. Immer was the name of the family. — Ed. However this may have been, he was no doubt superior, not only to the Levites, but also to the other priests of his order. Now this person, being of the same order and family, rose up against Jeremiah, and not only condemned in words a fellow-priest, but treated him outrageously, for he smote the Prophet. This was unworthy of his station, and contrary to the rights of sacred fellowship; for if the cause of Jeremiah was bad, yet a priest ought to have pursued a milder course; he might have cast him into prison, that if found guilty, he might afterwards be condemned. But to smite him was not the act of a priest, but of a tyrant, of a ruffian, or of a furious man.

We may hence learn in what a disorder things were at that time; for in a well-ordered community the judge does not leap from his tribunal in order to strike a man, though he might deserve a hundred deaths, as regard ought to be had to what is lawful. Now, if a judge, whom God has armed with the sword, ought not thus to give vent to his wrath and without discretion use the sword, it is surely a thing wholly inconsistent with the office of a priest. Then the state of things must have been then in very great disorder, when a priest thus disgraced himself. And from his precipitant rage we may also gather that good men were then very few. He had been chosen to preside over the Temple; he must then have excelled others not only as to his station, but also in public esteem and in the possession of some kind of virtues. But we see how he was led away by the evil spirit.

These things we ought carefully to consider, for it happens sometimes that great commotions arise in the Church of God, and those who ought to be moderators are often carried away by a blind and, as it were, a furious zeal. We may then stumble, and our faith may wholly fail us, except such an example as this affords us aid, which shews clearly that the faithful were formerly tried and had their faith exercised by similar contests. It is not then uselessly said that Pashur smote Jeremiah Had he struck one of the common people, it would have been more endurable, though in that case it would have been an act wholly unworthy of his office; but when he treated insolently the servant of God, and one who had for a long time discharged the prophetic office, it was far less excusable. This circumstance, then, ought to be noticed by us, that the priest dared to strike the Prophet of God.

It then follows that Jeremiah was cast by him into prison But we must notice this, that he had heard the words of Jeremiah before he became infuriated against him. He ought, doubtless, to have been moved by such a prophecy; but he became mad and so audacious as to smite God’s Prophet. It hence appears how great is the stupidity of those who have once become so hardened as to despise God; for even the worst of men are terrified when God’s judgment is announced. But Pashur heard Jeremiah proclaiming the evil that was near at hand; and yet the denunciation had no other effect on him but to render him worse. As, then, he thus violently assailed God’s Prophet, after having heard his words, it is evident that he was blinded by a rage wholly diabolical. We also see that the despisers of God blend light with darkness, for Pashur covered his impiety with a cloak, and hence cast Jeremiah into prison; for in this way he shewed that he wished to know the state of the case, as he brought him out of prison the following day. Thus the ungodly ever try to make coverings for their impiety; but they never succeed. The hypocrisy of Pashur was very gross when he cast Jeremiah into prison, in order that he might afterwards call him to defend his cause, for he had already smitten him. This great insolence, then, took away every pretense for justice. It was therefore extremely frivolous for Pashur to have recourse afterwards to some form of trial for deciding the case.

The word מהפכת, mephicat, is rendered by some, fetter; and by others, stocks; and they think it to be a piece of wood, with one hole to confine the neck, and another the feet. But I know not whether this is suitable here, for Jeremiah says that it was in the higher gate of Benjamin. This certainly could not be properly said of fetters, or of chains, or of stocks. It then follows that it was a prison. 55     The versions differ — “dungeon” is the Sept.; “stocks-nervum” is the Vulg.; and “circle,” or “circuit,” is the Syr.; but the Targ. has “prison.” The word occurs in two other places, in 1 Chronicles 29:26, and in 2 Chronicles 16:10, and is rendered “prison.” Venema renders it “the torturing prison,” taking the verb from which the word comes in a bad sense, as signifying to distort, and hence to torture. Symmachus favors this view, for he renders it “a place of torment — ζασανιστήριον,” and “a rack — στρεζλωτήριον.” The form of the expression is in favor of this idea, “and set him in the stocks,” or on the rack. And so in Jeremiah 29:26, the rendering ought to be — “that thou shouldest set him on the stocks (or rack) and in prison” Of what kind was this instrument of torture it is not known. Prisons had especially three names — “the house of roundness (הסהר);” “the house of confinement (הכלא);” and “the house of the rack, or stocks, (המהפכת).” See Genesis 39:20; 1 Kings 22:27; and 2 Chronicles 16:10. But “the house” is not here torture itself. Had the prison been intended, the word “house,” as in 2 Chronicles 16:10, would have been placed before it. It is at the same time probable that the prison was the place where the rack or the stocks were. — Ed He mentions the gate of Benjamin, as it belonged to that tribe; for we know that a part of Jerusalem was inhabited by the Benjamites. They had two gates, and this was the higher gate towards the east. He says that it was opposite the house of Jehovah; for besides the court there were many small courts, as it is well known, around the Temple. It follows: —

Jeremiah 20:3

3. 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. 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. 66     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 קרא to be a participle, and not a verb in the past tense. — Ed

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 פשה, peshe, to increase, and transitively, to extend; and they add to it the word שר, 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 פשח, 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. 77     The word is not spelt with ה, but with ח; it is “Pashchur.” Therefore, the former derivation cannot be admitted. Venema derives it from פוש, to be proud, or ferocious, and חור, which means “white,” or splendid; then the meaning is, “splendid prince.” Gataker seems to prefer the opinion of those who derive the word from פש, diffusion, and חור, 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 And hence by a metaphor it means to open; and א, 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, מסביב, 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. 88     The Vulg. alone gives this meaning to the phrase; the Sept. has “μέτοικον — 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 גור, 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 31:13; where also its meaning is evident from the context. — Ed 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:

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