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Thursday, April 18th, 2024
the Third Week after Easter
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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 20

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

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.

Son - descendant.

Of Immer - one of the original "governors of the sanctuary and of the house of God," 24 in all - i:e., 16 of the sons of Eleazar and 8 of the sons of Ithamur (1 Chronicles 24:14). This Pashur is distinct from Pashur, son of Melchiah (Jeremiah 21:1). The "captains" (Luke 22:4) seem to have been over the 24 guards of the temple, and had only the right of apprehending any who were guilty of delinquency within it; but the Sanhedrim had the judicial power over such delinquents (Grotius) (Jeremiah 26:8; Jeremiah 26:10; Jeremiah 26:16).

Verse 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.

Then Pashur smote Jeremiah. The fact that Pashur was of the same order and of the same family as Jeremiah aggravates the indignity of the blow. So Zedekiah smote the prophet Micaiah before King Ahab (1 Kings 22:24); and the antitype, Jesus, was "buffeted" and smitten "with the palms of the hands" (Matthew 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 (Jeremiah 29:26). From a Hebrew root [ haapak (H2015)], 'to turn,' or 'rack.' This marks Pashur's cruelty.

High - i:e., the upper gate (2 Kings 15:35), built by King Jotham, son of Uzziah.

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 (Jeremiah 7:2; Jeremiah 37:13; Jeremiah 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.

Verse 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.

Pashur - compounded of two roots [paashach and caachowr (Maurer): rather paasaah (H6581), to be diffused widely, and caachar, to go on every side:] meaning 'largeness' (and so 'security') 'on every side;' in antithesis to Magor-missabib, 'terror round about' (Jeremiah 20:10; Jeremiah 6:25; Jeremiah 46:5; Jeremiah 49:29; Psalms 31:13).

Verse 4

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.

I will make thee a terror to thyself and to all thy friends - who have believed thy false promises (Jeremiah 20:6). The sense must be in order to accord, with 'fear round about' (Jeremiah 20:3). I will bring terror on thee and on all thy friends, that terror arising from thyself-namely, thy false prophecies. Thou and thy prophecies will be seen, to the dismay both of thee and thy dupes, to have caused their ruin and thine. Maurer's translation is therefore not needed, 'I will give up thee and all thy friends to terror.'

Verse 5

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.

All the strength of this city - i:e., all its resources.

Labours - fruits of labour, gain, wealth.

Verse 6

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.

Thou hast prophesied lies - namely, that God cannot possibly leave this land without prophets, priests, and teachers ("the wise") (Jeremiah 18:18; cf. Jeremiah 5:31).

Verse 7

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.

O Lord, thou hast deceived me. Jeremiah's complaint, not unlike that of Job, breathing somewhat of human infirmity, in consequence of his imprisonment. Thou didst promise never to give me up to the will of mine enemies, and yet thou hast done so. But Jeremiah misunderstood God's promise, which was not that he should have nothing to suffer, but that God would deliver him out of sufferings (Jeremiah 1:19). Deceived - others translate, as margin, 'thou hast enticed,' or 'persuaded me'-namely, allured me to undertake the prophetic office, 'and I was persuaded' - i:e., suffered myself to be persuaded to undertake what I find too hard for me. So the Hebrew word [ paataah (H6601)] is used in a good sense (Genesis 9:27, margin, 'God shall persuade Japheth' (the proper name is a kindred word to the Hebrew verb, to persuade); Proverbs 25:15; Hosea 2:14).

Thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed - thou whose strength I could not resist hast laid this burden on me, and hast prevailed-hast made me prophesy, in spite of my reluctance - (Jeremiah 1:5-7); yet, when I exercise my office, I am treated with derision (Lamentations 3:14).

Verse 8

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.

Since I spake, I cried out - rather, 'Whenever I speak I cry out.' 'Concerning violence and spoil I (am compelled to) cry out' - i:e., complain (Maurer). The English version in the last clause is more graphic, "I cried violence and spoil" (Jeremiah 6:7). I could not speak in a calm tone; their desperate wickedness compelled me "cry out."

Because - rather, therefore; the apodosis of the previous sentence; because, in discharging my prophetic functions, I not merely spake, but cried; and cried violence, etc.; therefore the word of the Lord was made a reproach to me (Jeremiah 20:7).

Verse 9

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.

His word was in mine heart as a burning fire - or, literally, 'there was in my heart as it were a burning fire' - i:e., the divine afflatus or impulse to speak was as, etc. (Job 32:18-19; Psalms 39:3).

I was weary with forbearing, and I could not - `I laboured to contain myself, but I could not' (Acts 18:5; cf. Jeremiah 23:9; 1 Corinthians 9:16-17).

Verse 10

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.

For - not referring to the words immediately preceding, but to "I will not make mention of Him;" the "defaming" or detraction of the enemy on every side (see Psalms 31:13) tempted him to think of prophesying no more.

Report, say they, and we will report - the words of his adversaries one to the other; give any information against him (true or false) which will give colour for accusing him, and "we will report it" - namely, to the Sanhedrim, in order to crush him.

My familiars - literally, men of my peace; those who pretended to be on peaceable terms with me (Psalms 41:9. "Mine own familiar friend (margin, the man of my peace), in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread ... lifted up his heel against me"). Jeremiah is type of Messiah, referred to in that Psalm. (See Jeremiah 38:22; Job 19:19; Psalms 55:13-14).

Watched for my halting - (Psalms 35:15, "In mine adversity (margin, 'halting') - the abjects gathered themselves together against me;" Psalms 38:17 (margin); 71:10. "They that lay wait (watch) for my soul take counsel together;" Luke 11:53-54). Gesenius, not so well, translates, according to Arabic idiom, 'those guarding my side' - i:e., my most intimate friends, always at my side-in apposition to "familiars," and the subject of say (instead of saying). The Hebrew [ tsal`iy (H6761)] means properly 'side,' then 'halting,' as the halt bend on one side.

Enticed - to commit some sin.

Verse 11

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.

Therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail - as they hoped to do (Jeremiah 20:10; Jeremiah 15:20).

They shall not prosper - in their plot.

Verse 12

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.

O Lord of hosts, that triest the righteous - in latent contrast to the hasty judgments of men (Jeremiah 11:20; Jeremiah 17:10).

Unto thee have I opened my cause - i:e., committed (cf. 2 Kings 19:14; Psalms 35:1).

Verse 13

Sing unto the LORD, praise ye the LORD: for he hath delivered the soul of the poor from the hand of evildoers.

He hath delivered the soul of the poor from the hand of evildoers. This deliverance took place when Zedekiah succeeded to Jeconiah.

Verses 14-18

Cursed be the day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed.

The contrast between the spirit of this passage and the preceding thanksgiving to be explained thus: to show how great was the deliverance (Jeremiah 20:13), he subjoins a picture of what his wounded spirit had been previous to his deliverance; I had said, in the time of my imprisonment, "Cursed be the day when I was born:" my feeling was that of Job (Job 3:3; Job 3:10-11, whose words Jeremiah therefore copies). Though Jeremiah's zeal had been stirred up, not so much for self as for God's honour trampled on by the rejection of the prophet's words, yet it was intemperate when he made his birth a subject for cursing, which was really a ground for thanksgiving.

Verse 15. A man-child - The birth of whom is in the East a special subject of joy; whereas that of a female is often not so.

Verse 16. The cities which the Lord overthrew - Sodom and Gomorrah.

Let him hear the cry in the morning, and the shouting at noontide - i:e., let him be kept in alarm the whole day (not merely at night, when terrors ordinarily prevail, but in daytime, when it is something extraordinary) with terrifying war-shouts, as those in a besieged city (Jeremiah 18:22). Verse 17. He - that man (Jeremiah 20:15-16).

From the womb - i:e., at that time while I was still in the womb.


(1) The faithful servants of God, like their Lord on earth, have been always exposed to the contempt, and not unfrequently to the persecution of the world. But their cause is in the hands of Him who will soon utterly reverse the present order of things. Before long those who now walk on every side in fancied security, like Pashur, and who molest the godly, shall become Magor-missabib, "a terror to themselves, and to all their friends" (Jeremiah 20:3-4); while the children of God, having "the Lord with them, the Mighty terrible One" (Jeremiah 20:11), shall "sing praise unto" Him for having "delivered their soul" forever "from the hand of evildoers" (Jeremiah 20:13).

(2) But too often the servants of God are impatient under present crosses, and give way to the infirmity of their old nature. Like Jeremiah (Jeremiah 20:7), they complain as if God had done them some wrong, and had not let them know in entering His service what trials were before them. But it is not God who has dealt unfairly with them, but themselves who have lost sight of the appointed conditions of His service. The Lord never allures (Jeremiah 20:7) any to follow Him without plainly telling them the cross that awaits them, if they wish to be His disciples (Luke 9:57-62). He had not promised Jeremiah exemption from sufferings, but divine support under them. Let us, then, if tried with "reproach and derision," for conscience' sake (Jeremiah 20:8), "think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try us, as though some strange thing happened unto us: but rejoice, inasmuch as we are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, we may be glad also with exceeding joy" (1 Peter 4:12-13).

(3) The believer feels the word of Christ to be "as a burning fire" within (Jeremiah 20:9), that will and must find a vent for itself; he cannot forbear to testify of his beloved Lord, howsoever man may reject his testimony. Having "the mighty Lord" on his side, he fears not what man can do unto him. Having "opened his cause unto the Lord," like Jeremiah (Jeremiah 20:12) and Hezekiah (2 Kings 19:14), he can look back with thankfulness for his deliverance, not only from fear of the enemy, but also from his own intemperate, complaining, fearful, and desponding spirit under the first shock of trial (Jeremiah 20:14-18); and he can already "praise the Lord," who has compassed him about with songs of deliverance (Jeremiah 20:13). Let us be warned against indulging in the temporary impatience of the prophet, and rather follow the only faultless Pattern, even Him who "endured" so unfaintingly "the contradiction of sinners against Himself"!

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 20". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/jeremiah-20.html. 1871-8.
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