The doom of Pashur, who ill-treated the prophet. (1-6) Jeremiah complains of hard usage. (7-13) He regrets his ever having been born. (14-18)
Verses 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.
Verses 7-13 The prophet complains of the insult and injury he experienced. But ver. ( 7 ) may be read, Thou hast persuaded me, and I was persuaded. Thou wast stronger than I; and didst overpower me by the influence of thy Spirit upon me. So long as we see ourselves in the way of God, and of duty, it is weakness and folly, when we meet with difficulties and discouragements, to wish we had never set out in it. The prophet found the grace of God mighty in him to keep him to his business, notwithstanding the temptation he was in to throw it up. Whatever injuries are done to us, we must leave them to that God to whom vengeance belongs, and who has said, I will repay. So full was he of the comfort of God's presence, the Divine protection he was under, and the Divine promise he had to depend upon, that he stirred up himself and others to give God the glory. Let the people of God open their cause before Him, and he will enable them to see deliverance.
Verses 14-18 When grace has the victory, it is good to be ashamed of our folly, to admire the goodness of God, and be warned to guard our spirits another time. See how strong the temptation was, over which the prophet got the victory by Divine assistance! He is angry that his first breath was not his last. While we remember that these wishes are not recorded for us to utter the like, we may learn good lessons from them. See how much those who think they stand, ought to take heed lest they fall, and to pray daily, Lead us not into temptation. How frail, changeable, and sinful is man! How foolish and unnatural are the thoughts and wishes of our hearts, when we yield to discontent! Let us consider Him who endured the contradiction of sinners against himself, lest we should be at any time weary and faint in our minds under our lesser trials.
Jeremiah 20:1-18 . JEREMIAH'S INCARCERATION BY PASHUR, THE PRINCIPAL OFFICER OF THE TEMPLE, FOR PROPHESYING WITHIN ITS PRECINCTS; HIS RENEWED PREDICTIONS AGAINST THE CITY, &c., ON HIS LIBERATION.
of Immer--one of the original "governors of the sanctuary and of the house of God," twenty-four in all, that is, sixteen of the sons of Eleazar and eight of the sons of Ithamar ( 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 twenty-four 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 ).
2. The fact that Pashur was of the same order and of the same family as Jeremiah aggravates the indignity of the blow ( 1 Kings 22:24 , 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, to "turn," or "rack." This marks Pashur's cruelty.
high--that is, the upper gate ( 2 Kings 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 ( Jeremiah 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.
3. Pashur--compounded of two roots, meaning "largeness (and so 'security') on every side"; in antithesis to Magor-missabib, "terror round about" ( Jeremiah 20:10 , Jeremiah 6:25 , 46:5 , 49:29 , Psalms 31:13 ).
4. terror . . . 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."
5. strength--that is, resources.
labours--fruits of labor, gain, wealth.
6. prophesied lies--namely, that God cannot possibly leave this land without prophets, priests, and teachers ("the wise") ( Jeremiah 18:18 ; compare Jeremiah 5:31 ).
7. 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, to undertake the prophetic office, "and I was persuaded," that is, suffered myself to be persuaded to undertake what I find too hard for me. So the Hebrew word is used in a good sense ( Genesis 9:27 , Margin; Proverbs 25:15 , Hosea 2:14 ).
stronger than I--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 ).
8. Rather, "Whenever I speak, I cry out. Concerning violence and spoil, I (am compelled to) cry out," that is, complain [MAURER]. 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 to "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 . . . ; therefore the word of the Lord was made a reproach to me ( Jeremiah 20:7 ).
9. his word was--or literally, "there was in my heart, as it were, a burning fire," that is, the divine afflatus or impulse to speak was as . . . ( Job 32:18 Job 32:19 , Psalms 39:3 ).
weary with forbearing, and I could not--"I labored to contain myself, but I could not" ( Acts 18:5 ; compare Jeremiah 23:9 , 1 Corinthians 9:16 1 Corinthians 9:17 ).
10. 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 . . . we will report--The words of his adversaries one to the other; give any information against him (true or false) which will give color for accusing him; and "we will report it," namely, to the Sanhedrim, in order to crush him.
familiars--literally, "men of my peace"; those who pretended to be on peaceable terms with me ( Psalms 41:9 ). Jeremiah is a type of Messiah, referred to in that Psalm. (See Jeremiah 38:22 , Job 19:19 , Psalms 55:13 Psalms 55:14 , Luke 11:53 Luke 11:54 ).
watched for my halting--( Psalms 35:15 , Margin, "halting"; Psalms 38:17 , 71:10 , Margin). GESENIUS not so well translates, according to Arabic idiom, "those guarding my side" (that is, my most intimate friends always at my side), in apposition to "familiars," and the subject of "say" (instead of "saying). The Hebrew means properly "side," then "halting," as the halt bend on one side.
enticed--to commit some sin.
11. not prevail--as they hoped to do ( Jeremiah 20:10 , Jeremiah 15:20 ).
prosper--in their plot.
12. triest the righteous--in latent contrast to the hasty judgments of men ( Jeremiah 11:20 , 17:10 ).
opened--that is, committed (compare 2 Kings 19:14 , Psalms 35:1 ).
13. delivered . . . soul--This deliverance took place when Zedekiah succeeded Jeconiah.
14-18. The contrast between the spirit of this passage and the preceding thanksgiving is 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"; my feeling was that of Job ( Job 3:3 Job 3:10 Job 3:11 , whose words Jeremiah therefore copies). Though Jeremiah's zeal had been stirred up, not so much for self as for God's honor 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.
15. A man child--The birth of a son is in the East a special subject of joy; whereas that of a daughter is often not so.
16. the cities--Sodom and Gomorrah.
cry . . . morning . . . noontide--that is, 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 ).
17. he--"that man" ( Jeremiah 20:15 Jeremiah 20:16 ).
from the womb--that is, at that time while I was still in the womb.