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Bible Commentaries

Adam Clarke Commentary

Jeremiah 20

Verse 1

CHAPTER XX

Jeremiah, on account of his prophesying evil concerning Judah

and Jerusalem, is beaten and imprisoned by Pashur, chief

governor of the temple, 1, 2.

On the following day the prophet is released, who denounces the

awful judgments of God which should fall upon the governor and

all his house, as well as upon the whole land of Judah, in the

approaching Babylonish captivity, 3-6.

Jeremiah then bitterly complains of the reproaches continually

heaped upon him by his enemies; and, in his haste, resolves to

speak no more in the name of Jehovah; but the word of the Lord

is in his heart as a burning flame, so that he is not able to

forbear, 7-10.

The prophet professes his trust in God, whom he praises for his

late deliverance, 11-13.

The remaining verses, which appear to be out of their place,

contain Jeremiah's regret that he was ever born to a life of so

much sorrow and trouble, 14-18.

This complaint resembles that of Job; only it is milder and

more dolorous. This excites our pity, that our horror. Both are

highly poetical, and embellished with every circumstance that

can heighten the colouring. But such circumstances are not

always to be too literally understood or explained. We must

often make allowances for the strong figures of eastern poetry.

NOTES ON CHAP. XX

Verse Jeremiah 20:1. Pashur - chief governor — Pashur was probably one of the chief priests of the twenty-four classes.

Verse 2

Verse Jeremiah 20:2. Put him in the stocks — Probably such a place near the gate as we term the lock-up, the coal-hole; or it may mean a sort of dungeon.

Verse 3

Verse Jeremiah 20:3. The Lord hath not called thy name Pashur — Security on all sides. This name thou hast had, but not by Divine appointment.

But Magor-missabib - Fear on every side. This name hath God given thee; because, in the course of his providence, thou shalt be placed in the circumstances signified by it: thou shalt be a terror to thyself.

Verse 6

Verse Jeremiah 20:6. And thou, Pashur - shall go into captivity — Thou shalt suffer for the false prophecies which thou hast delivered, and for thy insults to my prophet.

Verse 7

Verse Jeremiah 20:7. O Lord, thou hast deceived me — Thou hast promised me protection; and, lo! I am now delivered into the hands of my enemies. These words were probably spoken when Pashur smote him, and put him in prison.

I think our translation of this passage is very exceptionable. My old Bible reads, Thou laddist me aside Lord; and I was lad aside. The original word is פתיתני pittithani, thou hast persuaded me, i.e., to go and prophesy to this people. I went, faithfully declared thy message, and now I am likely to perish by their cruelty. As the root פתה pathah signifies to persuade and allure, as well as to deceive, the above must be its meaning in this place. Taken as in our Version it is highly irreverent. It is used in the same sense here as in Genesis 9:27: God shall enlarge (persuade, margin) Japheth; and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem.

Verse 8

Verse Jeremiah 20:8. I cried violence and spoil — This was the burden of the message thou didst give me.

Verse 9

Verse Jeremiah 20:9. I wilt not make mention of him — I will renounce the prophetic office, and return to my house.

As a burning fire shut up in my bones — He felt stings of conscience for the hasty and disobedient resolution he had formed; he felt ashamed of his own weakness, that did not confide in the promise and strength of God; and God's word was in him as a strongly raging fire, and he was obliged to deliver it, in order to get rid of the tortures which he felt from suppressing the solemn message which God had given. It is as dangerous to refuse to go when called, as it is to run without a call. On this subject, Jeremiah 1:6.

Verse 10

Verse Jeremiah 20:10. Report - and we will report it. — Let us spread calumnies against him every where; or let us spread reports of dangers coming upon him, that we may intimidate him, and cause him to desist.

Verse 11

Verse Jeremiah 20:11. But the Lord is with me as a mighty terrible one — Thus was he, by his strong confidence in the strong God, delivered from all his fears, and enabled to go on comfortably with his work.

Verse 13

Verse Jeremiah 20:13. Sing unto the Lord — He was so completely delivered from all fear, that although he remained in the same circumstances, yet he exults in the Divine protection, and does not fear the face of any adversary.

Verse 14

Verse Jeremiah 20:14. Cursed be the day wherein I was born — If we take these words literally, and suppose them to be in their proper place, they are utterly inconsistent with that state of confidence in which he exulted a few minutes before. If they are the language of Jeremiah, they must have been spoken on a prior occasion, when probably he had given way to a passionate hastiness. They might well comport with the state he was in Jeremiah 20:9. I really believe these verses have got out of their proper place, which I conjecture to be between the eighth and ninth verses. There they will come in very properly; and might have been a part of his complaint in those moments when he had purposed to flee from God as did Jonah, and prophesy no more in his name. Transpositions in this prophet are frequent; therefore place these five verses after the eighth, and let the chapter end with the thirteenth, and the whole will form a piece of exquisite poetry, where the state of despair, and the hasty resolutions he had formed while under its influence, and the state of confidence to which he was raised by the succouring influence of God, will appear to be both illustrative of each other, and are touched with a delicacy and fervour which even a cold heart must admire. See Job 3:3, and the notes there. The two passages are very similar.

Verse 15

Verse Jeremiah 20:15. A man child is bornBorun is to thee a knave child.-Old MS. Bible. This is the old English word for man or servant; and is so used by Wiclif, Revelation 12:5.

Verse 16

Verse Jeremiah 20:16. And let him hear the cry — Let him be in continual alarms.

Verse 18

Verse Jeremiah 20:18. Wherefore came I forth — It would have been well had I never been born, as I have neither comfort in my life, nor comfort in my work.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Jeremiah 20". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/acc/jeremiah-20.html. 1832.