Bible Commentaries

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Jeremiah 20


The breaking of the bottle Jeremiah 20:0 had been done so solemnly before witnesses of such high position, and its meaning had been so unmistakeably proclaimed in the temple, that those in authority could endure such proceedings no longer. Roused therefore to anger by the sight of the listening crowds, Pashur, the deputy high priest, caused Jeremiah to be arrested, inflicted upon him the legal 40 stripes except one, and made him pass a night in the stocks, exposed to the jeers of the scoffers, at the most public gate of the temple. Apparently, it was Jeremiah’s last public prophecy in Jehoiakim’s reign, and was the cause why in the fourth year of that king it was no longer safe for him to go to the house of Yahweh Jeremiah 36:5. It is probable also that Jehoiakim’s scroll ended with the prophecy of the potter’s vessel, and the account of the contumelies to which the prophet had in consequence been exposed. One prophecy, however, at least in our present book, is of a later date, that of the linen girdle Jeremiah 13:0.

Verse 1

Pashur, the father probably of the Gedaliah mentioned in Jeremiah 38:1, was the head of the 16th course (shift) of priests (marginal reference); the other Pashur Jeremiah 21:1 belonged to the fifth course, the sons of Melchiah. Both these houses returned in great strength from the exile. See Ezra 2:37-38.

Chief governor - Or, “deputy governor.” The Nagid or governer of the temple was the high priest 1 Chronicles 9:11, and Pashur was his Pakid, i. e., deputy (see Jeremiah 1:10 note). Zephaniah held this office Jeremiah 29:26, and his relation to the high priest is exactly defined 2 Kings 25:18; Jeremiah 52:24. The Nagid at this time was Seraiah the high priest, the grandson of Hilkiah, or (possibly) Azariah, Hilkiah’s son and Jeremiah’s brother 1 Chronicles 6:13, Ezra 7:1.

Verse 2

Jeremiah the prophet - Jeremiah is nowhere so called in the first 19 chapters. In this place he thus characterizes himself, because Pashur’s conduct was a violation of the respect due to the prophetic office.

The stocks - This instrument of torture comes from a root signifying to “twist.” It thus implies that the body was kept in a distorted position. Compare Acts 16:24.

The high gate ... - Rather, “the upper gate of Benjamin in the house of Yahweh (compare 2 Kings 15:35);” to be distinguished from the city gate of Benjamin leading toward the north.

Verse 3

Magor-missabib - See Jeremiah 6:25 note. Jeremiah uses it no less than five times, having probably adopted it as his watchword from Psalms 31:13.

Verse 4

A terror to thyself, and to all thy friends - Jeremiah plays upon the meaning of Magormissabib saying that Pusbur would be a terror to all around. It is remarkable that he prophesies no evil of Pashur Jeremiah 20:6. His was to be the milder fate of being carried into captivity with Jehoiachin, and dying peaceably at Babylon Jeremiah 20:6, whereas his successor Zephaniah was put to death at Riblah Jeremiah 52:24, Jeremiah 52:27. His punishment probably consisted in this. He had prophesied “lies.” When then he saw the dreadful slaughter of his countrymen, Jehoiakim put to death, his young son dragged into captivity, and the land stripped of all that was best, his conscience so condemned him as the guilty cause of such great misery that in the agonies of remorse he became a terror to himself and his friends.

Verse 5

All the strength - “All the stores.”

The labors - The gains of the citizens.

Verse 6

Thou hast prophesied lies - Pushur belonged to the warlike party, whose creed it was, that Judaea by a close alliance with Egypt might resist the arms of Assyria.

Verses 7-18

The cry - is the sound of the lamentation Jeremiah 20:8; “the shouting” is the alarm of war.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 20". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.