Bible References: Jeremiah 19:14-15; 20: 1-18.
Heart of the Story: A priest and chief officer in the Temple, Pashhur acted outside the law to beat and confine Jeremiah for prophesying God’s words.
Back Story: At God’s direction, Jeremiah went to Topheth in the Valley of Hinnon where he broke a potter’s vessel (flask) to portray how God planned to break the walls of Jerusalem and pour out its people. When he returned from Topheth, he went to the Temple courtyard and prophesied that God bring disaster on Jerusalem and the surrounding villages because the people were stiff-necked and ignored His words.
Story Line: Pashhur was the head officer in the Temple. Essentially he was the Temple chief of police; he maintained order and handled Temple troublemakers. When Pashhur heard Jeremiah, he decided to arrest Jeremiah because his prophecy was troubling and disruptive. Although Pashhur could have had Temple guards beat Jeremiah, Pashhur himself beat Jeremiah (Amplified Bible and ESV, Jeremiah 20:2). Then, Pashhur confined Jeremiah in stocks. The stocks were a type of confinement that kept Jeremiah bent or stooped over at all times. They were located in a public place, the Temple Upper Gate of Benjamin. Jeremiah’s punishment and humiliation was visible to all who entered the Temple.
Pashhur was present when Jeremiah was released from the stocks; perhaps he wanted to verify that Jeremiah learned his lesson. Jeremiah wasn’t intimidated by the beating or confinement. He looked at Pashhur and said that the Lord’s name for him was no longer Pashhur but Magor-Missabib, which meant “terror on every side.” God would make Pashhur a terror to himself and his friends. With his own eyes, Pashhur would see his friends killed by the Babylonians. Judah and all the wealth of Jerusalem would be plundered and carried off to Babylon. Pashhur and his household will be carried into Babylon and die there because Pashhur prophesied lies.
Analysis of Relationships: Jeremiah chapter 29 inaugurated new elements into Jeremiah’s life and message. For the first time, Jeremiah specifically identified an enemy, e.g., Pashhur, by specific name. For the first time, Jeremiah’s enemies inflicted physical violence him. Pashhur was the first of the prophet’s enemies to confine or imprison him. In his condemnation of Pashhur, Jeremiah for the first time named Babylon as Israel’s enemy.
In later chapters Jeremiah’s enemies obtained the king’s permission before persecuting Jeremiah. Pashhur didn’t check his actions with anyone, not even the chief priest. Perhaps Pashhur took his authority from the Mosaic Law that said a guilty person should be flogged (Deuteronomy 25:1-3). If so, then Pashhur didn’t follow the entire Law. Mosaic Law required that a person come to trial in a court with a judge deciding guilt or innocence. The judge – not the Temple chief officer – presided over the flogging. Further, Mosaic Law made no provision for a guilty man to be placed in stocks after a flogging.
Pushhur paid for his treatment of Jeremiah. Going forward, Pashhur’s life was terrible here on earth as his friends were killed in front of his eyes and he and his family went into Babylon as captives. Even after his death, Pashhur’s life would have been terrible and unless at some pointed, he repented of his sins.
Conclusion: Some of the fiercest persecution of God’s people has come from the religious crowd; e.g., they persecuted Jeremiah and crucified Christ. As Christians, we need to look at ourselves very carefully to make sure that we aren’t acting like Pashhur and persecuting others.
Copyright: Carolyn A. Roth 3/14.