Devotional Commentary on Jeremiah 20


Head-elder hit the pastor. This is what is happening in this chapter.


Pashur was the son of the priest Immer and chief officer in the house of the Lord (verse 1). He heard the sermons of Jeremiah and “Pashur struck Jeremiah the prophet” (verse 2). To struck is to be physical with the body or part of the body, a hand but it can also be just emotional harassment with the mind in choosing special words that are negative, gossip, a network of relationships that all participate in prophet or pastor “strucking”.


I once attended a congregation where the churchboard was a team of old-time friends that “ran the church” their way and they wanted to struck the pastor by gossiping him out of his job. We realized that and was shocked by the audacity and started to come up for the pastor but got caught ourselves in the gossip fans. So my wife and I paid a visit to the head-elder who was involved with his wife in this political game of playing conference committee hiring and firing “the anointed of the Lord”. Just because they “did not like his preaching that is too direct and personal.” Thank the Lord when preaching is personal and direct because the Holy Spirit then speaks to you. What a blessing. Not for them and not for Jeremiah’s audience and not for Pashur. My wife and I was direct and specific. He asked the pastor the same day not to go but to stay. We stayed two more weeks but then decided to rather move to a small church in the mountains that has only four members to help them with membership-warming. The church rebelled on Friday night against the pastor and it was fire and brimstone but the anointed of the Lord did not say anything. They blamed him for changing his mind and not going, some of them screamed. Elders apparently were crying and deaconesses were shouting others to go out of anger. Demons of this team took over, according to eyewitnesses, and as the main church-board team it went wild. The pastor left and the church was now directly in the hands of the Holy Spirit. Then reaping what one sows against God’s anointed started, just like in Jeremiah: the deacon who shouted, brother in law who is a medical doctor went bankrupt with nearly a million dollars debt. The Elder who shouted at my wife after her Tuesday night sermon, his wife had a motorcycle accident. They had to move to another town. The other deacon had to sell his farm and move and struggled financially and still does. Coming to church now but for several months did not. The wife of the other elder got very sick and was in two hospitals for two problems. He himself went two times for operations. The head-elder got lymph cancer is currently under chemotherapy. Struck the pastor or prophet Jeremiah. That is what Pashur did.


Where did he struck him? In the temple. In the church. Great strucking takes place unfortunately in the presence of the Most High while the Spirit is enjoying Himself in the company of faithful people, a sudden twist of events took place and white becomes black, yellow becomes orange and blue becomes purple. With gestures, indirect statements, cynical phrases, one-liners, stereotyping, innocent jokes, everyone participated in this strucking action. It is like an artist with a chisel carving the stone until an image appear in the stone, that of a monster and who wants to have a monster for a pastor, or prophet? No-one. Asking anyone who did it and everyone will say, I just had a one-liner. That is all. It is not me. Add all up and the consensus is a monster for a pastor.


The next day Pashur released Jeremiah (verse 3). Jeremiah told him that his name is not Pashur but Magor Missaviv, namely that he shall be surrounded by terror. Bad things were to happen to Pashur as listed in verse 4. He is going to be a terror to himself and to his friends. They are going to die by the sword while Pashur is watching and all Judah will be taken by Babylon. They will be exiled and with a sword they will be strucked. It is repeated in verse 5 in almost similar words.


There are a number of seals that can be brought together here proving individuals in the Book of Jeremiah as historical and not just legendary or fabricated names.


A number of seals that were found in the City of David excavations south of the Dung gate at the southern wall of the temple, brought seals to light that undoubtedly are connected to the eventful year of 586 BCE so vividly described by Jeremiah.


Jeremiah 36:10-12


"Then read Baruch in the book the words of Jeremiah in the house of the Lord, in the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe, in the higher court, at the entry of the new gate of the Lord's house ..."


Seal below: lgmryhw [b]n špn "belonging to Gemaryahu the son of Shaphan" (Location: City of David)


(A. Mazar, Archaeology of the Land of the Bible [New York: Doubleday, 1990], 519)

Seal 1 Jeremiah 38 verse 1.jpg


current seal (City of David) 


Jeremiah 38:1


"Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan and Gedaliah the son of Pashur and Yukhal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah, heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken unto all the people..."


Seal: lgdlyhw bn pšr "belonging to Gedalyahu the son of Pashur" (Location: City of David)

(Reported in the Jerusalem Post 2 August 2008) found apparently on July 30 2008.

 Seal 2 Jeremiah 38 verse 1.jpg

Van Wyk reconstruction of new found seal (not real)


Jeremiah 38:1


"Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan and Gedaliah the son of Pashur and Yukhal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah, heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken unto all the people..."


Seal: lywkl bn šlmyhw h[ ] by "belonging to Yukhal son of Shelemyahu the [title of function?] (Location: City of David)

   Seal 3 Shelamiyahu.jpg

current seal City of David 

(Source: Original photo from Jerusalem Post 2 August 2008 [Van Wyk reinforced the orthographical lines] Caution: it may represent only 95% of the total information. Was found in 2005)


Jeremiah 40:14


"And said unto him, do you know that Baalish the king of the Ammonites has sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to kill you?"


Seal: lmlkm 'wr `bd b`lyš` "belonging to Milkom's flame(?) servant of Ba`alyasha" (Location: Tell el-Umeiri)


(Jim Fisher, "Hesban and the Ammonites during the Iron Age," in Hesban after 25 Years edited by David Merling and Lawrence Geraty [Berrien Springs, MI: Institute of Archaeology, 1993], 90).

    Seal 4  Baalishya from Tell el Umeiri.jpg

These are seals indicating that Jeremiah is not just a fabricated story but based on facts. The chronology of the Book should be taken seriously as well. There are more archaeological evidence to come later in other chapters, for example about Evil-Merodach and about the Lachish Letters using same phrases as Jeremiah.

Jeremiah was shocked but linked to God: “You [Lord] enticed me, O Lord, and I was enticed. You overcame me and You prevailed.” The prophet starts where all of us should when trouble comes: with the Lord. With a humble submission. With a contrite heart and spirit. Jeremiah indicates that he has become a laughing-stock and everyone is mocking him (verse 7).


Jeremiah indicates that his style of preaching is to cry out and he called violence and spoil. The whole day people mocked him (verse 8).


He considered quietism. “Should I say: I will not mention Him and I will no longer speak in His name” (verse 9). There are countries today that forbid people to speak about God or Jesus or share Christian doctrines with their citizens. They have their own religions and are afraid that people will flock to this new religion that is more kind than their own. It is also more freedom supplying than their own. It respects the believer more than their own country’s religion. So they designed laws to cull it. However, because Jeremiah is living by the Spirit of the Lord, the quietism does not work because the living relationship with the Spirit burns in his heart like a fire and in his bones. He is tired to contain it and is not able. This is how it is when one tries to hide the light under a bushel. Spirit-filled people cannot. It is the new-natural which is really supernatural life one lives together with God. I can’t keep quiet Luther said, so help me God.


Gossiping was going on around Jeremiah. They awaited his destruction. They were hoping to quiet him and prevail (verse 10).


But the enemies of Jeremiah did not know that the Lord is with him “but the Lord is with me as a mighty warrior” (verse 11). They shall not succeed, shall stumble, shall not prevail, shall be ashamed and also have perpetual shame (verse 12). It almost sounds like the narratives of modern Islammic rulers addressing their enemies with citations from the Koran. North Korea is using a Koran phrase saying that they want to “engulf Guam with a sea of fire”. But despite modern practices of talking politically with spiritual data from their holy books, Jeremiah explains that His God is the “Lord of Hosts” (verse 12). He tests the righteous, the kidneys, the heart. He asked God to reveal God’s plan of vengeance with his enemies.


Jeremiah wants people to sing praises to the Lord (verse 13) for He saved the soul of the poor from the hand of evildoers.


The next verse may be misunderstood. People may think it is Jeremiah who is cursing the day he was born. It is not. Go to verse 16a where he says about that foolish man “and that man….[shall experience negative things]”. Which man? The man that says the cursed things about his birth and about his father (verses 14-15). The man who says this, “shall be like the cities that the Lord overturned and did not repent” (verse 16). It is unlikely that Jeremiah will curse the day he was born when he just said that one should sing a praise to the Lord Who saves (verse 13). This foolish man is still speaking saying why did he not die in the womb and why did he come forth? (verse 17).

Verses 14ff. was a source of confusion for scholars as one can see with the long discussion by Keil and Delitzsch (1889) pages 319-323. “Inasmuch as the foregoing lamentation had ended in assured hope of deliverance, and in the praise rendered to God therefor, it seems surprising that now there should follow curses on the day of his birth, without any hint to show that at the end this temptation, too, had been overcome.” So scholars suggested their own twists: Ewald wanted to rearrange the verses with a transposition before verse 7 but Keil and Delitzsch reacted correctly by saying that Copyists did not go to work with the biblical text in such an arbitrary and clumsy fashion.” They suggested that it was two separate days when these events happen but in the writing it was placed adjacent each other. They also compared the curse with that of Job and concluded that Job’s curse were more “violent”. In the commentary on Job, it was shown that the word for curse is actually a hapax legoumenon and that scholars do not know the true meaning so they retorted to late Arabic of the 7th century A.D. to solve a reading nearly two millennia away from the original date. That is the problem not Job’s words. With Jeremiah we already indicated that verse 16 holds the key that Jeremiah is distancing himself from “that [foolish, cursing vv. 14-15; 17] man.


Dear God

How foolish can people be to curse the day they were born since You have a purpose with each and every soul no matter who. Abide with us too as warrior against the onslaught of people. In Jesus Name. Amen.