Jeremiah 20:9
Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.
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(9) Then I said . . .—The sense of a hopeless work, destined to fail, weighed on the prophet’s soul, and he would fain have withdrawn from it; but it (the words in italics, though they do not spoil the sense, are hardly needed) burnt like fire within him, and would not be restrained.

I could not stay.—Better, I prevailed not. Here again the interpolated word is needless, and in part spoils the emphasis. The “I could” is the same word as the “prevailed” of Jeremiah 20:7. God had prevailed against him, compelled him to undertake a work against his will, but he could not prevail against God. Like so much of Jeremiah’s language this also came from the hymns of Israel (Psalm 39:3).

20:7-13 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.This proves, that Jeremiah was, even under the full power of the prophetic impulse, a free and conscious agent. If he were a mere passive instrument in the hands of the Spirit, how could he determine no more to prophesy? And how could he carry this purpose into execution, as he actually did for a while? But this inquiry has been settled by the express authority of the apostle Paul. He affirms, in a manner which leaves no room to doubt, that the prophets were conscious agents, and that they had control over their own minds, when he says 1 Corinthians 14:32, "the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets"; and, on the ground of this, he requires those who were under the prophetic inspiration to utter their sentiments in such a manner as not to produce confusion and irregularity in the congregations, 1 Corinthians 14:29-31, 1 Corinthians 14:33, 1 Corinthians 14:40. How could he reprove their disorder and confusion, if they had no control over the operations of their own minds; and if they were not conscious of what they were uttering?

The truth seems to have been that they had the same control over their minds that any man has; that they were urged, or impelled by the Spirit to utter the truth, but that they had power to refuse; and that the exercise of this power was subjected to substantially the same laws as the ordinary operations of their minds. The true idea has been expressed, probably, by Lowth. "Inspiration may be regarded not as suppressing or extinguishing for a time the faculties of the human mind, but of purifying, and strengthening, and elevating them above what they would otherwise reach." Nothing can be more rational than this view; and according to this, there was an essential difference between the effect of true inspiration on the mind, and the wild and frantic ravings of the pagan priests, and the oracles of divination. Everything in the Scriptures is consistent, rational, sober, and in accordance with the laws of the animal economy; everything in the pagan idea of inspiration was wild, frantic, fevered, and absurd.

(c) It may be added, that this is the common view of prophecy which prevailed among the fathers of the church. Thus, Epiphanius says, 'In whatever the prophets have said, they have been accompanied with an intelligent state of mind;' Ad. Haeres. Mont. c. 4. Jerome in his Preface to Isaiah says, 'Nor indeed, as Montanus and insane women dream, did the prophets speak in an ecstasy, so that they did not know what they uttered, and, while they instructed others, did not themselves understand what they said.' Chrysostom says, 'For this is characteristic of the diviners, to be in a state of frenzy, to be impelled by necessity, to be driven by force, to be drawn like a madman. A prophet, on the contrary, is not so; but utters his communication with sober intellegence, and in a sound state of mind, knowing what he says,' Homil. xxix. in Ep. ad Cor., Bib. Repos. ii.

(4) The representation of future scenes was made known to the prophets by visions. This idea may not differ from the two former, except that it intimates that in a dream, and in the state of prophetic ecstasy, events were made known to them not by words, but by causing the scene to pass before their mind or their mental visions, as if they saw it. Thus, the entire series of the prophecies of Isaiah is described as a vision in Isaiah 1:1, and in 2 Chronicles 32:32. It is of importance to have a clear understanding of what is implied by this. The name "vision" is often elsewhere given to the prophecies, Numbers 24:4, Numbers 24:16; 1 Samuel 3:1; 2 Samuel 7:17; Proverbs 29:18; Obadiah 1:1; Isaiah 21; Isaiah 22:1, Isaiah 22:5; Jeremiah 14:14; Lamentations 2:9; Ezekiel 7:13; Daniel 2:19; Daniel 7:2; Daniel 8:1, Daniel 8:13, Daniel 8:16-17, Daniel 8:26; Daniel 9:21, Daniel 9:23-24; Daniel 10:1, Daniel 10:7-8, Daniel 10:14, Daniel 10:16; 2 Chronicles 9:29; Ezekiel 1:1. The prophets are called "Seers" ראים ro'ı̂ym; and חזים chozı̂ym, and their prophecies are designated by words which denote that which is seen, as חזיון chı̂zzâyôn, מחזה machăzeh, מראה mare'eh, חזון châzôn, etc. - all of which are words derived from the verbs rendered "to see," חזה châzâh and ראה râ'âh. It would be unnecessary to quote the numerous passages where the idea of "seeing" is expressed. A few will show their general characters. They may be "classified" according to the following arrangement:

(a) Those which relate to an open vision, a distinct and clear seeing, 1 Samuel 3:1 : 'And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision' - נפרץ חזון châzôn nı̂perâts - no vision spread abroad, common, open, public, usual. It was a rare occurrence, and hence, the divine communications were regarded as especially precious and valuable.

(b) Those which pertain to the prophetic ecstasy, or trance-- probably the more usual, and proper meaning of the word. Numbers 24:3-4 -- "the man whose eyes are open hath said; he hath said which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling, but having his eyes open.' Numbers 24:17, 'I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel." That is, I see, or have a vision of that Star, and of that Sceptre "in the distance," as if looking on a landscape, and contemplating an indistinct object in the remote part of the picture. Thus, Ezekiel 1:1, 'The heavens were opened, and I saw the visions of God;' Ezekiel 8:3; Ezekiel 40:2, 'In visions he brought me to the land of Israel,' compare Luke 1:22.

(c) Instances where it is applied to dreams: Daniel 2:19, Daniel 2:28; Daniel 4:5; Daniel 7:2; Daniel 8:1, Daniel 8:13, Daniel 8:16-17, Daniel 8:26-27; Daniel 9:21, Daniel 9:23-24; Genesis 46:2, 'God spake to Israel in visions of the night,' Job 4:13.

(d) Instances where the prophets represent themselves as standing on a "watch-tower," and looking off on a distant landscape to descry future and distant events:

I will stand upon my watch,

And will set me upon the tower,

And will watch to see what he will say unto me,

And what I shall answer when I am reproved. '

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, 19; Ps 39:3).

weary with forbearing, and I could not—"I labored to contain myself, but I could not" (Ac 18:5; compare Jer 23:9; 1Co 9:16, 17).

Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name: this daily scorn and reproach which the prophet saw himself exposed unto, for preaching against the sin and wickedness of the people, was a sore temptation upon him to lay down his employment as a prophet. He did not speak this openly, but he spoke it in his heart, he had (as he confesseth) many such thoughts in his breast. But he saith he was not able to do what he thought to do, he found in his heart a constraint to go on, that when a revelation came at any time from God unto him, it was like a fire in his bones, which he must quench by uttering what God had revealed to him. Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name,.... Not that he publicly said this before his enemies, or privately to his friends, but he said it in his heart; he thought, nay, resolved, within himself, to prophesy no more; since no credit was given to him, but contempt cast on him; he was disgraced, and God was dishonoured, and no good done; wherefore he concluded it was better to be silent, and not mention the name of God, and say nothing of any message he had from him, since it was to no purpose. A temptation that oftentimes besets a minister of the word, because of the ill usage he meets with, the ill success of his ministry; and is but a temptation, as such see it to be sooner or later, as Jeremiah did;

but his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones; which wanted vent, and must have it, and which only could be quenched by being divulged; and which, until it was done, he was in the utmost pain, as if he had been all on fire; his conscience accused him; his heart smote and condemned him; a woe was to him; see 1 Corinthians 9:16; or "there was in mine heart as a burning fire" (e), &c. a principle of love to God, and to the souls of men; a zeal for his glory, and the good of his countrymen; which made him uneasy, and constrained him to break his former resolution: for the phrase, "his word", is not in the original text; though it is in like manner supplied by the Targum,

"and his words became in mine heart as fire burning and overflowing my bones;''

and so Kimchi,

"and the word of the Lord was in my heart as fire burning;''

and also Jarchi; the prophecy was as fire, to which it is compared, Jeremiah 23:29;

and I was weary with forbearing; to speak; weary to hold it in:

and I could not stay; or I could not hold it in any longer; I was obliged to speak in the name of the Lord again, and deliver whatever message he was pleased to send me

(e) "atqui est", Junius & Tremellius; "et exstitit", Piscator; "sed factum est in corde meo", Schmidt.

Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.
9. make mention] rather, think thereon, i.e. on “the word.”

I am weary with forbearing] rather, as in Jeremiah 6:11, “weary with holding in.”Verse 9. - Then I said, etc.; rather, And when I say, I will not make mention of him, etc., then it becometh (i.e. I am conscious of a feeling) in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I weary myself to hold it in, but cannot. The prophet has repeatedly been tempted to withdraw from the painful duty, but his other and higher self (comp. 'Old Self and New Self' in the 'Lyra Apostolica') overpowers these lower bayings for peace and quiet. The fire of the Divine wrath against sin burns so fiercely within him that he cannot help resuming his work. When the chief overseer of the temple, Pashur, heard this prophecy, he had the prophet beaten, and put him over-night in the stocks at the upper gate of Benjamin in the temple. Pashur is by the appellation: son of Immer, distinguished from other priests of this name, e.g., Pashur, son of Malchijah, 1 Chronicles 9:12. It cannot be determined whether Immer is here the name of the 16th class of priests (1 Chronicles 24:14) or of one of the greater priestly clans (Ezra 2:37; Nehemiah 7:40). Pashur held the office of פּקיד נגיד, chief overseer in the house of God. נגיד is an official name attached to פּקיד to explain it. In the latter word lies the idea of overseeing, while the former denotes the official standing or rank of the overseer. The position of נגיד was a high one, as may be seen from the fact that the priest Zephaniah, who, according to Jeremiah 29:26, held this post, is quoted in Jeremiah 52:24 (2 Kings 25:18) as next to the high priest. The compound expression without article implies that there were several נגידים of the temple. In 2 Chronicles 35:8 there are three mentioned under Josiah; which is not contradicted by 2 Chronicles 31:13; 1 Chronicles 9:11; Nehemiah 11:11, where particular persons are called 'נגיד. As chief overseer of the temple, Pashur conceived it to be his duty to take summary magisterial steps against Jeremiah, for his public appearance in the temple. To put this procedure of the priest and temple-warden in its proper light, Jeremiah is designated by the name of his office, הנּביא.

(Note: As this official designation of Jeremiah is not found in Jeremiah 1-19, but occurs frequently in the succeeding chapters, recent critics have taken it to be an idle addition of the editor of the later prophecies, and have laid stress on the fact as a proof of the later composition, or at least later editing, of these pieces; cf. Graf, S. xxxix. Ng., etc. This assumption is totally erroneous. The designation of Jeremiah as הנּביא occurs only where the mention of the man's official character was of importance. It is used partly in contradistinction to the false prophets, Jeremiah 28:5-6, Jeremiah 28:10-12, Jeremiah 28:15, to the elders, priests, and false prophets, Jeremiah 29:1, Jeremiah 29:29; Jeremiah 37:3, Jeremiah 37:6,Jeremiah 37:13; Jeremiah 42:2, Jeremiah 42:4, to the king, Jeremiah 32:2; Jeremiah 34:6; Jeremiah 37:2, and partly to distinguish from persons of other conditions in life, Jeremiah 43:6; Jeremiah 45:1; Jeremiah 51:59. We never find the title in the headings of the prophecies save in Jeremiah 25:2, with reference to the fact that here, Jeremiah 20:4, he upbraids the people for not regarding the sayings of all the prophets of the Lord; and in the oracles against foreign peoples, Jeremiah 46:1, Jeremiah 46:13; Jeremiah 47:1; Jeremiah 49:34, and Jeremiah 50:1, where the name of his calling gave him credentials for these prophecies. - There is no further use of the name in the entire book.)

In virtue of the summary authority which belonged to him (cf. Jeremiah 29:26), Pashur smote the prophet, i.e., caused him to be beaten with stripes, perhaps according to the precept Deuteronomy 25:3, cf. 2 Corinthians 11:24, and then threw him into prison till the following day, and put him in the stocks. מהפּכת, twisting, was an instrument of torture by which the body was forced into a distorted, unnatural posture; the culprit's hands and feet were presumably bound, so as to keep the position so; see on 2 Chronicles 16:10, cf. with Acts 16:24. The upper gate of Benjamin in the house of Jahveh is the northern gate at the upper, i.e., inner court of the temple, the same with the upper gate or the gate of the inner court, looking northwards, Ezekiel 9:2 and Ezekiel 8:3. By the designation "which is in the house," etc., it is distinguished from the city gate of like name, Jeremiah 37:13; Jeremiah 38:7. - When on the next day Pashur released the prophet from imprisonment, the latter made known to him the divine punishment for his misdeed: "Not Pashur will Jahveh call thy name, but Magor-Missabib" (i.e., Fear round about). The name is expressive of the thing. And so: Jahveh will call the name, is, in other words, He will make the person to be that which the name expresses; in this case, make Pashur to be an object of fear round about. Under the presumption that the name Magor-Missabib conveyed a meaning the most directly opposed to that of Pashur, comm. have in various ways attempted to interpret פּשׁחוּר. It is supposed to be composed of פּוּשׁ, Chald. augeri, and חוּר, nobilitas, with the force: abundantia claritatis (Rashi); or after Arab. fs̀, gloriatus est de nobilitate (Simonis); or from Arab. hsh, amplus fuit locus, and the Chald. סחור, circumcirca: de securitate circumcirca; or finally, by Ew., from פּשׁ from פּוּשׁ, spring, leap, rejoice (Malachi 3:18), and חור equals חול, joy round about. All these interpretations are arbitrary. פּוּשׁ sig. leap and gallop about, Malachi 3:18 and Habakkuk 1:8, and in Niph. Nahum 3:18, to be scattered (see on Habakkuk 1:8); and x#ap@f sig. in Lamentations 3:11 to tear. But the syllable chowr חור can by no means have the sig. of מסּביב claimed for it. Nor are there, indeed, sufficient grounds for assuming that Jeremiah turned the original name upside down in an etymological or philological reference. The new name given by Jeremiah to Pashur is meant to intimate the man's destiny. On "Fear round about," see on Jeremiah 6:25. What the words of the new name signify is explained in Jeremiah 20:4-6.

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