Now Pashur the son of Immer the priest, who was also chief governor in the house of the LORD…
The change here, from Pashur to Magor-Missabib, reminds us of other divinely indicated changes of name in Scripture; e.g. from Abram to Abraham, from Jacob to Israel, from Simon to Peter, from Zacharias to John. These changes, however, were indicative of advancement and honor; were suggestive of the rise out of nature into grace. But here is a name which becomes at once the memorial of great wickedness and of the sure judgment following upon it.
I. THE NAME BEFORE THE CHANGE. Whatever doubt there may be as to the precise signification of the name Pashur, it seems quite clear that the very meaning of the word had in it something peculiarly honorable. The man himself belonged to a privileged order and held an office of influence and honor; and the name must have been given to him because of something auspicious in the circumstances of his birth. An honorable name is an advantage to its bearer, and to a certain extent also a challenge. He who bears it may so live that in the end there will be the greatest contrast between the name and the character. A less suggestive name, one less provocative of contrasts, might have saved Pashur from the new and portentous name which, once given, would never be forgotten. We are bound to consider well the associations which will gradually gather around the name we happen to bear. Now, at least, the particular name has very little signification in itself; but the longer we bear it the more significant it becomes to all who know us. Every time it is mentioned it brings to mind, more or less, our character. Even on prudential considerations one must ever become increasingly careful of what he does, for a single act may obliterate all the associations of respect and confidence which belong to his name. Instead of becoming, what every one may become, the object of respect and confidence to at least a few, he may end in being an object of execration far and wide.
II. WHAT BROUGHT THE CHANGE. His treatment of Jeremiah. His treatment of him, bear in mind, as a prophet. We feel that Jeremiah was not put in prison on even a plausible allegation that he was an evildoer. That he was a false prophet was the only possible charge to lay against him. Now, Pashur must have known that he himself was a false prophet, speaking as God's truth what was only the fabrication of his own self-willed and deceitful heart. If Jeremiah was speaking falsehood, Pashur's duty was to convince him of error, and show the people that he was either a fanatic or a mere impostor. We are not allowed to suppose that what Pashur did he did from some excusable outbreak of zeal on behalf of the building of which he was custodian. A great punishment from the hand of God always argues a correspondingly great offence. It is not so amongst men; there may be a great punishment and a very small offence; sometimes, indeed, no offence at all, measured by the highest law. But when God punishes severely it lets in light upon the character of him whom he punishes. We know that Pashur must have been a bad man; we know it as well as if all his iniquity had been detailed in the most forcible language.
III. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CHANGE. We have not information enough to give us the exact meaning of Pashur; and one might almost think this was meant to heighten the certainty as to the meaning of Magor-Missabib. At present Pashur was in a position of comparative security. If security can be claimed for anything in this world, it seems sometimes to belong to such as hold official positions. But with regard to Pashur all depended on the continuance of Jerusalem. The Lord's house where he was governor was to be destroyed, and then where would he be? Hitherto Pashur has been a nameless unit, involved, but not peculiarly involved, in the general doom. But now he has a prediction all to himself. Henceforth he will be known, must be known, as the man whom Jeremiah threatened with this new and dreadful name. Evidently the name stuck. Some speakers and writers have had this power of giving names that stick. It is not an enviable one, and has often been cruelly used. But God, on whose lips it will always be rightly used, can make it to serve good purposes. The best proof that the name stuck is seen in this, that the prophet's enemies tried straightway to fix the name on him (ver. 10). But everything depends on who gives a name. Jeremiah's enemies might speak of terror, but they could not terrify. God both spoke of terror and in due time brought the terrifying realities around the doomed man. There was nothing at present, and might not be for some time, to show what was coming. But God can wait. We have no doubt that in due time Pashur was forced to the confession that the name was fully justified. -Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now Pashur the son of Immer the priest, who was also chief governor in the house of the LORD, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things.