The prophet is persecuted: he denounces captivity to his persecutors, and bemoans himself.
20:1. Now Phassur the son of Emmer, the priest, who was appointed chief in the house of the Lord, heard Jeremias prophesying these words.
20:2. And Phassur struck Jeremias the prophet, and put him in the stocks, that were in the upper gate of Benjamin, in the house of the Lord.
20:3. And when it was light the next day, Phassur brought Jeremias out of the stocks. And Jeremias said to him: The Lord hath not called thy name Phassur, but fear on every side.
Phassur... This name signifies increase and principality: and therefore is here changed to Magor-Missabib, or fear on every side: to denote the evils that should come upon him in punishment of his opposing the word of God.
20:4. For thus saith the Lord: Behold I will deliver thee up to fear, thee and all thy friends: and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and thy eyes shall see it, and I will give all Juda into the hand of the king of Babylon: and he shall carry them away to Babylon, and shall strike them with the sword.
20:5. And I will give all the substance of this city, and all its labour, and every precious thing thereof, and all the treasures of the kings of Juda will I give into the hands of their enemies: and they shall pillage them, and take them away, and carry them to Babylon.
20:6. But thou Phassur, and all that dwell in thy house, shall go into captivity, and thou shalt go to Babylon, and there thou shalt die, and there thou shalt be buried, thou and all thy friends, to whom thou hast prophesied a lie.
20:7. Thou hast deceived me, O Lord, and I am deceived: thou hast been stronger than I, and thou hast prevailed. I am become a laughingstock all the day, all scoff at me.
Thou hast deceived, etc... The meaning of the prophet, is not to charge God with any untruth; but what he calls deceiving, was only the concealing from him, when he accepted of the prophetical commission, the greatness of the evils which the execution of that commission was to bring upon him.
20:8. For I am speaking now this long time, crying out against iniquity, and I often proclaim devastation: and the word of the Lord is made a reproach to me, and a derision all the day.
20:9. Then I said: I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name: and there came in my heart as a burning fire, shut up in my bones, and I was wearied, not being able to bear it.
20:10. For I heard the reproaches of many, and terror on every side: Persecute him, and let us persecute him: from all the men that were my familiars, and continued at my side: if by any means he may be deceived, and we may prevail against him, and be revenged on him.
20:11. But the Lord is with me as a strong warrior: therefore they that persecute me shall fall, and shall be weak: they shall be greatly confounded, because they have not understood the everlasting reproach, which never shall be effaced.
20:12. And thou, O Lord of hosts, prover of the just, who seest the reins and the heart: let me see, I beseech thee, thy vengeance on them: for to thee I have laid open my cause.
Let me see, etc... This prayer proceeded not from hatred or ill will, but zeal of justice.
20:13. Sing ye to the Lord, praise the Lord: because he hath delivered the soul of the poor out of the hand of the wicked.
20:14. Cursed be the day wherein I was born: let not the day in which my mother bore me, be blessed.
Cursed be the day, etc... In these, and the following words of the prophet, there is a certain figure of speech to express with more energy the greatness of the evils to which his birth had exposed him.
20:15. Cursed be the man that brought the tidings to my father, saying: A man child is born to thee: and made him greatly rejoice.
20:16. Let that man be as the cities which the Lord hath overthrown, and hath not repented: let him hear a cry in the morning, and howling at noontide:
20:17. Who slew me not from the womb, that my mother might have been my grave, and her womb an everlasting conception.
20:18. Why came I out of the womb, to see labour and sorrow, and that my days should be spent in confusion?
Jeremias Chapter 21
The prophet's answer to the messengers of Sedecias, when Jerusalem was besieged.
21:1. The word that came to Jeremias from the Lord, when king Sedecias sent unto him Phassur, the son of Melchias, and Sophonias, the son of Maasias the priest, saying:
21:2. Inquire of the Lord for us, for Nabuchodonosor king of Babylon maketh war against us: if so be the Lord will deal with us according to all his wonderful works, that he may depart from us.
21:3. And Jeremias said to them: Thus shall you say to Sedecias:
21:4. Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel: Behold I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands, and with which you fight against the king of Babylon, and the Chaldeans, that besiege you round about the walls: and I will gather them together in the midst of this city.
21:5. And I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand, and with a strong arm, and in fury, and in indignation, and in great wrath.
21:6. And I will strike the inhabitants of this city, men and beasts shall die of a great pestilence.
21:7. And after this, saith the Lord, I will give Sedecias the king of Juda, and his servants, and his people, and such as are left in this city from the pestilence, and the sword, and the famine, into the hand of Nabuchodonosor the king of Babylon, and into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of them that seek their life, and he shall strike them with the edge of the sword, and he shall not be moved to pity, nor spare them, nor shew mercy to them.
21:8. And to this people thou shalt say: Thus saith the Lord: Behold I set before you the way of life, and the way of death.
21:9. He that shall abide in this city, shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that shall go out and flee over to the Chaldeans, that besiege you, shall live, and his life shall be to him as a spoil.
21:10. For I have set my face against this city for evil, and not for good, saith the Lord: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.
21:11. And to the house of the king of Juda: Hear ye the word of the Lord,
21:12. O house of David, thus saith the Lord: Judge ye judgment in the morning, and deliver him that is oppressed by violence out of the hand of the oppressor: lest my indignation go forth like a fire, and be kindled, and there be none to quench it, because of the evil of your ways.
21:13. Behold I come to thee that dwellest in a valley upon a rock above a plain, saith the Lord: and you say: Who shall strike us and who shall enter into our houses?
To thee that dwellest, etc... He speaks to Jerusalem, confiding in the strength of her situation upon rocks, surrounded with a deep valley.
21:14. But I will visit upon you according to the fruit of your doings, saith the Lord: and I will kindle a fire in the forest thereof: and it shall devour all things round about it.
Jeremias Chapter 22
An exhortation both to king and people to return of God. The sentence of God upon Joachaz, Joakim, and Jechonias.
22:1. Thus saith the Lord: Go down to the house of the king of Juda, and there thou shalt speak this word,
Go down, etc... The contents of this chapter are of a more ancient date than those of the foregoing chapter: for the order of time is not always observed in the writings of the prophets.
22:2. And thou shalt say: Hear the word of the Lord, king of Juda, that sittest upon the throne of David: thou and thy servants, and thy people, who enter in by these gates.
22:3. Thus saith the Lord: Execute judgment and justice, and deliver him that is oppressed out of the hand of the oppressor: and afflict not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, nor oppress them unjustly: and shed not innocent blood in this place.
22:4. For if you will do this thing indeed, then shall there enter in by the gates of this house, kings of the race of David sitting upon his throne, and riding in chariots and on horses, they and their servants, and their people.
22:5. But if you will not hearken to these words: I swear by myself, saith the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation.
22:6. For thus saith the Lord to the house of the king of Juda: Thou art to me Galaad the head of Libanus: yet surely I will make thee a wilderness, and cities not habitable.
Galaad the head of Libanus... By Galaad, a rich and fruitful country, is here signified the royal palace of the kings of the house of David: by Libanus, a high mountain abounding in cedar trees, the populous city of Jerusalem.