🔼The name Pashhur in the Bible
It's not clear how many different named Pashhur there are in the Bible. NOBSE Study Bible Name List and BDB Theological Dictionary both count five; Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names lists four. Here at Abarim Publications, we're guessing that there is only one. But here are the candidates:
- A priestly son of Immer the chief priest and not a very nice fellow. When Jeremiah prophesies about the impending invasion of Nebuchadnezzar, Pashhur had Jeremiah arrested, tortured and incarcerated (Jeremiah 20:1). When he let him out the following day, Jeremiah informed his tormentor that YHWH didn't call him Pashhur, but rather Magor-missabib, because He was going to have him deported and make him a terror to himself and al his friends on account of his false prophesying (Jeremiah 20:6).
- A son of Malchijah who king Zedekiah sent to Jeremiah to inquire of the Lord about Nebuchadnezzar's plans for Judah (Jeremiah 21:1). This same man appears to have been among the officials who advised the king to execute Jeremiah (Jeremiah 38:1). Since these events occurred before the deportation, this Pashhur is probably the same as the one mentioned in 1 Chronicles 9:12, whose grandson Adaiah, son of Jehoram, is mentioned among the priests who returned from Babylon. Nehemiah also mentions a man named Adaiah, son of Jehoram, who was the great-great-great-grandson of a Pashhur son of Malchijah (Nehemiah 11:12). These could be all the same people (Hebrew genealogies often skip a few generations) but they could very well be other people (repetitions of chunks of genealogy occur a times). There's no telling.
- The father of Gedaliah, who was a member of the royal counsel that wanted to have Jeremiah killed (Jeremiah 38:1). It's possible that this Pashhur is the same as the previous one(s), but note that Pashhur son of Malchijah is mentioned separately in this verse (which still doesn't either indicate or exclude that there are two).
- The patriarch of a priestly family of "sons of Pashhur," of which 1,247 returned form exile (Ezra 2:38, Nehemiah 7:41), and of which six had married and would divorce their foreign wives during the purge of Ezra (assuming that these "sons of Pashhur" descended from the same Pashhur).
Here at Abarim Publications we're guessing that the term "sons of Pashhur" denoted a sub-clan of the "sons of Immer," which in turn was a sub-clan of the "sons of Aaron" through either Eleazar or Ithamar. There's only one Pashhur.
🔼Etymology of the name Pashhur
It's not immediately clear what the name Pashhur might mean or where it may have come from. Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) sees relations with an existing Arabic name, having to do with being glorious, and relates that to the Hebrew noun חר (hor), meaning noble or nobleman:
A Hebrew audience, and especially one unfamiliar with Arabic names, would probably have also made a connection between our name and the verb פשח (pashah) means to tear in pieces:
To a Hebrew audience the name Pashhur might have looked like a contraction of the phrase פשח חור; meaning a Scattering Of Caverns or Scattered In Caves, which in turn brings to mind the hidden libraries of the Essenes which were found in caves in Qumran.
For a meaning of the name Pashhur, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Free and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has Most Noble. BDB Theological Dictionary says nothing about a possible meaning of this name.