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The English word stock originated from an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning a branch or trunk of a tree. It had many applied meanings, from horticulture ("root stock") to weaponry (the "stock" of a rifle, which was originally made from wood, as they very often still are today). It was also the name applied to a device used to hold prisoners, either because there were no jail cells, or as a means of maximum security within a prison cell. Stocks, in one form or another, also sometimes enabled sadistic jailers to more easily torture, and even murder, then-defenseless prisoners - a cowardly, despicable evil that is just as shamefully evident today as it was in the most ancient times.

In English-language translations of the Holy Bible, "stock" is often used to translate a number of Hebrew words, (pronounced) sad, meaning to stop, eh-kess, meaning an anklet, ates, meaning a wooden staff or plank, mah-peh-keth, meaning a wrench, and tsee-noke, meaning to confine. In the New Testament, the Greek word (pronounced) xoo-lon, meaning timber, is often translated as "stock." There were various forms of stocks, some held only the feet, some the neck and hands, some the feet and hands.

Jeremiah and Paul In The Stocks

God's people sometimes found themselves in the stocks because they uncompromisingly spoke the Truth (a somewhat contradictory term since Truth that is compromised, that is not the whole Truth, is not the Truth). When the prophet Jeremiah proclaimed what The Lord gave him to speak, the religious authorities of Judah, men who had corrupted themselves by replacing God's Law with their own self-righteous behavior (centuries later, Jesus Christ was opposed by, and killed by, the same sort of self-righteous people) had Jeremiah placed in the stocks "which was by the house of The Lord." The place of Jeremiah's confinement, "by the house of The Lord" wasn't just an incredible irony, it was evidence that the corrupt men who claimed to be The Lord's people were in fact opposing The Lord's people. The Messiah's later rejection and death sentence at the same place, at what the Son of God called "My Father's House", was the ultimate occurrence of it.


"Now Pashur the son of Immer the priest, who was also chief governor in the house of The Lord [see also YHVH, Adonai, Jehovah, LORD], heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. Then Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of The Lord."

"And it came to pass on the morrow, that Pashur brought forth Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then said Jeremiah unto him, The Lord hath not called thy name Pashur, but Magormissabib. For thus saith The Lord, Behold, I will make thee a terror to thyself, and to all thy friends: and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and thine eyes shall behold it: and I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon [see Why Babylon?], and he shall carry them captive into Babylon, and shall slay them with the sword. Moreover I will deliver all the strength of this city, and all the labours thereof, and all the precious things thereof, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah will I give into the hand of their enemies, which shall spoil them, and take them, and carry them to Babylon." (Jeremiah 20:1-5 KJV)

The apostle Paul (see Paul's Ministry) also found himself in the stocks, not by his fellow Jews in Jerusalem as happened with Jeremiah, but for casting a Familiar Spirit out of a slave girl (see Paul's Second Missionary Journey) and for "teaching customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans" (see below). Paul and Silas were not only miraculously freed, but the head jailer was himself freed, not from the stocks, but from his spiritual darkness (see the Fact Finder question below).

"And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour." [see also Casting Out Demons]

"And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans."

"And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks."

"And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here."

"Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:16-30 KJV) [see also The Process Of Conversion]

Fact Finder: How can everyone become free of the spiritual stocks that imprison them?
See "The Truth Shall Make You Free"

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