The Potter’s Clay

18: 1-23

605 BC during the eleven-year reign of Jehoiakim

Over thirty words in the Hebrew vocabulary relate directly to pottery, because the manufacture of pottery was a major industry in the Near East in that day. No doubt Jeremiah had passed the potter’s house many times, but this time ADONAI had a special message for him that, after he preached it, would put him in jail. When you follow the Lord, you never know what will happen next.

The potter sat before two parallel stone wheels that were joined by a shaft. He turned the bottom wheel with his feet and worked the clay on the top wheel as the wheel turned. As Jeremiah watched, he saw that the clay resisted the potter’s hand so that the jar was ruined, but the potter patiently kneaded the clay and made another jar.

The interpretation of the image was national, relating to the house of Yisra’el (18:6-10), but the application was individual (18:11-17), calling for a response from the people of Y’hudah and Yerushalayim. It also calls for a personal response today.173

After the indictment (18:1-12) and the sentence (18:13-17), we have an expression of the opposition the prophet evoked (18:18) and the prayer he prayed for help, in the face of that opposition (18:19-23).


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