The Potter and the Clay
18 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord saying, 2 “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will announce My words to you.” 3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. 4 But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make.
5 Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, 6 “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel. 7 At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; 8 if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it. 9 Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant it; 10 if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it. 11 So now then, speak to the men of Judah and against the inhabitants of Jerusalem saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Behold, I am fashioning calamity against you and devising a plan against you. Oh turn back, each of you from his evil way, and reform your ways and your deeds.”’ 12 But they will say, ‘It’s hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’
13 “Therefore thus says the Lord, ‘Ask now among the nations, Who ever heard the like of this? The virgin of Israel Has done a most appalling thing. 14 ‘Does the snow of Lebanon forsake the rock of the open country? Or is the cold flowing water from a foreign land ever snatched away? 15 ‘For My people have forgotten Me, They burn incense to worthless gods And they have stumbled from their ways, From the ancient paths, To walk in bypaths, Not on a highway, 16 To make their land a desolation, An object of perpetual hissing; Everyone who passes by it will be astonished And shake his head. 17 ‘Like an east wind I will scatter them Before the enemy; I will show them My back and not My face In the day of their calamity.’”
18 Then they said, “Come and let us devise plans against Jeremiah. Surely the law is not going to be lost to the priest, nor counsel to the sage, nor the divine word to the prophet! Come on and let us strike at him with our tongue, and let us give no heed to any of his words.”
19 Do give heed to me, O Lord, And listen to what my opponents are saying! 20 Should good be repaid with evil? For they have dug a pit for me. Remember how I stood before You To speak good on their behalf, So as to turn away Your wrath from them. 21 Therefore, give their children over to famine And deliver them up to the power of the sword; And let their wives become childless and widowed. Let their men also be smitten to death, Their young men struck down by the sword in battle. 22 May an outcry be heard from their houses, When You suddenly bring raiders upon them; For they have dug a pit to capture me And hidden snares for my feet. 23 Yet You, O Lord, know All their deadly designs against me; Do not forgive their iniquity Or blot out their sin from Your sight. But may they be overthrown before You; Deal with them in the time of Your anger!
The Broken Jar
19 Thus says the Lord, “Go and buy a potter’s earthenware jar, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the senior priests. 2 Then go out to the valley of Ben-hinnom, which is by the entrance of the potsherd gate, and proclaim there the words that I tell you, 3 and say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Behold I am about to bring a calamity upon this place, at which the ears of everyone that hears of it will tingle. 4 Because they have forsaken Me and have made this an alien place and have burned sacrifices in it to other gods, that neither they nor their forefathers nor the kings of Judah had ever known, and because they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent 5 and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, a thing which I never commanded or spoke of, nor did it ever enter My mind; 6 therefore, behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when this place will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben-hinnom, but rather the valley of Slaughter. 7 I will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place, and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies and by the hand of those who seek their life; and I will give over their carcasses as food for the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth. 8 I will also make this city a desolation and an object of hissing; everyone who passes by it will be astonished and hiss because of all its disasters. 9 I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they will eat one another’s flesh in the siege and in the distress with which their enemies and those who seek their life will distress them.”’
10 “Then you are to break the jar in the sight of the men who accompany you 11 and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Just so will I break this people and this city, even as one breaks a potter’s vessel, which cannot again be repaired; and they will bury in Topheth because there is no other place for burial. 12 This is how I will treat this place and its inhabitants,” declares the Lord, “so as to make this city like Topheth. 13 The houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah will be defiled like the place Topheth, because of all the houses on whose rooftops they burned sacrifices to all the heavenly host and poured out drink offerings to other gods.”’”
14 Then Jeremiah came from Topheth, where the Lord had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the court of the Lord’s house and said to all the people: 15 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I am about to bring on this city and all its towns the entire calamity that I have declared against it, because they have stiffened their necks so as not to heed My words.’”
Pashhur Persecutes Jeremiah
20 When Pashhur the priest, the son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the Lord, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things, 2 Pashhur had Jeremiah the prophet beaten and put him in the stocks that were at the upper Benjamin Gate, which was by the house of the Lord. 3 On the next day, when Pashhur released Jeremiah from the stocks, Jeremiah said to him, “Pashhur is not the name the Lord has called you, but rather Magor-missabib. 4 For thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I am going to make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends; and while your eyes look on, they will fall by the sword of their enemies. So I will give over all Judah to the hand of the king of Babylon, and he will carry them away as exiles to Babylon and will slay them with the sword. 5 I will also give over all the wealth of this city, all its produce and all its costly things; even all the treasures of the kings of Judah I will give over to the hand of their enemies, and they will plunder them, take them away and bring them to Babylon.6 And you, Pashhur, and all who live in your house will go into captivity; and you will enter Babylon, and there you will die and there you will be buried, you and all your friends to whom you have falsely prophesied.’”
7 O Lord, You have deceived me and I was deceived; You have overcome me and prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; Everyone mocks me. 8 For each time I speak, I cry aloud; I proclaim violence and destruction, Because for me the word of the Lord has resulted In reproach and derision all day long. 9 But if I say, “I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it. 10 For I have heard the whispering of many, “Terror on every side! Denounce him; yes, let us denounce him!” All my trusted friends, Watching for my fall, say: “Perhaps he will be deceived, so that we may prevail against him And take our revenge on him.” 11 But the Lord is with me like a dread champion; Therefore my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will be utterly ashamed, because they have failed, With an everlasting disgrace that will not be forgotten. 12 Yet, O Lord of hosts, You who test the righteous, Who see the mind and the heart; Let me see Your vengeance on them; For to You I have set forth my cause. 13 Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord! For He has delivered the soul of the needy one From the hand of evildoers.
14 Cursed be the day when I was born; Let the day not be blessed when my mother bore me! 15 Cursed be the man who brought the news To my father, saying, “A baby boy has been born to you!” And made him very happy. 16 But let that man be like the cities Which the Lord overthrew without relenting, And let him hear an outcry in the morning And a shout of alarm at noon; 17 Because he did not kill me before birth, So that my mother would have been my grave, And her womb ever pregnant. 18 Why did I ever come forth from the womb To look on trouble and sorrow, So that my days have been spent in shame?
Jeremiah’s Message for Zedekiah
21 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur the son of Malchijah, and Zephaniah the priest, the son of Maaseiah, saying, 2 “Please inquire of the Lord on our behalf, for Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is warring against us; perhaps the Lord will deal with us according to all His wonderful acts, so that the enemy will withdraw from us.”
3 Then Jeremiah said to them, “You shall say to Zedekiah as follows: 4 ‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel, “Behold, I am about to turn back the weapons of war which are in your hands, with which you are warring against the king of Babylon and the Chaldeans who are besieging you outside the wall; and I will gather them into the center of this city. 5 I Myself will war against you with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm, even in anger and wrath and great indignation. 6 I will also strike down the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast; they will die of a great pestilence. 7 Then afterwards,” declares the Lord, “I will give over Zedekiah king of Judah and his servants and the people, even those who survive in this city from the pestilence, the sword and the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of their foes and into the hand of those who seek their lives; and he will strike them down with the edge of the sword. He will not spare them nor have pity nor compassion.”’
8 “You shall also say to this people, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. 9 He who dwells in this city will die by the sword and by famine and by pestilence; but he who goes out and falls away to the Chaldeans who are besieging you will live, and he will have his own life as booty. 10 For I have set My face against this city for harm and not for good,” declares the Lord. “It will be given into the hand of the king of Babylon and he will burn it with fire.”’
11 “Then say to the household of the king of Judah, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, 12 O house of David, thus says the Lord:
“Administer justice every morning; And deliver the person who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor, That My wrath may not go forth like fire And burn with none to extinguish it, Because of the evil of their deeds.
13 “Behold, I am against you, O valley dweller, O rocky plain,” declares the Lord, “You men who say, ‘Who will come down against us? Or who will enter into our habitations?’ 14 “But I will punish you according to the results of your deeds,” declares the Lord, “And I will kindle a fire in its forest That it may devour all its environs.”’”
Warning of Jerusalem’s Fall
22 Thus says the Lord, “Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and there speak this word 2 and say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah, who sits on David’s throne, you and your servants and your people who enter these gates. 3 Thus says the Lord, “Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place. 4 For if you men will indeed perform this thing, then kings will enter the gates of this house, sitting in David’s place on his throne, riding in chariots and on horses, even the king himself and his servants and his people. 5 But if you will not obey these words, I swear by Myself,” declares the Lord, “that this house will become a desolation.”’” 6 For thus says the Lord concerning the house of the king of Judah:
“You are like Gilead to Me, Like the summit of Lebanon; Yet most assuredly I will make you like a wilderness, Like cities which are not inhabited. 7 “For I will set apart destroyers against you, Each with his weapons; And they will cut down your choicest cedars And throw them on the fire.
8 “Many nations will pass by this city; and they will say to one another, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this great city?’ 9 Then they will answer, ‘Because they forsook the covenant of the Lord their God and bowed down to other gods and served them.’”
10 Do not weep for the dead or mourn for him, But weep continually for the one who goes away; For he will never return Or see his native land.
11 For thus says the Lord in regard to Shallum the son of Josiah, king of Judah, who became king in the place of Josiah his father, who went forth from this place, “He will never return there; 12 but in the place where they led him captive, there he will die and not see this land again.
Messages about the Kings
13 “Woe to him who builds his house without righteousness And his upper rooms without justice, Who uses his neighbor’s services without pay And does not give him his wages, 14 Who says, ‘I will build myself a roomy house With spacious upper rooms, And cut out its windows, Paneling it with cedar and painting it bright red.’ 15 “Do you become a king because you are competing in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink And do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. 16 “He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; Then it was well. Is not that what it means to know Me?” Declares the Lord. 17 “But your eyes and your heart Are intent only upon your own dishonest gain, And on shedding innocent blood And on practicing oppression and extortion.”
18 Therefore thus says the Lord in regard to Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah,
“They will not lament for him: ‘Alas, my brother!’ or, ‘Alas, sister!’ They will not lament for him: ‘Alas for the master!’ or, ‘Alas for his splendor!’ 19 “He will be buried with a donkey’s burial, Dragged off and thrown out beyond the gates of Jerusalem. 20 “Go up to Lebanon and cry out, And lift up your voice in Bashan; Cry out also from Abarim, For all your lovers have been crushed. 21 “I spoke to you in your prosperity; But you said, ‘I will not listen!’ This has been your practice from your youth, That you have not obeyed My voice. 22 “The wind will sweep away all your shepherds, And your lovers will go into captivity; Then you will surely be ashamed and humiliated Because of all your wickedness. 23 “You who dwell in Lebanon, Nested in the cedars, How you will groan when pangs come upon you, Pain like a woman in childbirth!
24 “As I live,” declares the Lord, “even though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were a signet ring on My right hand, yet I would pull you off; 25 and I will give you over into the hand of those who are seeking your life, yes, into the hand of those whom you dread, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and into the hand of the Chaldeans. 26 I will hurl you and your mother who bore you into another country where you were not born, and there you will die. 27 But as for the land to which they desire to return, they will not return to it.
28 “Is this man Coniah a despised, shattered jar? Or is he an undesirable vessel? Why have he and his descendants been hurled out And cast into a land that they had not known? 29 “O land, land, land, Hear the word of the Lord!
30 “Thus says the Lord,
‘Write this man down childless, A man who will not prosper in his days; For no man of his descendants will prosper Sitting on the throne of David Or ruling again in Judah.’”
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)