Jeremiah 19 Commentary

The broken pot (19:1-20:6)

In another acted parable Jeremiah, carrying an earthenware pot in his hand, took the leaders of Jerusalem to a place outside the city walls where old pottery was dumped. This was in the valley where the Judeans once sacrificed their children to Molech and carried out other pagan rites (19:1-2; see 7:30-34 and section, ‘Tophet and the Valley of Hinnom’).

Through their leaders, the people of Judah are told that in this valley, where they have killed their children, they themselves will be killed. The place had been named the Valley of Hinnom, but the prophet announces that in the future it will be called the Valley of Slaughter (3-6). When the Babylonians finally destroy Jerusalem, many Judeans will be slaughtered in this valley, while those who remain in the besieged city will be so near to starvation that they will eat their own children (7-9).

Jeremiah then smashed the pot, to symbolize God’s coming judgment on Jerusalem. The city will be smashed, destroyed. Tophet, which is already unclean through its association with idolatry, will become a dump for corpses. The defilement of Tophet will be the measure of Jerusalem’s defilement (10-13).

Having made his announcement at the site of the coming slaughter, Jeremiah returned to the temple, where he repeated the announcement of judgment (14-15). Pashhur, the chief officer of the temple, furious at Jeremiah’s words, arrested him, flogged him and imprisoned him for the night (20:1-2). But Jeremiah would not be silenced. He boldly announced that Pashhur himself would see the people slaughtered and the city plundered and destroyed. After that, Pashhur would be taken off to humiliating captivity in Babylon, where he would die (3-6).

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