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Jeremiah 19:1-2

Context
An Object Lesson from a Broken Clay Jar

19:1 The Lord told Jeremiah, 1  “Go and buy a clay jar from a potter. 2  Take with you 3  some of the leaders of the people and some of the leaders 4  of the priests. 19:2 Go out to the part of the Hinnom Valley which is near the entrance of the Potsherd Gate. 5  Announce there what I tell you. 6 

1 tn The word “Jeremiah” is not in the text. Some Hebrew mss and some of the versions have “to me.” This section, 19:1–20:6 appears to be one of the biographical sections of the book of Jeremiah where incidents in his life are reported in third person. See clearly 9:14 and 20:1-3. The mss and versions do not represent a more original text but are translational or interpretive attempts to fill in a text which had no referent. They are like the translational addition that has been supplied on the basis of contextual indicators.

2 tn Heb “an earthenware jar of the potter.”

sn The word translated “clay” here refers to a clay which has been baked or fired in a kiln. In Jer 18 the clay was still soft and pliable, capable of being formed into different kinds of vessels. Here the clay is set, just as Israel is set in its ways. The word for jar refers probably to a water jug or decanter and is onomatopoeic, baqbuq, referring to the gurgling sound made by pouring out the water.

3 tc The words “Take with you” follow the reading of the Syriac version and to a certain extent the reading of the Greek version (the latter does not have “with you”). The Hebrew text does not have these words but they are undoubtedly implicit.

4 tn Heb “elders” both here and before “of the people.”

sn The civil and religious leaders are referred to here. They were to be witnesses of the symbolic act and of the message that Jeremiah proclaimed to the leaders of Jerusalem and its citizens (see v. 3).

5 sn The exact location of the Potsherd Gate is unknown since it is nowhere else mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. It is sometimes identified with the Dung Gate mentioned in Neh 2:13; 3:13-14; 12:31 on the basis of the Jerusalem Targum. It is probably called “Potsherd Gate” because that is where the potter threw out the broken pieces of pottery which were no longer of use to him. The Valley of Ben Hinnom has already been mentioned in 7:31-32 in connection with the illicit religious practices, including child sacrifice, which took place there. The Valley of Ben Hinnom (or sometimes Valley of Hinnom) runs along the west and south sides of Jerusalem.

6 tn Heb “the words that I will speak to you.”



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