Thus saith the LORD, Go and get a potter's earthen bottle, and take of the ancients of the people, and of the ancients of the priests;Jeremiah 19:1-2. Go and get a potter’s earthen bottle — The meaning of this emblem is fully explained in the subsequent verses; and indeed the whole chapter requires little more comment than a reference to the passages in the margin. And take of the ancients of the people — Or, take with thee some of the ancients, &c. By these, men of reputation and eminence are meant, probably such as were members of the Sanhedrim. And of the ancients of the priests — The heads of the four and twenty courses: see 1 Chronicles 24:4. Such were the most proper to be witnesses of those things which the prophet was about to say and do. And go unto the valley of the son of Hinnom — A most noted valley, to the east of Jerusalem; which is by the entry of the east gate — By which men entered into the temple; from whence they had a prospect of the valley of Hinnom, which lay south- east of the temple, Joshua 15:8. The Hebrew is שׁער החרסית, the gate Harsith, which some interpret, the dung gate, mentioned Nehemiah 2:13; others, the potters’ gate; the potters’ field being near the temple: see Zechariah 11:13.
And go forth unto the valley of the son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the east gate, and proclaim there the words that I shall tell thee,
And say, Hear ye the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle.Jeremiah 19:3-5. Say, Hear, &c., O kings of Judah — See note on Jeremiah 17:20. Behold, I will bring evil upon this place — That is, upon Judah and Jerusalem, so surprising and so dreadful that whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle — The very report of it shall astonish the hearers. Because they have estranged this place — From me, should be supplied to make the sense clearer; the meaning, it seems, being that, by their worshipping other gods, and committing all sorts of crimes, they had caused God not to look any longer upon their city and country as his, but quite foreign from him. Or, as some interpret the expression, They had strangely abused, and alienated from their intended purposes both Jerusalem, the holy city, and the temple, God’s holy house, which were designed for his honour and the support of his kingdom among men. And have filled this place with the blood of innocents — Of the children sacrificed to Moloch: see note on Jeremiah 2:34; and Isaiah 30:33. They have built also, rather, they have even built the high places of Baal — For the same sin is here expressed which was mentioned in the latter part of the foregoing verse, and the copulative particle, vau, is sometimes used by way of explication; to burn their sons with fire unto Baal — From this, as well as from some other places, it is plain that they slew and burned human victims to Baal as well as to Moloch, if these two names were not promiscuously given, as some suppose they were, to one and the same idol. Which I commanded not, &c. — It seems from this that there were not wanting some who maintained that human sacrifices were pleasing to God.
Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents;
They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind:
Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that this place shall no more be called Tophet, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of slaughter.Jeremiah 19:6-9. Therefore, behold, the days come — And are at no great distance; that this place shall no more be called Tophet, &c. — In Joshua’s time it was called The valley of the son of Hinnom; in after ages, it had the name of Tophet, from the noise of drums and tabrets sounding there while children were burning. Here it is foretold that it should have a new name and be called, The valley of Slaughter. See note on Jeremiah 7:32-33. I will make void the counsel, &c., in this place — They shed innocent blood in this place, and in this place God would discomfit them, and cause their blood to be shed by the hands of the Chaldeans. And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and daughters — A terrible judgment threatened by Moses, Deuteronomy 28:53; and actually fulfilled in the siege of Jerusalem. See Lamentations 4:10.
And 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 hands of them that seek their lives: and their carcases will I give to be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth.
And I will make this city desolate, and an hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished and hiss because of all the plagues thereof.
And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend in the siege and straitness, wherewith their enemies, and they that seek their lives, shall straiten them.
Then shalt thou break the bottle in the sight of the men that go with thee,Jeremiah 19:10-13. Then shalt thou break the bottle, &c. — This was intended to be a symbolical representation of the ruin threatened against them, used in order to strike the beholders more powerfully than mere words could do. Of such symbolical actions as these there are several instances in the Scriptures. Thus saith the Lord, Even so will I break this people — That is, as Jeremiah breaketh the bottle: That cannot be made whole again — That is, the ruin of Jerusalem shall be an utter ruin: no hand can repair it but his that broke it; and if they return to him, though he has torn, he will heal. In fact, Jerusalem was so utterly destroyed by the Chaldeans that there was little left standing of it. So that after their captivity they were obliged to build a new city in the place of the former. And they shall bury them in Tophet — These words are omitted by the LXX.; till there be no place to bury — Till there is no room to bury more; for the meaning is, that the whole valley of Tophet should be so filled with dead bodies, that there should be no room to lay any more there; by which is expressed the greatness of the slaughter. And even make this city as Tophet — A place of slaughter. And the houses of Jerusalem shall be defiled as Tophet — Namely, polluted with dead bodies. Because of the houses upon whose roofs they have burned incense — The houses of the Jews were built with flat roofs, Deuteronomy 22:8, and there they dedicated altars to the host of heaven, where they could have a full view of them.
And shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Even so will I break this people and this city, as one breaketh a potter's vessel, that cannot be made whole again: and they shall bury them in Tophet, till there be no place to bury.
Thus will I do unto this place, saith the LORD, and to the inhabitants thereof, and even make this city as Tophet:
And the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses of the kings of Judah, shall be defiled as the place of Tophet, because of all the houses upon whose roofs they have burned incense unto all the host of heaven, and have poured out drink offerings unto other gods.
Then came Jeremiah from Tophet, whither the LORD had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the court of the LORD'S house; and said to all the people,Jeremiah 19:14-15. He stood in the court of the Lord’s house — The great court, called the outer court, Ezekiel 46:21, supposed to be the same with the new court, mentioned 2 Chronicles 20:5, as having been built since Solomon’s time. And said to all the people — Confirming, and probably repeating to them, who had not heard it, what he had said to the ancients in the valley of Tophet. Thus saith the Lord of hosts — Who is well able to make his words good, I will bring upon this city, and upon all her towns — All the cities of Judah and Benjamin are meant which acknowledged Jerusalem for their metropolis, and were subordinate to her. All the evil that I have pronounced against it — As if he had said, Flatter not yourselves with a conceit that God will be better to you than his word. Whatever you may suppose to the contrary, the execution of the divine threatening will fully answer the prediction, and the former will be found, by experience, to be as terrible as the latter represents it to be; because they have hardened their necks — And would not bend them to the yoke of God’s commands; and would not hear his words — Would not heed and yield obedience to them.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon this city and upon all her towns all the evil that I have pronounced against it, because they have hardened their necks, that they might not hear my words.