Jeremiah 18:1
The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
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(1) The word which came to Jeremiah.—The message that follows comes in close sequence upon that of the preceding chapter, i.e., probably before the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim. It has the character of a last warning to king and people, and its rejection is followed in its turn by the more decisive use of the same symbol in Jeremiah 19

Jeremiah 18:1-4. The word which came to Jeremiah, &c. — We have here the beginning of a new discourse of Jeremiah, which, if introduced in its proper place, as we have reason to think it is, was probably also, as well as the foregoing, delivered in some part of the first three years of Jehoiakim’s reign. Arise, and go down to the potter’s house — Some well-known place where pots were made; and there I will cause thee to hear my words — I will further reveal my mind to thee, that thou mayest make it known to this people. God has frequently condescended to teach us his will by very familiar and striking images. Then I went, &c. — Not being disobedient to the heavenly vision. And behold he wrought a work on the wheels — Hebrew, על האבנים, literally, upon the stones. Thus also the LXX., επι των λιθων. “There can be no doubt,” says Blaney, “that the machine is intended on which the potters formed their earthen vessels; and the appellation, οι λιθοι, the stones, will appear very proper, if we consider this machine as consisting of a pair of circular stones placed one upon another like millstones; of which the lower was immoveable, but the upper one turned upon the foot of a spindle or axis, and had motion communicated to it by the feet of the potter sitting at his work; as may be learned from Sir 38:29. Upon the top of this upper stone, which was flat, the clay was placed, which the potter, having given the stone the due velocity, formed into shape with his hand.” And the vessel that he made of clay — Hebrew, כחמר, as clay, that is, while it was yet clay, was marred, was spoiled in the potter’s hand, so that he did not think fit to go on with his design, as to the form of the vessel, but turned the same clay into a vessel of another form: as he judged best. Nothing can more strongly represent the absolute dominion God has over us than this image of the potter fashioning his clay into what form or vessel he pleased.

18:1-10 While Jeremiah looks upon the potter's work, God darts into his mind two great truths. God has authority, and power, to form and fashion kingdoms and nations as he pleases. He may dispose of us as he thinks fit; and it would be as absurd for us to dispute this, as for the clay to quarrel with the potter. But he always goes by fixed rules of justice and goodness. When God is coming against us in judgments, we may be sure it is for our sins; but sincere conversion from the evil of sin will prevent the evil of punishment, as to persons, and to families, and nations.In the first prophecy of the series Jeremiah 18, the fate of Jerusalem was still undetermined; a long line of kings might yet reign there in splendor, and the city be inhabited forever. This was possible only so long as it was still undecided whether Josiah's efforts would end in a national reformation or not, and before Jehoiakim threw the weight of the kingly office into the opposite balance. In the present prophecy mercy is still offered to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but they reject it Jeremiah 18:11-12. They have made their final choice: and thereupon follows the third prophecy of "the broken vessel" Jeremiah 19:1-15 in which the utter overthrow of city and kingdom is foretold. We should thus place this prophecy of the potter very early in the reign of Jehoiakim; and that of the broken vessel at the commencement of his fourth year. This internal evidence is confirmed by external proof. CHAPTER 18

Jer 18:1-23. God, as the Sole Sovereign, Has an Absolute Right to Deal with Nations According to Their Conduct towards Him; Illustrated in a Tangible Form by the Potter's Moulding of Vessels from Clay.By the parable of a potter God’s absolute power in disposing of nations is set forth, Jeremiah 18:1-10. Judah’s unparalleled revolt, and her judgments, Jeremiah 18:11-17. The prophet prayeth against his conspirators, Jeremiah 18:18-23.

No text from Poole on this verse.

The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying. The word of prophecy, as the Targum: this is a distinct prophecy from the former, though it may be connected with it; it referring to the destruction threatened in the latter part of the preceding chapter. The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
Verses 1-6. - The simple and familiar craft of the potter becomes a parable of religious truth (comp. Isaiah 29:16; Isaiah 45:9; Isaiah 64:8; Ecclus 33:13; Romans 9:20; and the account of man's creation in Genesis 2:7, which has doubtless given rise to the figure). God has the sovereign right to do as he wills with his own handiwork; thus much can be expressed by the figure. But the moral element in Jeremiah's teaching stands outside this, viz. that the Divine action is governed, not by mere caprice, but a regard for character. "The thought is not so much the arbitrariness as the patience of God, who will bring men to be what he would have them be in the end, as the potter eventually twists the clay to the shape he originally intended, stubborn as the clay may be." But whether Jeremiah meant the lesson which Mr. Maurice deduces from his words may be gravely doubted. It is not of individuals that the prophet is thinking, but of the nation, and not of the nation as destined to be all but certainly saved, but as placed before a serious and awful decision. (For different lessons derived from the same figure, see the ' Rabbi Ben Ezra' of Browning.) Egypt and Palestine were, as it seems, at one in the extreme simplicity of the potter's art. Dr. Birch has given us an account of the Egyptian potter at his work, as he appears in the pictorial representations at Beni Hassan ('Ancient Pottery,' pp. 33-35), and Dr. Thomson has described the procedure of a potter in modern Palestine ('The Land and the Book,' p. 520). The chief difference between them seems to be that in Egypt the wheel was turned with the left hand, and the vase shaped with the right, while in modern Palestine the wheel is turned with the fool "Taking a lump in his hand," says Dr. Thomson, "he placed it on the top of the wheel (which revolves horizontally), and smoothed it into a low cone, like the upper end of a sugar-loaf; then thrusting his thumb into the top of it, he opened a hole down through the center, and this he constantly widened by pressing the edges of the revolving cone between his hands. As it enlarged and became thinner, he gave it whatever shape he pleased with the utmost ease and expedition." It should be observed that in ver. 3 the "wheels," or rather "two wheels," spoken of are simply the two round plates which formed the horizontal lathe of the potter. Jeremiah 18:1The Emblem of the Clay and the Potter and the Complaint of the Prophet against his Adversaries. - The figure of the potter who remodels a misshapen vessel (Jeremiah 18:2-4). The interpretation of this (Jeremiah 18:5-10), and its application to degenerate Israel (Jeremiah 18:11-17). The reception of the discourse by the people, and Jeremiah's cry to the Lord (Jeremiah 18:18-23).
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