Jeremiah 18:2
Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause you to hear my words.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) The potter’s house.—The place was probably identical with the “potter’s field” of Zechariah 11:13, the well-known spot where the workers in that art carried on their business. The traditional Aceldama, the “potter’s field” of Matthew 27:7, is on the southern face of the valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem. The soil is still a kind of clay suitable and employed for the same purpose (Ritter, Palestine, iv. 165, Eng. Trans.). The purchase of the field to “bury strangers in” (Matthew 27:7) implies, however, that it was looked upon as a piece of waste ground, and that its use had been exhausted.

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.House - i. e., workshop. The clay-field where the potters exercised their craft lay to the south of Jerusalem just beyond the valley of Hinnom. Compare Zechariah 11:13; Matthew 27:10. 2. go down—namely, from the high ground on which the temple stood, near which Jeremiah exercised his prophetic office, to the low ground, where some well-known (this is the force of "the") potter had his workshop. It is likely there was but one

potter near the place, or at least that there was one more noted and eminent than the rest, to whose house the Lord here sendeth the prophet, intending there further to tell him his mind what he would have him publish as his mind and will to this people. Arise, and go down to the potter's house,.... Which, no doubt, was well known to the prophet; but where it was is not certain. Some think Jeremiah was in the temple, and this house was beneath it, and therefore he is bid to go down to it; but of this there is no certainty, nor even probability: it is most likely that this house was without the city, perhaps near the potter's field, Matthew 27:10; and which lying low, he is ordered to go down to it:

and there I will cause thee to hear my words; there the Lord would tell him what he had further to say to him, and what he should say to the people; and where by lively representations, by sensible objects before him, he would cause him to understand more clearly what he said and designed to do: as God sometimes represented things to the minds of the prophets in dreams and visions, setting before them mental objects, and raising in their minds ideas of things; so sometimes he represented things to them by real visible objects, and, by similes taken from thence, conveyed unto them a clear and distinct knowledge of his mind and will, and they to the people; which was the case here.

Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Of the hallowing of the Sabbath. - Jeremiah 17:19. "Thus said Jahveh unto me: Go and stand in the gate of the sons of the people, by which the kings of Judah come in and by which they go out, and in all gates of Jerusalem, Jeremiah 17:20. And say unto them: Hear the word of Jahveh, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all inhabitants of Jerusalem, that go in by these gates: Jeremiah 17:21. Thus hath Jahveh said: Take heed for your souls, and bear no burden on the Sabbath-day, and bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem. Jeremiah 17:22. And carry forth no burden out of your houses on the Sabbath-day, and do no work, and hallow the Sabbath-day, as I commanded your fathers. Jeremiah 17:23. But they hearkened not, neither inclined their ear, and made their neck stiff, that they might not hear nor take instruction. Jeremiah 17:24. But if ye will really hearken unto me, saith Jahveh, to bring in no burden by the gates of the city on the Sabbath-day, and to hallow the Sabbath-day, to do no work thereon, Jeremiah 17:25. Then shall there go through the gates of the city kings and princes, who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their princes, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, ad this city shall be inhabited for ever. Jeremiah 17:26. And they shall come from the cities of Judah and the outskirts of Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin and from the lowland, from the hill-country and from the south, that bring burnt-offering and slain-offering, meat-offering and incense, and that bring praise into the house of Jahveh. Jeremiah 17:27. But if ye hearken not to me, to hallow the Sabbath-day, and not to bear a burden, and to come into the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath-day, then will I kindle fire in her gates, so that it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and not be quenched."

The introduction, Jeremiah 17:19, shows that this passage has, in point of form, but a loose connection with what precedes. It is, however, not a distinct and independent prophecy; for it wants the heading, "The word of Jahveh which came," etc., proper to all the greater discourses. Besides, in point of subject-matter, it may very well be joined with the preceding general reflections as to the springs of mischief and of well-being; inasmuch as it shows how the way of safety appointed to the people lies in keeping the decalogue, as exemplified in one of its fundamental precepts. - The whole passage contains only God's command to the prophet; but the execution of it, i.e., the proclamation to the people of what was commanded, is involved in the nature of the case. Jeremiah is to proclaim this word of the Lord in all the gates of Jerusalem, that it may be obeyed in them all. The locality of the gate of the sons of the people is obscure and difficult to determine, that by which the kings of Judah go and come. בּני עם seems to stand for בּני העם, as the Keri would have it. In Jeremiah 25:23 and 2 Kings 23:6, "sons of the people" means the common people as opposed to the rich and the notables; in 2 Chronicles 35:5, 2 Chronicles 35:7., the people as opposed to the priests and Levites, that is, the laity. The first sig. of the phrase seems here to be excluded by the fact, that the kings come and go by this gate; for there is not the smallest probability that a gate so used could have borne the name of "gate of the common people." But we might well pause to weigh the second sig. of the word, if we could but assume that it was a gate of the temple that was meant. Ng. concludes that it was so, on the ground that we know of no city gate through which only the kings and the dregs of the people were free to go, or the kings and the mass of their subjects, to the exclusion of the priests. But this does not prove his point; for we are not informed as to the temple, that the kings and the laity were permitted to go and come by one gate only, while the others were reserved for priests and Levites. Still it is much more likely that the principal entrance to the outer court of the temple should have obtained the name of "people's gate," or "laymen's gate," than that a city gate should have been so called; and that by that "people's gate" the kings also entered into the court of the temple, while the priests and Levites came and went by side gates which were more at hand for the court of the priests. Certainly Ng. is right when he further remarks, that the name was not one in general use, but must have been used by the priests only. On the other hand, there is nothing to support clearly the surmise that the gate יסוד, 2 Chronicles 23:5, was so called; the east gate of the outer court is much more likely. We need not be surprised at the mention of this chief gate of the temple along with the city gates; for certainly there would be always a great multitude of people to be found at this gate, even if what Ng. assumes were not the case, that by the sale and purchase of things used in the temple, this gate was the scene of a Sabbath-breaking trade. But if, with the majority of comm., we are to hold that by "people's gate" a city gate was meant, then we cannot determine which it was. Of the suppositions that it was the Benjamin-gate, or the well-gate, Nehemiah 2:14 (Maur.), or the gate of the midst which led through the northern wall of Zion from the upper city into the lower city (Hitz.), or the water-gate, Nehemiah 3:26 (Graf), each is as unfounded as another. From the plural: the kings of Judah (Jeremiah 17:20), Hitz. infers that more kings than one were then existing alongside one another, and that thus the name must denote the members of the royal family. But his idea has been arbitrarily forced into the text. The gates of the city, as well as of the temple, did not last over the reign of but one king, Jeremiah 17:21. השּׁמר בּנפשׁות, to take heed for the souls, i.e., take care of the souls, so as not to lose life (cf. Malachi 2:15), is a more pregnant construction than that with ל, Deuteronomy 4:15, although it yields the same sense. Ng. seeks erroneously to explain the phrase according to 2 Samuel 20:10 (נשׁמר בּחרב, take care against the sword) and Deuteronomy 24:8, where השּׁׁמר ought not to be joined at all with בּנגע. The bearing of burdens on the Sabbath, both into the city and out of one's house, seems to point most directly at market trade and business, cf. Nehemiah 13:15., but is used only as one instance of the citizens' occupations; hence are appended the very words of the law: to do no work, Exodus 12:16; Exodus 20:10; Deuteronomy 5:14, and: to hallow the Sabbath, namely, by cessation from all labour, cf. Jeremiah 17:24. The remark in Jeremiah 17:23, that the fathers have already transgressed God's law, is neither contrary to the aim in view, as Hitz. fancies, nor superfluous, but serves to characterize the transgression censured as an old and deeply-rooted sin, which God must at length punish unless the people cease therefrom. The description of the fathers' disobedience is a verbal repetition of Jeremiah 7:26. The Chet. שׁומע cannot be a participle, but is a clerical error for שׁמוע (infin. constr. with (scriptio plena), as in Jeremiah 11:10 and Jeremiah 19:15. See a similar error in Jeremiah 2:25 and Jeremiah 8:6. On "nor take instruction," cf. Jeremiah 2:30.

In the next verses the observance of this commandment is enforced by a representation of the blessings which the hallowing of the Sabbath will bring to the people (Jeremiah 17:24-26), and the curse upon its profanation (Jeremiah 2:27). If they keep the Sabbath holy, the glory of the dynasty of David and the prosperity of the people will acquire permanence, and Jerusalem remain continually inhabited, and the people at large will bring thank-offerings to the Lord in His temple. Hitz., Graf, and Ng. take objection to the collocation: kings and princes (Jeremiah 2:25), because princes do not sit on the throne of David, nor can they have other "princes" dependent on them, as we must assume from the "they and their princes." But although the ושׂרים be awanting in the parallel, Jeremiah 22:4, yet this passage cannot be regarded as the standard; for whereas the discourse in Jeremiah 22 is addressed to the king, the present is to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, or rather the people of Judah. The ושׂרים is subordinate to the kings, so that the sitting on the throne of David is to be referred only to the kings, the following ושׂריהם helping further to define them. "Riding" is to be joined both with "in chariots" and "on horses," since רכב means either driving or riding. The driving and riding of the kings and their princes through the gates of Jerusalem is a sign of the undiminished splendour of the rule of David's race.

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