11 Dec. Jeremiah 19:1-13

11 Dec. Jeremiah compares Judah to a broken clay jar

“This is what the LORD said to me: ‘Go and buy a clay jar from a potter. Take some of the elders of the people and the priests, and go out to the Valley of Ben Himmon, near the front of the Potsherd Gate. There speak the words I tell you.’”

“’Say, “Kings of Judah and people of Jerusalem, listen to this message from the LORD. This is what the LORD All-powerful, the God of Israel, says: I will soon bring a disaster on this place that will amaze and frighten everyone who hears about it.”’”

“’”The people of Judah have stopped following me. They have made this a place for foreign gods. They have burnt sacrifices to other gods that neither they, nor their ancestors, nor the kings of Judah ever knew. They have filled this place with the blood of innocent people.”’”

“’”They have built places on hilltops to worship Baal. That is something I did not command or speak about; it never even entered my mind. Now people call this place the Valley of Ben Himmon or Topheth, but the days are coming, says the LORD, when people will call it the Valley of Killing.”’”

“’”At this place I will ruin the plans of the people of Judah and Jerusalem. The enemy will chase them, and I will have them killed with swords. I will make their dead bodies food for the birds and wild animals. I will completely destroy this city. People will make fun of it and shake their heads when they pass by.”’”

“’”They will be shocked when they see how the city was destroyed. An enemy army will surround the city and will not let anyone out to get food. I will make the people so hungry that they will eat the bodies of their own sons and daughters, and then they will begin to eat each other.”’”

“’While the people with you are watching, break that jar. Then say this: “The LORD All-powerful says: I will break this nation and this city just as someone breaks a clay jar that cannot be put back together again.”’”

“’”The dead people will be buried here in Topheth, because there is no other place for them. This is what I will do to these people and this place, says the LORD. I will make this city like Topheth. The houses in Jerusalem and the king’s palaces will become as unclean as this place, Topheth, because the people worshipped gods on the roofs of their houses. They worshipped the stars and burnt incense to honour them and gave drink offerings to gods”’”

          (Jeremiah 19:1-13)



The narrative in Jeremiah Chapter 19 moves forward to the reign of King Zedekiah of Judah (597-587BC). Jeremiah is told by the LORD to take the elders and the priests to the Valley of Hinnom on the south-west side of the city of Jerusalem.

The Valley of Hinnom (‘Gehenna’ in Hebrew) was the site of Jerusalem’s rubbish tip, where broken pots and numerous waste items were brought out of the city via the ‘Potsherd Gate’ and dumped and burnt. Fires on the waste tips raged all day and throughout the night. This was such an unpleasant place, that ‘Gehenna’ was the word used in the New Testament –  often translated as ‘hell’ – to symbolise a place of eternal fires (see Mark 9:47-48).

The Valley of Hinnom was also notorious as a place where the Jews of Jerusalem sacrificed their own children to the god Moloch (see Jeremiah 32:35 & 2 Kings 23:10).

In this place of burning rubbish tips and heaps of broken pots, Jeremiah smashed a clay pot to illustrate what the LORD said would happen to Judah: "I will break this nation and this city just as someone breaks a clay jar that cannot be put back together again." (Jeremiah 19:11)

The photo (by Ron Almog) shows the Valley of Hinnom ('Gehenna' or 'Topheth') outside the city walls of Jerusalem.

You can read more from Chapters 20-22 of Jeremiah @ The Bible Journey | Plots are hatched against Jeremiah

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