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Jeremiah: Chapter 18

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1The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2“Come, go down to the potter's house, and there I will let you hear my words.” 3So I went down to the potter's house, and there he was working at his wheel. 4The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him.

5Then the word of the LORD came to me: 6Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the LORD. Just like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. 7At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, 8but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it. 9And at another moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, 10but if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will change my mind about the good that I had intended to do to it. 11Now, therefore, say to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Thus says the LORD: Look, I am a potter shaping evil against you and devising a plan against you. Turn now, all of you from your evil way, and amend your ways and your doings.

12But they say, “It is no use! We will follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of our evil will.”

13Therefore thus says the LORD:

Ask among the nations: Who has heard the like of this? The virgin Israel has done a most horrible thing. 14 Does the snow of Lebanon leave the crags of Sirion? b Meaning of Heb uncertain Do the mountain a Cn: Heb kings and officials waters run dry, b Cn: Heb of the field the cold flowing streams? 15 But my people have forgotten me, they burn offerings to a delusion; they have stumbled c Cn: Heb foreign waters run dry, c Cn: Heb foreign in their ways, in the ancient roads, and have gone into bypaths, not the highway, 16 making their land a horror, a thing to be hissed at forever. All who pass by it are horrified and shake their heads. 17 Like the wind from the east, I will scatter them before the enemy. I will show them my back, not my face, in the day of their calamity.

18Then they said, “Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah—for instruction shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, let us bring charges against him, d Cn: Heb Are … plucked up? and let us not heed any of his words.”19

Give heed to me, O LORD, and listen to what my adversaries say! 20 Is evil a recompense for good? Yet they have dug a pit for my life. Remember how I stood before you to speak good for them, to turn away your wrath from them. 21 Therefore give their children over to famine; hurl them out to the power of the sword, let their wives become childless and widowed. May their men meet death by pestilence, their youths be slain by the sword in battle. 22 May a cry be heard from their houses, when you bring the marauder suddenly upon them! For they have dug a pit to catch me, and laid snares for my feet. 23 Yet you, O LORD, know all their plotting to kill me. Do not forgive their iniquity, do not blot out their sin from your sight. Let them be tripped up before you; deal with them while you are angry.

Notes:

c Meaning of Heb uncertain

a Cn: Heb kings and officials

b Cn: Heb of the field

a Cn: Heb foreign

b Cn: Heb Are … plucked up?

Text Commentary view alone

18.1–12 : The symbolic act involving the potter.

On the private nature of this experience and theliterary function of the account, see 13.1 n. The comparison between God and Israel and the potter andthe clay (cf. Isa 29.16; 45.9 ) underscores God's complete control. The examples given in vv. 7–10 concerning the fate of any nation or kingdom (cf. 1.10 ) shows that God's decision is not capricious but isresponsive to repentance. Again (see chs 7 and 11 ), the contrast between the possible (repentance, v. 11b )and the actual (the people's obduracy, v. 12 ) drives home the point that Judah has sealed its own fate.

18.13–17 : Faithless Judah is condemned to endless walking.

This unit reprises the argument made in ch 2 . Jerusalem (the virgin [of] Israel) has committed the nearly incredible folly of forsaking her God( 2.10,32 ). God will ignore her children ( 2.27–28 ) and will scatter them as before the east wind ( 4.11;13.24; 23.19 ).

14 :

Lebanon, the mountain range north of Israel that parallels the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The name Lebanon is related to the word for “white,” alluding to the snowy peaks. Sirion,Mount Hermon, the highest peak in the Anti‐Lebanon range, which runs parallel to the Lebanon on theeast. Mountain waters, perhaps from the Anti‐Lebanon Mountains or from Mount Hermon itself, such as the Pharpar and Abanah rivers or the sources of the Jordan.

16 :

A thing to be hissed at, to ward offa similar fate (Zeph 2.15 ).

18.18–23 : Jeremiah's fourth personal lament

(see 11.18–12.6n.). They (identity unknown) plot againstJeremiah because of his attacks against the leaders ( 2.8; 8.8 ). Jeremiah defends his innocence and praysto God for the merciless, total destruction of his enemies and their families. Note the assignment ofinstruction (Heb “torah”) to the priests (v. 18 ).

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