Holman Bible Dictionary
Isaiah (Isaiah 30:14 ) used the image of a sherd as a sign of the worthlessness of ancient Judah. The psalmist (Psalm 22:15 ) used the image of a dry potsherd as a simile for some physical illness he was experiencing.
Since the Hebrew word translated “potsherd” in the above passages can also mean “earthen vessel” in other contexts (compare Leviticus 14:5 ,Leviticus 14:5,14:50 ; Numbers 5:17 ), it is not always clear as to which meaning is to be preferred. Such is the case in Proverbs 26:23 where a comparison of the NRSV translation (“earthen vessel”) with the KJV (“potsherd”) highlights the problem. Elsewhere, textual confusion compounds the problem. In Isaiah 45:9 , the Hebrew text literally reads: “a potsherd (or “earthen vessel”) with potsherds (or “earthen vessels”) of ground.” In neither case is the text clear, though the symbolism of the futility of a person striving with God is obviously intended.
Finally, the obscure text in Ezekiel 23:24 assigned Judah the same fate as her sister, Samaria. She would not only drink the cup of wrath but also “gnaw its sherds” (NRSV). See Pottery; Archaeology.
John C. H. Laughlin
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Potsherd'. Holman Bible Dictionary. http://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/p/potsherd.html. 1991.