Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, June 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 19

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Thus saith the LORD, Go and get a potter's earthen bottle, and take of the ancients of the people, and of the ancients of the priests;

Referred, by Maurer, etc., to the beginning of Zedekiah's reign.

Bottle - Hebrew, baqbuk, so called from the gurgling sound which it makes when being emptied.

Take of the ancients - elders. As witnesses of the symbolic action (Jeremiah 19:10; Isaiah 8:1-2), that the Jews might not afterward plead ignorance of the prophecy.

Of the ancients of the people, and of the ancients of the priests - the 72 elders composing the Sanhedrim, or Great Council, were partly taken from "the priests," partly from the other tribes, i:e., "the people;" the former presiding over spiritual matters, the latter over civil: the seventy-two represented the whole people.

Verse 2

And go forth unto the valley of the son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the east gate, and proclaim there the words that I shall tell thee,

Valley of the son of Hinnom - or Tophet, south of Jerusalem, where human victims were offered, and children made to pass through the fire in honour of Moloch.

East gate - margin, sun gate, sunrise being in the east. Cocceius objects that the valley of Hinnom, which is said to be "by the entry of" that gate was at the south side. Perhaps 'the sun gate' may mean southern; [Jerome and others take hacharciyt (H2777) from cheres, a potter's vessel, which suits the context, not from cherec (H2775), the sun-the potter's gate]. Through it lay the road to the valley of Hinnom (Joshua 15:8). The potters there formed vessels for the use of the temple which was close by (cf. Jeremiah 19:10; Jeremiah 19:14; Jeremiah 18:2; Zechariah 11:13). The same as "the water gate toward the east" (Nehemiah 3:26; Nehemiah 12:37); so called from the brook Kedron. Calvin translates, as the English version and margin, 'It was monstrous perversity to tread the law under foot in so conspicuous a place, over which the sun daily rising reminded them of the light of God's law.'

Verse 3

And say, Hear ye the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle.

Hear ye the word of the Lord - the scene of their guilt is chosen as the scene of the denunciation against them.

Kings - the king and queen (Jeremiah 13:18): or including the king's counselors and governors under him.

Tingle - as if struck by a thunder-peal (1 Samuel 3:11; Jeremiah quotes and re-affirms God's denunciation given in Manasseh's reign; 2 Kings 21:12).

Verse 4

Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents;

They have forsaken me - (Isaiah 65:11).

Estranged this place - devoted it to the worship of strange gods; alienating a portion of the sacred city from God, the rightful Lord of the temple, city, and whole land.

Gods whom ... nor their fathers have known - namely, the godly among their fathers; their ungodly fathers God makes no account of.

Blood of innocents - slain in honour of Moloch (Jeremiah 7:31; Psalms 106:37).

Verse 5

They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind:

They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not - nay, more, I commanded the opposite (Leviticus 18:21; see Jeremiah 7:31-32).

Verse 6

Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that this place shall no more be called Tophet, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of slaughter.

This place shall no more he called Tophet - from the Hebrew top (H8596), a drum; because in sacrificing children to Moloch drums were beaten to drown their cries. Thus the name indicated the joy of the people at the fancied propitiation of the god by this sacrifice; in antithesis to its joyless name subsequently.

Valley of slaughter - it should be the scene of slaughter, no longer of children, but of men; not of "innocents" (Jeremiah 19:4), but of those who richly deserved their fate. The city could not be assailed without first occupying the valley of Hinnom, in which was the only fountain; hence arose the violent battle there.

Verse 7

And I will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place; and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hands of them that seek their lives: and their carcases will I give to be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth.

I will make void the counsel of Judah - defeat their plane for repelling the enemy (2 Chronicles 32:1-4; Isaiah 19:3; Isaiah 22:9; Isaiah 22:11). Or, their schemes of getting help by having recourse to idols (Calvin).

In this place - the valley of Hinnom was to be the place of the Chaldean encampment: the very place where they looked for help form idols was to be the scene of their own slaughter.

Verse 8

And I will make this city desolate, and an hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished and hiss because of all the plagues thereof. I will make this city desolate, and an hissing - (note, Jeremiah 18:16).

Verse 9

And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend in the siege and straitness, wherewith their enemies, and they that seek their lives, shall straiten them.

I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons (Deuteronomy 28:53; Lamentations 4:10). Fulfilled to the letter both in the siege of Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar and that long after under the Roman Titus.

Verse 10

Then shalt thou break the bottle in the sight of the men that go with thee,

Then shalt thou break the bottle - a symbolical action, explained in Jeremiah 19:11.

In the sight of the men - the elders of the people and of the priests (Jeremiah 19:1; cf. the similar symbolical action of the stone bound to the Book of Prophecies and cast into the Euphrates, as a sign of Babylon's sinking to rise no more, Jeremiah 51:63-64).

Verse 11

And shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Even so will I break this people and this city, as one breaketh a potter's vessel, that cannot be made whole again: and they shall bury them in Tophet, till there be no place to bury.

As one breaketh a potter's vessel - expressing God's absolute sovereignty (Jeremiah 18:6; Psalms 2:9; Isaiah 30:14," He shall break it (the Jewish state) as the breaking of the potter's vessel that is broken in pieces." Margin, 'the bottle of potters,' Lamentations 4:2; Romans 9:20-21).

Cannot be made whole again - a broken potter's vessel cannot be restored, but a new one may be made of the same material. So God raised a new Jewish seed, not identical with the destroyed rebels, but by substituting another generation in their stead (Grotius).

No place to bury - (Jeremiah 7:32).

Verse 12

Thus will I do unto this place, saith the LORD, and to the inhabitants thereof, and even make this city as Tophet:

And even make this city as Tophet - i:e., as defiled with dead bodies as Tophet.

Verse 13

And the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses of the kings of Judah, shall be defiled as the place of Tophet, because of all the houses upon whose roofs they have burned incense unto all the host of heaven, and have poured out drink offerings unto other gods.

Shall be defiled - with dead bodies (Jeremiah 19:12; 2 Kings 23:10).

Because of all the houses - rather (explanatory of the previous "the houses ... and ... houses"), 'even all the houses,' etc. (Calvin).

Roofs - being flat, they were used as high places for sacrifices to the sun and planets (Jeremiah 32:29; 2 Kings 23:11-12; Zephaniah 1:5). The Nabateans, south and east of the Dead Sea, a nation most friendly to the Jews, according to Strabo, had the same usage.

Verse 14

Then came Jeremiah from Tophet, whither the LORD had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the court of the LORD's house; and said to all the people,

Court of the Lord's house - near Tophet. The largest court, under the open air, where was the greatest crowd (2 Chronicles 20:5).

Verse 15

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon this city and upon all her towns all the evil that I have pronounced against it, because they have hardened their necks, that they might not hear my words.

Her towns - the suburban villages and towns near Jerusalem, such as Bethany.


(1) How exactly God's judgments tally in their attendant circumstances to the sin which has provoked them! The valley of Hinnom, the scene of the Jews' greatest guilt, was made the scene of the denunciation of their doom, and was to be the scene of its execution (Jeremiah 19:2). As its name Tophet once indicated the loud drum-peal of joy (Jeremiah 19:6), so it was hereafter to be noted as the scene of unmingled woe. Once it resounded with the cries of "innocent" (Jeremiah 19:4) children cruelly put to death; hereafter it was to resound with the death-groans of adult men who richly merited their retributive punishment. As "the houses of Jerusalem" were defiled by the burnt offerings "unto the host of heaven" upon the flat roofs, so were they to be "defiled as Tophet," and to be burnt with fire by the enemy. As the Jews "estranged" the place (Jeremiah 19:4) which was God's from Him who was its rightful owner, so was the land to be estranged from them, and given to strangers, while they themselves must sojourn as captives and strangers in a strange land.

(2) Surely all history, and especially that of God's ancient people, teaches that there is a moral government even in this fallen world, and that a nation's sin is sure to entail exactly corresponding retribution; while, on the other hand, "righteousness exalteth a nation" (Proverbs 14:34). The wise and sagacious politicians of the Jews might adopt what able "counsel" for the defense of the land they could devise, but God would "make void their counsel" (Jeremiah 19:7), and "cause them to fall before their enemies." "There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord" (Proverbs 21:30). "Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished" (Proverbs 11:21). The game which transgressors play is a losing game: and soon or late they will discover that piety is the truest policy.

(3) Whatsoever people or state is broken by God, is "like a potter's vessel" broken to pieces, so that it "cannot be made whole again" (Jeremiah 19:11) by man. But what is impossible to man is possible to God, and He will surely keep His promise of restoring Israel, broken and scattered as the Jews have long been. Let us, from their case, learn to beware of "hardening" our hearts so as "not to hear God's words (Jeremiah 19:15): and, on the other hand, let us adore the riches of His grace that keeps His covenant forever with His elect.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 19". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/jeremiah-19.html. 1871-8.
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