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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 19

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Jeremiah 19:0


(The parentheses represent poetic literary units)

The Broken JarThe Sign of the Broken FlaskThe Broken Jug and the Altercation with Pashhur(Jeremiah 19:1-6)The Broken JarThe Public Persecution of Jeremiah(Jeremiah 19:1-6)
Jeremiah 19:1-9Jeremiah 19:1-3Jeremiah 19:1-9Jeremiah 19:1-9Jeremiah 19:1-9
Jeremiah 19:4-9
Jeremiah 19:10-13Jeremiah 19:10-13Jeremiah 19:10-11aJeremiah 19:10-13Jeremiah 19:10-13
Jeremiah 19:11-13
Jeremiah 19:14-15Jeremiah 19:14-15Jeremiah 19:14-15Jeremiah 19:14-15Jeremiah 19:14-15

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

Verses 1-9

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 19:1-9 1Thus says the LORD, “Go and buy a potter's earthenware jar, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the senior priests. 2Then go out to the valley of Ben-hinnom, which is by the entrance of the potsherd gate, and proclaim there the words that I tell you, 3and say, 'Hear the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Behold I am about to bring a calamity upon this place, at which the ears of everyone that hears of it will tingle. 4Because they have forsaken Me and have made this an alien place and have burned sacrifices in it to other gods, that neither they nor their forefathers nor the kings of Judah had ever known, and because they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent 5and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, a thing which I never commanded or spoke of, nor did it ever enter My mind; 6therefore, behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when this place will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben-hinnom, but rather the valley of Slaughter. 7I 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 hand of those who seek their life; and I will give over their carcasses as food for the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth. 8I will also make this city a desolation and an object of hissing; everyone who passes by it will be astonished and hiss because of all its disasters. 9I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they will eat one another's flesh in the siege and in the distress with which their enemies and those who seek their life will distress them.”'

Jeremiah 19:1 Jeremiah 18:0 and 19 are connected by the use of imagery, “potter” and “pottery jar” (BDB 132 CONSTRUCT 427, i.e., a small drinking flask).

The “pottery jar” would have been a fired clay vessel between 4” and 10” with a narrow neck used for liquids. This type of container was very common in the ANE.

“the elders of the people and some of the senior priests” “Elders” was the title of older, respected, established leadership. It was a carryover from the “tribal days” of Israel's past (cf. Exodus 3:16, Exodus 3:18; Exodus 4:29; Exodus 12:21, etc.).

These two groups would represent the civic and religious leadership of Judah/Jerusalem.


Jeremiah 19:2 “the valley of Ben-hinnom” The following information on Gehenna is taken from the Special Topic: The Dead, Where Are They? (Sheol/Hades, Gehenna, Tartarus). Gehenna reflects the OT phrase, “the valley of the sons of Hinnom” (south of Jerusalem). It was the place where the Phoenician fire god, Molech (BDB 574) was worshiped by child sacrifice (cf. 2 Kings 16:3; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Chronicles 28:3; 2 Chronicles 33:6), which was forbidden in Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:2-5.

Jeremiah changed it from a place of pagan worship into a site of YHWH's judgment (cf. Jeremiah 7:32; Jeremiah 19:6-7). It became the place of fiery, eternal judgment in I Enoch 90:26-27 and Sib. 1:103.

The Jews of Jesus' day were so appalled by their ancesators' participation in pagan worship by child sacrifice that they turned this area into the garbage dump for Jerusalem. Many of Jesus' metaphors for eternal judgment came from this landfill (fire, smoke, worms, stench, cf. Mark 9:44, Mark 9:46). The term Gehenna is used only by Jesus (except in James 3:6).

1. Jesus' use of Gehenna

a. fire, Matthew 5:22; Matthew 5:22; Matthew 18:9; Mark 9:43

b. permanent, Mark 9:48; Mark 9:48 (Matthew 25:46)

c. place of destruction (both body and soul), Matthew 10:28

d. paralleled to Sheol, Matthew 5:29-30; Matthew 18:9

e. characterizes the wicked as “son of hell,” Matthew 23:15

f. result of judicial sentence, Matthew 23:33; Luke 12:5

g. the concept of Gehenna is parallel to the second death (cf. Revelation 2:11; Revelation 20:6, Revelation 20:14) or the lake of fire (cf. Matthew 13:42, Matthew 13:50; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10, Revelation 20:14-15; Revelation 21:8). It is possible the lake of fire becomes the permanent dwelling place of humans (from Sheol) and evil angels (from Tartarus, 2 Peter 2:4; JudeJeremiah 19:6; Jeremiah 19:6, or the abyss, cf. Luke 8:31; Revelation 9:1-11; Revelation 20:1, Revelation 20:3).

h. it was not designed for humans, but for Satan and his angels, Matthew 25:41

2. It is possible, because of the overlap of Sheol, Hades, and Gehenna, that

a. origiinally all humans went to Sheol/Hades

b. their experience there (good/bad) is exacerbated after Judgment Day, but the place of the wicked remains the same (this is why the KJV translated hades (grave) as gehenna (hell).

c. the only NT text to mention torment before Judgment is the parable of Luke 16:19-31 (Lazarus and the Rich Man). Sheol is also described as a place of punishment now (cf. Deuteronomy 32:22). However, one cannot establish a doctrine on a parable.

NASB“the potsherd gate” NKJV, NJB“the Potsherd Gate” JPSOA“Harsith Gate” LXX“the gate Charsith” Peshitta, KJV“the east gate”

A gate of Jerusalem by this name is found only here in the OT. Here are the suggestions.

1. Dung (refuse) Gate of Nehemiah 2:13; Nehemiah 3:13-14; Nehemiah 12:31 (Aramaic Targums). This would be the place for garbage to be dumped.

2. Gate on the south side of Jerusalem, which led to the Hinnom Valley, would be close to the potters' workshops.

3. The Peshitta (Syriac translation) gets “east” from the similarity of the Hebrew name with the Greek heres for sun. This is surely inaccurate. The NKJV changes it to “Potsherd Gate.”

Jeremiah 19:3 “the LORD. . .the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel” See Special Topic: Special Topic: Names for Deity.

Notice that these are covenant titles and are repeated several times in the chapter. The covenant people are being confronted by the God of the covenant. They have totally failed as YHWH's revelation to “the nations” (cf., Jeremiah 19:15)!

NASB“a calamity” NKJV“a catastrophe” NRSV, TEV, NJB“a disaster”

The root (רעה) has several distinct meanings.

1. pasture, project, or shepherd - BDB 944 I, KB 1258 I, 27 times in Jeremiah

2. be associated with (i.e., friend or companion) - BDB 945 II, KB 1262 II, used 21 times in Jeremiah

3. pleasure or desire - 946 III

4. that which is harmful (from רע, BDB 948, used 32 times in Jeremiah) - BDB 949, KB 1262, used 92 times in Jeremiah.

It is translated by NIV in several different ways.

a. disaster

b. wickedness

c. trouble

d. evil

e. punishment

f. harm

g. sin

h. calamity

i. offense

j. ruin

k. crimes

l. evil deeds

m. discomfort

n. destruction

o. cruelty

“the ears of everyone that hears it will tingle” This is a Hebrew idiom of a surprising judgment (cf. 1 Samuel 3:11; 2 Kings 21:12). This is similar to the “lips quivering” in Habakkuk 3:16.

Jeremiah 19:4-5 The calamity is coming on Judah because

1. they have forsaken YHWH (cf. Jeremiah 1:16; Jeremiah 2:13, Jeremiah 2:17, Jeremiah 2:19; Jeremiah 5:7, Jeremiah 5:19; Jeremiah 16:11; Jeremiah 17:13; Deuteronomy 28:20; Deuteronomy 31:16)

2. they worship foreign gods (cf. Deuteronomy 11:28) in the valley of Ben-hinnom

3. they have either

a. sacrificed their children to Molech (Jeremiah 19:4, Jeremiah 19:5; 2 Kings 17:17; Psalms 106:37; see Special Topic at Jeremiah 2:23)

b. killed innocent people, cf. Jeremiah 2:34; Jeremiah 7:6; Jeremiah 12:3, Jeremiah 12:17; Jeremiah 26:15; Psalms 106:38, cf. TEV

4. they built high places to Ba'al (cf. Jeremiah 7:9; Jeremiah 11:13, Jeremiah 11:17; see Special Topic at Jeremiah 2:20)

Jeremiah 19:5 “a thing which I never commanded or spoke of nor did it ever enter My mind” This reflects YHWH's thoughts about human sacrifice. It is possible some misunderstood Genesis 22:2 or Exodus 13:2 and used it as a “proof-text” for the child sacrifices to

1. Molech

2. Ba'al

Even the death of Job's family (cf. Job 1:0) could be seen by some as instigated by YHWH to test Job.

The one thing that must be added to this issue is that YHWH will sacrifice His only, unique “Son” (symbolized in Abraham's offering Isaac, cf. Genesis 22:9-19) for the good of the whole (cf. John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus' death was a human/divine death/gift for human sin (i.e., child sacrifice)!

Jeremiah 19:6-9 YHWH describes the judgments He will send on them for their wickedness.

1. the name of the valley of Ben-hinnom will be changed to the valley of Slaughter

2. the counsel of their wise men will be voided (cf. Jeremiah 8:8-9)

3. many will be killed by invasion

4. there will be no proper burial, cf. Jeremiah 7:33; Jeremiah 16:4

5. Jerusalem will be turned into an object of hissing, cf. Jeremiah 15:4; Jeremiah 18:16

6. cannibalism will develop (i.e., siege warfare), cf. Leviticus 26:29; Deuteronomy 28:53, Deuteronomy 28:55, Deuteronomy 28:57; Lamentations 4:10

Jeremiah 19:7 “I shall make void” This VERB (בקק, BDB 132 II, KB 150, Qal PERFECT), BDB says it is used “of a mug dipped in water, or emptied of water.” Therefore, this is an intentional play on the word for “drinking flask” (בקבק, BDB 132) in Jeremiah 19:1.

Verses 10-13

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 19:10-13 10”Then you are to break the jar in the sight of the men who accompany you 11and say to them, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Just so will I break this people and this city, even as one breaks a potter's vessel, which cannot again be repaired; and they will bury in Topheth because there is no other place for burial. 12This is how I will treat this place and its inhabitants,” declares the LORD, “so as to make this city like Topheth. 13The houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah will be defiled like the place Topheth, because of all the houses on whose rooftops they burned sacrifices to all the heavenly host and poured out drink offerings to other gods.”'“

Jeremiah 19:10 In chapter 18 the potter remade a lump of clay, but here, after firing, the clay could not be saved, only destroyed! There was no hope of repentance on Judah's part or YHWH's part (cf. Jeremiah 18:8). Invasion, destruction, slaughter, and exile are coming!

Jeremiah's breaking the clay water flask to symbolize the destruction of Jerusalem is theologically parallel to Ezekiel making a brick to symbolize Jerusalem and then hitting it with a cooking pan (cf. Ezekiel 4:0).

The image of a broken clay pot as a symbol of judgment and destruction is common in the ANE (i.e., Sumer and Egypt).

Jeremiah 19:13 “on whose rooftops they burned sacrifices to all the heavenly host” The worship of the lights of the sky was common in the ANE (cf. Jeremiah 8:2; Jeremiah 32:29; 2 Kings 23:5, 2 Kings 23:12; Zephaniah 1:5).

1. Egypt

2. Mesopotamia

For one example, note Special Topic below on “moon worship.”


“pour out libations to other gods” This was part of the worship of “the queen of heaven” (cf. Jeremiah 7:18; Jeremiah 44:18).

Verses 14-15

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 19:14-15 14Then Jeremiah came from Topheth, where the LORD had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the court of the LORD's house and said to all the people: 15”Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, 'Behold, I am about to bring on this city and all its towns the entire calamity that I have declared against it, because they have stiffened their necks so as not to heed My words.'“

Jeremiah 19:14-15 Since these two verses are in the third person, possibly they are Baruch's (Jeremiah's scribe) later editorial comments.

Jeremiah 19:14 “Topheth” The word (BDB 1075 II) means “fire-place” (possibly from an Aramaic root), which denotes a valley south of Jerusalem in the Kidron Valley. Josiah turned it into a landfill where garbage was burned (see Special Topic: Where Are the Dead? for Gehenna). It was a place where

1. the god Molech (cf. Leviticus 18:21; see Special Topic: Molech) was worshiped by child sacrifice, cf. Jeremiah 7:31; 2 Kings 23:10 (note Isaiah 30:33)

2. it is a metaphor for the slaughter of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, cf. Jeremiah 7:32; Jeremiah 19:6

3. it is a burial place of the dead of Jerusalem, cf. Jeremiah 19:11-12

“the court of the LORD's house” The temple of Jeremiah's day was Solomon's temple. It had several outer courts where the people of Israel could gather. Jeremiah is said to proclaim YHWH's message there several times (cf. Jeremiah 7:2; Jeremiah 26:2).

Jeremiah 19:15 “stiffened their necks so as not to heed My words” The covenant people refused to hear and respond to the covenant God (cf. Jeremiah 7:26; Jeremiah 17:23; Nehemiah 9:17). They were His people in name only!

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 19". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/jeremiah-19.html. 2021.
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