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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Jeremiah 18



Verses 1-23

Jeremiah 18:1-23. The Potter and the Clay.—The potter (Jeremiah 18:1-4) moulding his clay on the upper stone, which he makes revolve by his feet resting on the connected lower stone, is compared with Yahweh in His control of Israel (Jeremiah 18:5-12). The point of the comparison, as worked out in Jeremiah 18:7 ff., is not predestination (contrast Romans 9-11), but the conditionality of Yahweh's treatment of a nation, according as it turns to good or to evil (cf. the story of Jonah and Nineveh, also Ezekiel's individualism, Jeremiah 18:20 ff.). Judah, however, will not repent (with Jeremiah 18:12; cf. Jeremiah 2:25). Some commentators think that this application cannot be original, since the description of the potter's work (the tenses in Jeremiah 18:4 denote habitual practice) suggests rather the moulding of Judah into something useful after all. On this ground, Cornill dates Jeremiah 18:1-4 between 620 and 610. But Semitic parable is frequently employed to suggest a single point, the details being irrelevant, and often unsuitable, to the main truth. The prophet declares that Judah's conduct is unnatural, contrary to the steady course of nature (Jeremiah 18:14); the people have forsaken the good old road (Jeremiah 6:16) for unmade by-paths of futile idolatry ("vanity"; the idol gods being the antecedent of the following "they", Jeremiah 18:15). Therefore Yahweh will scatter them with a sirocco-blast (east wind, Jeremiah 4:11), and turn His back to them (Jeremiah 18:17 mg.; cf. Jeremiah 2:27). In consequence of this prophecy, men plot (cf. Jeremiah 11:18 ff., Jeremiah 15:15 ff.) against the prophet, refusing to believe that the settled order of life will ever fail (Jeremiah 18:18 is probably proverbial; cf. Ezekiel 7:26), and slander him. He protests against this return of evil for good, and prays for vengeance on them.

Jeremiah 18:3. wheels: see Thomson, op. cit., p. 521, and cf. Sirach 38:29-30.

Jeremiah 18:11. frame: the term used describes a potter's work.

Jeremiah 18:14 is difficult and probably corrupt; as it stands, the reference is to the unfailing snows and ever-flowing streams of Lebanon; cf. Ca. Jeremiah 4:15.

Jeremiah 18:21. death: denotes "pestilence" as in Jeremiah 15:2.


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Jeremiah 18:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.

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