The Potter and the Clay

18 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.” Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the [a]wheel. And the vessel that he [b]made of clay was [c]marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.

Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: “O house of Israel, (A)can I not do with you as this potter?” says the Lord. “Look, (B)as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel! The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to (C)pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, (D)if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, (E)I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, 10 if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.

11 “Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. (F)Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings (G)good.” ’ ”

God’s Warning Rejected

12 And they said, (H)“That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one [d]obey the (I)dictates[e] of his evil heart.”

13 Therefore thus says the Lord:

(J)“Ask now among the Gentiles,
Who has heard such things?
The virgin of Israel has done (K)a very horrible thing.
14 Will a man [f]leave the snow water of Lebanon,
Which comes from the rock of the field?
Will the cold flowing waters be forsaken for strange waters?

15 “Because My people have forgotten (L)Me,
They have burned incense to worthless idols.
And they have caused themselves to stumble in their ways,
From the (M)ancient paths,
To walk in pathways and not on a highway,
16 To make their land (N)desolate and a perpetual (O)hissing;
Everyone who passes by it will be astonished
And shake his head.
17 (P)I will scatter them (Q)as with an east wind before the enemy;
(R)I will [g]show them the back and not the face
In the day of their calamity.”

Jeremiah Persecuted

18 Then they said, (S)“Come and let us devise plans against Jeremiah; (T)for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come and let us attack him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.”

19 Give heed to me, O Lord,
And listen to the voice of those who contend with me!
20 (U)Shall evil be repaid for good?
For they have (V)dug a pit for my life.
Remember that I (W)stood before You
To speak good [h]for them,
To turn away Your wrath from them.
21 Therefore (X)deliver up their children to the famine,
And pour out their blood
By the force of the sword;
Let their wives become widows
And (Y)bereaved of their children.
Let their men be put to death,
Their young men be slain
By the sword in battle.
22 Let a cry be heard from their houses,
When You bring a troop suddenly upon them;
For they have dug a pit to take me,
And hidden snares for my feet.
23 Yet, Lord, You know all their counsel
Which is against me, to slay me.
(Z)Provide no atonement for their iniquity,
Nor blot out their sin from Your sight;
But let them be overthrown before You.
Deal thus with them
In the time of Your (AA)anger.

The Sign of the Broken Flask

19 Thus says the Lord: “Go and get a potter’s earthen flask, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the elders of the priests. And go out to (AB)the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the Potsherd Gate; and proclaim there the words that I will tell you, (AC)and 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 will bring such a catastrophe on this place, that whoever hears of it, his ears will (AD)tingle.

“Because they (AE)have forsaken Me and made this an alien place, because they have burned incense in it to other gods whom neither they, their fathers, nor the kings of Judah have known, and have filled this place with (AF)the blood of the innocents (AG)(they have also built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings to Baal, (AH)which I did not command or speak, nor did it come into My mind), therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “that this place shall no more be called Tophet or (AI)the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter. And I will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place, (AJ)and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies and by the hands of those who seek their lives; their (AK)corpses I will give as meat for the birds of the heaven and for the beasts of the earth. I will make this city (AL)desolate and a hissing; everyone who passes by it will be astonished and hiss because of all its plagues. And I will cause them to eat the (AM)flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and everyone shall eat the flesh of his friend in the siege and in the desperation with which their enemies and those who seek their lives shall drive them to despair.” ’

10 (AN)“Then you shall break the flask in the sight of the men who go with you, 11 and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: (AO)“Even so I will break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter’s vessel, which cannot be [i]made whole again; and they shall (AP)bury them in Tophet till there is no place to bury. 12 Thus I will do to this place,” says the Lord, “and to its inhabitants, and make this city like Tophet. 13 And the houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah shall be defiled (AQ)like the place of Tophet, because of all the houses on whose (AR)roofs they have burned incense to all the host of heaven, and (AS)poured out drink offerings to other gods.” ’ ”

14 Then Jeremiah came from Tophet, where the Lord had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in (AT)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 will bring on this city and on all her towns all the doom that I have pronounced against it, because (AU)they have stiffened their necks that they might not hear My words.’ ”


  1. Jeremiah 18:3 Potter’s wheel
  2. Jeremiah 18:4 was making
  3. Jeremiah 18:4 ruined
  4. Jeremiah 18:12 Lit. do
  5. Jeremiah 18:12 stubbornness or imagination
  6. Jeremiah 18:14 forsake
  7. Jeremiah 18:17 So with LXX, Syr., Tg., Vg.; MT look them in
  8. Jeremiah 18:20 concerning
  9. Jeremiah 19:11 restored