Smashing the Clay Pot

19 1-2 God said to me, “Go, buy a clay pot. Then get a few leaders from the people and a few of the leading priests and go out to the Valley of Ben-hinnom, just outside the Potsherd Gate, and preach there what I tell you.

3-5 “Say, ‘Listen to God’s Word, you kings of Judah and people of Jerusalem! This is the Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel. I’m about to bring doom crashing down on this place. Oh, and will ears ever ring! Doom—because they’ve walked off and left me, and made this place strange by worshiping strange gods, gods never heard of by them, their parents, or the old kings of Judah. Doom—because they have massacred innocent people. Doom—because they’ve built altars to that no-god Baal, and burned their own children alive in the fire as offerings to Baal, an atrocity I never ordered, never so much as hinted at!

6-9 “‘And so it’s payday, and soon’—God’s Decree!—‘this place will no longer be known as Topheth or Valley of Ben-hinnom, but Massacre Meadows. I’m canceling all the plans Judah and Jerusalem had for this place, and I’ll have them killed by their enemies. I’ll stack their dead bodies to be eaten by carrion crows and wild dogs. I’ll turn this city into such a museum of atrocities that anyone coming near will be shocked speechless by the savage brutality. The people will turn into cannibals. Dehumanized by the pressure of the enemy siege, they’ll eat their own children! Yes, they’ll eat one another, family and friends alike.’

10-13 “Say all this, and then smash the pot in front of the men who have come with you. Then say, ‘This is what God-of-the-Angel-Armies says: I’ll smash this people and this city like a man who smashes a clay pot into so many pieces it can never be put together again. They’ll bury bodies here in Topheth until there’s no more room. And the whole city will become a Topheth. The city will be turned by people and kings alike into a center for worshiping the star gods and goddesses, turned into an open grave, the whole city an open grave, stinking like a sewer, like Topheth.’”

14-15 Then Jeremiah left Topheth, where God had sent him to preach the sermon, and took his stand in the court of God’s Temple and said to the people, “This is the Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies to you: ‘Warning! Danger! I’m bringing down on this city and all the surrounding towns the doom that I have pronounced. They’re set in their ways and won’t budge. They refuse to do a thing I say.’”

Life’s Been Nothing but Trouble and Tears

20 1-5 The priest Pashur son of Immer was the senior priest in God’s Temple. He heard Jeremiah preach this sermon. He whipped Jeremiah the prophet and put him in the stocks at the Upper Benjamin Gate of God’s Temple. The next day Pashur came and let him go. Jeremiah told him, “God has a new name for you: not Pashur but Danger-Everywhere, because God says, ‘You’re a danger to yourself and everyone around you. All your friends are going to get killed in battle while you stand there and watch. What’s more, I’m turning all of Judah over to the king of Babylon to do whatever he likes with them—haul them off into exile, kill them at whim. Everything worth anything in this city, property and possessions along with everything in the royal treasury—I’m handing it all over to the enemy. They’ll rummage through it and take what they want back to Babylon.

“‘And you, Pashur, you and everyone in your family will be taken prisoner into exile—that’s right, exile in Babylon. You’ll die and be buried there, you and all your cronies to whom you preached your lies.’”

7-10 You pushed me into this, God, and I let you do it.
    You were too much for me.
And now I’m a public joke.
    They all poke fun at me.
Every time I open my mouth
    I’m shouting, “Murder!” or “Rape!”
And all I get for my God-warnings
    are insults and contempt.
But if I say, “Forget it!
    No more God-Messages from me!”
The words are fire in my belly,
    a burning in my bones.
I’m worn out trying to hold it in.
    I can’t do it any longer!
Then I hear whispering behind my back:
    “There goes old ‘Danger-Everywhere.’ Shut him up! Report him!”
Old friends watch, hoping I’ll fall flat on my face:
    “One misstep and we’ll have him. We’ll get rid of him for good!”

11 But God, a most fierce warrior, is at my side.
    Those who are after me will be sent sprawling—
Slapstick buffoons falling all over themselves,
    a spectacle of humiliation no one will ever forget.

12 Oh, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, no one fools you.
    You see through everyone, everything.
I want to see you pay them back for what they’ve done.
    I rest my case with you.

13 Sing to God! All praise to God!
    He saves the weak from the grip of the wicked.

14-18 Curse the day
    I was born!
The day my mother bore me—
    a curse on it, I say!
And curse the man who delivered
    the news to my father:
“You’ve got a new baby—a boy baby!”
    (How happy it made him.)
Let that birth notice be blacked out,
    deleted from the records,
And the man who brought it haunted to his death
    with the bad news he brought.
He should have killed me before I was born,
    with that womb as my tomb,
My mother pregnant for the rest of her life
    with a baby dead in her womb.
Why, oh why, did I ever leave that womb?
    Life’s been nothing but trouble and tears,
    and what’s coming is more of the same.

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