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Dictionary of Bible Themes – 5445 potters and pottery
5445 potters and pottery

5445 potters and pottery

Pottery was in common use for both household and ceremonial utensils, though for sacred use precious metals were often preferred. Broken pottery symbolises worthlessness and judgment. The potter formed clay with his hands on a wheel which he turned with his feet. The descriptions of God as a potter and of his people as clay emphasise God’s sovereignty and also his concern for what he has made.

Potters in Scripture

Examples of potters Jer 18:2 See also 1Ch 4:23; Jer 19:1; Zec 11:13 Potters may have been associated with the temple, possibly because of the continuing need for new vessels to be used in religious ceremonies; Mt 27:7

Description of the potter’s work Pr 26:23; Jer 18:3-4

God depicted as a potter

God’s authority over what he has made Jer 18:6 See also Isa 29:16; Isa 45:9-10; Ro 9:20-21

God’s concern for what he has made Isa 64:8-9 See also Ge 2:7-8 “Formed” commonly describes the action of the potter. God “formed” both individuals and the nation; Job 10:8-9; Ps 103:14; Ps 119:73; Isa 43:1

Broken pottery

Contaminated pottery to be broken Lev 11:33-35; Lev 15:12

Broken pottery as a symbol of judgment Jer 19:10-11 See also Ps 2:9; Rev 2:27; Isa 30:14; Jer 25:34; Jer 48:12

Broken pottery as a symbol of worthlessness Ps 31:12 See also Jer 22:28; Jer 19:2 The Potsherd Gate was so called because it overlooked the dump for broken pottery.

Pottery of little value

La 4:2 See also Ps 60:8 pp Ps 108:9 2Co 4:7 Valuables were often concealed in apparently worthless clay jars which did not attract attention.

Examples of items of pottery

See also 2Sa 17:28; 2Ti 2:20

Cooking pots Jdg 6:19; 1Sa 2:14; 2Ki 4:38-41; Job 41:20; Mic 3:3

Pitchers to carry water Ge 24:17-20; Jdg 7:16; Mk 14:13 pp Lk 22:10; Jn 4:28

Water jugs 1Sa 26:11-12; 1Ki 17:10; 1Ki 19:6

Drinking vessels Jdg 5:25; Jer 35:5; Mt 26:27-28 pp Mk 14:23-24 pp Lk 22:20 pp 1Co 11:25

Other pottery containers 1Ki 14:3; 2Ki 4:3-4; 2Ki 21:13; Jer 32:14 Documents could be kept intact in clay jars for many years; Mt 26:23; Jn 13:5

Household lamps 2Ki 4:10; Mt 5:15

Pottery used in religious rituals

Basins to hold the blood of sacrifices Ex 12:21-22 See also Ex 24:6; Lev 14:5,50

Utensils to cook or bake offerings Lev 6:28 The sin offering was cooked in a pot which was then broken. See also Lev 2:5 The grain offering might be baked on a clay griddle; Lev 6:21; Lev 7:9

Clay water jars Nu 5:17; Nu 19:17

Lamps Ex 25:37 A clay lamp was held on each of the golden lampstand’s seven branches. See also Ex 27:21; Ex 30:8; Lev 24:3-4; 1Sa 3:3; 1Ki 7:49

See also

1130God, sovereignty
5373lamp & lampstand
9210judgment, God’s

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