JEREMIAH CHAPTER 19.
The Symbol of the Broken Vessel.
THE PARABOLIC ACTION AND ITS EXPLANATION. — V. 1. Thus saith the Lord, Go and get a potter's earthen bottle, a pitcher with a long neck, and take of the ancients of the people, the elders of their chief council, and of the ancients of the priests, cp. Is. 36, 2, v. 2. and go forth unto the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, or the Valley of Ben-hinnom, south and southwest of the city, which is by the entry of the East Gate, or the Potsherd Gate, probably identical with the Dung Gate, Neh. 3, 13-15, near which were the clay-pits or the dumping-grounds of the potters, and proclaim there the words that I shall tell thee, the fact of verbal inspiration being brought out again, v. 3. and say, Hear ye the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, both of whom had become guilty together of idolatrous customs such as were practiced in this valley, sacrifices to Moloch, the abomination of the Mo-abitee, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, the only one entitled to worship on the part of the people bearing the name of Israel: Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle, ringing as after a peal of thunder with the unequaled horror of the news. V. 4. Because they have forsaken Me and have estranged this place, devoting it to the worship of strange gods, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, idols which should have been utterly foreign to the mind of the nation, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents, namely, in the unnatural sacrifice of children offered to Moloch; v. 5. they have built also the high places of Baal, the chief idol of the Canaanites, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not nor spake it, neither came it into my mind, the heaping of synonymous expressions indicating that the very idea of such offerings was utterly loathsome to Him: v. 6. therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that this place shall no more be called Tophet, a name thought by some commentators to have been given to the place because drums (Hebrew, toph) were beaten to drown out the cries of the children that were being sacrificed, nor The Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but The Valley of Slaughter, where the enemies would descend upon the men of Judah to cut them down unmercifully. V. 7. And J. will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place, frustrating their plans for the defense of their city, and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies and by the hands of them that seek their lives, in a general slaughter, and their carcasses will I give to be meat for the fowls of the heaven and for the beasts of the earth, the birds and beasts of prey making a welcome meal of their unburied corpses. V. 8. And I will make this city desolate and an hissing, so that people would make noises of surprise and sneering at its downfall, cp.chap. 18,16; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished and hiss because of all the plagues thereof, because it was so severely smitten by Jehovah. V. 9. And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, in a form of the most abhorrent cannibalism, as threatened in the special curses of the Law, Lev. 26, 29; Deut. 28, 53, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend in the siege and straitness, in the severity of the famine, wherewith their enemies and they that seek their lives shall straiten them, all demands and considerations of friendship and kinship being forgotten. All this was literally fulfilled, as we read in Lam. 4,10. All this was said in explanation of the clay pitcher which Jeremiah carried. V. 10. Then shall thou break the bottle in the sight of the men that go with thee, thereby calling their attention to the symbolism of his action, v. 11. and shall say unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the great Commander of the heavenly armies, the Ruler of the universe, Even so will I break this people and this city as one breaketh a potter's vessel, whose fragile nature is so obvious, that cannot be made whole again, though the same material may be used once more in making another vessel; and they shall bury them in Tophet, in an unclean place, the regular burial-places being insufficient to hold them all, till there be no place to bury. It is significant that Aceldama, the Field of Blood, Matt. 27, 3ff.; Acts 1, 18. 19, was located in this neighborhood. V. 12. Thus will I do unto this place, saith the Lord, and to the Inhabitants thereof, as He had now described in detail, and even make this city as Tophet, as an unclean place, full of rubbish and carcasses, v. 13. and the houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah, the various buildings comprising their palaces, shall be defiled as the place of Tophet, polluted with dead bodies, because of all the houses upon whose roofs they have burned incense unto all the host of heaven, offering sacrifices to the sun and to the planets, this form of idolatry having been established or fostered by Manasseh, 2 Kings 21,3, and have poured out drink-offerings unto other gods, the Lord's complaint with regard to these transgressions being repeated time and again. In our days the gross idolatry of ancient days has been replaced by a finer form of false worship, but its guilt is just as bad as in those days.