Jeremiah 18


The type of the potter's vessel, and its signification, 1-10.

The inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem exhorted to repentance,


but on their refusal, (which is represented to be as unnatural

as if a man should prefer the snowy Lebanon or barren rock to a

fruitful plain, or other waters to the cool stream of the

fountain,) their destruction is predicted, 12-17.

In consequence of these plain reproofs and warnings of

Jeremiah, a conspiracy is formed against him, 18.

This leads him to appeal to God for his integrity, 19, 20;

who puts a most dreadful curse in the mouth of his prophet,

strongly indicative of the terrible fate of his enemies, 21-23.


Verse 1. The word which came to Jeremiah] This discourse is

supposed to have been delivered some time in the reign of

Jehoiakim, probably within the first three years.

Verse 2. Go down to the potter's house] By this similitude God

shows the absolute state of dependence on himself in which he has

placed mankind. They are as clay in the hands of the potter; and

in reference to every thing here below, he can shape their

destinies as he pleases. Again; though while under the

providential care of God they may go morally astray, and pervert

themselves, yet they can be reclaimed by the almighty and all-wise

Operator, and become such vessels as seemeth good for him to make.

In considering this parable we must take heed that in running

parallels we do not destroy the free agency of man, nor disgrace

the goodness and supremacy of God.

Verse 3. He wrought a work on the wheels.] al

haabnayim, upon the stones, the potter's wheel being usually made

of such; the spindle of the moving stone being placed on a stone

below, on which it turned, and supported the stone above, on which

the vessel was manufactured, and which alone had a rotatory

motion. The potter's wheel in the present day seems to differ very

little from that which was in use between two and three thousand

years ago.

Verse 4. The vessel-was marred in the hands of the potter] It

did not stand in the working; it got out of shape; or some gravel

or small stone having been incorporated with the mass of clay,

made a breach in that part where it was found, so that the potter

was obliged to knead up the clay afresh, place it on the wheel,

and form it anew; and then it was such a vessel as seemed good to

the potter to make it.

Verse 6. Cannot I do with you as this potter?] Have I not a

right to do with a people whom I have created as reason and

justice may require? If they do not answer my intentions, may I

not reject and destroy them; and act as this potter, make a new

vessel out of that which at first did not succeed in his hands?

It is generally supposed that St. Paul has made a very different

use of this similitude from that mentioned above. See Ro 9:20,

&c. His words are, "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of

the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto

dishonour?" To this every sensible and pious man will answer,

Undoubtedly he has. But would any potter make an exceedingly

fair and good vessel on purpose to dash it to pieces when he had

done? Surely no! And would or could, the God of infinite

perfection and love make millions of immortal souls on purpose for

eternal perdition, as the horrible decree of reprobation states?

No! This is a lie against all the attributes of God. But does not

the text state that he can, out of the same lump, the same mass of

human nature, make one vessel to honour, and another to dishonour?

Yes. But the text does not say, what the horrible decree says,

that he makes one part, and indeed the greater, for eternal

perdition. But what then is the meaning of the text? Why evidently

this: As out of the same mass of clay a potter may make a flagon

for the table and a certain utensil for the chamber, the one for a

more honourable, the other for a less honourable use, though both

equally necessary to the owner; so God, out of the same flesh and

blood, may make the tiller of the field and the prophet of the

Most High; the one in a more honourable, the other in a less

honourable employ; yet both equally necessary in the world, and

equally capable of bringing glory to God in their respective

places. But if the vessel be marred in his hand, under his

providential and gracious dealings, he may reject it as he did the

Jews, and make another vessel, such as he is pleased with, of the

Gentiles; yet even these marred vessels, the reprobate Jews, are

not finally rejected; for all Israel shall be saved in (through)

the Lord, i.e., Jesus Christ. And should the Gentiles act as the

Jews have done, then they also shall be cut off, and God will

call his Church by another name. See Clarke on Ro 9:22 and below.

Verse 7. - 10. At what instant I shall speak concerning a

nation, &c.-If that nation, against whom, &c.-And at what instant,

&c.-If it do evil, &c.] These verses contain what may be called

God's decree by which the whole of his conduct towards man is

regulated. If he purpose destruction against an offending person,

if that person repent and turn to God, he shall live and not die.

If he purpose peace and salvation to him that walketh uprightly,

if he turn from God to the world and sin, he shall die and not


Verse 8. See Clarke on Jer 18:7.

Verse 9. See Clarke on Jer 18:7.

Verse 10. See Clarke on Jer 18:7.

Verse 12. There is no hope] See Jer 2:25.

Verse 13. The virgin of Israel] Instead of Yisrael, three

of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS., with the Alexandrian copy of

the Septuagint, have Yerushalem, Jerusalem.

Verse 14. Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon] Lebanon was the

highest mountain in Judea. Would any man in his senses abandon a

farm that was always watered by the melted snows of Lebanon, and

take a barren rock in its place? How stupid therefore and absurd

are my people, who abandon the everlasting God for the worship of


Verse 16. A perpetual hissing] sherikoth, a shrieking,

hissing; an expression of contempt.

Verse 17. I will scatter them as with an east wind] It is the

property of this wind, almost every where, to parch up, blast, and

destroy grain and trees, and even cattle and men suffer from it.

Hence the old metrical proverb:-

"When the wind blows from the east,

'Tis good for neither man nor beast."

Verse 18. Come, and let us devise devices] Let us form a

conspiracy against him, accuse him of being a false prophet, and a

contradicter of the words of God, for God has promised us

protection, and he says we shall be destroyed, and that God will

forsake his people.

Let us smite him with the tongue] ON the tongue; so it should be

rendered. Lying and false testimony are punished in the eastern

countries, to the present day, by smiting the person on the mouth

with a strong piece of leather like the sole of a shoe. Sometimes

a bodkin is run through the tongue. Blasphemy, calumny, and

cursing of parents, are usually punished in that way among the


Verse 20. They have digged a pit for my soul.] For my life; this

they wish to take away.

Stood before thee to speak good for them] I was their continual


Verse 21. Therefore deliver up their children] The execrations

in these verses should be considered as simply prophetic

declarations of the judgments which God was about to pour out on


If we consider them in their grammatical meaning, then they are

not directions to us, to whom our Lawgiver has said, "Love your


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