The Potter and the Clay

1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will make you hear My words.” 3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and saw that he was working at the wheel. 4 But the vessel that he was making from clay was spoiled by the potter’s hand; so he made it over, reworking it and making it into another pot that seemed good to him.
5 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 6 “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” says the Lord. “Look carefully, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel. 7 At one moment I might [suddenly] speak concerning a nation or kingdom, that I will uproot and break down and destroy; 8 if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will (a)relent and reverse My decision concerning the devastation that I intended to do. 9 Or at another time I might [suddenly] speak about a nation or kingdom that I will build up or establish; 10 and if they do evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will reverse My decision concerning the good with which I had promised to bless them. 11 Now then, say to the men of Judah and to the citizens of Jerusalem, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Behold, I am shaping a disaster and working out a plan against you. Turn back, each of you from his evil way; correct your habits and change your actions for the better.”’ 12 But they will say, ‘That is hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act in accordance with the stubbornness of his evil heart.’

“Therefore thus says the Lord,
‘Ask now among the nations,
Who has heard of such things?
The virgin Israel
Has done a very vile and horrible thing.

‘Will the snow of [Mount] Lebanon melt and vanish from its rocks [which tower above Israel]?
Will the cold, rushing waters of foreign lands [that flow down from the distant land] be dried up?

‘Yet My people have forgotten Me;
They burn incense to worthless gods,
They have stumbled from their ways
From the ancient roads,
To walk in pathways,
Not on a highway,

Making their land a desolation and a horror,
A thing to be hissed at perpetually;
Everyone who passes by will be astounded
And shake his head [in scorn].

‘I will scatter them like an east wind
Before the enemy;
I will show them My back and not My face
In the day of their disaster [says the Lord].’”
18 Then [my enemies] said, “Come and let us work out schemes against Jeremiah. Surely the law is not going to be lost to the priest [as Jeremiah predicts], nor the counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come and let us strike him with our tongue [by making charges against him before the king], and let us ignore anything he says.”

Pay attention to me, O Lord [and intercede];
Listen to what my adversaries are saying [and are plotting against me]—

Should good be repaid with evil?
Yet they have dug a pit for me.
Remember [with compassion] that I stood before You
To speak good on their behalf,
To turn Your anger away from them.

Therefore, give their children over to the famine;
Give them over to the power of the sword.
And let their wives become childless and widowed;
Let their men meet death [by virulent disease],
Their young men be struck down by the sword in battle.

Let an outcry be heard from their houses
When You suddenly bring [a troop of] raiders upon them,
For they have dug a pit to capture me
And have hidden snares for my feet.

Yet You, O Lord, know
All their deadly plotting against me;
Do not forgive their wickedness
Or blot out their sin from Your sight.
But let them be overthrown before You;
Deal with them in the time of Your anger.


a. Jeremiah 18:8: Lit repent of.