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Jer 18:1-23. GOD, AS THE SOLE SOVEREIGN, HAS AN ABSOLUTE RIGHT TO DEAL WITH NATIONS ACCORDING TO THEIR CONDUCT TOWARDS HIM; ILLUSTRATED IN A TANGIBLE FORM BY THE POTTER'S MOULDING OF VESSELS FROM CLAY.
2. go down--namely, from the high ground on which the temple stood, near which Jeremiah exercised his prophetic office, to the low ground, where some well-known (this is the force of "the") potter had his workshop.
3. wheels--literally, "on both stones." The potter's horizontal lathe consisted of two round plates, the lower one larger, the upper smaller; of stone originally, but afterwards of wood. On the upper the potter moulded the clay into what shapes he pleased. They are found represented in Egyptian remains. In Ex 1:16 alone is the Hebrew word found elsewhere, but in a different sense.
6. Refuting the Jews' reliance on their external privileges as God's elect people, as if God could never cast them off. But if the potter, a mere creature, has power to throw away a marred vessel and raise up other clay from the ground, a fortiori God, the Creator, can cast away the people who prove unfaithful to His election and can raise others in their stead (compare Isa 45:9; 64:8; Ro 9:20, 21). It is curious that the potter's field should have been the purchase made with the price of Judas' treachery (Mt 27:9, 10: a potter's vessel dashed to pieces, compare Ps 2:8, 9; Re 2:27), because of its failing to answer the maker's design, being the very image to depict God's sovereign power to give reprobates to destruction, not by caprice, but in the exercise of His righteous judgment. Matthew quotes Zechariah's words (Zec 11:12, 13) as Jeremiah's because the latter (Jer 18:1-19:15) was the source from which the former derived his summary in Zec 11:12, 13 [HENGSTENBERG].
7. At what instant--in a moment, when the nation least expects it. Hereby he reminds the Jews how marvellously God had delivered them from their original degradation, that is, In one and the same day ye were the most wretched, and then the most favored of all people [CALVIN].
8. their evil--in antithesis to, "the evil that I thought to do."
11. frame evil--alluding to the preceding image of "the potter,"
that is, I, Jehovah, am now as it were the potter framing evil
against you; but in the event of your repenting, it is in My power to
frame anew My course of dealing towards you.
12. no hope--Thy threats and exhortations are all thrown away (Jer 2:25). Our case is desperate; we are hopelessly abandoned to our sins and their penalty. In this and the following clauses, "We will walk after our own devices," Jeremiah makes them express the real state of the case, rather than the hypocritical subterfuges which they would have been inclined to put forth. So Isa 30:10, 11.
(Jer 2:10, 11).
Even among the heathen it was a thing unheard of, that a nation should
lay aside its gods for foreign gods, though their gods are false gods.
But Israel forsook the true God for foreign false gods.
14. Is there any man (living near it) who would leave the snow of
Lebanon (that is, the cool melted snow water of Lebanon, as he presently explains),
which cometh from the rock of the field (a poetical name for
Lebanon, which towers aloft above the surrounding field, or
comparatively plain country)? None. Yet Israel forsakes Jehovah, the
living fountain close at hand, for foreign broken cisterns.
Jer 17:13; 2:13,
accord with English Version here. MAURER
translates, "Shall the snow of Lebanon cease from the rock to
water (literally, 'forsake') My fields" (the whole land around
being peculiarly Jehovah's)? Lebanon means the "white
mountain"; so called from the perpetual snow which covers that part
called Hermon, stretching northeast of Palestine.
15. Because--rather, "And yet"; in defiance of the natural order of
In sign of contempt. That which was to be only the event is
ascribed to the purpose of the people, although altogether
different from what they would have been likely to hope for. Their
purpose is represented as being the destruction of their
country, because it was the inevitable result of their course of
17. as with an east wind--literally, "I will scatter them,
as an east wind (scatters all before it)": a most violent wind
Thirty-two manuscripts read (without as), "with an east
Let us bring a capital charge against him, as a false prophet; "for
(whereas he foretells that this land shall be left without priests to
teach the law,
without scribes to explain its difficulties; and without prophets to
reveal God's will), the law shall not perish from the prophet," &c.;
since God has made these a lasting institution in His church, and the
law declares they shall never perish
(Le 6:18; 10:11;
20. In the particulars here specified, Jeremiah was a type of Jesus
(Ps 109:4, 5;
21. pour out their blood by the force of the sword--literally, "by
the hands of the sword." So
MAURER with JEROME
translates, "deliver them over to the power of the sword." But
In this prayer he does not indulge in personal revenge, as if it were
his own cause that was at stake; but he speaks under the dictation of
the Spirit, ceasing to intercede, and speaking prophetically, knowing
they were doomed to destruction as reprobates; for those not so, he
doubtless ceased not to intercede. We are not to draw an example
from this, which is a special case.
23. forgive not--
(Ps 109:9, 10, 14).