Jeremiah 18:1-10

The Potter and the Clay

1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
2 "Arise, and go down to 1the potter's house, and there I will let you hear my words."
3 So I went down to 2the potter's house, and there he was working at his wheel.
4 And the vessel he was making of clay was 3spoiled in the potter's hand, and 4he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.
5 Then the word of the LORD came to me:
6 "O house of Israel, 5can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. 6Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.
7 If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will 7pluck up and break down and destroy it,
8 and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, 8turns from its evil, 9I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it.
9 And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will 10build and plant it,
10 and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it.

Jeremiah 18:1-10 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO JEREMIAH 18

This chapter expresses the sovereign power of God ever his creatures, and his usual methods of dealing with them; it threatens destruction to the Jews for their idolatry; and is closed with the prophet's complaint of his persecutors, and with imprecations upon them. The sovereign power of God is expressed under the simile of a potter working in his shop, and making and marring vessels at pleasure, Jer 18:1-4; the application of which to God, and the house of Israel, is in Jer 18:5,6; and is illustrated by his usual dealings with kingdoms and nations; for though he is a sovereign Being, yet he acts both in a kind and equitable way; and as the potter changes his work, so he changes the dispensations of his providence, of which two instances are given; the one is, that having threatened ruin to a nation, upon their repentance and good behaviour he revokes the threatening, Jer 18:7,8; and the other is, that having made a declaration of good to a people, upon their sin and disobedience he recalls it, and punishes them for their wickedness, Jer 18:9,10; then follows a prophecy of the destruction of the Jews in particular, in which they are exhorted to repentance to prevent it; their obstinacy is observed; their folly in departing from God, and worshipping idols, is exposed; and they are threatened with utter ruin, Jer 18:11-17; the conspiracy and evil designs of the Jews against the prophet, their malice and ingratitude, are complained of by him, Jer 18:18-20; his imprecations upon them, and prayers for their destruction, are delivered out in Jer 18:21-23.

Jeremiah 18:1-10 In-Context

1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
2 "Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will let you hear my words."
3 So I went down to the potter's house, and there he was working at his wheel.
4 And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.
5 Then the word of the LORD came to me:
6 "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.
7 If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it,
8 and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it.
9 And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it,
10 and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it.
11 Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: 'Thus says the LORD, Behold, I am shaping disaster against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your deeds.'
12 "But they say, 'That is in vain! We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.'
13 "Therefore thus says the LORD: Ask among the nations, Who has heard the like of this? The virgin Israel has done a very horrible thing.
14 Does the snow of Lebanon leave the crags of Sirion? Do the mountain waters run dry, the cold flowing streams?

Cross References 10

  • 1. Jeremiah 19:1; 1 Chronicles 4:23; [Zechariah 11:13]
  • 2. Jeremiah 19:1; 1 Chronicles 4:23; [Zechariah 11:13]
  • 3. Jeremiah 13:7
  • 4. [Romans 9:21]
  • 5. Isaiah 45:9; See Romans 9:20-24
  • 6. Job 10:9; Isaiah 64:8
  • 7. Jeremiah 1:10; Jeremiah 42:10
  • 8. Ezekiel 18:21
  • 9. Jeremiah 26:3, 13, 19; Judges 2:18; Jonah 3:10
  • 10. [See ver. 7 above]