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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Jeremiah 18

Verses 1-23

Jeremiah 18:1-23 . The Potter and the Clay.— The potter ( Jeremiah 18:1-4) moulding his clay on the upper stone, which he makes revolve by his feet resting on the connected lower stone, is compared with Yahweh in His control of Israel ( Jeremiah 18:5-12). The point of the comparison, as worked out in Jeremiah 18:7 ff ., is not predestination (contrast Romans 9-11), but the conditionality of Yahweh’ s treatment of a nation, according as it turns to good or to evil ( cf. the story of Jonah and Nineveh, also Ezekiel’ s individualism, Jeremiah 18:20 ff.). Judah, however, will not repent (with Jeremiah 18:12; cf. Jeremiah 2:25). Some commentators think that this application cannot be original, since the description of the potter’ s work (the tenses in Jeremiah 18:4 denote habitual practice) suggests rather the moulding of Judah into something useful after all. On this ground, Cornill dates Jeremiah 18:1-4 between 620 and 610. But Semitic parable is frequently employed to suggest a single point, the details being irrelevant, and often unsuitable, to the main truth. The prophet declares that Judah’ s conduct is unnatural, contrary to the steady course of nature ( Jeremiah 18:14); the people have forsaken the good old road ( Jeremiah 6:16) for unmade by-paths of futile idolatry (“ vanity” ; the idol gods being the antecedent of the following “ they” , Jeremiah 18:15). Therefore Yahweh will scatter them with a sirocco-blast (east wind, Jeremiah 4:11), and turn His back to them ( Jeremiah 18:17 mg.; cf. Jeremiah 2:27). In consequence of this prophecy, men plot ( cf. Jeremiah 11:18 ff., Jeremiah 15:15 ff.) against the prophet, refusing to believe that the settled order of life will ever fail ( Jeremiah 18:18 is probably proverbial; cf. Ezekiel 7:26), and slander him. He protests against this return of evil for good, and prays for vengeance on them.

Jeremiah 18:3 . wheels: see Thomson, op. cit., p. 521, and cf. Sir_38:29-30 .

Jeremiah 18:11 . frame: the term used describes a potter’ s work.

Jeremiah 18:14 is difficult and probably corrupt; as it stands, the reference is to the unfailing snows and ever-flowing streams of Lebanon; cf. Ca. Jeremiah 4:15.

Jeremiah 18:21 . death: denotes “ pestilence” as in Jeremiah 15:2.

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Jeremiah 18". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.