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Often you hear people making the complaint that God is not fair. In this passage you see the ultimate connection between the Justice of God and the outpouring of His Wrath. Those who have not confessed their sins and put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and his propitiatory sacrifice on the cross for forgiveness of sins should be careful about demanding justice from a holy God. When the guillotine of God’s wrath falls, the consequences will be horrifying to see. The terror evoked by these images of impending judgment should strike fear in the hearts of those who stubbornly resist God’s free offer of cleansing from sin.



A. (:1) Purchase of the Potter’s Jar for Object Lesson

“Thus says the LORD, ‘Go and buy a potter’s earthenware jar, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the senior priests.’”

Ryken: The jar was a baqbuq, a flask or decanter with a wide body, a narrow neck and a hanlel for pouring water. Its name came from the gurgling sound water made when it passed through its narrow opening – baqbuq, baqbuq, baqbuq.

Constable: These jars, which archaeologists have found in abundance, range in size from four to10 inches in height, and they have very slim necks.

Object lesson directed to the leaders of the people – both political and religious; instructing them regarding God’s wrath; God uses the simplest illustrations to drive home profound truths with convicting applications

B. (:2-3a) Proclamation of the Word of God

“Then go out to the valley of Ben-hinnom, which is by the entrance of the potsherd gate; and proclaim there the words that I shall tell you, and say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel,’”

Constable: Evidently people disposed of their broken pottery and other refuse outside this gate.

Feinberg: He used the plural “kings” because the message wan not only to the reigning king but to the whole dynasty that was responsible for the apostasy.

C. (:3b-9) Promise of Calamity for Spiritual Adultery and Idolatry

1. (:3b) Sobering Calamity – A Ringing in the Ears

“Behold I am about to bring a calamity upon this place, at which the ears of everyone that hears of it will tingle.”

What will the effect of this terrible calamity be on the surrounding nations?

Parunak: God is going to bring extreme evil upon it, to be defined later. So severe is this judgment that the news of it will strike people’s ears as though by a physical blow. It will shock their senses.

2. (:4-5) Specific Charges

a. Forsaking the One True God

“Because they have forsaken Me”

b. Perverting God’s Holy Habitat – Desecrating the Temple

“and have made this an alien place”

c. False Worship

“and have burned sacrifices in it to other gods that neither they nor their forefathers nor the kings of Judah had ever known,”

d. Murders of Innocent Children

“and because they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent”

Application: cf. our nation’s guild for the travesty of abortions

e. Idolatrous Child Sacrifices

“and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, a thing which I never commanded or spoke of, nor did it ever enter My mind;”

3. (:6-9) Shocking Consequences

a. (:6) Denunciation

“’Therefore, behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when this place will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben-hinnom, but rather the valley of Slaughter.’”

Parunak: The name will be changed. “Tophet” is “fire-pit,” referring to the pagan high place there, where infants were sacrificed. “Valley of Ben Hinnom” goes back to Joshua, and perhaps recalls some ancient owner of the land. But now it will be known as the Vale of Slaughter. In fact, even the name “Ge-hinnom” has become a metaphor for hell.

Guzik: Topheth probably derives from the Hebrew word for ‘fire-place’ (cf. Isaiah 30:33).” (Cundall) According to Roni Simon, an Israeli tour guide, in modern Hebrew the word still has the association with fire. If someone comes under gunfire, they might say “I’m under tophet.” Kidner also points out that the name Topheth rhymes with bosheth, the Hebrew word for “shame.”

b. (:7) Death and Desecration

1) Overturning False Counsel

“And I shall make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place,”

2) Defeating Them in Warfare

“and I shall cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies and by the hand of those who seek their life;”

3) Ravaging Their Carcasses

“and I shall give over their carcasses as food for the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth.”

c. (:8) Desolation and Shame

“I shall also make this city a desolation and an object of hissing; everyone who passes by it will be astonished and hiss because of all its disasters.”

Thompson: The picture of passers-by who whistled at the sight of devastation occurs elsewhere in the OT (1 K. 9:8; Lam. 2:15, 16; Ezek. 27:36; Zeph. 2:15).

d. (:9) Desperate Cannibalism

“And I shall make them eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they will eat one another’s flesh in the siege and in the distress with which their enemies and those who seek their life will distress them.”

Guzik: The city would be reduced to cannibalism, even as Samaria (the former capital of Israel) under siege from the Assyrians (2 Kings 6:26-29) and promised as a curse upon disobedient Israel (Deuteronomy 28:53-57). All this would drive the people of Jerusalem to despair.


A. (:10) Pulverizing of the Potter’s Jar for Object Lesson

“Then you are to break the jar in the sight of the men who accompany you”

B. (:11-13) Proclamation of the Word of God:

I will smash Jerusalem and its people just like I smashed the potter’s pot.

“and say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, Just so shall I break this people and this city, even as one breaks a potter’s vessel, which cannot again be repaired; and they will bury in Topheth because there is no other place for burial. This is how I shall treat this place and its inhabitants,’ declares the LORD, ‘so as to make this city like Topheth. And the houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah will be defiled like the place Topheth, because of all the houses on whose rooftops they burned sacrifices to all the heavenly host and poured out libations to other gods.’”

Parunak: “cannot be made whole again”; lit. “be healed.” AV takes it to mean that the pot, once smashed, cannot be put together again, but that is counter to promises of restoration that we have already seen and that will become even more frequent as the book goes on. Better, “like a (marred) potter’s vessel that can no longer be fixed” (because the clay has now hardened). As long as the clay is moist and pliable, a pot that does not please its maker can be adjusted and changed. Once it is hard, it become garbage and can only be smashed.

C. (:14-15) Promise of Calamity for Stubborn Rebellion

“Then Jeremiah came from Topheth, where the LORD had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the court of the LORD’s house and said to all the people: ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I am about to bring on this city and all its towns the entire calamity that I have declared against it, because they have stiffened their necks so as not to heed My words.’”

Adam Clarke: A metaphor taken from unruly and unbroken oxen, who resist the yoke, break and run away with their gears. So this people had broken and destroyed the yoke of the law.

Ryken: The wrath of God is as inevitable and as just as it is fearsome.


A. (20:1-2) Reaction of Denounced Religious Leaders =

Punishing God’s Messenger

“When Pashhur the priest, the son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the LORD, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things, Pashhur had Jeremiah the prophet beaten, and put him in the stocks that were at the upper Benjamin Gate, which was by the house of the LORD.”

Feinberg: The “stocks,” where the prophet was confined, were intended not only for restraint but also for torture. The stocks, which were used for false prophets (cf. 2 Chron 16:10), held the feet, hands, and neck so that the body was almost doubled up (cf. 29:26). The Hebrew word for “stocks” means “causing distortion.” Jeremiah was put in the stocks at the Upper Benjamin Gate – the northern gate of the upper temple court. It was one of the most conspicuous places in the city.

B. (:20:3-6) Repetition of God’s Message of Impending Doom =

Producing Terror

1. (:3-4) Terror from Prophecy of Slaughter and Captivity

“Then it came about on the next day, when Pashhur released Jeremiah from the stocks, that Jeremiah said to him, ‘Pashhur is not the name the LORD has called you, but rather Magor-missabib. For thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I am going to make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends; and while your eyes look on, they will fall by the sword of their enemies. So I shall give over all Judah to the hand of the king of Babylon, and he will carry them away as exiles to Babylon and will slay them with the sword.’”

MacArthur: Pashhur – The meaning is either “ease” or “deliverance is round about,” both in contrast to the new name God assigns him in v. 3. He was one of several men so named (cf. 21:1; 38:1). He was one of the original “governors of the sanctuary” (cf. 1 Ch 24:14).

New name means “terror all around” – quite a name to be saddled with

Thompson: Pashhur will not be a temple overseer who metes out punishment to others, but one who will himself suffer the divine judgment when terror surrounds him and the nation.

2. (:5) Terror from Prophecy of Plundering

“I shall also give over all the wealth of this city, all its produce, and all its costly things; even all the treasures of the kings of Judah I shall give over to the hand of their enemies, and they will plunder them, take them away, and bring them to Babylon.”

Thompson: The extent of the booty that would be taken is indicated by the use of for different words – wealth, possessions, valuables, and teasures; and the effect is further heightened by the use of the three verbs “loot”, “take”, and “carry off to”. There could be no mistaking the severity of the calamity.

3. (:6) Terror from Prophecy of Captivity and Death

“And you, Pashhur, and all who live in your house will go into captivity; and you will enter Babylon, and there you will die, and there you will be buried, you and all your friends to whom you have falsely prophesied.”

Guzik: Pashhur’s position as priest and chief governor would not help him. He was one of those who prophesied lies, and he and his friends who heard him would all die in Babylon.