The Broken Jar
19 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 2 and go out to the Valley of Ben-hinnom (son of Hinnom), which is near the entrance of the Potsherd Gate; and proclaim there the words that I tell you, 3 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, “Behold (listen carefully), I am going to bring such disaster on this place that the ears of everyone who hears about it will tingle [in shock]. 4 Because the people [of Jerusalem] have abandoned (rejected) Me and have made this an alien and profaned place by burning sacrifices and incense in it to other gods, that neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah ever knew, and because they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent 5 and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I never commanded or spoke of, nor did it ever enter My mind (heart); 6 therefore, listen very closely, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “when this place shall no longer be called Topheth or the Valley of Ben-hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter. 7 I will pour out and nullify the counsel (plans) of [the men of] Judah and Jerusalem in this place, and I will make their people fall by the sword before their enemies and by the hand of those who seek their lives; and I will give their dead bodies as food for the birds of the air and for the beasts of the earth. 8 I will make this city a desolation and an object of hissing; everyone who passes by it will be amazed and will hiss [in scorn] because of all its plagues and disasters. 9 And I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and their daughters, and each one will eat one another’s flesh during the siege and distress brought by their enemies and those who seek their lives.”’
10 “Then you are to break the jar in the sight of the men who accompany you, 11 and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “This is the way I will break this people and this city as one breaks a potter’s vessel, so that it cannot be mended. They will bury [corpses] in Topheth until there is no more room left [in that place] to bury [the dead]. 12 This I will do to this place,” says the Lord, “and to its inhabitants; and I will even make this city like Topheth. 13 The houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah will be defiled like this place, Topheth, all the houses on whose rooftops incense has been burned to all the host of heaven (sun, moon, stars), and where drink offerings have been poured out to other gods.”’”
14 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: 15 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I am going to bring on this city and on all its towns, all the devastation that I have declared against it, because they have become stiff-necked and refused to hear and obey My words.’”
Pashhur Persecutes Jeremiah
20 Now Pashhur the son of Immer, the priest, who was [also] chief officer in the house of the Lord, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things. 2 Then Pashhur beat Jeremiah the prophet and put him in the stocks that were at the upper Benjamin Gate by the house of the Lord. 3 And the next day Pashhur brought Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then Jeremiah said to him, “The Lord does not call your name Pashhur, but Magor-missabib (terror on every side). 4 For thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends; they will fall by the sword of their enemies while you look on. And I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon; he will carry them away to Babylon as captives and will slaughter them with the sword. 5 Moreover, I will hand over all the riches of this city, all the result of its labor, all its precious things; even all the treasures of the kings of Judah I will hand over to their enemies, and they will plunder them, and take them away and carry them to Babylon. 6 And you, Pashhur, and all who live in your house will go into captivity; you will go to Babylon, and there you will die and be buried, you and all your friends to whom you have falsely prophesied.’”
[Jeremiah said,] O Lord, You have persuaded me and I was deceived;
You are stronger than I and You have prevailed.
I am a laughingstock all day long;
Everyone mocks me.
For whenever I speak, I must shout out;
I shout violence and destruction,
Because the word of the Lord has become to me
A reprimand and a mockery and has brought me insult all day long.
If I say, “I will not remember Him
Or speak His name anymore,”
Then my heart becomes a burning fire
Shut up in my bones.
And I am weary of enduring and holding it in;
I cannot endure it [nor contain it any longer].
For I have heard the whispering and defaming words of many,
“Terror on every side!
Denounce him! Let us denounce him!”
All my familiar and trusted friends,
[Those who are] watching for my fall, say,
“Perhaps he will be persuaded and deceived; then we will overcome him,
And take our revenge on him.”
But the Lord is with me as a dread champion [one to be greatly feared];
Therefore my persecutors will stumble and not overcome [me].
They will be completely shamed, for they have not acted wisely and have failed [in their schemes];
Their eternal dishonor will never be forgotten.
But, O Lord of hosts, You who examine the righteous,
Who see the heart and the mind,
Let me see Your vengeance on them;
For to You I have committed my cause.
Sing to the Lord! Praise the Lord!
For He has rescued the life of the needy one
From the hand of evildoers.
Cursed be the day on which I was born;
Do not bless the day on which my mother gave birth to me!
Cursed be the man who brought the news
To my father, saying,
“A son has been born to you!”
Making him very glad.
And let that man be like the cities
Which the Lord overthrew without regret.
Let him hear an outcry in the morning
And a shout of alarm at noon;
Because he did not kill me before my birth,
So that my mother might have been my grave,
And her womb always pregnant.
Why did I come out of the womb
To see trouble and sorrow,
So that my days have been filled with shame?
Jeremiah’s Message for Zedekiah
21 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur the son of Malchijah, and Zephaniah the priest the son of Maaseiah, saying, 2 “Please inquire of the Lord for us, because Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is making war against us. Perhaps the Lord will deal [favorably] with us according to all His wonderful works and force him to withdraw from us.”
3 Then Jeremiah said to them, “Say this to Zedekiah: 4 ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “Behold, I will turn back and dull the edge of the weapons of war that are in your hands, [those] with which you fight against the king of Babylon and the Chaldeans who are besieging you outside the walls; and I will bring them into the center of this city (Jerusalem). 5 I Myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm in anger, in fury, and in great indignation and wrath. 6 I will also strike the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast; they will die of a great virulent disease. 7 Then afterward,” says the Lord, “I will hand over Zedekiah king of Judah and his servants and the people in this city who survive the virulent disease, the sword, and the famine, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of their enemy, into the hand of those who seek their lives. And he will strike them with the edge of the sword; he will not spare them nor have mercy and compassion on them.”’
8 “And to this people you (Jeremiah) shall also say, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. 9 He who remains in this city [of Jerusalem] will die by the sword and by famine and by virulent disease. But he who goes outside and surrenders to the Chaldeans who are besieging you will live, and his life will be like a prize of war to him. 10 For I have set My face against this city to do harm and not good,” says the Lord. “It shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon and he will burn it with fire.”’
11 “And concerning the royal house of the king of Judah [you shall say], ‘Hear the word of the Lord, 12 O house of David, thus says the Lord:
“Administer justice in the morning,
And rescue the one who has been robbed from the hand of his oppressor,
That My wrath will not roar up like fire
And burn so [hotly] that none can extinguish it,
Because of the evil of their deeds.
“Understand this, I am against you, O inhabitant of the valley,
O rock of the plain,” says the Lord—
“You who say, ‘Who will come down against us?
Or who will enter into our dwelling places?’
“But I will punish you in accordance with the [appropriate] consequences of your decisions and your actions,” says the Lord.
“I will kindle a fire in your forest,
And it will devour all that is around you.”’”