The Potter and the Clay

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. 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.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? says the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will repent of the evil that I intended to do to it. 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 repent of the good which 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 evil against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your doings.’

Israel’s Stubborn Idolatry

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 Si′rion?[a]

Do the mountain[b] waters run dry,[c]

the cold flowing streams?

15 But my people have forgotten me,

they burn incense to false gods;

they have stumbled[d] in their ways,

in the ancient roads,

and have gone into bypaths,

not the highway,

16 making their land a horror,

a thing to be hissed at for ever.

Every one who passes by it is horrified

and shakes his head.

17 Like the east wind I will scatter them

before the enemy.

I will show them my back, not my face,

in the day of their calamity.”

A Plot against Jeremiah

18 Then they said, “Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah, for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not heed any of his words.”

19 Give heed to me, O Lord,

and hearken to my plea.[e]

20 Is evil a recompense for good?

Yet they have dug a pit for my life.

Remember how I stood before thee

to speak good for them,

to turn away thy wrath from them.

21 Therefore deliver up their children to famine;

give them over to the power of the sword,

let their wives become childless and widowed.

May their men meet death by pestilence,

their youths be slain by the sword in battle.

22 May a cry be heard from their houses,

when thou bringest the marauder suddenly upon them!

For they have dug a pit to take me,

and laid snares for my feet.

23 Yet, thou, O Lord, knowest

all their plotting to slay me.

Forgive not their iniquity,

nor blot out their sin from thy sight.

Let them be overthrown before thee;

deal with them in the time of thine anger.


  1. Jeremiah 18:14 Cn: Heb the field
  2. Jeremiah 18:14 Cn: Heb foreign
  3. Jeremiah 18:14 Cn: Heb Are . . . plucked up?
  4. Jeremiah 18:15 Gk Syr Vg: Heb they made them stumble
  5. Jeremiah 18:19 Gk Compare Syr Tg: Heb my adversaries