Devotional Commentary on Jeremiah 19


It is good to start with a lamentation of the view of Keil and Delitzsch in general on the curses and punishments of God in the Old Testament and Jeremiah in their commentary page 305 in the footnotes saying about the punishments of chapter 18 by God: “Since grace and truth have been revealed in Christ, the Old Testament standpoint of retribution according to the rigour of the law cannot be for us the standard of our bearing even towards the enemies of Christ and His kingdom.” The answer is negative. The retributive events annotated in detail in the Old Testament is serving a typology lesson to all humanity [for example Sodom and Gemorrah] as to how utterly destructive and pitiful absolute destruction finally at the Hell is going to be. It emphasized the reality of the Hell event and not the modern honey of the cross concept “love will overlook everything” as a blank statement regardless of human intention to be saved. “What dripped from the cross,” Adventist professor Gerhard van Wyk said in a sermon in 1974, “is not honey, it is blood.” Our personal mental “God-image” may be unbiblical.


Chapter 19 will start with the similar considerations as in 18. He had to go to the potter to purchase a jug. Some elders of the people and elders of the priests had to go with him (verse 1). They are normally functioning in a court setting as the jury listening to the cases of people at the Gates of a city. Keil an Delitzsch thought that the word wehassech “pour out” in verse 13 with that libation jug of the weed of spiritual Israel worshipping astrological bodies in heaven on rooftops, that it resembles the sound of liquid dropping out of the long neck jug containing honey (1889 page 306). The text do not state that Jeremiah had to buy a similar vessel as the evildoers are using.


There is definitely a strange syntax in verse 1. The English translations read “(take) along some elders” but it should be “[……..] and elders of the people”. Keil and Delitzsch correctly saw this absence of a verb here (1889 page 306). One scholar in the past called it a “pregnant construction” whatever that means. We all talk naturally with omissions sometimes because it is customary in daily conversation for the audience to mentally “connect the dots between gaps”. There is nothing suspicious here with the syntax than that it is natural daily speech.  

Jerusalem map from Pictorial Archive Reprint 1983 First Temple Period.jpg

Without a map of Jerusalem one will probably not get far to understand this chapter better. He was to go out unto the Valley of Ben-Hinnom. Go out of what? A gate. Thus, it should be at the entrance of the Harsith Gate (verse 2). Rashi and the Targum explained it was at the Dung Gate where broken pottery could be found. Many have indicated that it is at the end of the Cheesemongers valley. The Cheesemongers valley would be on this map the one that runs from to the corner next to the Pool of Siloam where the Kidron and Hinnom Valley meets. Between the black part of that side of the Hinnom Valley on the red all the way to the Pool of Siloam must have been the Dung Gate or where they have thrown away pottery pieces. At that entrance, Jeremiah and these elders had to take their position and Jeremiah was to preach to them.


Jeremiah predicted evil to come to that place and whoever hears it will be shocked (verse 3). Why? Their calculated sins: they estranged the place burning offerings to other gods and filled the place with violence, the blood of innocent people (verse 4). They built high-places to the Phoenician god Baal, they burn after Abortion with fire to Baal (verse 5). It never entered God’s mind nor did He asked for it or spoke about it. Adulterated relationships resulted in unwanted pregnancies and to get rid of the problem was Abortion and after Abortion the corpse had to be cremated anyway so they submitted it to Baal as an offering hoping to gain from their relationship with Phoenician business traders and also associates. Many of the illicit lovers were Phoenician traders (Baal), Egyptian traders (Bes like figure dancing on potshard drawing at Kuntillet `Ajrud) and Assyrian horsemen or soldiers (horse drawing on portshard from Kuntillet `Ajrud in the Negev on a hill where they worshiped Asherah and entertained caravanserai or traders during stop-overs).


Then God gave a future prediction of the Valley Hinnom that the Valley of Hinnom will no longer be called Topheth but the Valley of Slaughter (verse 6). The Rabbi Mezudath David described the scene in horrific imagery: as the children were slaughters there were lots of crying and to cancel the noise of crying of children the priests would beat on drum (toph) so loud that the babies cannot be heard. He calls Hinnom as moaning referring in his mind to this moaning of children. God is going to bring a counter slaughter that is going to kill these evil practitioners. They will be killed by the sword and become food for birds and animals (verse 7). On the road near our house a cat was killed by a car and within hours nearly 10 black crows arrived on the road to do their job of Undertaker of Nature, all jumping and picking at the carcass to jump out of the way of oncoming cars.


The city will look like a scrapyard or wastefarm and people walking past would hiss and be astonished because of all the plagues (verse 8). They will be forced to eat each other and retort to cannibalism to survive (verse 9).


After speaking the words, Jeremiah was to break the jug before their eyes (verse 10). So the Lord will break the people and the city and they will have no one to repair and will be buried in the Hinnom Valley (verse 11). The city will become like Topheth (verse 12). It cannot be a drum since the city will not become like a drum. It is rather the concept of broken pottery. So shall the houses be of those who participated in the worship of astrological cults on their roofs and poured out libations to other gods (verse 13).


It sounds like the Topheth was a large heap of broken pottery and that Jeremiah climbed in the Hinnom Valley on this heap and by now, he came from it (verse 14). He walked up in the direction of the Temple and stood “in the court of the house of the Lord”. He preached again: that the Lord is going to bring evil upon Jerusalem and all other cities, “that I spoke concerning her” [he cited form Deuteronomy 32] for they stiffened their necks not to hear to His words (verse 15).


Dear Lord

Your voice is still speaking daily also to us. Grant that we keep listening and do not stiffen our necks against Your precious Word. Amen.