The Broken Jar
1 The LORD said to me, “Jeremiah, go and buy a clay jar from a potter. Take some of the elders of the people and some priests with you. 2 Go out to the Valley of Ben Hinnom, near the front of the Potsherd Gate.* Potsherd Gate The exact location of this gate is not known, though it was probably at the southwestern part of the city. I have a message I want you to announce there. 3 Say to those who are with you, ‘King of Judah and people of Jerusalem, listen to this message from the LORD! This is what the LORD All-Powerful, the God of the people of Israel, says: I will soon make a terrible thing happen to this place! Everyone who hears about it will be amazed and full of fear. 4 I will do these things because the people of Judah have stopped following me. They have made this a place for foreign gods. The people of Judah have burned sacrifices in this place to other gods. The people long ago did not worship those gods. Their ancestors did not worship them. These are new gods from other countries. The kings of Judah filled this place with the blood of innocent children. 5 The kings of Judah built high places for the god Baal. They use those places to burn their sons in the fire. They burned their sons as burnt offerings to the god Baal. I did not tell them to do that. I did not ask them to offer their sons as sacrifices. I never even thought of such a thing. 6 Now people call this place Topheth and the Valley of Hinnom. But I give you this warning. This message is from the LORD: The days are coming, when people will call this place the Valley of Slaughter. 7 At this place, I will ruin the plans of the people of Judah and Jerusalem. The enemy will chase them, and I will let the people of Judah be killed with swords in this place. I will make their dead bodies food for the birds and wild animals. 8 I will completely destroy this city. People will whistle and shake their heads when they pass by Jerusalem. They will be shocked when they see how the city was destroyed. 9 The enemy will bring its army around the city. That army will not let people go out to get food, so the people in the city will begin to starve. They will become so hungry that they will eat the bodies of their own sons and daughters, and then they will begin to eat each other.’
10 “Jeremiah, tell this to the people, and while they are watching, break the jar. 11 Then say this: ‘The LORD All-Powerful says, I will break the nation of Judah and the city of Jerusalem, just as someone breaks a clay jar! And like a broken jar, the nation of Judah cannot be put together again. It will be the same for the nation of Judah. The dead people will be buried here in Topheth until there is no more room. 12 I will do this to these people and to this place. I will make this city like Topheth.’ This message is from the LORD. 13 ‘The houses in Jerusalem will become as “dirty” as this place, Topheth. The kings’ palaces will be ruined like this place, Topheth, because the people worshiped false gods on the roofs of their houses.† roofs of their houses People built their houses with flat roofs that were used as an extra room. They worshiped the stars and burned sacrifices to honor them. They gave drink offerings to false gods.’ ”
14 Then Jeremiah left Topheth where the LORD had told him to speak. Jeremiah went to the LORD’S Temple and stood in the courtyard of the Temple. Jeremiah said to all the people: 15 “This is what the LORD All-Powerful, the God of Israel says: ‘I said I would bring many disasters to Jerusalem and the villages around it. I will soon make this happen because the people are very stubborn. They refuse to listen and obey me.’ ”
*19:2 Potsherd Gate The exact location of this gate is not known, though it was probably at the southwestern part of the city.
†19:13 roofs of their houses People built their houses with flat roofs that were used as an extra room.