Vessels made from clay and hardened by fire. The clay used by the potter in the biblical lands was an earthen clay usually found in the immediate vicinity. Vessels were shaped by hand in a variety of ways (molding, pinching, or rolling—and, eventually, by turning the clay on a potter’s wheel). Potters and their workshops were familiar scenes in every village and town (Jer 18:3-4); as cities became larger, guilds of potters were established to meet the needs of increased production (1Chr 4:23). Most Palestinian pottery was made for utilitarian purposes. Articles in the home included bowls, cups, cooking pots, lamps, jars, pitchers, and juglets as well as the household oven and huge storage jars. Other items, like spindle whorls, buttons, figurines, and toys, were also made of pottery. Even broken vessels had their use. Messages were written on potsherds. Larger shards were used as braziers to take fire from the hearth or as ladles (Isa 30:14). Potsherds may also have been used to scrape oil or dirt from the skin (Job 2:8). Finally, the potter’s art provided biblical writers with many symbols. The creation story of (Gen 2:7) depicts God as a potter fashioning a man from clay (Jer 18:1-6; Isa 29:16; Isa 64:8; Rom 9:20-24). One who argues with God is as foolish as the potsherd who argues with the potter (Isa 45:9; Rom 9:20). Further, a smashed vessel symbolizes destruction (Jer 19:10-11). Human frailty is like that of the earthen jar (Lam 4:2; 2Cor 4:7). The pottery oil lamp is also a favorite biblical symbol used in a variety of contexts.
3So I went down to the potter's house, and there he was working at his wheel.4The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked ... View more
23These were the potters and inhabitants of Netaim and Gederah; they lived there with the king in his service.
14its breaking is like that of a potter's vessel
that is smashed so ruthlessly
that among its fragments not a sherd is found
for taking fire from the hearth,
or ... View more
8Job took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes.
7then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.
The Potter and the Clay
1The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord:2“Come, go down to the potter's house, and there I will let you hear my words.”3So I went ... View more
16You turn things upside down!
Shall the potter be regarded as the clay?
Shall the thing made say of its maker,
“He did not make me”;
or the thing formed say of ... View more
8Yet, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
20But who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God? Will what is molded say to the one who molds it, “Why have you made me like this?”21Has the potter n ... View more
9Woe to you who strive with your Maker,
earthen vessels with the potter!
Does the clay say to the one who fashions it, “What are you making”?
or “Your work has ... View more
20But who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God? Will what is molded say to the one who molds it, “Why have you made me like this?”
10Then you shall break the jug in the sight of those who go with you,11and shall say to them: Thus says the Lord of hosts: So will I break this people and this ... View more
2The precious children of Zion,
worth their weight in fine gold—
how they are reckoned as earthen pots,
the work of a potter's hands!
7But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.