pottery

pottery

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.

Jer 18:3-4

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1Chr 4:23

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Isa 30:14

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Job 2:8

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Gen 2:7

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Jer 18:1-6

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Isa 29:16

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Isa 64:8

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Rom 9:20-24

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Isa 45:9

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Rom 9:20

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Jer 19:10-11

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Lam 4:2

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2Cor 4:7

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