Jeremiah 19:1-15

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YHWH directed Jeremiah to go, to obtain a potter’s earthenware jar, and to have certain elders of the people and of the priests accompany him. (19:1) The destination was to be the “valley of of the son of Hinnom, at the entrance of the Gate of the Potsherds.” There YHWH would reveal to him the words he should then “proclaim” (“read” [LXX]). The valley of the son of Hinnom bordered ancient Jerusalem’s wall on the south and the southwest, and the Gate of the Potsherds (perhaps the same as the Dung Gate [Nehemiah 2:13; 12:31) served as a point of entrance into the valley from the southeast corner of the city wall. (19:2; see the Notes section.)

Jeremiah was told to say, “Hear the word of YHWH, O kings of Judah [possibly meaning the then-reigning monarch and the men who would succeed him as kings before the destruction of Jerusalem] and residents of Jerusalem. Thus says YHWH of hosts [the God with hosts of angels in his service], the God of Israel, Look, I am bringing evil [or calamity] upon this place” (Jerusalem). The effect from hearing about this calamity would be such that the ears of everyone would tingle. This could mean that it would be so shocking as to cause a ringing in the ears. (19:3; see the Notes section.)

Calamity would befall the people and Jerusalem because they had forsaken YHWH and profaned the place with idolatrous practices, offering incense to “other gods that they did not know [foreign gods that peoples of other nations worshiped]” and that neither their forefathers nor the kings of Judah knew. They also had filled “this place” (Jerusalem) “with the blood of innocents.” According to the Septuagint, the kings were the ones responsible for this bloodshed. The “blood of the innocents” could refer to that of the children offered in sacrifice and that of persons who were unjustly executed on account of judicial corruption. (19:4)

The people (the kings [LXX]) had erected “high places” or cultic sites for burning their sons in the fire as holocausts to Baal. YHWH had not commanded nor decreed this abominable practice of child sacrifice, and it was something that did not come to his “heart.” He had never entertained the thought of instituting it as a feature of worship. (19:5)

“Therefore,” on account of the abominable idolatrous practices the people carried out at the location where Jeremiah then was, YHWH declared that “days” (or the time) would come when that place would no longer be called “Topheth [Fall or Downfall (LXX)] and the valley [burial place (LXX)] of the son of Hinnom,” but the valley [burial place (LXX) of the slaughter.” The designation “valley of the slaughter” would apply because of what would happen in Jerusalem during the siege and conquest of the city. According to what appears to be the meaning of the text in Jeremiah 7:31-33 and 19:11, the people would have to bury the dead at Topheth but that even there the available space would become too limited for burying all the corpses. Dead bodies would then be cast into the area and become food for carrion-eating birds and wild animals. (19:6)

At the time for the execution of his punitive judgment on the wayward people of the kingdom of Judah, YHWH purposed to make the “counsel of Judah and Jerusalem” void, indicating that all plans to launch a successful defense against the invading military force would fail. As YHWH declared he would cause to occur, the people would fall “by the sword before their enemies and by the hand of those seeking their soul” or life. Carrion-eating birds and wild animals would feed on their corpses. (19:7)

By means of the conquering military force, YHWH would make Jerusalem into a place of astonishment or horror (obliteration or destruction [LXX]) and a “hissing.” Passersby would be horrified (“look downcast” [LXX] and hiss in derision “over all the disasters [the blow (LXX)]” that had befallen the city and its inhabitants. (19:8)

Reduced to desperate straits because the food supply would be completely exhausted during the course of the siege, people would resort to cannibalism. YHWH would permit this dire situation to develop. Therefore, he is quoted as saying, “I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and each one will eat the flesh of his fellow” during the “siege and in the distress with which their enemies and those seeking their soul” or life will afflict them. (19:9)

YHWH directed Jeremiah to break the jar that he had obtained, doing so while the men who had accompanied him could see it. (19:10)

Jeremiah was to tell the elders of the people and the elders of the priests who had come with him (19:1), “Thus says YHWH of hosts [the God with hosts of angels in his service], So I will break this people and this city as one breaks a potter’s vessel so that it cannot ever be mended. And in Topheth, [the people] will bury because there is no place to bury.” As in Jeremiah 7:32, the reference to there being “no place” in Topheth could mean that, though Topheth would have to be used as a burial place, even there the size of the area would be insufficient for burying all the dead bodies. (19:11; see the Notes section.)

The word of YHWH continued, “Thus I will do to this place [Jerusalem], says YHWH, and to its inhabitants, making this city like Topheth.” On account of the many dead bodies, Jerusalem would become a defiled site like Topheth when it came to be used as a burial ground and a location where the flesh of the unburied corpses would be consumed by carrion-eating birds and wild animals. (19:12; see the Notes section.) “And the houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah will be like the place of Topheth, defiled [houses], all the houses where [the people] offered incense on the [flat] roofs to all the host of the heavens [astral deities] and have poured out libations to other gods.” (19:13; see the Notes section.)

Jeremiah left Topheth, “where YHWH had sent him to prophesy.” He then entered the “court of YHWH’s house [or temple], and said to all the people” (19:14), “Thus says YHWH of hosts [the God with hosts of angels in his service], the God of Israel, Look, I am bringing upon this city and upon all its [surrounding] cities [villages (LXX)] all the evil [or calamity] that I have declared against it, for [the people] have hardened their neck [made themselves defiantly obstinate], refusing to hear [listen to or obey] my words.” (19:15)


Verse 2 of the Septuagint refers to the location as being the “burial place of the sons of their children that is at the entryways of the gate Charsith.” The designation Charsith is a transliteration of the Hebrew word for “potsherds.”

The Septuagint contains an expanded text for the initial part of verse 3. “And say to them, Hear the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah and men of Judah and residents of Jerusalem, and the ones entering through these gates.”

In verse 11, the Septuagint includes no mention of Topheth nor does it contain any corresponding words for the concluding phrase of the Hebrew text.

The Septuagint rendering of verse 12 does not use the proper name Topheth but refers to God as giving Jerusalem as a falling to ruin.

In verse 13, the Septuagint says that the houses would become “like the fallen place of defilements [or a place reduced to rubble and filled with polluted things] in all the houses.”