Jeremiah 19

Chapter 19

Symbol of the Broken Jug. 1 Thus said the Lord: Go forth and purchase a potter’s earthenware jug. Then take along with you some of the elders of the people and some of the priests, 2 and go forth to the Valley of Ben-hinnom,[a] close to the entrance of the Potsherd Gate. 3 There proclaim the words I tell you: Hear the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. This is the message of the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I am prepared to bring such disaster upon this place that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle.

4 For these people have forsaken me and have profaned this place by offering sacrifices in it to foreign gods whom neither they nor their ancestors nor the kings of Judah ever knew. They have filled this place with the blood of the innocent, 5 building the high places of Baal to sacrifice their sons as burnt offerings to Baal. I never commanded or mentioned such a thing, nor did it ever enter my mind.

6 Therefore, the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when this place will no longer be called Topheth, or the Valley of Ben-hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter. 7 In this place, I will make void the plans of Judah and Jerusalem, and I will make them fall by the sword before their enemies and by the hands of those who are determined to slaughter them. Their corpses I will give as food to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth.

8 Moreover, I will make this city an object of horror and a source of derision. Every passerby will be horrified at the sight and be amazed at the disaster it has incurred. 9 I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and daughters, and all will devour one another’s flesh during the siege because of the incredible distress with which they have been afflicted by their enemies and those who seek their lives.

10 Then you are to break the jug in the presence of the men who have accompanied you 11 and say to them: Thus says the Lord of hosts: In the same way I will smash this people and this city, as one smashes a potter’s earthenware jug so that it can never be repaired, and the dead will be buried in Topheth until no further space for burial remains.

12 This is what I am determined to do with this place and its inhabitants, says the Lord. I will make this city like Topheth. 13 And the houses of Jerusalem and those of the kings of Judah will be defiled like this place, Topheth, all of the houses upon whose roofs they burned incense to all the host of heaven and poured out libations to other gods.

14 When Jeremiah returned from Topheth, where the Lord had sent him to prophesy, he stood in the court of the Lord’s house and proclaimed to all the people, 15 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I am now prepared to inflict upon this city and upon all its towns the total disaster with which I threatened it, because they have remained steadfast in their stubbornness and refused to listen to my words.”


  1. Jeremiah 19:2 The Valley of Ben-hinnom: the scene of the prophet’s symbolic action (see Jer 7:32—8:2) had been declared unholy by King Josiah and had begun to be the rubbish dump for the city. It would later be known as the Valley of Gehenna.

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