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Posts Tagged ‘Topheth’


Jeremiah 19: The Potter’s Flask

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Written on February 3 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

It will make their ears tingle when they hear about the bloodshed of the innocent!  The Valley of Ben-hinnom will become the Valley of Slaughter.  The city will be an object of amazement and derision.  Passers-by will catch their breath at the wounds they see.  And a flask will be shattered like the lives of these people.  There will be so much death that there will be no place for burial.  This because they have stiffened their necks and have not obeyed my words. 

Jeremiah has visited Topheth, a town whose name could be pronounced with the vowels of the Hebrew word for shame.  “This was due to the practice of there of sacrificing children as burnt offerings to Baal and Molech in the times of Isaiah and Jeremiah (Isa. 30:33;  Jer. 7:31, 32; 19:6, 11-14; cf. 32:35).  Kings Ahaz and Manasseh of Judah are reported to have offered their sons in the Valley of Hinnom (2 Chron. 28:3; 33:6; cf. 2 Kings 16:3; 21:6).  King Josiah attempted to put a stop to the practice by defiling the altar of Topheth (2 Kings 23:10) but it was revived after his death”.  (Achetemier 1162)

When Jeremiah returns to Jerusalem and denounces not only this practice but the corruption in Jerusalem as well,  he is beaten and placed in stocks by orders of a temple priest and administrator, Pashhur.  “The prophet’s response was to rename the priest ‘Terror on every side’ (v. 3; cf. 6:25, where this phrase describes the people’s response to an invasion from the north, and 20:10, where is describes Jeremiah’s response to his enemies’ actions).  This name symbolizes the fact that Pashhur will be a ‘terror’ both to himself and to his friends: they and the whole land will suffer death, plundering and exile at the hands of the Babylonians (vv. 4-6).  The assertion that Pashhur has misled his friends (v. 6b) is the key to his condemnation.  His reaction to Jeremiah’s message was based on a partisan political position, supported, of course, by an appropriate religious ideology.  From his own standpoint Jeremiah was convinced that this position would lead to disaster”.  (HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY, 561)

This is grime reading and yet it is the kind of persecution that takes place constantly in our world.  Sometimes is happens an ocean away . . . today I am thinking of the people of Egypt.  It also happens right under our noses . . . today I also think about someone dear to me who is persecuted for speaking up.  No matter when this kind of harassment takes place, the effect the bully wishes to create – silence – is void, and in time an opposite result occurs – the truth always comes out in the end. 

My parents continually reminded all five of us that this is one of the surest things we can count on and we read it here in Jeremiah.  This prophet was eventually taken away to Egypt by Jewish authorities who fled before the waves of invaders from the north.  His prophecy unfolds before their eyes, and still they revile him.  In the end, although there is no written evidence of this, Jeremiah is murdered in exile.

The sins in Topheth and the crimes of Pashhur continue today, but we must not allow this fact to sap us of our courage or energy.  We must remind ourselves and one another that the truth always comes out in the end.  So what are we called to do?  We must learn to faithfully witness to these crimes, to humbly pray for ourselves and our enemies, and to joyfully participate in the redemptive love that sets all injustice right in God’s time and in God’s way, lest we too be shattered like the potter’s flask . . .  beyond repair.


A re-post from September 15, 2011.

Achetemeier, Paul J. HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE DICTIONARY. 2nd edition. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1996. 1162. Print. 

Image from: http://pottery.about.com/od/stepbystepprojects/ig/Mug-Project-Photo-Gallery/Pottery-Flask.htm

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

1 Samuel 11:9-10

The Men of Jabesh-Gilead

The Men of Jabesh-Gilead

The Surrender of Jabesh

Descendants of Ammon, a son of Lot, the Ammonites lived in a territory of Ammon that extended from the Arnon to the Jabbok and Jordan. But during Moses time they had been driven to the east by the Amorites. Moses was not allowed to attack them (Deuteronomy 2:19) despite the fact that they worshiped idols, especially Molech, or the god Saturn.

Cursed by Yahweh’s prophets, this tribe had a long history of conflict with the Israelites. Today we see Saul gather three hundred thousand men from Israel and seventy thousand from Judah before he announces that he will deliver the people of Jabesh-gilead who have been overtaken by Nahash, the Ammonite. And when the messengers came and reported this to the inhabitants of Jabesh, who were jubilant, [they] said to Nahash, “Tomorrow we will surrender to you, and you may do whatever you please with us”.  They likely recognized that freedom from the enemy was upon them.

Conflict in this part of the world continues today; lessons in this ancient land reinforce division more than unity. Jeremiah’s words of prophecy pierce hearts but convert too few. Walking in hardness and obstinacy have become an engrained way of living; the day without remedy is infinite; the imagery of the potter’s flask and Topheth lie meaningless. And yet . . . the Lord is near.

In New Testament hope we recall the words of the apostle Paul: For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus . . . There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-29)

Would that each of us might give over our interior conflict and place our hope in God. Would that each of us might surrender to Christ and the promise given to Abraham just as the people of Jabesh surrender in jubilation their trust in God.

For more on the story of Jabesh and how they showed their gratitude to King Saul, click on the image above or go to: http://lukedockery.blogspot.com/2007/11/gratitude-men-of-jabesh-gilead.html 

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