The Bible – Old Testament
1 This word came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
Rise up, be off to the potter’s house; there I will give you my message.
I went down to the potter’s house and there he was, working at the wheel.
Whenever the object of clay which he was making turned out badly in his hand, he tried again, making of the clay another object of whatever sort he pleased.
Then the word of the Lord came to me:
Can I not do to you, house of Israel, as this potter has done? says the LORD. Indeed, like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, house of Israel.
Sometimes I threaten to uproot and tear down and destroy a nation or a kingdom.
But if that nation which I have threatened turns from its evil, I also repent of the evil which I threatened to do.
Sometimes, again, I promise to build up and plant a nation or a kingdom.
But if that nation does what is evil in my eyes, refusing to obey my voice, I repent of the good with which I promised to bless it.
And now, tell this to the men of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem: Thus says the LORD: Take care! I am fashioning evil against you and making a plan. Return, each of you, from his evil way; reform your ways and your deeds.
But they will say, “No use! We will follow our own devices; each one of us will behave according to the stubbornness of his evil heart!”
Therefore thus says the LORD: Ask among the nations – who has ever heard the like? Truly horrible things has virgin Israel done!
2 Does the snow of Lebanon desert the rocky heights? Do the gushing waters dry up that flow fresh down the mountains?
Yet my people have forgotten me: they burn incense to a thing that does not exist. They stumble out of their ways, the paths of old, To travel on bypaths, not the beaten track.
Their land shall be turned into a desert, an object of lasting ridicule: All passers-by will be amazed, will shake their heads.
Like the east wind, I will scatter them before their enemies; I will show them my back, not my face, in their day of disaster.
“Come,” they said, “let us contrive a plot against Jeremiah. It will not mean the loss of instruction from the priests, nor of counsel from the wise, nor of messages from the prophets. And so, let us destroy him by his own tongue; let us carefully note his every word.”
Heed me, O LORD, and listen to what my adversaries say.
Must good be repaid with evil that they should dig a pit to take my life? Remember that I stood before you to speak in their behalf, to turn away your wrath from them.
3 So now, deliver their children to famine, do away with them by the sword. Let their wives be made childless and widows; let their men die of pestilence, their young men be slain by the sword in battle.
May cries be heard from their homes, when suddenly you send plunderers against them. For they have dug a pit to capture me, they have hid snares for my feet;
But you, O LORD, know all their plans to slay me. Forgive not their crime, blot not out their sin in your sight! Let them go down before you, proceed against them in the time of your anger.
1 [1-12] The lesson of the potter is not that God deals arbitrarily with his people, but that he is almighty to destroy or restore, accordingly as they disobey him or fulfill his plans.
2  Lebanon: here apparently including Mount Hermon, whose snow-capped peak can be seen from parts of Palestine all year round. The prophet contrasts the certainties of nature with Israel’s unnatural desertion of the Lord for idols (⇒ Jeremiah 18:15).
3  In the Old Testament a man’s family was regarded as part of his personality, to be rewarded or punished along with him; cf ⇒ Joshua 7:24-26.