Jeremiah and the jug (Jer 19:1-19:2)

“Thus said Yahweh.


Buy a potter’s earthenware jug!

Take with you

Some of the elders of the people,

As well as some of the senior priests.

Go out to

The valley of the son of Hinnom,

At the entry of the Potsherd Gate!

Proclaim there the words

That I tell you.’”

Yahweh tells Jeremiah to buy an earthen jug. He was supposed to take some of the elders and the senior priests with him. He was to go to the valley of Hinnom at the Potsherd Gate that might be the garbage area around the Dung Gate mentioned in Nehemiah, chapter 4, just outside Jerusalem. There Jeremiah was to proclaim the words that Yahweh would tell him.

The celebration at the gates (Neh 12:31-12:37)

“Then I brought up the leaders of Judah onto the wall. I appointed two great companies which gave thanks. They went in procession. One went to the right upon the wall to the Dung Gate. After them went Hoshaiah and half of the princes of Judah. There was Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, Jeremiah, and some of the young priests with trumpets. There was Zechariah son of Jonathan, son of Shemaiah, son of Mattaniah, son of Micaiah, son of Zaccur, son of Asaph. His kindred were Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani, with the musical instruments of King David, the man of God. The scribe Ezra went in front of them. At the Fountain Gate, in front of them, they went straight up by the stairs of the city of David, at the ascent of the wall, above the house of David, to the Water Gate on the east.”

Once again, we come back to the 1st person singular, “I”, after all that went before in the 3rd person singular. Nehemiah divided the people into 2 groups. One group walked the wall on the southeast side from the Dung Gate at the south side to the Fountain Gate and then to the Water Gate. At the Fountain Gate they walked the stairs into the city of David. This group was led by the scribe Ezra. This is the only mention of Hoshaiah, who must have been some kind of leader. While Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, and Jeremiah are mentioned elsewhere, there were also the young priests who were the sons of famous priests with their trumpets. Some of the kindred only appear here, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, and Maai, while the others are more familiar like Shemaiah, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani. They played the instruments of King David, lyre, harps, and cymbals.


The west Valley Gate (Neh 3:13-3:13)

“Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate. They rebuilt it. They set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars. They also repaired a thousand cubits of the wall, as far as the Dung Gate.”

Now we are on the southwest side of Jerusalem. Here it is only one person Hanun and the people of Zanoah, which is about 30 miles southwest of Jerusalem, a long way to come for this project. They did a lot of work. They repaired a 1,000 cubits of the wall, about 2,000 feet.

Nehemiah inspects Jerusalem at night (Neh 2:11-2:16)

“So I came to Jerusalem. I was there three days. Then I got up during the night. I and a few men with me went out. I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. The only animal I took was the animal I rode. I went out by night by the Valley Gate past the Dragon’s Spring to the Dung Gate. I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that had been broken down. Its gates had been destroyed by fire. Then I went to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool. However, there was no place for the animal that I was riding to continue. So I went by way of the valley by night. I inspected the wall. Then I turned back. I entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing. I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, and the rest that they were to do the work.”

Nehemiah was in Jerusalem for 3 days. He did not say that he was fasting as Ezra had done. He told no one about his plan to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. He got up at night with a few men. He rode on an animal inspecting the situation in Jerusalem. Finally, he had to go on foot since his unnamed animal could go no further. What did he see? Interesting enough, Nehemiah made a complete tour of the wall with the southwestern side with the Valley Gate, the Dragon Springs, and the Dung Gate, where there was a lot of rubbish or garbage in those days. The Fountain Gate and King’s Pool was on the southeast side of the wall. So he had inspected the western, southern, and eastern portions of the wall. However, he had not told anyone about his inspection, but the few people that were with him.