THEN BREAK THE JAR: In the Near East, it is still the
practice to break a jar near a person who has done wrong to one and voice the
hope that he will be similarly broken. The Egyptian practice of writing on clay
vessels the names of enemies and breaking them at a sacred place has been
suggested as a parallel. Such action was intended to bring about the downfall of
So Jeremiah vividly portrayed the fate of the nation. The
thrust of this acted oracle was to show the irrevocability of the nation's ruin.
The Israelites knew of no way to mend a broken jar, which could only be thrown
away. So Judah will be rejected because she failed to repent. There is a clear
distinction between the acted oracle in this chapter and that of the potter's
house [Jer 18:1-4]. Soft, malleable clay can be shaped and reshaped, but broken
jars are worthless, and must be thrown away.