Master Potters: Pottery in the Bible (2023)

Pottery played an important role in the daily lives of people in Biblical times. It is therefore not surprising that pottery and earthenware are often mentioned in the Bible. Bible prophets and preachers have repeatedly used everyday experiences as practical lessons to illustrate spiritual truths. Everyone knows the bowls, pots and their production process. God's saints made good use of it. In this article, we briefly discuss how pottery was made in biblical times and examine some biblical references to pottery.

Due to its durability, the main way archaeologists determine dating, ethnic relations and trade relations is through the study of pottery. Pottery was used in ancient times for storing, cooking and serving food as well as a container for transporting various liquid goods.

Pottery played an important role in the daily lives of people in Biblical times. It is therefore not surprising that pottery and earthenware are often mentioned in the Bible. Bible prophets and preachers have repeatedly used everyday experiences as practical lessons to illustrate spiritual truths. Everyone knows the bowls, pots and their production process. God's saints made good use of it. In this article, we briefly discuss how pottery was made in biblical times and examine some biblical references to pottery. In a later article we will look at the use of pottery in the Bible.

Metal containers were also used in ancient times. However, they are expensive and mainly limited to the upper social classes. As a result, metal objects have been found in relatively small numbers compared to pottery. Wood, basket and hide containers were also used. But these perishable materials generally will not survive if discovered by archaeologists.

Ceramic is different. After firing in the oven, ceramics are virtually indestructible. Unless deliberately ground up, remnants of all ancient pottery still exist, even broken and discarded. So when you visit an ancient site, there are pottery shells everywhere. One place is even named after the earthenware shells. While doing research in Egypt a few years ago, I visited a place called "Tell el-Ahmar" which means "red ruins". The name comes from the abundance of terracotta on the surface.

Clay is common in Palestine. Therefore, pottery is made in many parts of the country. Many diggers have found evidence of the pottery industry in the remains of potter's wheels, potter's tools, unfired vessels, prepared clay, kilns, etc. Taken together, these records suggest that the pottery industry in ancient Palestine was quite advanced and used potter's wheels and fixed kilns. This industry is in stark contrast to more primitive cultures, where the method of production was shaped by hand and fired in open-air bonfires. Incidentally, studies of pottery in modern cultures have shown that when pottery is made by hand and fired over an open fire, women are in charge of production. However, when potters' wheels and fixed kilns were used, production was in the hands of men. The word "potter" in the Old Testament,finger,The "former" is male. We can be sure that the vast majority of potters in Biblical times were men.

Master Potters: Pottery in the Bible (1)

early potter's wheel

After the clay is dug up from the ground, it goes to the potter's workshop for preparation. To remove foreign objects (such as stones, sticks, etc.), water is usually added to soften the moisture for the day. A plasticizer (such as sand) is often added to improve the working of the clay or to give the potter a special quality desired by the potter. The potter's assistant kneads the clay with his feet. Tomb scenes from Egypt show clay prepared in this way. In Isaiah 41:25, God speaks of His power and points to this process:

I called one from the north and he obeyed; I called one from the east and called him in my name, and he marched before the governors as if they were made of clay, as a potter walks on clay. (nose)

When the clay is ready, the potter can make his vessel. He did it on a potter's wheel. In Biblical times, the potter's wheel was a type known as a "twin wheel" or "digger wheel". The flywheel, rotating on stone bearings (many of which have been found in excavations), was placed in a shallow pit in the floor of the potter's workshop. The top of the flywheel is attached to a shaft that ends in a small round wooden platform on which the potter works. He puts the clay on the platform and kicks the flywheel to make the platform rotate. As the clay block rotates on the platform, the potter can shape or "throw" the pot by guiding the clay with his fingers and allowing the centrifugal force to shape the symmetrical container. After the pot is formed, the potter pinches it with his fingers or separates it from the remaining lumps of clay with a thread. Elihu referred to this process in his conversation with Job:

Here I stand before God, just like you; I too am a lump of clay (Job 33:6).

The Hebrew word translated "form",To write,It means "bite" or "squeeze". The correct translation should be "I too am made of a piece of clay."

Master Potters: Pottery in the Bible (2)A potter's wheel and the inside of a typical kiln.

Master Potters: Pottery in the Bible (3)

Once formed, the barrel is air-dried to a "skin-hard" state before firing. This drying process takes several days, depending on temperature and humidity. Once enough pots were prepared, they were stacked and baked in an oven for hours, turning them into the waterproof pots, bowls and cooking utensils that archaeologists tirelessly research today.


The Apocrypha between the New Testaments tells of the different activities of the potters:

Just like the potter who sits at work and turns the wheel with his feet. He always takes care of his product and produces it in large quantities. He molds the clay with his hands and softens it with his feet. His concern is the right color scheme and he watches over the fire in the stove(Preacher38:29-30).

God sent Jeremiah to a pottery workshop to give him a practical lesson:

The Lord spoke to Jeremiah and said, "Get up and go to the potter's house, and there I will make you hear my voice." Then I went to the potter's house, and behold, he was working on the wheel. His earthen vessel broke in the hand of the potter. So he made another vessel, and the potter thought he had made a good one. The word of the Lord came to me: House of Israel, can I not treat you like this potter? said Yahweh. "O house of Israel, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand" (18:1-6).

The pottery workshops were usually located outside the city so that the fumes from the kilns did not irritate the inhabitants. It brings the potter closer to the raw material and, more importantly, eliminates the potential fire hazard. watch JeremiahWent downTo the potter's house means that he went from the heights in Jerusalem to the lowlands outside the city walls. The potteries of ancient Jerusalem were probably located in the Valley of Hinnom on the western and southern sides of the city, because the gate to this valley was called the "Potter's Gate" (Jeremiah 19:2, mistranslated in the Bible as "Eastern Gate"). Gate" King James version). The "tower with the furnace" mentioned at Nehemiah 3:1 and 12:38 likely refers to a defensive tower overlooking the pottery kilns in the Valley of Hinnom.

The valley of Hinnom was also known as Tophet, a place known for child sacrifice (2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 7:31; 19:4-7). In Isaiah 30, God's judgment is described as a devouring fire (vs. 27, 30). Some images refer to the great fire that burned in Topheth:

For Tophet was ready long ago, yea, for the king (Assyria, v. 31), the pyre was deep and broad, and fire and wood abounded, and the breath of the Lord kindled like a stream of brimstone (Section 33 , syncytial respiratory virus).

The prophet may refer to the famous pottery kilns in the Hinnom Valley. There are many furnaces here belching hot flames and thick black smoke, and the air is usually black with smoke. The misery of this industrial area is considerable, everywhere there are heaps of clay, mountains of "waste" (ceramics destroyed in kilns) and dirty workers. As you can imagine, hiking through the Hinnom Valley is truly a terrifying experience. Hinnom Valley,EnterHebrew, becomes the Gehenna of the New Testament. It is understandable why the Land of Eternal Punishment is named after this valley.

Jeremiah tells us that the potter worked at his wheel,ownajimin Hebrew, the word has a double form (which translates to "wheel" in the KJV), literally meaning "a pair of stones". This fact was probably due to the fact that the earliest potter's wheels were probably simple turnstiles made of two flat stones that turned over each other (see illustration on page 28). The potter was clearly unhappy with the first vessel he made before Jeremiah, so he boiled the clay again and made a second one. This item is an illustration of a prophet because God said to him, "O house of Israel... the clay is in the hand of the potter and you are in my hand." as an illustration in the Bible.

In the creation account, God is depicted as creating man from clay, just as a potter uses clay to make vessels:

Yahweh God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being (Genesis 2:7).

The Hebrew word used here for "form" is the same word used for the potter, "moulder." god ofAphar deszcz ha'adamah,"Earth's native clay".

God created all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air out of the earth (Genesis 2:19).

Job cried out to God in his distress,

Your hand made and molded me, and yet you destroyed me. Remember, I beseech you, you made me in the mire; and write: Turn me into dust? (Job 10:8-9).

Here the word clay, Homer, means refined clay, and the word dust,'Ver,Refers to an unspecified natural clay.

When God spoke to Jerusalem, he said:

How to turn it upside down, as if the potter is no bigger than the clay! Will the creation of its creator say, "He did not create me"? Should the pot say to the potter, "That can't be done"? (Isaiah 29:16, KJV)

Here God speaks out against the disrespect of those who think they can place themselves above the God who created him. Similarly, God said:

Will the pot compete with the potter, or the pot with the hand that made it? Does the clay ask the potter what he is doing? Or did his craft tell him, "You have no skill"? (Isaiah 45:9, KJV)

Isaiah was well acquainted with the parable of the potter, for at the end of his book he uses it to describe the proper relationship between God and man.

But now, Lord, you are our father, we are the clay, you are our potter, and we are all the work of your hands (64:8).

In the New Testament, the potter also illustrates the theme of God's sovereignty.

You say, "Then why should God blame man? Who can resist His will? Lord, who are you to answer God? Can the pot say to the potter, 'Why did you make me this way?' Of course the potter do as he pleases with the clay. Is it not lawful for him to make two vessels of the same, one for his collection and the other for the use of all? (Romans 9:19-21, KJV)

God's rulership over man is one of the greatest teachings of the Bible, and nowhere is its truth better illustrated than in the case of the potter. As the clay is subject to the potter, so the Christian must submit to the authority of God. Fresh clay from the field is unusable, hard and full of impurities. Just as clay must be refined, so Christians must be purified before master potters can make usable vessels from it. Impurities should be removed and plasticizers should be added; Christians need to be softened and crushed. After the potter has molded and molded the Christian to his will and pleasure, he must be "tried by fire" to be strengthened for the duties which God intended for him.

We must learn to be content with the way the Master Potter created us and the tasks to which He has called us. Ultimately, it is in our best interest because God knows each of us better than we know ourselves, and His plan for our lives is tailored to our individual needs and capabilities. He knows the end from the beginning and directs our ways better than we do.

Put yourself in the hands of a master potter and let him transform into a beautiful vessel fit for his service.

Master Potters: Pottery in the Bible (4)Egyptian tomb frescoes show potteries during the 18th Dynasty (late 15th century BC – early 14th century BC). The potter sits at a simple wheel and forms a vessel from a cone of clay. Helpers turn the wheel and help the potter with the clay. Behind the potters are rows of vessels, probably newly formed ones, drying. In the foreground, another helper kneads the clay with his feet and prepares it for the potter. Next to it are two large pots that may have held water used to mix the clay. In the background two baskets of a reddish material, probably prepared clay, and a pile of the same material on the floor. To the right of the stage, a worker seals the roof of the oven, presumably in preparation for firing.(Volgens NG Davis,Kenarnun's count at ThebeMetropolitan Museum of Art, 1930, pl. 39.)

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