The Hinnom Valley ran along the south and west of the city and served as Jerusalem’s “community dump.” The gate at the south of the city which opened into the valley was called the “Potsherd Gate” because people carried their potsherds (broken pieces of pottery) and other refuse through this gate to throw it in the Hinnom Valley. The Targum identifies the Potsherd Gate with the Dung Gate (cf. Neh. 2:13; 3:13-14). The modern Dung Gate in Jerusalem is also located on the south of the city, but the present walls are several hundred yards north of the walls in Jeremiah’s day.
With the Hinnom Valley as a backdrop, Jeremiah delivered his message. God vowed to bring a disaster on Jerusalem because of her idolatry. The valley itself was a witness against the People because it contained the high places of Baal where people slaughtered their sons to offer them as sacrifices in the fire. Because of these wicked deeds God again (cf. Jer. 7:32-33) vowed to rename the place the Valley of Slaughter as He destroyed the people there.
Walvoord, J. F. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (Je 19:1). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
A running motif in our teaching has been that of the clay vessel. In 2 Corinthians 4:7 Paul reminds us that we hold this treasure (our relationship with God) in jars of clay. We understand that our purpose in life is to be filled with God’s presence so that our clay jars can overflow with hope and the gospel.
This study in Jeremiah reminds us what happens when clay jars become infected with the wrong thing. Sometimes a clay jar can be so far off track that the only thing to do is to smash it out on the dung heap. These are harsh words and Jeremiah’s message in ch. 19 is not a feel good, “God is great,” session. Jeremiah brought a sobering word of judgment on the nation that had abandoned God’s presence.
The challenge for us is to remember our purpose and to remember our focus. Our vessel exists for God, nothing else. At the end of the day, at the end of our life, we will be faced with the reality of how we filled our life. May we all be filled with God’s presence and stay far away from the Potsherd Gate.