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November 27    Scripture

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Manners & Customs : Potters

Baking the Pottery Baking the pottery. After the potter is through working with the vessel on the wheel, he places it on a shelf where there are rows of other vessels, and where they are kept from the direct rays of the sun, and yet where they are exposed to the wind from all directions. The brickkiln where they are baked is a shallow well of stone or brick around four feet deep and eight to ten feet in diameter, which has a small brick oven at its base. The vessels are piled up over this oven in cone-shape, sometimes to a height of twelve feet. It is then covered thickly with brushwood in order that the heat may be kept in and that there may come no sudden chilling. The fire is made to burn until the pottery is hardened sufficiently.5 The prophet Nahum refers to the preparation for baking pottery when he says: "Make strong the brickkiln" (Nahum 3:14). Sometimes inferior products are made by insufficient burning of vessels. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Broken Pieces of Pottery Use of broken fragments of pottery. Broken pieces of earthen vessels are to be seen about a potter's place, and also in many other places in the East. Some of these pieces which happen to be of suitable size and shape are of practicable use for the peasants. Isaiah gives two uses for them: "And he shall break it as the breaking of the potter's vessel that is broken in pieces; he shall not spare: so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal out of the pit" (Isaiah 30:14). In the evening time it is a common sight to see children coming to the public ovens with sherds of pottery in their hands, and go away with a small amount of hot coals or hot embers, which the baker has placed on each child's sherd, in order that the homes represented might be able to warm up their evening meal. Then at the spring, well, or cistern, sherds that are of the right size and shape to hold water are often left there that they might be used as ladles for filling the container, or as drinking cups. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Marring the Pottery Marring the vessel. Dr. Thomson visited a large pottery at Jaffa and watched a potter work much like the one whom Jeremiah saw in his visit to the potter's house. The prophet of old noted one thing: "And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it" (Jeremiah 18:4). The Palestinian missionary says he had to wait a long while before he saw the same thing happen, but at last it did. Perhaps because of some defect in the clay, or because he had used too little of it, the potter very suddenly crushed the jar that had been progressing, into a shapeless mass of mud; and then, starting all over again, he set out to make something different. Paul refers to such action in his Epistle to the Romans, "Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?" {Romans 9:20, 21). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Ostraca In ancient times when parchment was so expensive to possess, peasants would use fragments of pottery on which to scratch memoranda of business transactions. Many of these have been uncovered by archaeologists, and have proven to be of great value in revealing past history. They are called "ostraca." [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Potter in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE pot'-er, pot'-er-i: 1. Historical Development 2. Forms 3. Methods of Production 4. Uses 5. Biblical Terms 6. Archaeological Significance LITERATURE 1. Historical Development: (1) Prehistoric. The making of pottery ranks among the very oldest of the crafts. On the rocky plateaus of Upper Egypt, overlooking the Nile valley, are found the polished red earthenware pots of the prehistoric Egyptians. These are buried in shallow oval graves along with the cramped-up bodies of the dead and their chipped flint weapons and tools. These jars are the oldest examples of the potter's article It is inconceivable that in the country of Babel, Egypt's great rival in civilization, the ceramic arts were less developed at the same period, but the difference in the nature of the country where the first Mesopotamian settlement probably existed makes it unlikely that relics of the prehistoric dwellers of that country will ever be recovered from under the debris of demolished cities and the underlying deposits of clay and silt. (2) Babylonia. The oldest examples of Babylonian ceramics date from the historical period, and consist of baked clay record tablets, bricks, drainage pipes, household shrines, as well as vessels for holding liquids, fruits and other stores. (See Perrot and Chipiez, History of Art in Chaldea and Assyria, I, figures 159, 160, II, figures 163, 168.) Examples of pottery of this early period are shown in the accompanying figures. By the 9th to the 7th century BC the shaping of vessels of clay had become well developed. Fragments of pottery bearing the name of Esarhaddon establish the above dates. (3) Egypt. With the close of the neolithic period in Egypt and the beginning of the historical...

Potter Scripture - Isaiah 41:25 I have raised up [one] from the north, and he shall come: from the rising of the sun shall he call upon my name: and he shall come upon princes as [upon] morter, and as the potter treadeth clay.

Potter Scripture - Jeremiah 18:4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make [it].

Potter Scripture - Jeremiah 18:6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay [is] in the potter's hand, so [are] ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.

Potter Scripture - Lamentations 4:2 The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!

Potter Scripture - Revelation 2:27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.

Potter Scripture - Romans 9:21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

Potter Scripture - Zechariah 11:13 And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty [pieces] of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.

Potters THE POTTER THE GREAT DEMAND FOR POTTERS IN THE ORIENT. This is because copper vessels are so expensive, because leather bottles are not suitable for some domestic purposes, and because earthenware vessels are so easily broken and must therefore be replaced often. Porous earthenware jars are in much demand to keep drinking-water cool through the process of evaporation. In a warm climate, courtesy usually demands that "a cup of cold water" be given (Matthew 10:42). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Potters in Jerusalem Ceramic quarters in Jerusalem. The prophet Jeremiah speaks of visiting one potter in Jerusalem, but the writer of Chronicles tells of a ceramic quarter in the city. "These were the potters . . . there they dwelt with the king for his work" (I Chronicles 4:23). Thus it would seem that there were in ancient times families or guilds of potters, and also royal Potters. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Pottery in Easton's Bible Dictionary the art of, was early practised among all nations. Various materials seem to have been employed by the potter. Earthenware is mentioned in connection with the history of Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18), of Abraham (18:4-8), of Rebekah (27:14), of Rachel (29:2, 3, 8, 10). The potter's wheel is mentioned by Jeremiah (18:3). See also 1 Chr. 4:23; Ps. 2:9; Isa. 45:9; 64:8; Jer. 19:1; Lam. 4:2; Zech. 11:13; Rom. 9:21.

Pottery in Fausset's Bible Dictionary Early known in Egypt. Israel in bondservice there wrought at it (Psalm 81:6, so the Hebrew in 1 Samuel 2:14); but translated for "pots" the harden baskets for carrying clay, bricks, etc., such as are depicted in the sepulchral vaults at Thebes (Exodus 5:6-12; 2 Chronicles 16:6). The potter trod the clay into a paste (Isaiah 41:25), then put it on a wheel, by which he sat and shaped it. The wheel or horizontal lathe was a wooden disc, placed on another larger one, and turned by hand or worked by a treadle (Jeremiah 18:3); on the upper he molded the clay into shape (Isaiah 45:9); the vessel was then smoothed, glazed, and burnt. Tiles with painting and writing on them were common (Ezekiel 4:1). There was a royal establishment of potters at Jerusalem under the sons of Shelab (1 Chronicles 4:25), carrying on the trade for the king's revenue. The pottery found in Israel is divisible into Phoenician, Graeco- Phoenician, Roman, Christian, and Arabic; on handles of jars occur inscriptions: "to king Zepha .... king Shat" and Melek (Israel Exploration, Our Work in Israel). Emblem of man's brittle frailty, and of God's potter-like power to shape our ends as He pleases (Psalm 2:9; Isaiah 29:16; Isaiah 30:14; Jeremiah 19:11; Lamentations 4:2). As Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 3:1 are thrown together in Mark 1:2-3; also Isaiah 62:11 and Zechariah 9:9 in Matthew 21:4-5; and Isaiah 8:14; Isaiah 28:16 in Romans 9:33; so Jeremiah 18:3-6; Jeremiah 18:19, and Zechariah 11:12-13 in Matthew 27:9. Matthew presumes his reader's full knowledge of Scripture, and merges the two human sacred writers, Jeremiah and Zechariah, in the one voice of the Holy Spirit speaking by them. In Matthew and Zechariah alike, the Lord's representative, Israel's Shepherd, has a paltry price set upon Him by the people; the transaction is done deliberately by men connected with the house of Jehovah; the money is given to the potter, marking the perpetrators' baseness, guilt, and doom, and the hand of the Lord overrules it all, the Jewish rulers while following their own aims unconsciously fulfilling Jehovah's "appointment."

Pottery in Naves Topical Bible Clay prepared for, by treading Isa 41:25 -Vessels made of Jer 18:3,4 -Place for manufacture of, outside the wall of Jerusalem, bought as a burying ground for poor people Mt 27:7-10 -FIGURATIVE Isa 64:8; Ro 9:21 Of weakness, in the idol in Nebuchadnezzars vision Da 2:41

Pottery in Smiths Bible Dictionary The art of pottery is one of the most common and most ancient of all manufactures. It is abundantly evident, both that the Hebrews used earthenware vessels in the wilderness and that the potter's trade was afterward carried on in Israel. They had themselves been concerned in the potter's trade in Egypt, Ps 81:6 and the wall-paintings minutely illustrate the Egyptian process. The clay, when dug, was trodden by men's feet so as to form a paste, Isa 41:25 Wisd. 15:7; then placed by the potter on the wheel beside which he sat, and shaped by him with his hands. How early the wheel came into use in Israel is not known, but it seems likely that it was adopted from Egypt. Isa 45:9; Jer 15:3 The vessel was then smoothed and coated with a glaze, and finally burnt in a furnace. There was at Jerusalem a royal establishment of potters, 1Ch 4:23 from whose employment, and from the fragments cast away in the process, the Potter's Field perhaps received its name. Isa 30:11

Preparing the Clay Preparation of the clay for the potter. It was trodden by the feet in order that it might become of the right consistency. The prophet Isaiah speaks of this action when he says: "He shall come upon princes as upon morter, and as the potter treadeth clay" (Isaiah 41:25). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

The Fragile Pottery The fragility of pottery. Eastern pottery is indeed very brittle, especially when modern methods of glazing are unknown. Many times the young woman going for the family water supply has had to come home without it, because she put down her water pitcher too suddenly. The writer of Ecclesiastes has this in mind when he says: "The pitcher be broken at the fountain" (12:6). When only a slight blow will break pottery into pieces, intentional dashing of a vessel of clay to the ground will result in complete ruin, and this is the picture often used by Biblical writers of divine judgment upon GOD's enemies, or upon His people who disobey Him. "Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel" (Psalm 2:9). "He shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers" (Revelation 2:27). "Thus saith the Lord of hosts; even so will I break this people and this city, as one breaketh a potter's vessel, that cannot be made whole again" (Jeremiah 19:11). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

The Potters Work The equipment and method of the potter. Today the potter plies his trade in many sections of the East, just like his predecessors have done for centuries. His workshop is very rude. He works behind a coarse wooden bench. His equivalent consists of two wooden discs or wheels, with an axle standing up from the center of the lower disc: The upper wheel thus turns horizontally when the lower one is put into action by the foot. He keeps a heap of clay lying on his bench, and from this he places a lump of clay that has been previously softened, upon the upper wheel. He makes this wheel spin around, as he shapes the clay with his hands into a coneshaped figure. Then he uses his thumb to make a hole in the top of the whirling clay, and keeps opening it until he can put his left hand inside of it. As it is necessary, he sprinkles the clay with water from a vessel which he keeps beside him. He uses a small piece of wood with his righthand to smooth the outside of the vessel as it continues to rotate. He is thus able to make the vessel into whatever shape he desires in keeping with his individual skill. Jeremiah referred to the work of the potter in his message, the inspiration of which came while he was visiting the potter's house: "O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as the potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel" (Jeremiah 18:6). The Apocrypha contains an interesting description of the potter and his work in that day: "So is the potter sitting at his work, and turning the wheel about with his feet, who is always anxiously set at his work, and all his handiwork is by number; he will fashion the clay with his arm, and he will bend its strength in front of his feet; he will apply his heart to finish the glazing; and will be wakeful to make clean the furnace" (Ecclesiasticus 38:29, 30). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]