Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pottery in the Bible pt.2

....go into clay, and tread the morter, make strong the brickkiln. Nahum 3:14

When, during the process of molding, the lump of clay seems to be either insufficient or too much for one form, the potter can convert it into a somewhat different form. To break off or add a fresh lump of clay would involve a fresh commencement. The potter can do what he likes with the clay, but not with himself; he must make the best possible use of each lump. His liberty is directed by wisdom.

The form, ornamentation, and to a large extent the color of the pottery, as drab, red, or black, are determined at the moist stage. The baking makes these unchangeable.

(C) The baking. After being lifted from the wheel the vessel is set on a shelf along with rows of others, where they are all exposed to the wind from every direction, but sheltered from the sun until they are considerably dried and hardened.

They are then arranged in the brick kiln, a shallow well of brick work or stone about four feet deep and eight or ten feet in diameter, with a small oven of brick at the base. The pottery is piled up over this until the wall rises like a cone to the height of some twelve feet. It is thickly covered with brushwood to keep in the heat and prevent sudden chilling from outside. The fire is kept burning below until the pottery is sufficiently hardened.

A few of the jars come out bent at the neck, with a dent in the middle, or a general lean to one side, and the ground around a potter’s kiln is always thickly strewn with the broken pieces of the vessels that, in spite of his skill and care, have proved unable to stand the test of fire. The expression “…make strong the brickkiln” (Nah. 3:14), refers to the reconstruction of the circular wall and the dome when the kiln is to be filled with bricks to be fired.



  1. Thanks Donna, this is a wonderful set of posts both interesting and refreshingly different.

    Isaiah uses exactly your broken pottery image in chapter 30 when he is complaining about Israel "going after Egypt" and aligning themselves with the wrong power and engaging in sin.

    Isaiah 30: 13-14 (NASB)
    13 Therefore this iniquity will be to you
    Like a breach about to fall,
    A bulge in a high wall,
    Whose collapse comes suddenly in an instant,
    14 Whose collapse is like the smashing of a potter's jar,
    So ruthlessly shattered
    That a sherd will not be found among its pieces
    To take fire from a hearth
    Or to scoop water from a cistern."

  2. Thanks for your insight--I love it when a knowledge of customs can illuminate a variety of verses.