Old Testament Summary Lesson 41: “I Have Made Thee This Day… An Iron Pillar”
- Metaphor of Containing Things: Iron and clay are the most notable materials that were made into vessels. “Isaiah describes the smith’s technique of working iron with the help of charcoal to produce a metal suitable for making vessels.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.) The Lord “formed” Jeremiah as a vessel to represent the Lord. “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
- Prophet Rejected, Imprisoned in Rejected Quarry: In Herod’s time, a quarry was used for reconstruction of the temple buildings. One can see the cavities left as giant blocks were skillfully carved. Many of those blocks can still be seen in the Western (Wailing) Wall. However, one can also see that at the northern most limits of the quarry the rock became very crumbly. Further work in the quarry was “refused” or “rejected.” One of the holes going down in the rock even became a prison where escape was impossible. Nowadays, that pit is called Jeremiah’s grotto. It may be where the prophet was lowered, sinking into mire, because he prophesied against the governmental system. Imagine the headline, “Jeremiah jailed – What do prophets know about politics anyway?”
- Broken Cistern: Close by the grotto, in the rock wall that was “refused” or “forsaken” for further quarrying, are the remains of a cistern that existed before Jeremiah’s time. The side of the cistern closest to the quarry collapsed as builders who carved came too close. The other sides of it are cracked and unable to hold water. This may have been the very image that Jeremiah saw and used as he prophesied Israel’s future: “. . . they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out . . . broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)
- Being Strengthened: Jeremiah must have felt crushed, yet he patiently and courageously continued to testify of the Lord. The grotto in the quarry, where he may have been imprisoned, is both where the Rock and the Water was rejected by some. Yet for others the same place becomes a strengthening witness of the Fountain of Living Waters and the Rock of Salvation.