Jeremiah and the Wine Jars

Amphora, Isle of Hydra, Aegean Sea (photo by Rose Berger)
Amphora, Isle of Hydra, Aegean Sea (photo by Rose Berger)

From this morning’s scripture reading:

“You shall speak to them this word: ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, “Every jar shall be filled with wine.”‘ And they will say to you, ‘Do we not indeed know that every jar will be filled with wine?’ Then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD: Behold, I will fill with drunkenness all the inhabitants of this land: the kings who sit on David’s throne, the priests, the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And I will dash them one against another, fathers and sons together, says the LORD. I will not pity or spare or have compassion, that I should not destroy them.'” Hear and give ear; be not proud, for the LORD has spoken.”–Jeremiah 13:12-15

“The figure of full wine jars is used to assert that all inhabitants of the community will be filled with drunkenness (Jeremiah 13:13). But the metaphor remains enigmatic, until it is recognized that drunkenness may be taken as a protoapocalyptic figure for instability and judgement. The notion of drunkenness here is not related to immorality, but to loss of equilibrium, of being dizzy and unbalanced. The image is of a person so unstable, as in crazy drunk, that they will bump against and hurt each other. They will be helpless, unable to act differently, or responsibly. They will be at the mercy of their condition, out of control. Indeed, the only one who could save them from this uncontrolled act of self-destruction is Yahweh.” — Walter Brueggemann (“A Commentary on Jeremiah: Exile and Homecoming,” p. 129)

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