[b-hebrew] Leviticus 11:33

George F Somsel gfsomsel at juno.com
Wed Jun 15 03:24:00 EDT 2005

On Tue, 14 Jun 2005 18:24:57 -0400 "Lisbeth S. Fried"
<lizfried at umich.edu> writes:
> Dear All,
> This probably is not strictly a question of the
> Hebrew, but what type of earthenware vessel is
> implied here (Lev. 11:33)?
> Milgrom (1991:675) says that the prohibition would
> not apply to glazed clay which does not absorb
> impurities or to unfired clay which would maintain
> its status as soil, and so cannot be contaminated.
> I don't understand what type of vessel is left
> then which must be broken.
> Thanks.
> Liz Fried

The _Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament_, ed. Harris, Archer &
Waltke states s.v.
759     XR% (?rs). Assumed root of the following. 
759a     XeRe% (?eres) earthenware.
759b    XeReS (?eres) an eruptive disease (Deut 28:27).
759c     XRSWT (?rswt) (Kethib), XaR:SiYT (?arsi^t) (Qere) potsherds (Jer
This word, which occurs seventeen times, represents the potter’s product
(Isa 45:9) which is dried and fired (Ps 22:15 [H 16]), or even glazed
(Prov 26:23). Bottles (baqbuq), bowls (keli^), and pots/pitchers (nebel)
are made of it. It is in vessels made of ?eres that documents were stored
(Jer 32:14). ?eres can apply generally to a vessel (Prov 26:23), or it
can mean pieces of potsherd at least large enough to use to carry a coal
from a hearth or dip water for a drink (Isa 30:14). Hence, ?eres is the
baked clay so commonly unearthed by archaeologists.
Being porous, it absorbed the fat of holy things and the uncleanness of
unclean things. Thus it was to be broken when contacted by either
holiness or uncleanness (Lev 6:28 [H 21]; Num 15:12). A clay vessel was
to be used in the trial of jealousy (Num 5:17) and in leprosy
purification rites, symbolizing man’s commonness before God. The Psalmist
prophetically compares the Messiah’s strength to a dried up and baked
piece of clay (potsherd, Ps 22:15 [H 16]). During the exile the “most
precious” royalty of Israel became as valueless and common as clay pots
(Lam 4:2). God reminds the people of their relative worthlessness and
vulnerability by comparing them to clay vessels (Isa 45:9). Jeremiah
(19:1) bought (and subsequently broke) an earthenware pot to symbolize
how Israel had so absorbed sin that they had to be destroyed according to
God’s law regarding polluted pottery (Lev 11:33).

It would appear that it does refer only to fired clay, but other than
that, it doesn't seem to specify whether it is glazed or not.


More information about the b-hebrew mailing list