Potter and Pottery

Pottery, Rasheiyet el Fukhar

This place, as its name implies, is famous for its potter's clay. Its furnaces are dome-shaped and capable of burning enormous jars. The potter, mounted on a high seat, sets the wheel in motion with his foot and shapes the clay with his hand. The man beyond is adding handles to the jars . . . . A foreigner visiting the different cities of Syria is surprised at the amount of ware of this kind that is exposed for sale, and also at the remarkable variety in the size and shape of the various articles. The trade of the potter in Palestine is always good, because what he produces is always in demand. Were these articles costly, the case might be different; but, on the contrary, the necessary ones are within the means of the poorest person. Four small water-coolers can be bought for a penny . . . .(Source: Picturesque Palestine, vol. 2, p. 125-127.)

Kiln Where Pottery is Baked

Something more than half an hour to the right from the bed of Wâdy Khureibeh is a village of considerable size called Râsheiyet el Fŭkhâr. The potteries of this place are celebrated throughout Syria. The pottery is carried south into Palestine, east into the Haurân and the markets of Damascus, north to Hums (Emessa) and Hamah (Hamath), and west to the cities of the sea-coast. All kinds of household vessels are made here, and some of the articles are highly ornamented. Considering how remote in the mountains this village is, and the unusually rugged and difficult paths which connect it with any possible market, and also the fact that all this fragile stuff has to be transported on the backs of mules and donkeys, it is a wonder that any of it ever reaches its destination in a perfect state. (Source: Picturesque Palestine, vol. 2, pp. 126.)

The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: "Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will let you hear my words." So I went down to the potter's house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the LORD came to me: "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel . . . . Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: 'Thus says the LORD, behold, I am shaping disaster against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your deeds.' (Jeremiah 18:1-6, 11; ESV.)

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