Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
The present prophecy Jer. 19-20 is to be taken in close connection with the preceding. Jeremiah chooses a vessel baked in the fire, and therefore incapable of being re-shaped (compare Jer 18:1, note; Jer 18:6, note). It is the symbol of the obdurate, of those who have taken their final form Rev 22:11. In solemn procession he must bear the vessel out to the place of doom, the valley of Gehenna. There he was to break the vessel; and just as all the art of the potter would be of no avail to restore the broken fragments, so did God proclaim the final destruction of Jerusalem such as it then was, and of that generation which inhabited it.
Get (i. e., purchase) a potter's earthen bottle - The "bottle" was a flask with a long neck, and took its name from the noise made by liquids in running out.
The ancients - These "elders" were the regularly constituted representatives of the people (see Jer 29:1; Num 11:16), and the organization lasted down to our Saviour's time Mat 26:47. Similarly the priests had also their representatives Kg2 19:2. Accompanied thus by the representatives of Church and State, the prophet was to carry the earthen bottle, the symbol of their mean origin and frail existence, outside the walls of Jerusalem.
The valley ... - See Jer 7:31 note.
The east gate - Others render "the pottery gate." Two gates led into the valley of Hinnom, the Fountain-gate at the southeast corner, and the Dung-gate on the southwest side of Zion; some think that "the east gate" was neither of these, but a small or postern gate, used for throwing out rubbish, the valley having been put to this degrading use from the time that Josiah defiled it Kg2 23:10. And thus the mean symbol of a proud nation was carried out through a back door to be broken upon the heaps of refuse already cast there.
Kings - Plural because the message Jer 19:3-9, related not especially to the reigning king, but to the whole royal house.
Have estranged this place - They have not recognized the sanctity of this place, but have treated it as a strange place, by worshipping in it strange gods.
Innocents - i. e., guiltless persons.
Make void - The verb used here is that from which "bottle" Jer 19:1 is derived, and as it represents the sound made by the water running out, it would be better translated, "pour out." Jeremiah perhaps carried the bottle to Tophet full of water, the symbol in the East of life Isa 35:6; Isa 41:18, and at these words emptied it before the assembled elders.
Made whole again - literally, "healed." In this lies the distinction between this symbol and that of Jer 18:4. The plastic clay can be shaped and re-shaped until the potter forms with it the vessel he had predetermined: the broken bottle is of no further use, but its fragments are cast away forever upon the heaps of rubbish deposited in Tophet.
Because of all - literally, "with reference to all," limiting the denunciation to those houses whose roofs had been defiled with altars.
Upon whose roofs they have burned incense - See Kg2 23:12, note.
Since it was this repetition of the prophecy in the temple which so greatly irritated Pashur, these two verses ought to be joined to the next chapter.