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חֶ֖רֶשׂ (ḥe·reś) = Clay pot or earthenware vessel or potsherd?

Posted 07-12-2023 at 09:09 AM by HSong

Hi everyone. Here is a conversation that I believe is interesting, where I talked with someone about the different interpretations of the word "חֶ֖רֶשׂ (ḥe·reś)" and how so many Bible versions translate it drastically differently from one another

This is odd. I remember there was your reply before juli, however now I cannot see it? Nevertheless, I will post my reply to your post here, as I typed it anyways. ____

Rev. Andrew (he/him)Today at 9:56 AM

Juli's message is in another channel,

⁠service , but this one is fine too.

Harold Samson (he/him)Today at 9:56 AM

Ohhh my apologies. I had the dropdown menu for "Visitors and Guests" closed. I thought this was the only channel for a moment

Actually, I think I can move it there, let me see

Harold Samson (he/him)Yesterday at 7:41 PM

Isaiah 45:9

Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker,

those who are nothing but potsherds

among the potsherds on the ground.

Does the clay say to the potter,

‘What are you making?’

Does your work say,

‘The potter has no hands’?

(NIV) A potsherd is a broken fragment of a pot, one clay pot חֶ֖רֶשׂ (ḥe·reś) Strong's 2789: Earthenware, earthen vessel, sherd, potsherd. Indeed, we are like earthen vessels. We, humans of the earth, with our bodies as vessels for our souls, are all sinners. We have all broken the law of God, our Maker. Thus, with His hands, He will convince all of us through His own hands to believe in Christ, to be repaired from our sins. Can the annihilationist clay say to the potter “What are you making? Salvation for all? Don’t you want to permanently destroy the sinners?” Can the infernalist clay say “The potter can not save everybody because He has no hands?”

Juli (she/they) - ClerkYesterday at 11:19 PM

@Harold Samson (he/him) we have an informal convention that we treat these forums like the church hall and so introduce comments like the above that are like a flyer or speech not conversation with why it's important to us or why we think others would find it interesting. Also, while you are welcome and encouraged to read the Bible in any translation that works well for you, in church forums we try to use the CEB or explain why we thought a different translation was better for that particular passage. I'd love to know why you wanted to share this with us.

Harold Samson (he/him)Today at 9:57 AM

Hi Juli my friend. I am curious of the interpretation that Rev. Andrew may have on this verse as it relates to Universal Reconciliation, if they wish.

Since the last conversation was not replied to in a few days, I have used the post above as a conversation starter for those who may wish to discuss this particular scripture as well, not just to them, as I'm curious what others may think of my personal interpretation with how it aligns with Christian Universalism. My apologies for any confusion. I believe it’s useful to speak economically, but maybe I jumped too quickly into it lol. It's why I include the Hebrew word חֶ֖רֶשׂ (ḥe·reś) there, as sometimes it's worded as "clay pot" or "pot" or "earthenware vessel". There’s a lot of variance when it comes to how it’s worded, which is intriguing. I also use multiple translation versions, so I appreciate you telling me about this CEB version. Since I’m curious, I put in the Isaiah 45:9 verse inside the Common English Bible and here is what I see Doom to the one who argues with the potter, as if he were just another clay pot! Does the clay say to the potter, “What are you making?”

Interesting. It seems the New International Version takes a big creative liberty by adding the whole line “those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground.”

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dic...y/english/doom Doom = death, destruction, or any very bad situation that cannot be avoided: Even though the CEB uses the word “doom”, I do not see it as a permanent destruction like the Annihlationists see it nor deathly torture as the Infernalists. Rather, an unavoidable Strong's Hebrew: 5769. עוֹלָם (olam) (pertaining to an age) punishment. Hmm… but maybe you’re interested in a more meta reason? Not why I posted this particular verse, but rather, why I posted this here at all?

The reason I start this conversation though is because, as a Christian Universalist, I find it hard to find other people to talk with in person. My own mother has been constantly telling me to stop talking to people online about Christianity. And I posted before on another Discord server, but it received a lot of pushback from a person who is not a Christian Universalist. On other forums, I have been banned for speaking of Christian Universalism even. So, places like this where people can discuss Christian Universalism openly are quite hard to find. A lot of times, instead of providing their analysis on the verses I provide in particular, I find, many people see that I believe in the concept of “Universal Salvation through Christ” and then may try to debate it. So then, the conversation can go off topic from the specific verse as I then get verses that prove Christian Universalism is true. It can get tiring, the constant back and forth, so I’m interested in variety. Discussion preferably over debate, more relaxing that way lol. Still though, Juli, I appreciate your response, my friend. Even though it was not necessarily the sort of reply I was expecting, still it’s definitely more relaxing then how I’m treated elsewhere! God bless!
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  1. Old Comment
    A continuation of this study

    A discussion within the Community Universalist Church

    Juli says
    Thanks for replying. I'm personally not really interested in debating universal reconciliation or anything related to God's love with anyone (answering folks sincere questions, sure). When people want to debate, they want to be right, not for both of us to learn. I'm much more interested in talking about the next steps.
    If we are all going to be forgiven, what does that mean about how we should treat each other.

    My reply
    Thanks Juli, God bless. Good point. For me, I have trouble online discerning the difference between whether someone asks sincere questions or are merely asking rhetorical questions, it's tricky since a lot of emotional information like the tone of a person's voice, their facial expressions, are lost when communicating online.

    Juli says
    I think clay is an interesting metaphor here because it is very forgiving. If you mess up, you can start over. A broken pot or other fired clay can be reclaimed in many ways, even being crushed into grog and mixed with fresh clay as a tempering agent. It can always be reclaimed.

    My reply
    Oooo ok. I hadn't thought of it that way, that's very interesting! I really like that line of thinking

    Rev. Andrew says
    I definitely agree with Juli about being tired of debating about universal salvation. On the one hand, I think it is important to engage with the scripture verses that folks are having a hard time with, but on the other hand, we can get into the pattern of only talking about salvation and nothing else, as I commonly see in other CU spaces. There's a Christian Universalist Discord server that I ended up leaving because I was tired of the all the arguing and rhetoric.

    My Reply
    Ahhh I relate to that. Thanks for your reply Rev. Andrew! When I look back on how I found out about Christian Universalism (I used to be an Annihlationist), it was less so me debating with others, and more so me searching for resources online. So I think that's what you mean by "engage with the scripture verses"? Less so debating infernalist verses people bring up, and more so addressing them in a study

    Rev. Andrew says
    A lot of the folks who come to CU spaces online are coming from an evangelical Christian background and as such they are used to having to prove everything, they believe by pointing to scripture, but personally, although I think it is important to engage with scripture, I don't consider the Bible to be inerrant or the literal words of God, so I am much more interested in talking about trends or stories as opposed to specific verses.

    My reply
    Ohhhh that's interesting! Just from my own personal viewpoint, I haven't seen much people online in general who do not hold the thought of biblical inerrancy or biblical literalism. Maybe it's just the Christian Universalist search spaces (like the evangelical Christian backgrounds) that you mention that seem to dominate the search result pages lol. Still, I was not aware, so I appreciate your transparency about your beliefs my friend <3
    [Editor note start: Personally, I hold the viewpoint of biblical inerrancy, meaning all of the Bible is true. In terms of biblical literalism, I personally believe parts of the Bible are metaphoric, not meant to be taken literally, like the parables
    2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
    John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. Editor note end]

    Rev. Andrew says
    That being said, I have a very similar reference on my apron from another of the Old Testament prophets:
    Jeremiah 18:1-4
    (Text reads: "Perfectly Imperfect on the Potter's Wheel" - 2016 Annual Conference - South Central Conference of the United Church of Christ)

    That scripture reference is to this:
    Jeremiah received the LORD’s word: Go down to the potter’s house, and I’ll give you instructions about what to do there. So I went down to the potter’s house; he was working on the potter’s wheel. But the piece he was making was flawed while still in his hands, so the potter started on another, as seemed best to him. (Jeremiah 18:1-4, CEB)
    The quote from Isaiah seems to be in conversation with this quote from Jeremiah:
    Doom to the one who argues with the potter, as if he were just another clay pot! Does the clay say to the potter, “What are you making?” or “Your work has no handles”? (Isaiah 45:9, CEB)
    Isaiah is saying that it is arrogant for us, as God's creation, to question God as if God were also a creature the same as we are. I don't think that quote is saying anything at all about salvation or the afterlife.

    Ohhhh I see. Thanks for the commentary my friend! I had not made the connection with the Jeremiah 18:1-4 verse before, but thinking about it, it makes sense! So it looks like the clay and potter story may be more of a metaphor for our present situation, like our earthly lives, instead. Hmm… I think… if certain people (pieces) are flawed, it would be arrogant for us to add human assumptions on God’s plan for that person. Interesting!

    Overall, I appreciate this discussion Juli and Rev. Andrew my friends! Thinking about my initial introduction, I understand the confusion that may have generated, you have my apologies. So much of the Christianity-sphere is filled with debates. People picking apart every little word in Hebrew/Greek XD. I think scripture can lose some of it’s charm when hyper analyzing every grammatical morpheme. Sometimes I may even fall for that trap lol, deconstructing a verse and adding extra interpretations to it when it could be purely poetic. Still, this has certainly given me much to think about! I thank you for your insightful replies and I wish you all a blessed day in the Lord
    Posted 07-13-2023 at 03:58 PM by HSong HSong is offline

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