And he shall break it as the breaking of the potters' vessel that is broken in pieces; he shall not spare…
The passage is literally, "And its shivering (שֶׁבֶר shever, from which perhaps comes our 'shiver') shall be like the shivering of a potter's vessel, a shattering unsparingly; so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a potsherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water out of the pit." Bearing in mind the size and strength of many potters' vessels in Palestine, it is clear, that a mere dashing out of the hand upon the ground would fail to effect a "shivering" anything like this. To what then do the prophets refer? We think the matter admits of a very clear explanation. One of the most constant features of the land is the well or "beer," which, as no rain falls for many months together, and springs and streams are rare, becomes an essential adjunct to every house. In these large underground structures rainwater is collected from surface drainage, and stored for use during the year. The "Moabite stone" records an act, passed by Mesha, King of Moab, so far back as the days of Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, directing every man to make a "beer," or rain cistern, in his house. But such testimony would not be needed to establish the great age of these huge artificial cisterns. They abound everywhere, and many of them, In fine preservation, mark the sites of very ancient cities, where no other structure remains. There are no less than thirty of them, some of vast size, built on piers, and arched like the crypt of a church, to be found within the precincts of the temple area at Jerusalem. They are specially numerous in the fine olive grove to the north of the city, where they are in such a ruinous condition, apparently from extreme age, that they now form a series of dangerous pitfalls. In addition to these wells is to be found a system of immense artificial pools, or rain reservoirs, which are often referred to in the Bible, and of which no less than seven may now be traced in and around Jerusalem itself. To all these cisterns and reservoirs, whether cut in the rock, or built of rough masonry, one thing is common. To render them perfectly watertight, a peculiar cement has to be used. This cement is composed partly of lime and partly of a large admixture of what is called in Arabic, "homrah." This "homrah" is nothing else than broken pottery of every description, ground down generally into very small pieces, and sometimes into powder. It answers excellently the purpose for which it is employed. Every year it grows harder; until, in the case of those wells and pools where it is presumably many hundred years old, it is as firm as the rock to which it adheres. This "homrah" is consequently an article of daily commerce throughout the country. Its preparation by the peasants still remains the same simple and striking sight that must always have been familiar to the dwellers in every Judean town, but especially to those who lived within the waterless precincts of Zion.
(J. Neil, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he shall break it as the breaking of the potters' vessel that is broken in pieces; he shall not spare: so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal out of the pit.
WEB: He will break it as a potter's vessel is broken, breaking it in pieces without sparing, so that there won't be found among the broken piece a piece good enough to take fire from the hearth, or to dip up water out of the cistern."