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The Ruined Loincloth

1Thus says the Lord to me, “Go and buy a linen loincloth and put it around your waist, and do not dip it in water.” 2So I bought a loincloth according to the word of the Lord, and put it around my waist. 3And the word of the Lord came to me a second time, 4“Take the loincloth that you have bought, which is around your waist, and arise, go to the Euphrates and hide it there in a cleft of the rock.” 5So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the Lord commanded me. 6And after many days the Lord said to me, “Arise, go to the Euphrates, and take from there the loincloth that I commanded you to hide there.” 7Then I went to the Euphrates, and dug, and I took the loincloth from the place where I had hidden it. And behold, the loincloth was spoiled; it was good for nothing.

8Then the word of the Lord came to me: 9“Thus says the Lord: Even so will I spoil the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own heart and have gone after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be like this loincloth, which is good for nothing. 11For as the loincloth clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, declares the Lord, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory, but they would not listen.

The Jars Filled with Wine

12“You shall speak to them this word: ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “Every jar shall be filled with wine.”’ And they will say to you, ‘Do we not indeed know that every jar will be filled with wine?’ 13Then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord: Behold, I will fill with drunkenness all the inhabitants of this land: the kings who sit on David's throne, the priests, the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 14And I will dash them one against another, fathers and sons together, declares the Lord. I will not pity or spare or have compassion, that I should not destroy them.’”

Exile Threatened

15Hear and give ear; be not proud,
for the Lord has spoken.
16Give glory to the Lord your God
before he brings darkness,
before your feet stumble
on the twilight mountains,
and while you look for light
he turns it into gloom
and makes it deep darkness.
17But if you will not listen,
my soul will weep in secret for your pride;
my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears,
because the Lord's flock has been taken captive.

18Say to the king and the queen mother:
“Take a lowly seat,
for your beautiful crown
has come down from your head.”
19The cities of the Negeb are shut up,
with none to open them;
all Judah is taken into exile,
wholly taken into exile.

20“Lift up your eyes and see
those who come from the north.
Where is the flock that was given you,
your beautiful flock?
21What will you say when they set as head over you
those whom you yourself have taught to be friends to you?
Will not pangs take hold of you
like those of a woman in labor?
22And if you say in your heart,
‘Why have these things come upon me?’
it is for the greatness of your iniquity
that your skirts are lifted up
and you suffer violence.
23Can the Ethiopian change his skin
or the leopard his spots?
Then also you can do good
who are accustomed to do evil.
24I will scatter you11Hebrew them like chaff
driven by the wind from the desert.
25This is your lot,
the portion I have measured out to you, declares the Lord,
because you have forgotten me
and trusted in lies.
26I myself will lift up your skirts over your face,
and your shame will be seen.
27I have seen your abominations,
your adulteries and neighings, your lewd whorings,
on the hills in the field.
Woe to you, O Jerusalem!
How long will it be before you are made clean?”


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Jer 13:1-27. Symbolical Prophecy (Jer 13:1-7).

Many of these figurative acts being either not possible, or not probable, or decorous, seem to have existed only in the mind of the prophet as part of his inward vision. [So Calvin]. The world he moved in was not the sensible, but the spiritual, world. Inward acts were, however, when it was possible and proper, materialized by outward performance, but not always, and necessarily so. The internal act made a naked statement more impressive and presented the subject when extending over long portions of space and time more concentrated. The interruption of Jeremiah's official duty by a journey of more than two hundred miles twice is not likely to have literally taken place.

1. put it upon thy loins, &c.—expressing the close intimacy wherewith Jehovah had joined Israel and Judah to Him (Jer 13:11).

linen—implying it was the inner garment next the skin, not the outer one.

put it not in water—signifying the moral filth of His people, like the literal filth of a garment worn constantly next the skin, without being washed (Jer 13:10). Grotius understands a garment not bleached, but left in its native roughness, just as Judah had no beauty, but was adopted by the sole grace of God (Eze 16:4-6). "Neither wast thou washed in water," &c.

4. Euphrates—In order to support the view that Jeremiah's act was outward, Henderson considers that the Hebrew Phrath here is Ephratha, the original name of Beth-lehem, six miles south of Jerusalem, a journey easy to be made by Jeremiah. The non-addition of the word "river," which usually precedes Phrath, when meaning Euphrates, favors this view. But I prefer English Version. The Euphrates is specified as being near Babylon, the Jews future place of exile.

hole—typical of the prisons in which the Jews were to be confined.

the rock—some well-known rock. A sterile region, such as was that to which the Jews were led away (compare Isa 7:19) [Grotius].

6. after many days—Time enough was given for the girdle to become unfit for use. So, in course of time, the Jews became corrupted by the heathen idolatries around, so as to cease to be witnesses of Jehovah; they must, therefore, be cast away as a "marred" or spoiled girdle.

9. (Le 26:19).

10. imagination—rather, "obstinacy."

11. (Jer 33:9; Ex 19:5).

glory—an ornament to glory in.

12. A new image.

Do we not … know … wine—The "bottles" are those used in the East, made of skins; our word "hogshead," originally "oxhide," alludes to the same custom. As they were used to hold water, milk, and other liquids, what the prophet said (namely, that they should be all filled with wine) was not, as the Jews' taunting reply implied, a truism even literally. The figurative sense which is what Jeremiah chiefly meant, they affected not to understand. As wine intoxicates, so God's wrath and judgments shall reduce them to that state of helpless distraction that they shall rush on to their own ruin (Jer 25:15; 49:12; Isa 51:17, 21, 22; 63:6).

13. upon David's throne—literally, who sit for David on his throne; implying the succession of the Davidic family (Jer 22:4).

all—indiscriminately of every rank.

14. dash—(Ps 2:9). As a potter's vessel (Re 2:27).

15. be not proud—Pride was the cause of their contumacy, as humility is the first step to obedience (Jer 13:17; Ps 10:4).

16. Give glory, &c.—Show by repentance and obedience to God, that you revere His majesty. So Joshua exhorted Achan to "give glory to God" by confessing his crime, thereby showing he revered the All-knowing God.

stumble—image from travellers stumbling into a fatal abyss when overtaken by nightfall (Isa 5:30; 59:9, 10; Am 8:9).

dark mountains—literally, "mountains of twilight" or "gloom," which cast such a gloomy shadow that the traveller stumbles against an opposing rock before he sees it (Joh 11:10; 12:35).

shadow of death—the densest gloom; death shade (Ps 44:19). Light and darkness are images of prosperity and adversity.

17. hear it—my exhortation.

in secret—as one mourning and humbling himself for their sin, not self-righteously condemning them (Php 3:18).

pride—(see on Jer 13:15; Job 33:17).

flock—(Jer 13:20), just as kings and leaders are called pastors.

18. king—Jehoiachin or Jeconiah.

queen—the queen mother who, as the king was not more than eighteen years old, held the chief power. Nehushta, daughter of Elnathan, carried away captive with Jehoiachin by Nebuchadnezzar (2Ki 24:8-15).

Humble yourselves—that is, Ye shall be humbled, or brought low (Jer 22:26; 28:2).

your principalities—rather, "your head ornament."

19. cities of the south—namely, south of Judea; farthest off from the enemy, who advanced from the north.

shut up—that is, deserted (Isa 24:10); so that none shall be left to open the gates to travellers and merchants again [Henderson]. Rather, shut up so closely by Nebuchadnezzar's forces, sent on before (2Ki 24:10, 11), that none shall be allowed by the enemy to get out (compare Jer 13:20).

wholly—literally, "fully"; completely.

20. from … north—Nebuchadnezzar and his hostile army (Jer 1:14; 6:22).

flock … given thee—Jeremiah, amazed at the depopulation caused by Nebuchadnezzar's forces, addresses Jerusalem (a noun of multitude, which accounts for the blending of plural and singular, Your eyes … theethy flock), and asks where is the population (Jer 13:17, "flock") which God had given her?

21. captains, and as chief—literally, "princes as to headship"; or "over thy head," namely, the Chaldeans. Rather, translate, "What wilt thou say when God will set them (the enemies, Jer 13:20) above thee, seeing that thou thyself hast accustomed them (to be) with thee as (thy) lovers in the highest place (literally, 'at thy head')? Thou canst not say God does thee wrong, seeing it was thou that gave occasion to His dealing so with thee, by so eagerly courting their intimacy." Compare Jer 2:18, 36; 2Ki 23:29, as to the league of Judah with Babylon, which led Josiah to march against Pharaoh-necho, when the latter was about to attack Babylon [Maurer].

sorrows—pains, throes.

22. if thou say—connecting this verse with "What wilt thou say" (Jer 13:21)?

skirts discovered—that is, are thrown up so as to expose the person (Jer 13:26; Isa 3:17; Na 3:5).

heels made bare—The sandal was fastened by a thong above the heel to the instep. The Hebrew, is, "are violently handled," or "torn off"; that is, thou art exposed to ignominy. Image from an adulteress.

23. Ethiopian—the Cushite of Abyssinia. Habit is second nature; as therefore it is morally impossible that the Jews can alter their inveterate habits of sin, nothing remains but the infliction of the extremest punishment, their expatriation (Jer 13:24).

24. (Ps 1:4).

by the windbefore the wind.

of the wilderness—where the wind has full sweep, not being broken by any obstacle.

25. portion of thy measures—the portion which I have measured out to thee (Job 20:29; Ps 11:6).

falsehood—(Jer 13:27), false gods and alliances with foreign idolaters.

26. discover … upon thy face—rather, "throw up thy skirts over thy face," or head; done by way of ignominy to captive women and to prostitutes (Na 3:5). The Jews' punishment should answer to their crime. As their sin had been perpetrated in the most public places, so God would expose them to the contempt of other nations most openly (La 1:8).

27. neighings—(Jer 5:8), image from the lust of horses; the lust after idols degrades to the level of the brute.

hills—where, as being nearer heaven, sacrifices were thought most acceptable to the gods.

wilt thou not … ? when—literally, "thou wilt not be made clean after how long a time yet." (So Jer 13:23). Jeremiah denies the moral possibility of one so long hardened in sin becoming soon cleansed. But see Jer 32:17; Lu 18:27.




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