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The Linen Loincloth


Thus said the L ord to me, “Go and buy yourself a linen loincloth, and put it on your loins, but do not dip it in water.” 2So I bought a loincloth according to the word of the L ord, and put it on my loins. 3And the word of the L ord came to me a second time, saying, 4“Take the loincloth that you bought and are wearing, and go now to the Euphrates, and hide it there in a cleft of the rock.” 5So I went, and hid it by the Euphrates, as the L ord commanded me. 6And after many days the L ord said to me, “Go now 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. But now the loincloth was ruined; it was good for nothing.

8 Then the word of the L ord came to me: 9Thus says the L ord: Just so I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own will 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 one’s loins, so I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, says the L ord, in order that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory. But they would not listen.


Symbol of the Wine-Jars

12 You shall speak to them this word: Thus says the L ord, the God of Israel: Every wine-jar should be filled with wine. And they will say to you, “Do you think we do not know that every wine-jar should be filled with wine?” 13Then you shall say to them: Thus says the L ord: I am about to fill all the inhabitants of this land—the kings who sit on David’s throne, the priests, the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem—with drunkenness. 14And I will dash them one against another, parents and children together, says the L ord. I will not pity or spare or have compassion when I destroy them.


Exile Threatened


Hear and give ear; do not be haughty,

for the L ord has spoken.


Give glory to the L ord your God

before he brings darkness,

and before your feet stumble

on the mountains at twilight;

while you look for light,

he turns it into gloom

and makes it deep darkness.


But 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 L ord’s flock has been taken captive.



Say to the king and the queen mother:

“Take a lowly seat,

for your beautiful crown

has come down from your head.”


The towns of the Negeb are shut up

with no one to open them;

all Judah is taken into exile,

wholly taken into exile.



Lift up your eyes and see

those who come from the north.

Where is the flock that was given you,

your beautiful flock?


What will you say when they set as head over you

those whom you have trained

to be your allies?

Will not pangs take hold of you,

like those of a woman in labor?


And 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 are violated.


Can Ethiopians change their skin

or leopards their spots?

Then also you can do good

who are accustomed to do evil.


I will scatter you like chaff

driven by the wind from the desert.


This is your lot,

the portion I have measured out to you, says the L ord,

because you have forgotten me

and trusted in lies.


I myself will lift up your skirts over your face,

and your shame will be seen.


I have seen your abominations,

your adulteries and neighings, your shameless prostitutions

on the hills of the countryside.

Woe to you, O Jerusalem!

How long will it be

before you are made clean?


Jeremiah pursues the subject, which we began to explain yesterday, for he saw that the Jews were but little moved by what he taught them. He bid them. to regard what he said as coming from God, and told them that they could by no means succeed by their pride. For the same purpose he now adds, Give glory to Jehovah your God To give glory to God is elsewhere taken for confessing the truth in his name; for when Joshua abjured Achan, he used these words, “Give glory to God, my son;” that is, As I have set God before you as a judge, beware lest you should think that if you lie you can escape his judgment. (Joshua 7:19) But here, to give glory to God, is the same as to ascribe to him what properly belongs to him, or to acknowledge his power so as to be submissive to his word: for if we deny faith to the prophets; we rob God of his glory, as we thus disown his power, and, as far as we can, diminish his glory. How indeed can we ascribe glory to God except by acknowledging him to be the fountain of all wisdom, justice, and power, and especially by trembling at his sacred word? Whosoever then does not fear and reverence God, whosoever does not believe his word, he robs him of his glory. We hence see that all the unbelieving, though they may testify the contrary by their mouths, are yet in reality enemies to God’s glory and deprive him of it.

This subject ought to be carefully noticed; for all ought to dread such a sacrilege as this, and yet there is no one who takes sufficient heed in this respect. We then see what instruction this expression conveys; it is as though he had said, that the Jews had hitherto acted contemptuously towards God, for they trembled not before him, as they had no faith in his word: and that it was now time for him to set God before them as their Judge, and also for them to know that they ought to have believed whatever God declared to them by his servants.

He says, Before he introduces darkness Others render it by a single word, “Before it grows dark,” but as the verb is in Hiphil, it ought to be taken in a causative sense. Some consider the word sun to be understood, but without reason; for the sun is not said to send darkness by its setting. But the Prophet removes all ambiguity by the words which immediately follow in the second clause, And turn light to the shadow of death, and turn it to thick darkness In these words the Prophet no doubt refers to God, so that the word God, used at the beginning of the verse, is to be understood here. 8383     All the versions and the Targum render the first verb intransitively, “Before it grows dark:” but Montanus, Pagninus, Piscator and Junius and Tremellius, give it a transitive meaning, as Calvin does, and no doubt correctly, for it is in Hiphil, “Before he causes or brings darkness;” or it may be rendered, “Before he makes it dark.” Blayney follows the early versions, but Gataker, Lowth, and Venema, the latter versions; and the conclusion of the verse confirms, as Calvin says, this meaning. — Ed.

Before God, he then says, sends darkness, and before your feet stumble on the mountains of obscurity The word נשף, neshiph, means the evening and the twilight; it means also the obscure light before the rising of the sun; but it is often taken for the whole night. We can render the words, “the mountains of density.” But the word, no doubt, means here obscurity. Some think that mountains are to be here taken metaphorically for Egypt; for the Jews were wont to flee there in their troubles. But there are safer recesses on mountains than on the plains; yet I know not whether this sense will be very suitable here. On the contrary, I prefer to regard the words as preceded by כ, caph, a particle of likeness, which is often understood, and the meaning would be thus suitable, “Before your feet stumble as on obscure mountains:” for there is more light on level grounds than on mountains, for darkness often fills narrow passes: the sun cannot penetrate there; and also the evening does not come on so soon on plains as in the recesses of mountains; for the Prophet refers not to the summits but to the narrow valleys, which receive not the oblique rays of the sun but for a few hours. But what if we give this rendering? “Before your feet stumble at the mountains of darkness;” for אל, al, has the meaning of at, 8484     This is a mistake, the preposition is על which means on, upon, etc.
   Our version of this sentence is in accordance with the early versions: it is indeed literally the Septuagint and the Vulgate. Yet it is not the original. The verb is in Hithpael, and means to strike or smite together, or against one another. The literal rendering is the following, —

   Before your feet smite one against the other,
On the mountains of gloominess (i.e. gloomy mountains.)

   It is true the word for “gloominess” means sometimes the twilight; but here it seems to signify a state somewhat dark or obscure. To wander and to stumble on gloomy mountains betokens the miserable condition of fugitives: and this is what is meant here. See Jeremiah 16:16; Ezekiel 7:16. Then what follows might be thus rendered, —

   When ye shall look anxiously for light,
Then will he make it the shadow of death,
He will turn it to thick darkness.

   When two vaus occur in a sentence, they may often be rendered when and then. The change proposed as to the last verb is not at all necessary. Literally it is, “He will set it (to be) for thick darkness.” — Ed.
as though the Prophet had said, that the darkness would be so thick that they could not discern mountains opposite them. As in the twilight or in darkness a traveler stumbles at the smallest stones, so also, when the darkness is very thick, even mountains are not perceived. It thus often happens that a person stumbles at mountains, and finds by his feet and his hands a stumblingblock before he perceives it by his eyes. As to myself, I wholly think that this is the right explanation, Before then your feet stumble at the dark mountains

He afterwards adds, When ye hope for light, he turns it to the shadow of death The word צלמות, tsalmut, as I have said elsewhere, is thought by grammarians to be composed of צל tsal, “shadow,” and of מות mut, which means “death,” and they render it “fatal darkness.” Then what he says is, “Before God turns light to darkness, turns it to thick darkness, give to him his glory.” And. hence we perceive more clearly what I have already referred to, that the verb יחשיך, icheshik, “will cause darkness,” ought to be applied to God.

But the sum of the whole is this, that they could anticipate God’s judgment by admitting him in time as their Judge, and also by receiving his word with more reverence than they had previously done. At the same time he declares that their hope was vain if they promised themselves light. But we must know that light is here to be taken metaphorically, as in many other places, and darkness also, its opposite, is to be so taken. Darkness means adversities, and light, peace and prosperity. The Prophet then says that the Jews deceived themselves, if they thought that their happiness would be perpetual, if they despised God and his prophets; and why? because it would have been the same as to disarm or to deprive him of his power, as though he was not the Judge of the world. He in short shews, that there was nigh at hand a most dreadful vengeance, except the Jews in time anticipated it and submitted themselves to God. It now follows —

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