Jeremiah Chapter 13  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Jeremiah 13
Jer 13:1

“linen loincloth.” The Hebrew word translated “loincloth” in the REV (cp. NAB, NRSV) has been translated many different ways in the English versions, including “belt” (NIV, NLT); “girdle” )KJV, ASV); “sash” (NKJV); “shorts” (TEV; GNB); “waistband” (NASB); and “waistcloth” (RSV). Scholars have determined that the article of clothing was less like a belt and likely more like a short skirt that was worn next to the body, perhaps even reaching the knees.

The reason God chose that particular piece of clothing is explained in Jeremiah 13:9-11. The loincloth represented God’s people, and just as a loincloth clings to a person, God said that He “made to cling to me [God] the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah.” It is also likely implied that just as a loincloth provided for modesty (holiness) so God wanted Israel to be holy and magnify His holiness. It is also important that God specified that the loincloth be made of linen, because the priest’s clothing was to be made of linen (Exod. 28:5-8, 15, 39, 42; cp. Ezek. 44:17-18). Although the reason for that is not specifically stated, it was likely to show God’s intent for Israel, that it was to be a kingdom of priests and magnify God’s glory to the world (Exod. 19:5-6). Sadly, just as the loincloth Jeremiah bought was ruined, so Israel failed miserably in their God-given role as priests or even as obedient worshipers.

Jer 13:2(top)
Jer 13:3(top)
Jer 13:4

“go to the Euphrates.” The Hebrew text reads perath, and in other places in the Old Testament the word perath is used to refer to the Euphrates River, but does that make sense here? The Euphrates was some 350 miles (565 km) from Anathoth, making a round trip of 700 miles. For comparison, people traveling from Persia to Jerusalem, a journey of some 800 miles, took 100 days (Ezra 7:9). This would mean that Jeremiah would have had to have left Israel for three months twice to carry out God’s command, which seems unlikely. Many places in the Bible have the same name, and given the seemingly unlikely journey that Jeremiah would have had to have made to the Euphrates River, scholars have suggested other places for perath. A likely one is the area of the spring whose water runs down the Wadi Ferah, which would only be about 4 miles from Anathoth. There is no way to tell for certain, and the lesson of the loincloth does not depend on where it was hidden by Jeremiah. Just as Jeremiah ignored the loincloth, God would now seem to ignore Judah and let it be destroyed.

Jer 13:5(top)
Jer 13:6(top)
Jer 13:7(top)
Jer 13:8(top)
Jer 13:9

“In this way I will ruin the pride of Judah.” This could simply refer to the fact that just as the loincloth was totally ruined, so the pride of Judah would be totally destroyed. However, there may also be the lesson that as the loincloth was ignored and eventually ruined, Judah had been so sinful and willfully disobedient that God would ignore them until they were destroyed.

Jer 13:10

“good for nothing.” Or, “not profitable for anything,” thus “worthless.” People who consistently disobey and defy God are worthless to him—worse than worthless if they harm His people—and their end will be the same as worthless cloth; thrown out with the garbage and burned in the fire (Rev. 20:11-15).

“to worship them.” Or, “to bow down to them.” The same Hebrew verb, shachah (#07812 שָׁחָה), is translated as both “bow down” and “worship;” traditionally “worship” if God is involved and “bow down” if people are involved, but the verb and action are the same, the act of bowing down is the worship. The common biblical way of bowing down before people or God was to fall to one’s knees and bow the upper body to the earth. [For more on bowing down, see commentary on 1 Chron. 29:20].

Jer 13:11(top)
Jer 13:12

“skin-bottle.” A “bottle” or container made from animal skin. [For more on skin-bottles, which were usually made from the skins of goats, see commentary on 1 Sam. 10:3].

“every skin-bottle will be filled with wine.” Jeremiah was giving a prophecy about the coming wrath upon Judah and Jerusalem, but the people did not understand him. But the Bible speaks of the wine of God’s wrath in a number of places (cp. Jer. 25:15; Rev. 14:10; 16:19). In Jeremiah 25:15, God speaks of the wine of His wrath that will be given to all the nations. The wine of God’s wrath was poured out on Judah, and it will be poured out again in the future on the AntiChrist and his kingdom.

Jer 13:13(top)
Jer 13:14(top)
Jer 13:15(top)
Jer 13:16

“Give glory to Yahweh your God, before he causes darkness.” This is metaphorical language for the coming disaster. The “darkness” is the darkness of death and destruction, for example, Amos speaks of the coming Day of the Lord as being a day of darkness (Amos 5:18-20; 8:9). To give glory to Yahweh before he brings the darkness is to repent and confess your sins before disaster comes.

Jer 13:17

“my soul will weep in secret.” Jeremiah was deeply hurt by the godlessness of his people, Israel. He wept over them both for their coming destruction by Babylon but also because they would not have everlasting life.

“will be taken captive.” The Hebrew text is literally, “has been taken captive,” but this is the idiom of the prophetic perfect, where a future event is written about as if it had already happened, it was so certain it was “as good as done.” English readers do not usually understand the prophetic perfect and it confuses them.

[For more on the prophetic perfect idiom, see commentary on Eph. 2:6].

Jer 13:18

“queen-mother.” The Hebrew word translated “queen-mother” is gebereth (#01404 גְּבֶרֶת), and in this context the “queen-mother” is the mother of the king (BDB Hebrew and English lexicon). The Queen-mother was the most powerful woman in the kingdom, much more powerful than any of the wives of the king, who often did not have much real power at all.

Jer 13:19

“The cities of the Negev are closed up.” Although that kept the enemy out, it also kept relief from coming in and people leaving to try to escape the coming destruction.

“it is wholly carried away captive.” This is the figure hyperbole, exaggeration. Although the majority of the people were carried away captive to Babylon, not all of them were (cp. 2 Kings 24-25, esp. 2 Kings 25:12).

Jer 13:20

“Lift up your eyes and see those who are coming from the north.” The Babylonian army was coming from the north. Jeremiah had said the enemy was coming from the north many times before (Jer. 1:14-15; 4:6; 6:1, 22; 10:22; 25:9; 47:2; 50:3; ). The leaders of Judah were evil and blinded by their arrogance, and some of them wrongly thought that because God’s temple was in Jerusalem they would be protected (cp. Jer. 7:1-15, esp. v. 4).

“Where is the flock that was given to you.” The “flock,” the people of Judah and Jerusalem, are exposed and helpless against the Babylonian army.

Jer 13:21

“those whom you yourself have taught to be friends to you.” Judah had cultivated a friendship with Babylon that extended back to Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:12-19), but now the Babylonians would attack and conquer Judah.

Jer 13:22

“and your heels are violated.” The Hebrew is more literally, “your heels have suffered violence.” This verse uses the idiom of “heels” representing the pubic area and genitalia, which are often spoken of idiomatically as “feet” (see commentary on Judg. 5:27). God is portraying Judah as a woman and saying her skirt has been stripped off and she has been raped.

Jer 13:23(top)
Jer 13:24

“by the wind from the desert.” Jeremiah had prophesied about a desert wind earlier (cp. Jer. 4:11-12).

Jer 13:25

“your lot.” The word “lot” is the regular word for a “lot” that is cast. It is as if the people played dice with God and lost. Their fate is how their “lot” came up when it was cast.

“and trusted in falsehood.” The Hebrew can also be translated, “trusted in the Lie,” that is, trusted in Baal, and that might be the most proper translation.

Jer 13:26

“your shame will be seen.” The word “shame” is used idiomatically for the genital area when it had been exposed in shameful situations. A lot of pagan worship involved il­licit sex, and the people of Judah had become caught up in it. Therefore, Jeremiah prophesied of the time when the Babylonians would conquer Judah because they had forgotten God and trusted in false gods, and so God said, “Therefore I will also pull up your skirts over your face[hp]and your shame will be seen.” (Jer. 13:26). Nahum 3:5 has a similar use. A New Testament reference is Revelation 16:15. “Shame” is used for the genital area; for other sexual idioms see commentary on Leviticus 18:6.

Also, “shame will be seen” means more than just “seen.” While it is true that what will happen to Judah will reveal the shame of her practices in defying God and worshiping other gods and oppressing the people, the phrase “will be seen” idiomatically can refer to the woman having sexual intercourse, in this context, being raped (cp. Lev. 20:17; Ezek. 16:37), and the Babylonian army would rape the land and also, literally, many of the women.

Jer 13:27

lustful neighing.” As mentioned in Jeremiah 5:8, men neighing after their neighbor’s wife.

“On the hills and in the fields.” The idolatry and idolatrous practices were everywhere, not just localized to certain temples.


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