The glory of the Jews should be marred. (1-11) All ranks should suffer misery, An earnest exhortation to repentance. (12-17) An awful message to Jerusalem and its king. (18-27)
Verses 1-11 It was usual with the prophets to teach by signs. And we have the explanation, ver. ( 9-11 ) . The people of Israel had been to God as this girdle. He caused them to cleave to him by the law he gave them, the prophets he sent among them, and the favours he showed them. They had by their idolatries and sins buried themselves in foreign earth, mingled among the nations, and were so corrupted that they were good for nothing. If we are proud of learning, power, and outward privileges, it is just with God to wither them. The minds of men should be awakened to a sense of their guilt and danger; yet nothing will be effectual without the influences of the Spirit.
Verses 12-17 As the bottle was fitted to hold the wine, so the sins of the people made them vessels of wrath, fitted for the judgments of God; with which they should be filled till they caused each other's destruction. The prophet exhorts them to give glory to God, by confessing their sins, humbling themselves in repentance, and returning to his service. Otherwise they would be carried into other countries in all the darkness of idolatry and wickedness. All misery, witnessed or foreseen, will affect a feeling mind, but the pious heart must mourn most over the afflictions of the Lord's flock.
Verses 18-27 Here is a message sent to king Jehoiakim, and his queen. Their sorrows would be great indeed. Do they ask, Wherefore come these things upon us? Let them know, it is for their obstinacy in sin. We cannot alter the natural colour of the skin; and so is it morally impossible to reclaim and reform these people. Sin is the blackness of the soul; it is the discolouring of it; we were shapen in it, so that we cannot get clear of it by any power of our own. But Almighty grace is able to change the Ethiopian's skin. Neither natural depravity, nor strong habits of sin, form an obstacle to the working of God, the new-creating Spirit. The Lord asks of Jerusalem, whether she is determined not be made clean. If any poor slave of sin feels that he could as soon change his nature as master his headstrong lusts, let him not despair; for things impossible to men are possible with God. Let us then seek help from Him who is mighty to save.
Jeremiah 13:1-27 . SYMBOLICAL PROPHECY ( Jeremiah 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 ( Jeremiah 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 ( Jeremiah 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 ( Ezekiel 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 Isaiah 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. ( Leviticus 26:19 ).
10. imagination--rather, "obstinacy."
11. ( Jeremiah 33:9 , Exodus 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 ( Jeremiah 25:15 , 49:12 , Isaiah 51:17 Isaiah 51:21 Isaiah 51:22 , 63:6 ).
13. upon David's throne--literally, who sit for David on his throne; implying the succession of the Davidic family ( Jeremiah 22:4 ).
all--indiscriminately of every rank.
14. dash--( Psalms 2:9 ). As a potter's vessel ( Revelation 2:27 ).
15. be not proud--Pride was the cause of their contumacy, as humility is the first step to obedience ( Jeremiah 13:17 , Psalms 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 ( Isaiah 5:30 , Isaiah 59:9 Isaiah 59:10 , Amos 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 ( John 11:10 , 12:35 ).
shadow of death--the densest gloom; death shade ( Psalms 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 ( Philippians 3:18 ). Job 33:17 ).
flock--( Jeremiah 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 ( 2 Kings 24:8-15 ).
Humble yourselves--that is, Ye shall be humbled, or brought low ( Jeremiah 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 ( Isaiah 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 ( 2 Kings 24:10 2 Kings 24:11 ), that none shall be allowed by the enemy to get out (compare Jeremiah 13:20 ).
wholly--literally, "fully"; completely.
20. from . . . north--Nebuchadnezzar and his hostile army ( Jeremiah 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 . . . thee . . . thy flock), and asks where is the population ( Jeremiah 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, Jeremiah 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 Jeremiah 2:18 Jeremiah 2:36 , 2 Kings 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].
22. if thou say--connecting this verse with "What wilt thou say" ( Jeremiah 13:21 )?
skirts discovered--that is, are thrown up so as to expose the person ( Jeremiah 13:26 , Isaiah 3:17 , Nahum 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 ( Jeremiah 13:24 ).
24. ( Psalms 1:4 ).
by the wind--before 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 , Psalms 11:6 ).
falsehood--( Jeremiah 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 ( Nahum 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 ( Lamentations 1:8 ).
27. neighings--( Jeremiah 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 Jeremiah 13:23 ). Jeremiah denies the moral possibility of one so long hardened in sin becoming soon cleansed. But see Jeremiah 32:17 , Luke 18:27 .