Jeremiah 13

A Linen Belt

1 This is what the LORD said to me: “Go and buy a linen belt and put it around your waist, but do not let it touch water.”
2 So I bought a belt, as the LORD directed, and put it around my waist.
3 Then the word of the LORD came to me a second time:
4 “Take the belt you bought and are wearing around your waist, and go now to Perath[a] and hide it there in a crevice in the rocks.”
5 So I went and hid it at Perath, as the LORD told me.
6 Many days later the LORD said to me, “Go now to Perath and get the belt I told you to hide there.”
7 So I went to Perath and dug up the belt and took it from the place where I had hidden it, but now it was ruined and completely useless.
8 Then the word of the LORD came to me:
9 “This is what the LORD says: ‘In the same way I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem.
10 These wicked people, who refuse to listen to my words, who follow the stubbornness of their hearts and go after other gods to serve and worship them, will be like this belt—completely useless!
11 For as a belt is bound around the waist, so I bound all the people of Israel and all the people of Judah to me,’ declares the LORD, ‘to be my people for my renown and praise and honor. But they have not listened.’


12 “Say to them: ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Every wineskin should be filled with wine.’ And if they say to you, ‘Don’t we know that every wineskin should be filled with wine?’
13 then tell them, ‘This is what the LORD says: I am going to fill with drunkenness all who live in this land, including the kings who sit on David’s throne, the priests, the prophets and all those living in Jerusalem.
14 I will smash them one against the other, parents and children alike, declares the LORD. I will allow no pity or mercy or compassion to keep me from destroying them.’ ”

Threat of Captivity

15 Hear and pay attention, do not be arrogant, for the LORD has spoken.
16 Give glory to the LORD your God before he brings the darkness, before your feet stumble on the darkening hills. You hope for light, but he will turn it to utter darkness and change it to deep gloom.
17 If you do not listen, I will weep in secret because of your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly, overflowing with tears, because the LORD’s flock will be taken captive.
18 Say to the king and to the queen mother, “Come down from your thrones, for your glorious crowns will fall from your heads.”
19 The cities in the Negev will be shut up, and there will be no one to open them. All Judah will be carried into exile, carried completely away.
20 Look up and see those who are coming from the north. Where is the flock that was entrusted to you, the sheep of which you boasted?
21 What will you say when the LORD sets over you those you cultivated as your special allies? Will not pain grip you like that of a woman in labor?
22 And if you ask yourself, “Why has this happened to me?”— it is because of your many sins that your skirts have been torn off and your body mistreated.
23 Can an Ethiopian[b] change his skin or a leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.
24 “I will scatter you like chaff driven by the desert wind.
25 This is your lot, the portion I have decreed for you,” declares the LORD, “because you have forgotten me and trusted in false gods.
26 I will pull up your skirts over your face that your shame may be seen—
27 your adulteries and lustful neighings, your shameless prostitution! I have seen your detestable acts on the hills and in the fields. Woe to you, Jerusalem! How long will you be unclean?”

Jeremiah 13 Commentary

Chapter 13

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.

Cross References 46

  • 1. Jeremiah 33:1
  • 2. S Genesis 2:14
  • 3. Exodus 40:16
  • 4. S Leviticus 26:19; S Matthew 23:12; S Luke 1:51
  • 5. Jeremiah 22:21
  • 6. S Ecclesiastes 9:3; S Jeremiah 3:17; Jeremiah 11:8; Jeremiah 16:12
  • 7. S Deuteronomy 8:19; Jeremiah 9:14
  • 8. S Judges 10:13
  • 9. Ezekiel 15:3
  • 10. Isaiah 63:12; Jeremiah 32:20; Jeremiah 33:9
  • 11. Exodus 19:5-6; Isaiah 43:21; S Jeremiah 3:17
  • 12. S Isaiah 65:12; S Jeremiah 7:26
  • 13. Psalms 60:3; Psalms 75:8; S Isaiah 29:9; Isaiah 51:17; Isaiah 63:6; Jeremiah 25:18; Jeremiah 51:57
  • 14. Ezekiel 7:4; Ezekiel 8:18; Ezekiel 9:5,10; Ezekiel 24:14; Zechariah 11:6
  • 15. S Isaiah 9:17; Jeremiah 16:5
  • 16. Deuteronomy 29:20; Isaiah 9:19-21; S Jeremiah 7:20; Jeremiah 49:32,36; Lamentations 2:21; Ezekiel 5:10
  • 17. S Exodus 23:21; Psalms 95:7-8
  • 18. S Joshua 7:19
  • 19. S Leviticus 26:37; S Job 3:23; Isaiah 51:17; Jeremiah 23:12
  • 20. S 1 Samuel 2:9; S Job 3:5; S Psalms 82:5; Isaiah 59:9
  • 21. Malachi 2:2
  • 22. S Jeremiah 9:1
  • 23. Psalms 80:1; Jeremiah 23:1
  • 24. Jeremiah 14:18; Jeremiah 29:1
  • 25. Jeremiah 21:11; Jeremiah 22:1
  • 26. S 1 Kings 2:19; S 2 Kings 24:8; S Isaiah 22:17
  • 27. S 2 Samuel 12:30; Lamentations 5:16; Ezekiel 16:12; Ezekiel 21:26
  • 28. Jeremiah 20:4; Jeremiah 52:30; Lamentations 1:3
  • 29. Jeremiah 6:22; Habakkuk 1:6
  • 30. Jeremiah 23:2
  • 31. S Psalms 41:9; Jeremiah 4:30; Jeremiah 20:10; Jeremiah 38:22; Obadiah 1:7
  • 32. S Jeremiah 4:31
  • 33. S 1 Kings 9:9
  • 34. Jeremiah 9:2-6; Jeremiah 16:10-12
  • 35. S Isaiah 20:4
  • 36. Lamentations 1:8; Ezekiel 16:37; Ezekiel 23:26; Nahum 3:5-6
  • 37. S 2 Chronicles 6:36
  • 38. S Psalms 1:4
  • 39. S Leviticus 26:33; S Job 1:19; S Job 27:21
  • 40. S Job 20:29; Matthew 24:51
  • 41. S Isaiah 17:10
  • 42. S Deuteronomy 31:20; S Psalms 4:2; Psalms 106:19-21
  • 43. Lamentations 1:8; Ezekiel 16:37; Hosea 2:10; Nahum 3:5
  • 44. Ezekiel 23:29; Jeremiah 2:20
  • 45. S Isaiah 57:7; Ezekiel 6:13
  • 46. Hosea 8:5

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Or possibly "to the Euphrates" ; similarly in verses 5-7
  • [b]. Hebrew "Cushite" (probably a person from the upper Nile region)

Chapter Summary


In this chapter, under the similes of a girdle and bottles of wine, the destruction of the Jews is set forth. Some exhortations are given them to repent and humble themselves, even men of all ranks and degrees among them; and their sins, the source of their calamities, are pointed out to them. An order is given to the prophet to get him a linen girdle, with instructions what to do with it, and which he observed, Jer 13:1,2, a fresh order to take it and hide it in the hole of a rock by the river Euphrates, which he accordingly did, Jer 13:3-5 and he is bid a third time to go and take it from thence, which he did; when he found it spoiled, and good for nothing, Jer 13:6,7, then follows the application of this simile, or the signification of this sign; that in like manner the pride of Judah and Jerusalem should be marred, and for their wickedness and idolatry should become good for nothing, like that girdle; whereas they ought to have cleaved to the Lord, as a girdle does to a man's loins, and to have been an honourable people to him, Jer 13:8-11. By the simile of bottles filled with wine is signified that all the inhabitants of the land, king, priests, prophets, and common people, should be like drunken men, that should dash one against another, and destroy each other, which the mercy of God would not prevent, Jer 13:12-14, some exhortations are made to the people in general, to be humble, and confess their sins, and give glory to God, before it was too late; which are enforced by the prophet's affectionate concern for them, Jer 13:15-17 and to the king and queen in particular, since their crown and kingdom were about to be taken from them; the cities, in the southern parts, going to be shut up, and not opened; and even the whole land of Judea, and all its inhabitants, in a little time would be carried captive, Jer 13:18,19, and, to certify them of the truth of these things, they are bid to look to the north, from whence the enemy was coming to carry them captive, even the beautiful flock committed to their care, Jer 13:20, and to consider what they could say for themselves, when their punishment should come upon them suddenly, as the sorrows of a woman in travail, Jer 13:21 and should they ask the reason of this, it was owing to the multitude of their iniquities, and to their habit and custom of sinning, which made their case desperate, Jer 13:22,23, wherefore a resolution is taken to disperse them among the nations, and that this should be their lot and portion, because of their many abominations, and yet not without some concern that they might be purged from their iniquities, Jer 13:24-27.

Jeremiah 13 Commentaries

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