Jeremiah 13


This chapter contains an entire prophecy. The symbol of the

linen girdle, left to rot for a considerable time, was a type

of the manner in which the glory of the Jews should be marred

during the course of their long captivity, 1-11.

The scene of hiding the girdle being laid near the Euphrates,

intimated that the scene of the nation's distress should be

Chaldea, which that river waters. The next three verses, by

another emblem frequently used to represent the judgments of

God, are designed to show that the calamities threatened should

be extended to every rank and denomination, 12-14.

This leads the prophet to a most affectionate exhortation to

repentance, 15-17.

But God, knowing that this happy consequence would not ensue,

sends him with an awful message to the royal family

particularly, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem in general,

declaring the approaching judgments in plain terms, 18-27.

The ardent desire for the reformation of Jerusalem, with which

the chapter concludes, beautifully displays the compassion and

tender mercy of God.


Verse 1. Thus saith the Lord unto me] This discourse is supposed

to have been delivered under the reign of Jeconiah, the son and

successor of Jehoiakim, who came to the throne in the eighteenth

year of his age; when the Chaldean generals had encamped near to

Jerusalem, but did not besiege it in form till Nebuchadnezzar came

up with the great body of the army. In these circumstances the

prophet predicts the captivity; and, by a symbolical

representation of a rotten girdle, shows the people their totally

corrupt state; and by another of bottles filled with wine, shows

the destruction and madness of their counsels, and the confusion

that must ensue.

Go and get thee a linen girdle] This was either a vision, or God

simply describes the thing in order that the prophet might use it

in the way of illustration.

Put it not in water.] After having worn it, let it not be

washed, that it may more properly represent the uncleanness of the

Israelites; for they were represented by the girdle; for "as the

girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave

unto me the whole house of Israel, and the whole house of Judah."

And as a girdle is as well for ornament as use; God took them for

a name, and for a praise, and for a glory, Jer 13:11.

Verse 4. Go to Euphrates, and hide it there] Intending to point

out, by this distant place, the country into which they were to be

carried away captive.

Verse 7. And behold, the girdle was marred; it was profitable

for nothing.] This symbolically represented the state of the Jews:

they were corrupt and abominable; and God, by sending them into

captivity, "marred the pride of Judah, and the great pride of

Jerusalem," Jer 13:9.

Verse 12. Every bottle shall be filled with wine?] The bottles

were made for the purpose of being filled with wine; and it is

likely, from the promising appearance of the season and the

grapes, that there was a great likelihood of a copious

vintage; and this made them say, "Do we not certainly know that

every bottle shall be filled with wine? Have we not every prospect

that it will be so? Do we need a revelation to inform us of this?"

Verse 13. Behold, I will fill all the inhabitants of this

land-with drunkenness.] You pretend to take this literally, but it

is a symbol. You, and your kings, and priests, and prophets,

are represented by these bottles. The wine is God's wrath against

you, which shall first be shown by confounding your deliberations,

filling you with foolish plans of defense, causing you from your

divided counsels to fall out among yourselves, so that like so

many drunken men you shall reel about and jostle each other;

defend yourselves without plan, and fight without order, till ye

all fall an easy prey into the hands of your enemies. The ancient

adage is here fulfilled:-

Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat.

"Those whom God determines to destroy, he

first renders foolish."

Verse 16. Give glory to-God] Confess your sins and turn to him,

that these sore evils may be averted.

While ye look for light] While ye expect prosperity, he turned

it into the shadow of death-sent you adversity of the most

distressing and ruinous kind.

Stumble upon the dark mountains] Before you meet with those

great obstacles, which, having no light-no proper understanding in

the matter, ye shall be utterly unable to surmount.

Verse 17. My soul shalt weep in secret places] If you will not

hearken to the Lord, there is no remedy: destruction must come;

and there is nothing left for me, but to go in secret, and mourn

and bewail your wretched lot.

Verse 18. Say unto the king and to the queen] Probably Jeconiah

and his mother, under whose tutelage, being young when he began to

reign, he was left, as is very likely.

Sit down] Show that ye have humbled yourselves; for your state

will be destroyed, and your glorious crown taken from your heads.

Verse 19. The cities of the south shall be shut up] Not only the

cities of the north, the quarter at which the Chaldeans entered,

but the cities of the south also; for he shall proceed from one

extremity of the land to the other, spreading devastation every

where, and carrying off the inhabitants.

Verse 20. Where is the flock-thy beautiful flock?] Jerusalem is

addressed. Where are the prosperous multitudes of men, women, and

children? Alas! are they not driven before the Babylonians, who

have taken them captive?

Verse 21. Thou hast taught them to be captains, and as chief

over thee] This is said of their enemies, whether Assyrians or

Chaldeans: for ever since Ahaz submitted himself to the king of

Assyria, the kings of Judah never regained their independence.

Their enemies were thus taught to be their lords and masters.

Verse 22. Are thy skirts discovered] Thy defenceless state is

every where known; thou art not only weak, but ignominiously so.

It is thy scandal to be in so depressed a condition; thou art

lower than the basest of thy adversaries, and thou art so because

of thy sin.

Verse 23. Can the Ethiopian change his skin] Can a black, at his

own pleasure, change the colour of his skin? Can the leopard at

will change the variety of his spots? These things are natural to

them, and they cannot be altered; so sin, and especially your

attachment to idolatry, is become a second nature; and we may as

well expect the Ethiopian to change his skin, and the leopard his

spots, as you to do good, who have been accustomed to do evil. It

is a matter of the utmost difficulty to get a sinner, deeply

rooted in vicious habits, brought to the knowledge of himself and

God. But the expression does not imply that the thing is as

impossible in a moral as it is in a natural sense: it only shows

that it is extremely difficult, and not to be often expected; and

a thousand matters of fact prove the truth of this. But still,

what is impossible to man is possible to God. See Clarke on Jer 13:27.

Verse 24. The wind of the wilderness.] Some strong tempestuous

wind, proverbially severe, coming from the desert to the south of


Verse 25. Trusted in falsehood.] In idols, and in lying


Verse 26. Therefore will I discover thy skirts upon thy face] It

was the custom to punish lewd women by stripping them naked, and

exposing them to public view; or by throwing their clothes over

their heads, as here intimated. Was this the way to correct the


Verse 27. I have seen thine adulteries] Thy idolatries of

different kinds, practised in various ways; no doubt often

accompanied with gross debauchery.

Wo unto thee, O Jerusalem wilt thou not be made clean?] We see

from this, that though the thing was difficult, yet it was not

impossible, for these Ethiopians to change their skin, for these

leopards to change their spots. It was only their obstinate

refusal of the grace of God that rendered it impossible. Man

cannot change himself; but he may pray to God to do it, and come

to him through Christ, that he may do it. To enable him to pray

and believe, the power is still at hand. If he will not use it, he

must perish.

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