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JEREMIAH CHAPTER 13
In the type of a linen girdle God prefigureth their destruction, Jeremiah 13:1-11. Under the parable of bottles filled with wine, is foretold their drunkenness with misery, Jeremiah 13:12-14. He exhorteth to prevent these judgments by repentance for their sins, which are the cause thereof, Jeremiah 13:15-27.
God’s design, by what is recorded in this chapter, is by two types, as in two glasses, to let the people understand by the prophet how he looked upon them, and what they were in his eyes, and also what he would do unto them, and they might expect from him; to this purpose he directeth the prophet to procure himself a girdle, not woollen, but linen, made of flax, or the like, and to put it not upon his clothes, but upon his loins, to signify (as some think) that this people were a people whom God had made near to him. He commands him not to put it in water, to soften it, as some think; linen newly made, before it is wetted in water, being rough; and this they conceive the prophet was forbidden, for a further type of the stiffness, and roughness, and stubbornness of this people. Others think, to typify that God was no cause of this people’s rotting and growing corrupt.
According to the word of the Lord; that is, according to God’s command.
And put it on my loins; and used it as God commanded me, never disputing the reason why God bid me do such a thing.
God having commanded the prophet to procure such a girdle as was before mentioned, and to tie it upon his loins, he a second time comes to him, and commandeth him to take this girdle, and carry it to Euphrates. This was one of the four great rivers that the river out of the garden of Eden divided itself into, Genesis 2:10,Genesis 2:14. It was the border of the Promised Land, Genesis 15:18; Deuteronomy 1:7; Deuteronomy 11:24; 1 Chronicles 5:9. Reuben’s lot was bounded by it. The prophet was commanded to hide his girdle in the
hole of a
rock in that river. But why there? Were there not other places nearer where the prophet might have hid it? It is judged by some that this command was also to signify unto them that they should be carried out of their own borders into captivity; or rather, that they had corrupted, and were become rotten, by doing after the fashions and manners of the heathens, who lived on the other side of Euphrates always, but having (a hundred years before this) captivated the ten tribes, lived also on this side of it.
Most think that Jeremiah did this but in a vision, for it was a very long journey for the prophet to take to go from Anathoth or Jerusalem as far as Euphrates. Jeremiah was obedient to God’s command, without any disputing or asking God the meaning of this injunction to him.
God, who had bidden the prophet go and hide the linen girdle, after some considerable time speaks again to him to go and take it away from the place where he had lodged it.
Whether the prophet really made such a journey, or all this was but a vision, is very uncertain. When he came to the place, or in his vision, he thought, when he came to the place, that he saw all the girdle rotted; and good for nothing but to be thrown upon a dunghill.
By this it appears that God commanded Jeremiah to do this, not only as a representation of the rotten and corrupt state of this people, but of his vengeance, which should suddenly be brought upon them, though they were a proud people, lifted up and swelled in the opinion of themselves, from the favour which God had showed them, in making them a people near unto him, and as it were wearing them upon his loins; yet, they having corrupted themselves by mixing their streams with the streams of Euphrates, corrupting themselves with the superstitions, corruptions, and idolatries of heathens, God would make use of some of those nations to abate their pride and pluck their feathers, and they should rot amongst those people and in some of those nations with whom and by whose example they had sinned against the Lord. This sense of these words is much confirmed by the following words.
Hitherto the prophet had yielded a blind obedience to God, doing what he commanded him, though he possibly knew no other reason for it but because God bade him do so (which is a homage we owe unto God, though to none but him); now God expounds himself what he meant to teach the Jews by this, viz. that he did intend that they should be consumed by the people beyond the river Euphrates, as that girdle was there marred; and he also shows them that their own sins in disobeying his word, and following the imaginations of their own hearts, particularly their idolatry, was what had brought this sore judgment upon them.
Here God openeth to the prophet why he commanded him to put the girdle about his loins, viz. to show that he of his singular favour had used the Jews as a man useth girdle, which he fasteneth about his loins; and as a man weareth his girdle, made up of some costly materials, for an honour and praise to him, so God’s design in honouring this people, wearing them as a girdle, was, that they might bring him honour and glory, living to his praise, in the obedience of his commands, especially such commands as resisted to his worship.
But they would not hear; but they would not answer God’s designs, nor hearken to any counsels of that nature which he gave them, and therefore he resolved to pluck them from his loins, and to suffer them to rot and consume as that girdle was rotted: see Psalms 81:8-16, which the author of the English Annotations saith well is an excellent comment on this text.
God by his prophet showeth them their ruin in another glass, he bids the prophet tell them that
every bottle should be filled with wine. Wine was what they delighted in; Hosea 3:1, they loved flagons of wine, and were for those prophets that would prophesy to them of wine and strong drink, Micah 2:11. God therefore sendeth them a prophesy about wine, bids the prophet tell them that
every bottle should be filled with wine. Glad news to the drunkard among them! but no very strange thing to them who often enough were wont both to fill and to empty bottles of wine: but they little understood the wine which God and his, prophet intended; God therefore openeth it to them.
There is a wine of astonishment and confusion, Psalms 60:3, a wine that intoxicateth, and inflameth, and stupifieth, as well as a wine that refresheth; saith God, With that wine I will fill all orders of persons,
kings, priests, prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Nor shall the throne of David be a protection to your kings; I will have no regard to them upon that account, nor to the priests, though they be persons consecrated to me.
And I will set them one against another, raising up an evil spirit of division amongst them, that they shall be like earthen bottles dashed one against another, which are easily broken in pieces. I will have no pity on them, therefore let them not presume upon my mercy, and pity, and compassion; for I am resolved to show them no mercy, but to bring them to utter ruin and destruction.
God ordinarily subjoineth exhortation and counsel to his reproof, if peradventure people will change their hearts and ways. Having threatened them, therefore the prophet speaketh to them, that they would yet hear, and that not formally, but
give ear; not exalting themselves against God, and nourishing a vain confidence or presumptuous hopes, and going on in their rebellious courses, despising him and others, who were but the Lord’s prophets and his messengers unto them. The word which we bring is not ours, it is the Lord that hath spoken by us.
Glorify God, by a humble confession of your sins, Joshua 7:19,Joshua 7:20, by submitting yourselves to God, James 4:7, humbling yourselves under his word, James 4:10, and under his mighty hand, 1 Peter 5:6, before God brings upon you his great and heavy judgments before threatened. As a state of prosperity is set out often in Scripture by the notion of
light, which is a pleasant and cheering thing; so a state of affliction is often set out to us in Scripture under the notion of
darkness, Isaiah 8:22; Joel 2:2; Amos 5:18, &c.: and as in the want of light, which is directly to our feet, men are prone to stumble at any thing that lies in their way so as they know not how to direct their feet or take their steps; so in times of affliction, especially great afflictions, men are ordinarily perplexed, and know not what course to take. In the latter part of the verse he seemeth to threaten God’s disappointment of their expectations. The Jews to the last appeared highly confident, looking for light, but they met with great disappointment, even gross darkness.
That is, if you will not listen to what I say, take heed to what I say, and obey the counsel which I give you, I shall seriously and secretly mourn for your rebellion and obstinacy, which is rooted in your pride, and lifting up yourselves against the Lord’s monitions and counsels; and I shall also mourn for your calamity when it comes upon you, I shall have a personal and family concern with you, but that will not so much trouble me as to consider that you who are the church and people of God should be led into captivity.
The author of holy writ is discernible by this as by other things, that the Scripture equally speaks to the greatest persons as to persons of meaner rank. God here calls to the king of Judah, whether it was at this time Jehoiakim, or his son Jehoiachin, is uncertain. By
principalities he means both their dignity and their liberty, that which he often calleth the crown of their glory. Some expound it head-tires, because the word deriveth from a word which signifies the head.
Either the cities of Judah which lay southward from Chaldea, and therefore their enemies in the next verse are said to come from the north, and this great evil is said to have come from the north; or (as some would have it) the cities of Egypt, which lay yet more southward, so as the Egyptians should neither come with sufficient force to raise the siege, nor should there be any sanctuary or refuge for them in Egypt, but they should certainly be wholly carried into captivity.
He speaks to them as if their enemy was even then upon their march, that if they did but look they might see him coming.
Where is the flock that was given thee, thy beautiful flock? the prophet either speaks to the king, or to the rulers, or chief of the congregation of Judah. Proverbs 14:28, In the multitude of the people is the king’s honour. So in the multitude of subjects, or of members, lies much of the honour of a church or state.
That is, thou wilt have nothing to say, but be wholly confounded and ashamed when God shall visit thee with this sore judgment, or when Nebuchadnezzar’s army sent by God shall visit thee; for thou, either by thy commerce and trading with them, or by thy so often calling them to thy assistance, or by thy idolatry borrowed from them, and other nations, hast taught them to be captains over thee; thy sorrows and affliction will come upon thee suddenly and terribly, as pain cometh upon a woman in travail; yea, and as certainly also.
Hypocrites will rarely confess their own shame and God’s righteousness, but are ready to expostulate and dispute with God, and to call him to account why he hath dealt so with them, as if God had dealt unjustly. But (saith God) if thou shouldst have any such thoughts in thine heart, do but remember thine iniquities, how many and how great they have been, thy nakedness is discovered because of these, and for these thou art exposed to contempt and shame. Probably these phrases are fetched from the usual practice of soldiers, when they have conquered a place and taken prisoners, to strip them, and leave those of either sex, either no clothes to cover their nakedness, or nothing but their own rags, not sufficient to cover their nakedness. By skirts is meant the lower part of their bodies covered with the lower part of their garments.
In the Hebrew it is,
Can the Cushite, & c.? from whence it is well concluded, as learned men judge, that the Ethiopians are of the posterity of Cush the son of Ham, brother to Mizraim, the father of the Egyptians, Genesis 10:6. For these were the only people of old noted for their black colour in Scripture, as the Ethiopians are now. God showeth that the Jews by their continued customary sinning had so inured themselves to wicked practices, that it was as much labour in vain to endeavour to reclaim them, as to go about to wash a blackamoor, or to take out the natural spots of the beasts called leopards.
The words denote a great and clear dispersion, like that of the scattering of stubble by a fierce wind.
This is what thou shalt have at the Lord’s hand, the dispensation which thou shalt meet with, and thou mayest thank thyself for it; for hadst thou remembered either my former kindness to thee, or the law that I gave thee, this had not come unto thee; but thou hast forgotten me, and trusted in lies, or in idle, vain, and presumptuous hopes, therefore I have given thee but a just lot, and measured to thee a just measure.
Therefore I will expose thee to all manner of shame and contempt, without any regard to thy honour. Those that honour God, God will honour, but those that despise and dishonour him shall not be able to maintain their own honour.
Some think the prophet here reflects upon them for their corporal adulteries, and their madness upon them, which he compareth to the
neighings of horses; but those words
on the hills in the fields in the next clause seem to inform us that he means here only their idolatries, which are in holy writ often compared to adulteries, which are the greatest sins in their kind, the greatest violations of the marriage covenant, and provocations of persons in conjugal relation, and the only cause of lawful divorce. He concludes with pathetical interrogations, intimating that yet there was hope if they would reform; and though. giving over their case almost as desperate, and not knowing what would not be, yet he leaves no means untried, but asks them if it was not yet time, or when such a thing might be hoped for at their hands.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jeremiah 13". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19