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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 13

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary

Introduction

Jeremiah 13:0

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

(The parentheses represent poetic literary units)

NASBNKJVNRSVTEVNJB
The Ruined Waist BandSymbol of the Linen SashThe Useless Waist ClothThe Linen ShortsThe Story of the Loincloth
Jeremiah 13:1-7Jeremiah 13:1-7Jeremiah 13:1-11Jeremiah 13:1-5Jeremiah 13:1-7
Jeremiah 13:6-7
Jeremiah 13:8-11Jeremiah 13:8-11Jeremiah 13:8-11Jeremiah 13:8-11
Captivity ThreatenedSymbol of the Wine BottlesThe Wine Jugs Smashed TogetherThe Wine JarThe Allegory of the Wine Jar
Jeremiah 13:12-14Jeremiah 13:12-14Jeremiah 13:12-14Jeremiah 13:12-14Jeremiah 13:12-14
Pride Precedes CaptivityA Vision of ExileJeremiah Warns Against PrideThe Last Opportunity
Jeremiah 13:15-19(vv. Jeremiah 13:15-19)Jeremiah 13:15-17(vv. Jeremiah 13:15-17)Jeremiah 13:15-17(vv. Jeremiah 13:15-17)Jeremiah 13:15-17(vv. Jeremiah 13:15-17)Jeremiah 13:15-17(vv. Jeremiah 13:15-17)
Jehoiachin Threatened
Jeremiah 13:18-19(vv. Jeremiah 13:18-19)Jeremiah 13:18-19(vv. Jeremiah 13:18-19)Jeremiah 13:18-19Jeremiah 13:18-19(vv. Jeremiah 13:18-19)
An Admonition to Impenitent Jerusalem
Jeremiah 13:20-27(vv. Jeremiah 13:20-27)Jeremiah 13:20-23(vv. Jeremiah 13:20-23)Jeremiah 13:20-27(vv. Jeremiah 13:20-27)Jeremiah 13:20-27Jeremiah 13:20-27(vv. Jeremiah 13:20-27)
Jeremiah 13:24-27(vv. Jeremiah 13:24-27)

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. Jeremiah 13:1-14 is a prose passage with two symbolic acts (also note 1 Kings 22:0; Isaiah 20:0; Ezekiel 4:5)

1. a ruined linen waistcloth, Jeremiah 13:1-11

2. a full clay jar of wine, Jeremiah 13:12-14

B. The UBS Handbook For Translators divides the poetic section (Jeremiah 13:15-27) into three strophes by content (p. 334).

1. a final urgent warning, Jeremiah 13:15-17

2. a word to King Jehoiachin, Jeremiah 13:18-19

3. Jerusalem depicted as a “shameless woman,” Jeremiah 13:20-27

Verses 1-7

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 13:1-7 1Thus the LORD said to me, “Go and buy yourself a linen waistband and put it around your waist, but do not put it in water.” 2So I bought the waistband in accordance with the word of the LORD and put it around my waist. 3Then the word of the LORD came to me a second time, saying, 4”Take the waistband that you have bought, which is around your waist, and arise, go to the Euphrates and hide it there in a crevice of the rock.” 5So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the LORD had commanded me. 6After many days the LORD said to me, “Arise, go to the Euphrates and take from there the waistband which I commanded you to hide there.” 7Then I went to the Euphrates and dug, and I took the waistband from the place where I had hidden it; and lo, the waistband was ruined, it was totally worthless.

Jeremiah 13:1-7 This is a prophetic, symbolic act involving an intimate piece of clothing. Similar illustrative acts are common in Ezekiel (i.e., chapters 4,5). We would call them “visual aids” (cf. Jeremiah 19:1ff; Jeremiah 27:2ff).

Jeremiah 13:1 “the LORD said to me” This is a prophetic formula for receiving direct revelation. Notice how often the message from YHWH is noted in this chapter.

1. “Thus the LORD said to me,” Jeremiah 13:1

2. “the word of the LORD came to me a second time, saying,” Jeremiah 13:3

3. “the LORD said to me,” Jeremiah 13:6

4. “the word of the LORD came to me, saying,” Jeremiah 13:8

5. “thus says the LORD,” Jeremiah 13:9

6. “thus says the LORD , the God of Israel, Jeremiah 13:12

7. “thus says the LORD,” Jeremiah 13:13

This was not Jeremiah's message!

“Go and buy. . .and put it around. . .but do not put. . .” These VERBALS are translated as IMPERATIVES (cf. Jeremiah 13:4, Jeremiah 13:6) in English, but in Hebrew they are:

1. “go” - BDB 229, KB 246, Qal INFINITIVE ABSOLUTE

2. “buy” - BDB 888, KB 1111, Qal PERFECT (with WAW)

3. “put” - BDB 962, KB 1221, Qal PERFECT (with WAW)

4. “put” (negated) - BDB 97, KB 112, Hiphil IMPERFECT

NASB“linen waistband” NKJV“linen sash” NRSV“linen waistcloth” TEV“linen shorts” LXX, NJB, JPSOA, REB“linen loincloth”

This refers to a thigh-length undershort (BDB 25 CONSTRUCT 833; the depictions of this type of undergarment [Canaan and Egypt] seem more like a short shirt than short pants). The exact meaning of the symbol is uncertain (cf. 2 Kings 1:8; Job 12:18; Isaiah 5:27; Ezekiel 23:15). Some have said it was used because of its close contact to the body, thereby symbolizing intimacy (cf. Jeremiah 13:11). Others say that because it was made of linen it refers to what the priest wore (cf. Leviticus 16:4). It is obvious that God is trying to symbolize Himself and His relationship with Judah by means of this intimate, and possibly priestly, material.

“but do not put it in water” This means “do not wash it.” Therefore, it will become soiled and smelly. This is what happened to idolatrous, rebellious, stubborn Israel/Judah. She is unclean (cf. Jeremiah 13:27) and will not allow YHWH to clean her.

Jeremiah 13:4 There is a series of IMPERATIVES in Jeremiah 13:4 and 6 that relates to Jeremiah 13:1 (cf. Jeremiah 13:5).

1. take the waistband - BDB 542, KB 534, Qal IMPERATIVE

2. arise - BDB 877, KB 1086, Qal IMPERATIVE

3. go - BDB 229, KB 246, Qal IMPERATIVE

4. hide - BDB 380, KB 377, Qal IMPERATIVE

Also in Jeremiah 13:6

1. arise - BDB 877, KB 1086, Qal IMPERATIVE

2. go - BDB 229, KB 246, Qal IMPERATIVE

3. take - BDB 542, KB 534, Qal IMPERATIVE

“go to the Euphrates” This is the Hebrew word פרת, BDB 832. It is used throughout the OT to refer to the Euphrates River (cf. Genesis 2:14; Genesis 15:18; Deuteronomy 1:7; Deuteronomy 11:24; Jeremiah 46:2; Jeremiah 51:63). However, because this would involve a trip of over 350 miles each way, and the context probably refers to two different trips, it seems impossible that this could be the meaning of the term here.

Some have asserted

1. This was possibly symbolic of the battle of Carchemish (at a place on the Euphrates where there were rocks), which occurred in 605 B.C., whereby Babylon completely defeated the armies of Egypt and the remaining army of Assyria; the enemy from the north comes!

2. This was possibly a wadi, פרת, which flowed from the village of פרה, about five miles northeast of Jerusalem (cf. Joshua 18:23). It provided water for Jerusalem (IDB, vol. 4, p. 656).

3. It is a play on the sound of the word “linen” (פשׁת, BDB 833m cf. Jeremiah 13:1).

Jeremiah 13:7 “the waistband was ruined, it was totally worthless” The first VERB “ruined” (BDB 1007, KB 1469, Niphal PERFECT) denotes that which cannot be used for its intended purpose! This same VERB is used of the clay pot in Jeremiah 18:4. Israel/Judah's intended purpose was to inform the world about YHWH and help draw them to Him (cf. TEV of Jeremiah 13:11; see Special Topic at Jeremiah 1:5). Their unrepentant (cf. Jeremiah 13:10), consistent idolatry thwarted that purpose (cf. Ezekiel 36:22-38).

It is also possible that this text refers to a literal 700 mile trip twice to the headwaters of the Euphrates. It might symbolize:

1. the invasion, exile, and (i.e., “after many days”) dominance of Babylon. Judah was “ruined” in a physical sense during this period. If so, then the “ruined waistcloth” (cf. Leviticus 26:39) symbolizes Judah's temporal destruction.

2. the spiritual corruption of the Mesopotamian powers through political alliances which involved Judah and introduced their gods to Palestine

Verses 8-11

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 13:8-11 8Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 9”Thus says the LORD , 'Just so will I destroy the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10This wicked people, who refuse to listen to My words, who walk in the stubbornness of their hearts and have gone after other gods to serve them and to bow down to them, let them be just like this waistband which is totally worthless. 11For as the waistband clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole household of Israel and the whole household of Judah cling to Me,'declares the LORD , 'that they might be for Me a people, for renown, for praise and for glory; but they did not listen.'

Jeremiah 13:9 This “pride” is also addressed in Leviticus 26:0 (cf. Leviticus 26:19; also note Isaiah 28:0).

Jeremiah 13:10 YHWH characterizes His covenant people as

1. wicked people

2. refusing to listen to My words

3. walking in stubbornness

4. going after other gods

a. to serve them (Qal INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT)

b. to bow down to them (Histaphel INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT)

“let them be just like this waistband” This is a Qal JUSSIVE (BDB 224, KB 243). Invasion from

1. the enemy from the north is coming

2. the surrounding nations who will take advantage of the situation as well

Jeremiah 13:11 God explains the symbolic actions of Jeremiah 13:1-7. Verse Jeremiah 13:10 describes Judah in her rebellion, while Jeremiah 13:11 describes the purpose that God wanted for them (cf. Deuteronomy 26:19). Israel and Judah were meant to be a light to the nations (cf. Genesis 12:3; Exodus 19:5, Exodus 19:6), but they had become totally corrupt. They would not listen and respond to God's word or prophets (cf. Jeremiah 7:13, Jeremiah 7:24, Jeremiah 7:26; Psalms 81:11).

“clings. . .cling” This VERB (BDB 179, KB 209) is used of

1. husband and wife in Genesis 2:24 and physical attraction in Genesis 34:3

2. the tribes holding on to their land allocations in Numbers 36:7, Numbers 36:9

3. clinging to the Lord and not the nations in Deuteronomy 10:20; Deuteronomy 11:22; Deuteronomy 13:4; Joshua 23:8, Joshua 23:12

God's people should have clung to Him, should have been close to Him, but they were not! They even went after the gods of Mesopotamia and Canaan.

Notice how YHWH expresses His purpose in calling the seed of Abraham.

1. a people for Himself

2. a people of renown (lit. “name,” cf. Daniel 9:15; Nehemiah 9:10)

3. a people for praise (cf. Jeremiah 33:9)

4. a people for glory (cf. Jeremiah 33:9)

They were to bring honor to YHWH (cf. Isaiah 63:12, Isaiah 63:14) and make Him a “name” (cf. Jeremiah 32:20)! But they would not “listen” (cf. Jeremiah 7:13, Jeremiah 7:24, Jeremiah 7:26).

Verses 12-14

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 13:12-14 12”Therefore you are to speak this word to them, 'Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, “Every jug is to be filled with wine.”' And when they say to you, 'Do we not very well know that every jug is to be filled with wine?' 13then say to them, 'Thus says the LORD, “Behold I am about to fill all the inhabitants of this land-the kings that sit for David on his throne, the priests, the prophets and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem-with drunkenness! 14I will dash them against each other, both the fathers and the sons together,” declares the LORD. “I will not show pity nor be sorry nor have compassion so as not to destroy them.”'“

Jeremiah 13:12-14 This is another symbolic act in the form of a proverb (Luke 21:29). The proverb is given in Jeremiah 13:12 and God's reaction to it in Jeremiah 13:13-15.

Jeremiah 13:12 “jug” This is the Hebrew term nebel (BDB 614 I), which speaks of (1) a wineskin or (2) the largest earthen container (cf. Isaiah 30:14) for liquids, about ten gallons (see Special Topic below). The phrase “every jug is to be filled with wine” may be (1) a truism or (2) the hope of drunken revelers. Wine jugs are meant to be filled with wine. So too, should God's people reflect God, however, the opposite was true. This is the thrust of this passage. God will make them drunk (cf. Jeremiah 25:15-17, Jeremiah 25:27-28; Jeremiah 51:57; Psalms 75:8; Isaiah 51:17-20; Ezekiel 23:32-34), which was a symbol of judgment.

SPECIAL TOPIC: Ancient near Eastern Weights and Volumes (Metrology)

Jeremiah 13:12 “Do we not very well know. . .” The forms Qal INFINITIVE ABSOLUTE and Qal IMPERFECT of the same root (BDB , KB ) intensify the sarcastic response.

They claim to know but, in reality, they know nothing!

Jeremiah 13:13 “inhabitants. . .sit” These are from the same root (BDB 442, KB 444) and are used three times.

1. Qal ACTIVE PARTICIPLE, “to dwell” (i.e., inhabit, used twice)

2. Qal ACTIVE PARTICIPLE, “to sit,” metaphor for the place of power (i.e., throne of the king)

Notice the groups affected.

1. the Davidic kings (cf. Jeremiah 17:25; Jeremiah 22:2, Jeremiah 22:4, Jeremiah 22:30; Jeremiah 29:16; Jeremiah 33:21; Jeremiah 36:30)

2. the priests

3. the prophets

4. the inhabitants of Jerusalem

Jeremiah 13:14 “dash” This VERB (BDB 658, KB 711, Piel PERFECT) was used of the killing of babies by the invaders (i.e., Assyria, Babylon, cf. 2 Kings 8:12; Psalms 137:9; Isaiah 13:16, Isaiah 13:18; Hosea 13:16; Nahum 3:10). The VERB here is a word play on the shattered wine jug of Jeremiah 13:13 (cf. Jeremiah 51:20-23).

“father and sons together” Sin, like faith, moves through families.

1. sin - Deuteronomy 5:9; Jeremiah 7:18

2. faith - Deuteronomy 5:10; Deuteronomy 7:9

For the balancing truth that each person is responsible only for their own sin, see Ezekiel 18:0.

“I will not show pity nor be sorry nor have compassion that I should not destroy them” Notice the things YHWH will not do.

1. show pity - BDB 328, KB 338, Qal IMPERFECT, cf. Jeremiah 15:5; Jeremiah 21:7; Ezekiel 5:11

2. be sorry - BDB 299, KB 298, Qal IMPERFECT, cf. Jeremiah 21:7; Ezekiel 5:11

3. show compassion - BDB 933, KB 1216, Qal IMPERFECT, cf. Jeremiah 21:7

This same truth is stated in Jeremiah 16:5 (also note Jeremiah 21:7 about King Zedekiah). There are consequences to the repeated rejection of God's word and will (cf. Lamentations 2:17-22; Ezekiel 8:18; Ezekiel 9:10; Ezekiel 24:14). But, the OT ends on a promise of YHWH “sparing” in Malachi 3:17!

Remember these are hyperbolic, anthropomorphic, poetic metaphors.

1. see Special Topic: God Described As Human (anthropomorphism)

2. see D. Brent Sandy, Plowshares and Pruning Hooks

Verses 15-19

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 13:15-19 15Listen and give heed, do not be haughty, For the LORD has spoken. 16Give glory to the LORD your God, Before He brings darkness And before your feet stumble On the dusky mountains, And while you are hoping for light He makes it into deep darkness, And turns it into gloom. 17But if you will not listen to it, My soul will sob in secret for such pride; And my eyes will bitterly weep And flow down with tears, Because the flock of the LORD has been taken captive. 18Say to the king and the queen mother, “Take a lowly seat, For your beautiful crown Has come down from your head.” 19The cities of the Negev have been locked up, And there is no one to open them; All Judah has been carried into exile, Wholly carried into exile.

Jeremiah 13:15-27 Verses Jeremiah 13:1-14 are prose but Jeremiah 13:15-27 forms two or three poetic strophes. The first strophe is the hopeless call of the prophet for repentance on the part of God's people and Jeremiah 13:20-27 is a warning of what will happen if they do not repent. There is a real paradox between the “hear and do” (cf. Jeremiah 13:15) and the inability to change of Jeremiah 13:23. It is the tension between

1. God's sovereignty and human free will

2. the unconditional and conditional nature of OT covenants

Jeremiah 13:15 “Listen and give heed” These are two Hebrew words for “hear.” They are synonymous and both plead for Judah's positive repentant response (cf. Jeremiah 10:1).

1. BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal IMPERATIVE (see note at Jeremiah 2:4)

2. BDB 24, KB 27, Hiphil IMPERATIVE , cf. Deuteronomy 32:1; Isaiah 1:2

“do not be haughty” The VERB (BDB 146, KB 170) is a Qal IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense (negated). The concept of haughtiness and pride are the theme of this particular section (cf. Jeremiah 13:17). Israel had become so haughty and proud that she would not respond in the appropriate way to God. This word is used of

1. kings

a. Uzziah - 2 Chronicles 26:15-16

b. Hezekiah - 2 Chronicles 32:25

c. king of Tyre - Ezekiel 28:2, Ezekiel 28:5, Ezekiel 28:17

2. God's people

a. Isaiah 3:16

b. Ezekiel 16:50

c. Zephaniah 3:11

Haughtiness, pride, and self-directed living are the results of the Fall (cf. Genesis 3:0; Genesis 6:5, Genesis 6:11-12). Apparently even the covenant people could not escape its influence. Therefore, a new creation, a new covenant is mandatory (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:22-38; Romans 3:21-31; 4-5; Galatians 3:0; the book of Hebrews).

Jeremiah 13:16 “Give glory to the LORD your God” Because of the use of this phrase in Joshua 7:19, many believe this is a call for confession of sin or at least an oath of truthfulness (cf. John 9:24). The grammatical form is a Qal IMPERATIVE (BDB 670, KB 733). See Special Topic: Glory.

“deep darkness” This is the Hebrew word salmawet (BDB 853), which is translated in the KJV in Psalms 23:4 as “the valley of the shadow of death.” It really means a valley of deep darkness which may describe any and all of life's crises.

The NET Bible has a good note about this word at Jeremiah 2:6 (p. 1290, #6). It is used in poetic texts of

1. the darkness of prison, Psalms 107:10, Psalms 107:14

2. the darkness of invasion, Isaiah 9:1

3. the darkness of a mine, Job 28:3

4. the darkness of a ravine, Psalms 23:4

5. the darkness of a wasteland and ravines of the Sinai desert, Jeremiah 2:6

6. life's tragedies or confusions, Job 3:5; Job 12:22; Job 24:17; Job 28:3; Job 34:22; Psalms 44:19

7. the darkness of death, Job 10:21-22; Job 38:17

Notice the contrast between YHWH's word/truth as light, but sin as darkness (BDB 364, KB 361, Hiphil IMPERFECT, cf. Isaiah 8:22-2), deep darkness (BDB 853), and gloom (BDB 791). This darkness metaphor is characterized by “stumbling” (BDB 619, KB 669, Hithpael IMPERATIVE). A life of faith is pictured as a person walking on a clearly marked path in light. If one

1. deviates from the path

2. stumbles on the path

3. rejects God's ways (path)

4. walks in darkness in difficult terrain

judgment is the result.

Jeremiah 13:17 “if you will not listen to it” Jeremiah was commanded by God to preach this message of repentance, but he knew the people (i.e., YHWH's flock) would not respond (cf. Isaiah 6:9-10). Humans have a choice but their choice has consequences (cf. line 5).

Jeremiah (the weeping prophet) describes his feelings (which mimic YHWH's feelings) about Judah's stubborn, unrepentant, sinful idolatry and its consequences.

1. my soul will sob in secret

2. my eyes will bitterly weep (Qal INFINITIVE ABSOLUTE and Qal IMPERFECT from the same root)

3. my eyes will flow down with tears

Jeremiah 13:18 “Say to the king and the queen mother” Verses Jeremiah 13:18 and 19 are either a historical allusion to

1. what happened in the second of Nebuchadnezzar's attacks on Jerusalem in 597 B.C. (cf. Jeremiah 22:24-26; Jeremiah 29:2), where Jehoiachin and his mother (see similar phrase used of the king of Babylon in Isaiah 47:1), Neshushta, are taken into captivity (cf. 2 Kings 24:8-17)

2. a prophecy about the terrible fall of Jerusalem and burning of the temple in 586 B.C. by Babylon.

Remember, Nebuchadnezzar's army had several deportations, 605, 597, 586, 582 B.C. Whatever the allusion, the king, representing God (cf. 1 Samuel 8:0), is now humiliated and taken away into captivity and the southern cities (i.e., the Negev) are under siege (cf. Jeremiah 13:19).

NASB, NJB“For your beautiful crown Has come down from your heads” NKJV“For your rule shall collapse the crown of your glory” NRSV“Since your glorious crown has fallen from your head” JPSOA“For your diadems are abased, Your glorious crowns”

The LXX reads, “because your crown of glory has been removed from your head.” The MT reads, “for your crown has come down, the crown of your splendor.”

Most modern translations follow the LXX and other ancient versions.

Jeremiah 13:19 “have been locked up” This VERB (BDB 688, KB 742, Pual PERFECT) refers to a siege of a walled city (or fortress in the Negev). The result of these sieges was “exile” (BDB 162, KB 191, Hophal PERFECT, used twice in this verse).

“there is no one to open them The foreign alliances, in this case Egypt, cannot stop the Babylonian invasion of Palestine. It was YHWH's will!

“Wholly carried into exile” This is hyperbolic; some of Judah's citizens escaped exile.

The problem with much modern interpretation of Wisdom Literature and Prophetic Literature is western literalism! Prophecy is a hyperbolic genre! See D. Brent Sandy, Plowshares and Pruning Hooks.

Verses 20-27

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 13:20-27 20”Lift up your eyes and see Those coming from the north. Where is the flock that was given you, Your beautiful sheep? 21What will you say when He appoints over you- And you yourself had taught them- Former companions to be head over you? Will not pangs take hold of you Like a woman in childbirth? 22If you say in your heart, 'Why have these things happened to me?' Because of the magnitude of your iniquity Your skirts have been removed And your heels have been exposed. 23Can the Ethiopian change his skin Or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good Who are accustomed to doing evil. 24Therefore I will scatter them like drifting straw To the desert wind. 25This is your lot, the portion measured to you From Me,” declares the LORD , “Because you have forgotten Me And trusted in falsehood. 26So I Myself have also stripped your skirts off over your face, That your shame may be seen. 27As for your adulteries and your lustful neighings, The lewdness of your prostitution On the hills in the field, I have seen your abominations. Woe to you, O Jerusalem! How long will you remain unclean?”

Jeremiah 13:20-27 This is the final strophe of chapter 13. Remember, try to identify the main truth of each strophe and let this guide your interpretation of the details.

Jeremiah 13:20 “Lift up your eyes and see” These VERBS are both FEMININE SINGULAR IMPERATIVES (kethiv), which refer to the city of Jerusalem. The Septuagint translates this “Jerusalem.” The Masoretic scholars put the Qal MASCULINE PLURAL IMPERATIVES in the margin (Qere). These reflect different Hebrew manuscripts which they consulted.

“from the north” This refers to the imminent invasion by Babylon. The north was an idiom of evil (cf. Jeremiah 1:13-15; Jeremiah 4:6; Jeremiah 6:1, Jeremiah 6:22) because it was the invasion route for the empires (both Assyria, Babylon) of the Tigris-Euphrates River Valley into the land of Palestine.

Jeremiah 13:21 “Former companions to be head over you” The Hebrew of lines 1-3 is uncertain. This seems to refer to Judah's foreign alliance (cf. Jeremiah 2:18). “Companion” is the Hebrew “chieftain” (BDB 910). Israel/Judah had many allies but now they have become their masters!

“Will not pangs take hold of you, Like a woman in childbirth” Labor pains are often used in the Bible as a symbol of judgment (cf. Jeremiah 4:31; Jeremiah 6:24).

Jeremiah 13:22 The Judeans were questioning the bad things (invasion and exile) which were about to happen to them, and wondering why! They were God's people! They had the Patriarchal promises; they had the Promised Land; they had the prophets; they had the temple (cf. Romans 9:4-5). Their (1) continuing idolatry; (2) unwillingness to listen to God's word or prophet; and (3) unwillingness to repent caused the curses of Leviticus 26:0 and Deuteronomy 27-28 to become a reality.

“Your skirts have been removed” This is a metaphor in the OT for a violent sexual assault (cf. Leviticus 18:6-19; Leviticus 20:17; Deuteronomy 22:30; Deuteronomy 27:20; Isaiah 47:3; Hosea 2:3, Hosea 2:10). Her lovers (foreign alliances, cf. Jeremiah 2:17-19) had now become her rapists (TEV).

“And your heels have been exposed” This is a cultural metaphor for the act of public exposure, which was considered to be a great shame (cf. Jeremiah 13:26; Lamentations 1:8; Isaiah 47:2, Isaiah 47:3). Sometimes the feet, and here the heels, were used as a euphemism for the human sex organs (cf. Deuteronomy 28:57; Judges 3:24; 1 Samuel 24:6; Isaiah 6:2).

Jeremiah 13:23 There are two questions in this proverbial statement which obviously expect “no” answers. This reflects the idea that the Judeans could not change, although God calls to them (cf. NRSV, REB), for they are morally unable to respond. This may be an incipient clue to the need for a new covenant which is based not on the performance of fallen mankind, but on the grace of God (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:22-38).

Jeremiah 13:24 Invasion and exile are coming, but it is YHWH who initiates and allows it (cf. Jeremiah 9:16; Leviticus 26:33; Deuteronomy 28:64). Notice Jeremiah 13:25, line 2.

Jeremiah 13:25 “This is your lot, the portion measured to you” Originally Abraham's descendants were considered the “portion of the LORD,” but now because of their rebellion, they had become the portion of foreigners (cf. Leviticus 26:0; Deuteronomy 27-28).

Two reasons are given why YHWH took His protection from them and energized the invading army.

1. They forgot YHWH (BDB 1013, KB 1489, Qal PERFECT, cf. Jeremiah 2:32; Jeremiah 3:21).

2. They continued to trust in falsehood (BDB 1055, i.e., Ba'al worship and other idols, cf. Jeremiah 3:23; Jeremiah 5:31; Jeremiah 10:14; Jeremiah 16:19; BDB 105, KB 120, Qal IMPERFECT).

Jeremiah 13:26 “So I Myself have also stripped your skirts off over your face, That your shame may be seen” This was the public punishment of a harlot or faithless wife (cf. Hosea 2:3, Hosea 2:10; Isaiah 47:2, Isaiah 47:3). The New English Bible translates Jeremiah 13:22 with the very same metaphor.

Jeremiah 13:27 “As for your adulteries and your lustful neighings” This last term means “rutting noises” (BDB 843, cf. Jeremiah 8:0; Jeremiah 16:0). The people of God are described in their fertility worship (cf. Jeremiah 2:20) as mating animals (cf. Jeremiah 2:24; Jeremiah 14:6).

“On the hills in the field” We learn of the magnitude and grossness of the covenant people's sex sins as they worship Ba'al from Hosea 4:13, Hosea 4:14 (see Special Topic: Fertility Worship of the Ancient Near East).

“How long will you remain unclean” The VERB (BDB 372, KB 369, Qal IMPERFECT) can be used of

1. freed from leprosy (cf. 2 Kings 5:0)

2. ceremonially clean (cf. Leviticus)

3. freed from idolatry (cf. here and Ezekiel 24:13[twice]; Jeremiah 36:25)

This last line is confusing in Hebrew. The LXX translates it as “Because you were not cleaned after me, how long it yet be?”

The very last phrase can be viewed in two ways.

1. a literary way of asserting it will not happen (if there will be no cleansing)

2. an attempt to show there is still hope for repentance (but seems to violate Jeremiah 13:23)

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 13". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/jeremiah-13.html. 2021.
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