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Jeremiah 13:1 Thus said Yahweh to me, Go, and buy yourself a linen belt, and put it on your waist, and don’t put it in water- The belt represented Israel (:11); being unwashed perhaps speaks of their lack of spiritual cleansing and uncleanness. He had to "buy" it as Yahweh had redeemed or bought Israel out of Egypt. Linen, not woollen, garments were appointed for priestly wear; the idea is that all Israel were to be a nation of priests, a light to the Gentiles. Or maybe the command not to wash it is just so that it would cleave to Jeremiah over time, representing the intimacy and close connection intended between God and Israel.

Jeremiah 13:2 So I bought a belt according to the word of Yahweh, and put it on my waist-
There is an Arabic saying that a man's people cling to him as a man's belt. That seems to be the idea in view in this acted parable.

Jeremiah 13:3 The word of Yahweh came to me the second time saying-
This was some time after Jeremiah had been wearing the belt every day; see on :2.

Jeremiah 13:4 Take the belt that you have bought, which is on your waist, and arise, go to the Euphrates, and hide it there in a cleft of the rock-
The removal of the belt meant that God was severing His special relationship with His people, whom He considered intimately part of Him; see on :2. The hiding in the rock represented how Judah would be in captivity. It's not clear whether Jeremiah literally made this journey. If he did, it would have been a major undertaking, and all would have known about it.
However, if an actual visit to the Euphrates is meant, the part referred to “cannot be anywhere near Babylon, where there are no ‘rocks,’ or rather ‘crags’—but in the upper part of its course, above Carchemish, or even above Samosata, where it still flows between rocky sides”. Hiding in a cleft of the rock recalls Moses; he did so in order to see the glory of Yahweh. There is a similar idea in Is. 2:10. The implication was that through this experience, the bringing down of all human pride, then the glory of Yahweh would be revealed at the restoration, as it was to Moses. And that is very much the language of Ezekiel's cherubim visions which were given around this time.

Jeremiah 13:5 So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as Yahweh commanded me-
The Lord Jesus spoke a parable about a man who buried his talent (the Truth he had received at baptism) in the earth, and then when he was condemned at the judgment, this man thinks he's being treated unfairly. This story was quarried from Jer. 13:5-10, where God tells Jeremiah to take a belt and bury it. It becomes spoilt and useless. This buried belt, according to God's own interpretation, represents those of His people "which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart". It was this which destroyed them, making them spiritually rot and decay until they were of no use. The Lord Jesus seems to foresee in His parable those who would accept His Truth, but bury it in the ground, effectively forgetting the love of His word, and yet assuming that simply because they possess the Truth they ought therefore to be in the Kingdom. 

Jeremiah 13:6 It happened after many days that Yahweh said to me, Arise, go to the Euphrates and take the belt from there, which I commanded you to hide there-
The taking of the belt spoke of God's taking of His people out of captivity once their pride had been destroyed (:9). If indeed Jeremiah made the literal journey to the Euphrates, then it would have appeared a huge effort in order to teach a simple lesson about God's hatred of pride. But that was the point. All this was to prove that God hates pride and will go to any extreme length in order to remove it from His people. See on :9.

Jeremiah 13:7 Then I went to the Euphrates and dug, and took the belt from the place where I had hidden it; and behold, the belt was ruined, it was unfit for use-
Ezekiel taught the same lesson in likening Judah to a vine branch which had been burnt at the hands of the Babylonians, and was therefore unfit for use (Ez. 15:2-4). We assume that Jeremiah was to wear the useless belt on the long journey back to Judah. Losing our pride (:9) means recognizing we cannot do any work for the Lord, in the sense that all human achievement is nothing; and yet He still wears us, He uses us, He identifies with us. The Hebrew for "dig" also means to search out; God would search out His scattered, humbled people and return them to His land (s.w. Dt. 1:22; Josh. 2:2). "Ruined" is the word for 'destroyed' in :14 and often. They would be destroyed in the sense that their pride would be destroyed (:9). This was the positive outcome of 'rotting away' in exile (Lev. 26:39 NET).

Jeremiah 13:8 Then the word of Yahweh came to me saying-
The whole point of Judah's exile in Babylon was to make them "ruined, unfit for use" like the cloth which Jeremiah buried by Euphrates (Jer. 13:7). And yet the second half of Isaiah is full of expressions of God's desire to use Israel after their experience in Babylon as His witness to the nations. Israel's preparation for their mission was through being made "unfit for use". And so God prepares His missionaries and ambassadors today likewise.

Jeremiah 13:9 Thus says Yahweh, In this way I will ruin the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem-
See on :6. It was pride in the heart which was the essential problem; all the idolatry and immorality flowed from that. And this is the abiding lesson for us. As noted on :7, God would ruin or destroy His people in the sense of destroying their pride. This was the intention of the captivity; and only then could God bring them back to Judah attached to Him, just as Jeremiah returned with the useless belt. It is not specifically stated that he returned with the belt because it was an open question as to whether the exiles would shed their pride. The reality is that they didn't, yet by pure grace God still tried to bring them back; such was and is His desire to as it were fore through His saving purpose with people.

Jeremiah 13:10 This evil people, who refuse to hear My words, who walk in the stubbornness of their heart, and are gone after other gods to serve them and to worship them-
The choice was between walking after God's word, or walking after their own hearts. This is where God's word is not like any other literature. It is to take a grip upon the human heart and to inculcate a way of thought which is contrary to our own natural heart or thinking. This points up the danger of using the Bible simply to reinforce our own natural ideas, whilst disregarding the rest. "Stubbornness" also can mean "imagination". Dt. 29:19 speaks directly of Judah at this time- when they heard the words of the curses for disobedience, they would think they would still have peace because they walked in the imaginations [s.w. "stubbornness"] of their own hearts. The false prophets were preaching exactly such "peace" (Jer. 6:14; 8:11). The heart [mind] is a fountain of imagination, of fantasy, and it is this which can be redirected by the influence of God's word and Spirit upon the human heart. But the sense of "stubbornness" in the Hebrew word for "imagination" shows that by exercising our own imaginations without the influence of God's word, we become set in those ways of thought, until they come to define us.

Shall even be as this belt, which is profitable for nothing- Jeremiah's parable of the girdle demonstrated that the Jews would not "prosper" (Jer. 13:7,10) even when taken into captivity at the Euphrates (i.e. Babylon), using the same word as in the parable of the vine in Ez. 17:9. Babylon, according to Ez. 17:8, was potentially fruitful soil for their spiritual revival. But they would not "prosper", Jeremiah says, because of their deep seated love of idolatry and lack of true repentance.

Jeremiah 13:11 For as the belt clings to the waist of a man, so have I caused to cling to Me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, says Yahweh; that they may be to Me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear-
There is an Arabic saying that a man's people cling to him as a man's belt. That seems to be the idea in view in this acted parable. God caused His people to cling to Him, perhaps referring to marriage (s.w. Gen. 2:24); and yet their pride meant that they refused it. This speaks of the psychological work of God to cause His people to cling to Him, which is likewise ongoing today. We note that Israel and Judah are mentioned together; the idea was that the restoration would unite both nations through the common experience of being humbled and repenting. The two nations would return to the land and this become God's singular people. This was God's intention from the start, but it was their pride (:9) which caused them not to "hear".

Jeremiah 13:12 Therefore you shall speak to them this word: Thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel, Every bottle shall be filled with wine: and they shall tell you, Do we not certainly know that every bottle shall be filled with wine?-
This continues the theme of the earlier parable of the belt, which had to be marred before it would be useless enough for God to use. This spoke of how Judah would lose their pride in Babylon (:9), or that was the intention. "Bottle" here of course means not a glass bottle but a bag or wine skin; but the Hebrew word essentially means that which is deflated, alluding to how wine skins deflated. It is used of the "fading" of human pride in Judah (Is. 28:1,4; 40:7,8; 64:6). This is the continuation of theme with the fading pride of :9. Those humbled skins could have been filled with the wine of the new covenant; but they were to be filled with the wine of judgment (:13). To be given wine from Yahweh is a double symbol; either of condemnation, as happened later to Babylon as well (Is. 51:23; Jer. 25:15); or of blessing (1 Cor. 10:16). They of course chose to understand it as the symbol of blessing, saying that of course they knew the skins were to be filled with wine. But the wine was in fact to be a symbol of judgment (:13). This double symbol explains how the communion service can bring us up sharp before the two options in our destiny- to drink to our condemnation, or to our eternal blessing. This is why self examination is naturally elicited by it.

Jeremiah 13:13 Then you shall tell them, Thus says Yahweh, Behold, I will fill all the inhabitants of this land, even the kings who sit on David’s throne, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, with drunkenness-
The royal family and leadership are bracketed along with "all the inhabitants of the land". Leadership does what the masses want; leaders exercise the natural human tendency to quickly perceive what the other wishes to hear and to say and do it. This is what had happened in Judah. The "people love to have it so", and therefore the priests and prophets said what the people wanted to hear (Jer. 5:31). This is why all society was to be punished. The wine of the covenant was to become the drunkenness of condemnation for them.

Jeremiah 13:14 I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, says Yahweh: I will not pity, nor spare, nor have compassion, that I should not destroy them-
See on :24.
They would  be a source of mutual destruction. we bite and devour each other, we may be consumed by each other (Gal. 5:15)- this is the same idea of brethren killing brethren. Israel were condemned to destruction by brother being dashed against brother (Jer. 13:14). Indeed, biting and devouring each other is a quotation from Is. 9:19,20 LXX (although not apparent in the AV), where Israel in their judgment for unfaithfulness would bite and devour each others' bodies in the siege. Paul is saying that if we bite and devour each other with our words (and we are all guilty of this at times), we are acting as the condemned. If we do this, we may well be consumed of each other- and this may have a terribly literal fulfilment, in that as the world destroys every man his neighbour in the confusion of the last day, so the rejected may do the same, living out the bigotry and passive anger they felt towards each other in their ecclesial life. This all needs some meditation. For there are very few of us not caught up in some division, personality clash, biting or devouring.

Jeremiah 13:15 Hear, and give ear; don’t be proud; for Yahweh has spoken-
Jeremiah had just made a journey to Euphrates and back as part of an acted parable appealing for humility (:9). And so he now begs them not to be proud; but rather to be humble before God's word. God has spoken, and that itself is the imperative to not be proud.
We can hear the Bible explained and at that point understand intellectually. But this is something different to real understanding; for if we truly apprehend the message, we will receive it deep within us and keep that understanding ever present in our subsequent actions. We are to hear and give ear to God's word. We can hear on a surface level, but not give the ear of our heart to God's voice.

Jeremiah 13:16 Give glory to Yahweh your God, before He causes darkness, and before your feet stumble on the dark mountains, and, while you look for light, He turns it into the shadow of death, and makes it gross darkness-
The land was to return to its state before creation, covered with gross darkness. But even in this language of judgment there is hope of new creation, through the movement of the Spirit. Giving glory to God to avoid this meant being humble (:9,15). This is the great paradox- that our humility and repentance exalts God.

Jeremiah 13:17 But if you will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret for your pride; and my eye shall weep bitterly, and run down with tears, because Yahweh’s flock is taken captive-
This continues Jeremiah's desperate plea for humility (:16). He uses the present tense "is taken captive" although it was yet future, because so certain was the condemnation for pride. And yet they were to go into captivity even then as "Yahweh's flock", they were still His.
The fact others reject our message ought likewise to pain us at the very core and heart of our beings. Perhaps here we have a private soliloquy of Jeremiah. He would hide away and weep for them, and nobody would ever know. His grief was to be deeply personal (“my soul shall weep”) and unperceived by others (“in secret places”). And I challenge us, each one: have we ever done this, or even come near it, in our frustration with those who reject our message? Jeremiah wept. He didn’t “…not care a rush”. For all the issues which the prophets could have condemned people for, pride was high on their list. “I abhor the pride of Jacob”, Amos cried out in dismay (Am. 6:8). Jeremiah here weeps in secret, his eyes running with tears, “for your pride”. Isaiah gets passionate about the way that Assyria thought that “By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom” (Is. 10:13). Because Ephraim trusted in his wealth, the most awful words of judgment are pronounced upon him (Hos. 12:8; 10:13,14). We shrug when we see pride and trust in wealth. Rich or poor, we all tend to trust in money. Thinking that that’s life… under the sun. But the prophets went ballistic about this. We’ve developed established patterns of indifference to this kind of thing. But the prophet’s consciences were keenly sensitive to these patterns, and they openly challenged them. They weren’t just empty moralizers, bleating on about the state of the nation; their words are an assault of the mind and conscience.

Jeremiah 13:18 Say to the king and to the queen mother-
This could refer to
 Jehoiakim and the queen-mother Zebidah (2 Kings 23:36). But more likely it refers to the three months’ reign of his successor, Jehoiachin, whose mother, Nehushta, is referred to in 2 Kings 24:8,12,15. The mother is mentioned because Jehoiachin was so young (cp. Jer. 22:26).

Humble yourselves, sit down; for your headdresses have come down, even the crown of your glory- Come down is the idea of humbling. The pride of man will be humbled by Yahweh; if we refuse to humble ourselves, then God's condemnation of us in the day of judgment will humble us. Therefore it is logical to humble ourselves now. LXX gives: "come down from your head is your beautiful crown". We noted on :1 that all Israel were intended to be a nation of priests and even God's High Priest for the surrounding nations. But they were to now lose that possibility. Perhaps Jeremiah is even asking them to resign from the throne in recognition of their corruption, so that the line of David might be restored in the restored Kingdom which was then potentially possible.

Jeremiah 13:19 The cities of the South are shut up, and there is none to open them: Judah is carried away captive, all of it; it is wholly carried away captive-
LXX "Complete removal". But this didn't happen to this extent; see on Jer. 10:18. Perhaps at this point the Babylonian advance had already surrounded the southern cities, and the captivity of the people was as good as done, hence the use of the present tense about something yet future. There was none to open the besieged, shut up cities; because the power of Egypt upon whom they hoped had been broken; see on :19. This is why "the cities of the south" are mentioned, for being nearer to Egypt, they had particularly hoped upon Egyptian help.

Jeremiah 13:20 Lift up your eyes, and see those who come from the north: where is the flock that was given you, your beautiful flock?-
The flock which disappeared may refer to how the army of Egypt, upon whom Judah (LXX mentions "Jerusalem" specifically here) had trusted for defence against Babylon "from the north", was destroyed at
the battle of Carchemish (BC 605). This may have just happened when Jeremiah said this. This was why there was now nobody to open the cities which were closed up because of the siege; the Egyptians were not going to lift the siege (:19).



Jeremiah 13:21 What will you say, when He shall punish you?-
"Punish" translates two words, 'to be overseer over'. The allusion is to their bondage in Egypt, to which they were to effectively return in Babylonian captivity.

You have provoked them to be captains and rulers over you- The "them" are the northern invaders seen in :20. "Captains and rulers" sounds like Israel's slavery in Egypt. They were to as it were return to Egypt (Hos. 8:13; 9:3). This is why the language of the restoration prophecies, especially in later Isaiah, allude to the exodus from Egypt. Judah had done what their fathers had done- returned in their hearts to Egypt. They therefore as it were appointed the invaders as their captains and rulers over them.

Shall not sorrows take hold of you, as of a woman in travail?- Although this a metaphor for judgment, it includes the hope that new birth was to come out of all these sufferings. Always God had in view His hope for the rebirth of His people.

Jeremiah 13:22 If you say in your heart, Why are these things come on me?-
Ezekiel addresses this same complaint in Ez. 18, that the judgments are unjust. God's response is simply to remind them of how terribly they are to be judged- and that ought to elicit within their own consciences an awareness of what they had done to deserve this. The level of shameless self-justification is extreme; so extreme that we reflect it could only have arisen from allowing themselves to be utterly convinced that they were serving Yahweh through serving the idols, and that the words of the false prophets were those of God. But this utter conviction was not simply a case of intellectual failure or being mislead by their teachers. It had a strong moral basis to it; in that they were believing what they wanted t believe, in order to justify their lusts.

For the greatness of your iniquity are your skirts lifted up, and your private parts suffer violence- Her lovers, those she had depended upon, would become her enemies and destroyers (Ez. 23:22). The metaphors used to describe the anger of God with Israel are pretty awful. Her children to be slain with thirst, she was to be stripped naked by her husband (Hosea 2), gang raped by her lovers, having her nose cut off and left a battered, bleeding mess in the scrubland (Ez. 16,23), to have her skirt pulled up over her head and her nakedness revealed (Jer. 13:20-27), wishing to pluck off her own breasts for shame (Ez. 23:34). Jerusalem is to be raped, violated and humiliated, according to Ezekiel. Indeed, Ezekiel’s images verge at times on what some would consider pornographic. He speaks of the woman Israel’s pubic hair, breasts, menstrual cycle (Ez. 16:7,10); the gang rape by her enemies which God would bring about, leaving her mutilated and humiliated (Ez. 16:37; 23:22-49); about the size of her lovers’ sexual organs and coital emissions, and how she let them fondle her breasts (Ez. 23:8,20). This is shocking language, which perhaps we skip over in our Bible reading from sheer embarrassment- and we are modern readers brutalized by exposure to this kind of stuff in the media. For early Israel, it would all have been even more shocking. It all seemed out of proportion to having ‘merely’ made a few political alliances with Egypt and Assyria. Was that really like a wife letting other men fondle her breasts and have sex with her, admiring their bodies as she did so? Did it all have to end in such brutality and vulgarity? Today, sex and violence are what attract attention. From lyrics of songs to advertising and movies, that’s clear enough. And the prophets are using the same tactics to arrest Israel’s attention, all the more so because nudity and sex were things simply not up for public discussion. There’s an anxiety which any talk about sex seems to arouse in us, and it was the prophets’ intention to make us likewise get on the edge of our seats, anxious, rapt, sensitive for the next word… realizing that really and truly, this is what human sin does to God. The outrageous sex talk was to bring out how outrageous and obscene are our sins and unfaithfulness to the covenant we cut with God in baptism.

Jeremiah 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may you also do good, who are accustomed to do evil-
This is in response to their question in :22, as to why they were being punished. No specific sin is listed, but rather the complaint is that they had become psychologically dominated by their ways and habitual ("accustomed") paths of thought.
Once habit solidifies, it becomes effectively part of our nature and almost impossible to change, at least in human strength. The Hebrew translated “accustomed” carries the idea of repeated habit. The Hebrew idea of ‘teaching’ is connected to the words for ‘habit’ or ‘custom’; because teaching was by repetition. The Lord Jesus “morning by morning” heard God’s word “as the learned” (Is. 50:4); but the Hebrew words for “accustomed” in Jer. 13:23 and “learned” in Is. 50:4 are the same. God teaches by repetition- which may be out of vogue in the experience / problem based learning philosophy of current education, but it’s God’s way.

Jeremiah 13:24 Therefore will I scatter them, as the stubble that passes away, by the wind of the wilderness-
The "stubble" doesn't refer to what is left in the ground after harvest. Here it refers to the broken straw which had to be separated from the wheat after the corn had been trampled out by the oxen. Sometimes it was burnt as useless; at other times left to be blown away by the wind coming from the desert. The idea is that whatever was left after the trampling of the Babylonians, even that would be blown away by the wind out of the land and into captivity. But by grace this didn't happen, because the poor of the land, the majority, were left there. See on Jer. 10:18.

Dan. 2:44 describes how the kingdoms of this world will be broken and scattered as the chaff before the wind. Yet this is exactly the language of Jer. 13:24 concerning Israel's latter destruction. They will be "dashed" (Jer. 13:14) as the nations of the world will be (Ps. 2:9). The same verse says they will be destroyed by brother being dashed against brother- again, the picture of the world's final destruction (Zech. 14:13). Rev. 2:27 speaks of the unfaithful in the ecclesia likewise being dashed to pieces. The Lord's coming will be a stone that grinds them to powder (Mt. 21:44).

Jeremiah 13:25 This is your lot, the portion measured to you from Me, says Yahweh; because you have forgotten Me, and trusted in falsehood-
The portion of the wine of judgment was justly measured and it lead to the drunkenness of condemnation. But as noted on :24, even that just measure was ameliorated by the grace of a God whose justice incorporates grace. But the judgment measured, "this... your lot", could refer to the mind-set of :24. God confirmed them in their path of rebellious thinking. Rom. 1:28 states this clearly- God gives a "reprobate mind" to those who wish to think in that way. He confirms us by His Spirit, working directly on our hearts, in the way we choose to go and be.

Jeremiah 13:26 Therefore will I also lift your skirts up above your face-
The shocking sexual language and imagery of the prophets was in order to help Israel see that this was how far they had outraged God; see on :22. It was and is a rhetoric that cannot be forgotten, shrugged off, re-interpreted. The rhetoric pushes relentlessly for a response in our consciences (See Phyllis Trible, God And The Rhetoric Of Sexuality (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1978) pp. 31-71). Just as for a woman to have her skirt ripped above her head and her nakedness displayed was ultimately humiliating for her, so Israel had humiliated God by their sin (Jer. 13:25-27); their actions were just as shocking and obscene.

And your shame shall appear- Time and again, Israel were told that through the judgments of punishment they would receive, they would come to know God in truth (e.g. Ez. 25:7. Their own shame was made to appear before their own face by the judgment process (Jer. 13:26 RV). But it is possible for us to come to that knowledge now through a correct response to the word. If only in our self examination now we would "judge (i.e. condemn) ourselves, we would not be judged (condemned)" at the judgment seat (1 Cor. 11:34). The mental effort and organization of time which this requires must surely be worthwhile in the light of this promise.

Jeremiah 13:27 I have seen your abominations, even your adulteries, and your neighing, the lewdness of your prostitution, on the hills in the field. Woe to you, Jerusalem!
- The sexual violence to be done to her was appropriate to the nature of her sins, which are presented as sexual- in that every act of trust in the surrounding nations, every covenant with them, was adultery against God. The terms of those covenants was that they had to worship the gods of those nations, which they did "on the hills and in the field"; and this therefore was where they had committed their persecution. Their endless "neighing" for the attentions and favours of the Gentiles was to be reflected in the neighing of the horses of their invaders (only s.w. Jer. 8:16).

You will not be made clean; how long shall it yet be?- LXX "for thou hast not been purified so as to follow me; how long yet shall it be?". This suggests the longing of God for their repentance.