JEREMIAH CHAPTER 13.
The Pride of Judah Rebuked.
THE SYMBOL OF THE GIRDLE. — V. 1. Thus saith the Lord unto me, in bidding the prophet perform an act of symbolic significance, Go and get thee a linen girdle, a very important article of apparel in those days, since it held the garments together and enabled a person to stride forward without hindrance, and put it upon thy loins, and put it not in water, thus using it and taking good care of it. V. 2. So I got a girdle according to the word of the Lord and put it on my loins, wearing it for some time. V. 3. And the word of the Lord came unto me the second time, saying, v. 4. Take the girdle that thou hast got, which is upon thy loins, soiled now on account of the wear to which it was put, and arise, go to Euphrates, the great river which had formerly formed the extreme northeastern boundary of the united kingdom and the western boundary of Mesopotamia, and hide it there in a hole of the rock, in a cleft of the hills near the river-bank. V. 5. So I went and hid it by Euphrates, as the Lord commanded me. V. 6. And it came to pass after many days, after a considerable period of time had elapsed, that the Lord said unto me, Arise, go to Euphrates, and take the girdle from thence which I commanded thee to hide there, the Lord's purpose concerning it having meanwhile been accomplished. V. 7. Then I went to Euphrates, making the long journey a second time, to bring out its significance with greater emphasis, and digged, opening up the cleft in the rock, and took the girdle from the place where I had hid it; and, behold, the girdle was marred, its soiled condition having hastened the process of rotting, it was profitable for nothing, it could no longer be used as an article of apparel. V. 8. Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, v. 9. Thus saith the Lord, After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. This is in agreement with Lev. 26, 36. 39, where the fate of the unbelievers is pictured as a destruction in the land of the enemies, as a pining away in their iniquity; for although a remnant of Judah returned to the Land of Promise, the nation as such had disintegrated during the period of the Exile and never recovered its ancient standing. V. 10. This evil people, which refuse to hear My words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, in deliberate stubbornness, and walk after other gods, to serve them and to worship them, in that most reprehensible sin of all, in willful idolatry, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing. V. 11. 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, saith the Lord, in the wonderful fellowship wherewith Jehovah had joined Israel and Judah to Himself by reason of the covenant of Sinai, that they might be unto Me for a people, His own peculiar nation, and for a name, an object of glory, and for a praise, and for a glory, for a rich ornament to His majesty. But they would not hear, wherefore the punishment of the Lord came upon them in the manner here set forth; for His threats will certainly be fulfilled, just as His promises are.
AN EXHORTATION WITH REGARD TO THE IMPENDING DESTRUCTION. — V. 12. Therefore thou shall speak unto them this word, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Every bottle shall be filled with wine, the point of comparison in this instance being the fact that the purpose of the pitchers was fulfilled when they were filled with wine, but that they at the same time were very fragile. And they shall say unto thee, Do we not certainly know that every bottle shall be filled with wine? This statement, as their surprised tone would suggest, offered no particularly new thing or an unusual phenomenon. V. 13. Then shalt thou say unto them, in explaining to them what seemed so absolutely self-evident, Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will fill all the inhabitants of this land, who in this case are regarded as the pitcher, even the kings that sit upon David's throne, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the careful enumeration serving to increase the emphasis of the Lord's statement, with drunkenness. As wine brings on a state of intoxication, so the effect of God's wrath and judgments upon the entire nation would be to reduce all its members to a state of helpless distraction, which would cause them to rush to their own ruin. V. 14. And I will dash them one against another, like a potter's vessel, even the fathers and the sons together, saith the Lord, the older generation. perishing with the younger, since both are in the same condemnation; I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, the synonyms again being heaped in this case to place the greater stress upon the warning of the Lord, since He will not draw back His hand once He has begun to punish, but destroy them. It is a historical fact that the internal disruption of the Jewish nation was an important factor in hastening the destruction of their kingdom. V. 15. Hear ye and give ear, paying close attention to the Lord's warning; be not proud, chiefly in disregarding the rebuke of Jehovah, for the Lord hath spoken. V. 16. Give glory to the Lord, your God, to Him who has given abundant evidence of His godhead and of His loving-kindness to Judah, before He cause darkness, bringing misfortune upon His people, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, literally, "mountains of gloom," where the traveler is in danger of losing his way and coming to grief, and, while ye look for light, He turn it into the shadow of death and make it gross darkness, into a cloudy night, with densest gloom, a picture of the most severe affliction. Moreover, the prophet adds: v. 17. But if ye will not hear it, refusing him obedience in his appeal, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride, such being the effect which their obstinacy would have upon him who was so sincerely concerned for their welfare; and mine eye shall weep sore and run down with tears, in an excess of grief, because the Lord's flock, the members of the Church whom Jehovah loved, is carried away captive; for even the disobedient people are still considered the Lord's people, since He has hopes of gaining them for the truth once more. V. 18. Say unto the king and to the queen, in a prophecy foretelling the fall of the kingdom. Humble yourselves, sit down, taking a very low and humble seat instead of occupying a proud throne; for your principalities shall come down, even the crown of your glory, literally, "for fallen is the ornament of your head, the diadem of your glory," as a sign of the fact that the king has lost his power and his kingdom. V. 19. The cities of the South shall be shut up, all the portals and roads filled with ruins, and none shall open them, no one being present to remove the debris left after the destruction of the cities. Judah shall be carried away captive, all of it, it shall be wholly carried away captive, so that not one inhabitant would be left behind. V. 20. Lift up your eyes and behold them that come from the North, the reference being to Nebuchadnezzar and his Chaldean hordes; where is the flock that was given thee, thy beautiful flock? the daughter of Zion being held responsible for the flock of Jehovah, which, by virtue of His election, was a flock of glory. V. 21. What wilt thou say when He shall punish thee? For thou hast taught them, the heathen rulers whom Zion herself had called as her friends, to be captains and as chief over thee, that is, the Lord Himself would punish Zion by giving her into the hands of these strangers. Shall not sorrows take thee as a woman in travail? the most severe pangs of affliction. V. 22. And if thou say in thine heart, Wherefore come these things upon me? in an attempt to deny the blame and the guilt which attached to Judah's many transgressions, then the Lord's answer is: For the greatness of thine iniquity are thy skirts discovered and thy heels made bare, since she would be driven into exile in scanty clothing and with bare feet, a form of the deepest degradation. Furthermore, the Lord tells Judah that it will not escape this lot because wickedness had become a second nature with it, and it seemed practically impossible to effect a change of heart. V. 23. Can the Ethiopian change his skin, turning it to a white color, or the leopard his spots, characteristic as they have become of him? Then may ye also do good that are accustomed to do evil. The one was practically as impossible as the other; they were entirely given over to wickedness. V. 24. Therefore, on account of this sad state of affairs, will I scatter them as the stubble that passeth away by the wind of the wilderness, the violent east wind which carried away the stubble like chaff. V. 25. This is thy lot, so the Lord says in concluding this message, the portion of thy measures from Me, saith the Lord, what Judah may expect from Jehovah, because thou hast forgotten Me and trusted in falsehood, in deceitful promises as well as in the help of vain idols. V. 26. Therefore will I discover thy skirts upon thy face, from before, covering her with confusion and disgrace, that thy shame may appear. V. 27. I have seen thine adulteries, in her idolatry and the adulterous customs connected with false worship, and thy neighings, the lewdness of thy whoredom, namely, in the enormity of her unchastity in yielding to idolatry, and thine abominations on the hills in the fields, where so many heathen altars were erected. Woe unto thee, O Jerusalem! Wilt thou not be made clean? When shall it once be? The Lord is still stretching out arms of mercy to an apostate nation, a proof of the greatness of His love for sinners.