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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 13

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-11




1. At the Lord’s command, Jeremiah purchases a linen girdle and puts it on-with the understanding that he is not to wash it, (vs. 1-2).

a. The lesson from this symbolic act is for the prophet’s own benefit.

b. The Lord required more symbolic acts of Jeremiah than of any other prophet, (vs. 16:1-4, 5-13).

2. In obedience to a further command of the Lord, Jeremiah went to the Euphrates (approximately 250 miles) - still wearing the unwashed girdle; at God’s command, he took it off, hid it in the cleft of a rock and returned to Jerusalem, (vs. 3-5).

3. After many days, the Lord sent him back to dig up the filthy garment that he had hidden, (vs. 6-7).

a. Exposed to sun, wind, dust and rain; the garment was now rotten and shredded.

b. It was WORTHLESS!-good for nothing!

4. As Jeremiah held the worthless garment in his hand, the Lord spoke to him again - revealing this as a symbol of what was happening to Judah and Jerusalem who, in pride and stubbornness, had rejected the love of Jehovah, to chase after false gods, (vs. 8-10).

a. When one turns away from God his life begins to rot! (Leviticus 26:14; Leviticus 26:19-22; Isaiah 2:10-17; comp. Isaiah 23:8-9; Zephaniah 3:11-13).

b. God is the source of strength for all humanity; apart from a loving and intimate relationship with Him, no one can experience life at its fullest and best -for fullness of life rests in Him "in whom we live and move and have our being," (Acts 17:28).

c. .Any man, or nation, that refuses to trust in God and walk in loving loyalty (in the way of His appointment) before Him, will soon discover that deterioration has set in; it loses its power and begins to fall apart, (Jeremiah 11:8; Jeremiah 11:10; Numbers 14:11-12; 2 Chronicles 36:15-21).

d. Man or nation, apart from the true God, will be as this filthy, rotten garment-GOOD FOR NOTHING! (comp. Matthew 5:13).

5. But, the full force of the lesson appears in verse 11.

a. God has chosen and designed His covenant people for a walk of intimacy with Himself, (Exodus 19:5-6; Deuteronomy 7:6-11; Deuteronomy 32:10-11).

b. This linen garment was one of the most intimate that a man could put on - illustrating the nearness of relationship that the Lord desires with His people.

c. And the Lord has good reason for desiring this nearness.

1) He wants to set us forth, as His own people, before an unbelieving world, (Jeremiah 7:23-26).

2) He wants to make us a NAME for Himself, (Jeremiah 32:19-20; Isaiah 63:11-14; Daniel 9:13-15; comp. Isaiah 62:2-4).

3) He wants us to show forth His praise, (Jeremiah 33:7-9; Isaiah 43:20-21; Psalms 102:18-22; Luke 1:68-69; Luke 1:74-75).

4) He wants us to glorify His name, (Ephesians 3:20).

5) And He wants us to be "a people for His own possession," (1 Peter 2:9) - to show forth His glorious excellencies in all the earth; to be His witnesses, ambassadors and joyful servants!

Verses 12-14


1. The "nebel" was the largest earthenware container in use for the storage of wine, (vs. 12; comp. Isaiah 22-24; Isaiah 30:14; La 4:2).

2. In response to the Lord’s word that every jar would be filled with wine, the people of Judah responded (in essence) that they were not totally ignorant; they knew quite well what to do with wine jars!

a. Drunkenness was a major social problem in the ancient Near East.

b. From it sprang a vast array of evils - as illustrated in Noah, (Genesis 9:21-25), Nabal (1 Samuel 25) and others.

c. Such wickedness as sprang from the drunken state was quite characteristic of Canaanite worship.

d. Instead of turning to alcohol, New Testament Christians are urged to "put on Christ" (Romans 13:13), and to be filled with the Holy Spirit, (Ephesians 5:18).

3. Jeremiah informs his rebellious brethren that THEY are the wine jars which are about to be filled with the wine (fury) of God’s wrath! - kings, prophets, priests and all the inhabitants of the land are included, (vs. 13; comp. Jeremiah 51:57; Psalms 75:7-8).

4. As men under the influence of depressant alcohol, the people of Judah will be utterly given over to reprobate minds - so- impaired as to be helpless in the coming crisis; as drunken men they will be unable to distinguish between friend and foe, (vs. 14; comp. Jeremiah 19:8-11; Jeremiah 25:15-28; Ezekiel 23:31-34; Isaiah 51:17; Psalms 60:3).

a. Father and son will be dashed against each other - the wine-jars broken! (Jeremiah 6:21; comp. Ezekiel 5:8-10).

b. Nor will the Lord pity, spare or show compassion toward the objects of His wrath; His judgment is JUST! (Jeremiah 16:5; Jeremiah 21:7; comp. Isaiah 27:11; Deuteronomy 29:20-21).

c. Their destruction is well deserved!

Verses 15-17


1. Knowing the love and yearning of God’s heart for His people, Jeremiah pleads with Judah to listen, and to turn from her. proud rebellion, (vs. 15; Proverbs 16:5; Proverbs 3:34; Isaiah 28:14-22;1 Peter 5:5).

2. Let her, rather, give honor to the Lord her God (recognizing His majesty and obeying His word, (Psalms 96:5-9) before He brings catastrophic darkness upon her (comp. Isaiah 5:30; Isaiah 59:9-10; Amos 5:18­20; Psalms 107:10-15) - and with it, stumbling (Jeremiah 23:12; Proverbs 4:19) and the destruction of all hope of recovery, (vs. 16).

3. The tenderness of Jeremiah is manifested in his expression of deep sorrow, (vs. 17).

a. If they will not hear, his soul will weep because of their pride, (comp. Malachi 2:2; Leviticus 26:14-18).

b. His eyes will overflow with tears when the Lord’s flock is taken captive, (Jeremiah 14:17; comp. Matthew 23:27-39).

Verses 18-19


1. This has reference to the 18-year-old Jehoiachin, and his queen-mother (Nehusta) after a reign of only three months in Jerusalem, (comp. 2 Kings 24:8-15).

a. Here is a call for these royal personages to humble themselves before Jehovah, (vs. 18a; comp. 2 Chronicles 33:12; 2 Chronicles 33:19).

b. Their beautiful, royal headdress (signifying their honor, glory and power) has been removed from them, (vs. 18b).

c. Thus, Jeremiah rebukes the fallen leaders of Judah for the contempt with which they have treated his message.

2. The cities of the south were shut up (barricaded) so that refugees who fled the fury of the invader could not enter, (vs. 19a; comp. Jeremiah 32:44).

3. Judah is carried away captive - though, in reality, only the potential leaders and skilled workers are, at this time, taken to Babylon; they are representative of the captivity of the whole.

a. In the Hebrew writings one often finds poetic exaggeration, hyperboles, and the employment of various figures of speech; thus, this must not be regarded as a contradiction.

b. This principle of representation undergirded the entire sacrificial system in the Old Testament.

c. Its perfect, supreme manifestation awaited the substitutionary sacrifice of the Son of Man on the cross, at Calvary, (John 11:50-52; comp. Isaiah 53:4-6; Romans 4:25; Romans 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; Romans 6:1-11; Romans 8:11; Romans 6:12-14).

Verses 20-27


1. The enemy is seen approaching from the north - the inescapable consequence of willful persistence in sin; and inquiry is made concerning the depopulation of the once-populous city, (vs. 20, 17; Jeremiah 23:2).

2. Great will be their sorrow when those whose friendship they have cultivated, through political strategy, and in whom they have trusted for safety, are made their masters, (vs. 21; comp. Jeremiah 38:22; Isaiah 39:4-7).

3. Since Judah cannot understand how such incredulous calamity could possibly overtake her, Jeremiah is prepared to enlighten her, (vs. 22-23).

a. It is because of the multitude of her iniquities that she is brought to shame, (vs. 22; Jeremiah 2:17-19; Jeremiah 9:2-9).

b. Practiced in evil, it is as impossible for Judah to change her ways as for a negro to change the color of his skin, or a leopard its spots! (vs. 23; Jer Proverbs 27:22; Isaiah 1:5-6; Jeremiah 4:22).

4. Since her sin is so deeply ingrained, the Lord will scatter her, as straw before a strong wind - openly exposing her shame, (vs. 24­-25; Jeremiah 4:11-13; Jeremiah 9:16; Jeremiah 18:17).

a. She has forgotten Jehovah and trusted in falsehood, (Jeremiah 2:32; Jeremiah 3:21; comp. Psalms 106:21-22).

b. Thus will He expose her corrupt wantonness - her unfruitful works of darkness, (La 1:8-9,17).

c. Observing her abominable, adulterous neighings, lewdness and whoredom, the Lord pronounces a "woe" upon Jerusalem who is NOT WILLING TO BE MADE CLEANI (vs. 27a; Jeremiah 5:7-8; Jeremiah 11:15; Jeremiah 2:20; comp. Ezekiel 24:14).

And in a final cry, He inquires - "How long will it be?" (comp, Proverbs 1:22; Hosea 8:5).

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Jeremiah 13". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/jeremiah-13.html. 1985.
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