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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Jeremiah 13

 

 

Verses 1-27

Jeremiah 13:1. Get thee a linen girdle, or “buy thee,” as the Chaldaic reads; which this priest and prophet wore unwashed till it became offensive, and began to excite attention and talk. The priest’s girdle was the brightest ornament of his costume; and the soldier’s girdle the first mark of honour. 2 Samuel 18:11.

Jeremiah 13:4. Go to Euphrates, and hide it there. After three months he there found it, mildewed, rotten, and good for nothing. Just so were the people of Judah and of Jerusalem marred, and become incorrigible. Jeremiah was commanded to go to the Euphrates, (called in Hebrew פרת perath, or fruitfulness, Genesis 2:14) because the Chaldean army was coming in that direction to punish their sins. All these strong figures were wisely calculated to impress the more deeply, a scornful and brutish people.

Jeremiah 13:12. Every bottle shall be filled with wine. This plain assertion, which from the advanced state of the vintage everyone knew to be correct, made way for the people’s reply, Do we not certainly know that every vessel shall be filled with new wine? This reply also made way for the prophet’s illustration to come with double force; viz. that he meant the more intoxicating wine, the wrath of God—the invasion of the Chaldean army. This proves to us that the holy prophets often preached in the way of public disputation. So did our Saviour in the temple. John 7:8.

Jeremiah 13:14. I will dash them one against another. The Chaldaic, the LXX, the Vulgate, and the Syriac read, “I will disperse them,” one from another: ανδρα και τον αδελφον αυτου, virum a fratre suo, a man from his brother. I will break up and scatter their families.

Jeremiah 13:16. Give glory to the Lord, by true repentance, before he cause darkness, by the cloud of war; and before your feet stumble on the dark mountains, fleeing in vain from the Chaldeans. The word, stumble, often used, designates the action of the body after it receives a mortal wound. The prophet knew that by a fast of unfeigned repentance they might yet be saved.

Jeremiah 13:18. Say unto the king and to the queen— your principalities shall come down. Joachin and his mother are here intended, according to Jerome; and they were carried captives to Babylon at the first coming of Nebuchadnezzar. 2 Kings 24:15.

Jeremiah 13:19. The cities of the south shall be shut, to assume the state of a siege, and to stop the fugitives from flying into Egypt.

Jeremiah 13:23. Can the Ethiopian change his skin? Hebrews the Cushite, descendants of Cush, the grandson of Noah in Ham’s line, whom it pleased God to cause to be born black, the better to distinguish the different nations of men. The LXX read, Ethiope, the Chaldaic, Hagarians, and the Syriac, Arabs. As we become more and more acquainted with the dialects and tongues of the Africans, we find that their language, as well as the Gothic and the Persic, abounds with Hebrew words, and their customs equally correspond. Language, more than monuments, demonstrates the unity of origin among all nations. It is therefore turpitude in Voltaire to say, “that the man must be blind who doubts of the Whites, the Negroes, the Albinos, the Hottentots, the Lapponese, the Chinese, and the American Indians being races of men entirely different.”—Il n’ est permis qu’ a un aveugle de douter que les blancs, les Negres, les Albinos, les Hottentots, les Lappons, les Chinois, les Americains, soient des races entierement différentes.—Ess. sur les Moeurs.

The Hebrew scriptures possess original excellence in calling all countries by the name of their first possessors; while the Greeks changed words to the fluency of their own tongue. Cicero eulogizes Pythagoras, whose extraordinary wisdom was the first, it would seem, to give names to all things. Aut quis primus, quod summae sapientiae Pythagorae visum est, omnibus rebus imposuit nomina.—Tuscul. 1.

Or the leopard his spots. This metaphor represents the difficulty of converting habitual sinners, in hoary age. Our best critics send us to one of our Saviour’s metaphors for a solution. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”—Happy is the adjection: “but with God all things are possible.”

REFLECTIONS.

When a minister has set his heart on winning a people, he will try a thousand efforts to attract attention, to gain the understanding, and warm the affections. Now, it is God who inspires him with this love to the souls of men; he prompted Jeremiah to a new method of preaching, by directing him to wear a linen girdle. Whether his girdle was of the superfluous robes of the priests, or a mark of nobility, or a badge of honour, we are not told. Be the object of girdles what it might, this which Jeremiah wore attracted the eyes and interested the curiosity of all Judah. Though it might appear genteel at first, they presently saw it grow very much sullied by constant wear. But when they learned that he had made two journeys to the Euphrates, a distance of five hundred miles, the first to hide, the second to uncover his girdle, the wits of the age would play off against the singular superstition of the prophet. Well, let them for a moment enjoy their triumph. And as a tall tree which spreads its branches high in the air, falls with the greatest crash when the axe is applied to the root, so Jeremiah, probably holding in his hand the rotten and mildewed fragments of his sash, dealt the severest blows against their swelling pride. He averred in the name of the Lord, that all their glory should be as that girdle; that their fine and superb dresses should be thus decayed when serving the Babylonians in the immense lines of cities, scattered on the shores of distant rivers. From the singular text of this perished girdle, he preached a sermon which struck the eye, and affected the ear. It was a declaration that God would mar the pride of Judah, as the rot had marred the girdle; and though they had been dear to him as a girdle is to a victorious general, yet he would now cast them off as men do a defiled garment.

The particulars of this declaration follow. God would intoxicate the drunken rulers, the wicked priests, and the lying prophets of Jerusalem with a cup of indignation and wrath. He would dash them one against another by the angry arm of the enemy. If they fled to the hills for a moment’s safety, these should prove to them dark mountains of trouble, and their feet should soon stumble by a pursuing arm. Thus the sinner’s hopes of safety shall soon prove to him the abyss of perdition.

This new revelation of Judah’s misery, sad fruits of rejecting the ministry and despising correction, drew fresh tears from the prophet’s eyes. He saw the people blinded by their sins, and asking why these things were come upon them. He saw the glory was departed; and when the Holy Spirit is resumed, and the day of grace past, a man can no more repent than the Ethiopian can change his skin, or the leopard his spots. Thus Judah’s long and inveterate course of sin led to an awful issue. God saw her adulteries in the worship of every idol, the feasting and dancing, and all the nocturnal impurities which followed. It was time therefore for their crimes to be purged; it was time to cry, woe unto thee, oh Jerusalem! The Lord sees in like manner the sins of the christian church, the sins of men’s hearts, the sins of large towns, of capitals, and of vast resorts of wicked people. Base and degenerate age, wilt thou not be made clean? When shall it once be? Will no judgments milder than the sword avail to purge thy crimes?

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 13:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/jeremiah-13.html. 1835.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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