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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Jeremiah 13



Verse 1

1. Linen girdle — “Linen,” as being the appointed dress of the priestly order, and so appropriately symbolical of God’s holy people whom he had selected for his service.

Put it not in water — That is, do not wash it, but carry it a soiled and filthy thing, and hence fitly symbolical of a people covered with the filth of their sins.

Verse 4

4. Euphrates — The future scene of the captivity. In most other places in the Bible (Jeremiah 51:63; 2 Chronicles 35:20, and perhaps Genesis 2:14, being the only exceptions) this name is associated with Nahar, ( נהר,) hence some have conjectured that the name is here used in a special sense. For instance, some have conjectured that it is used for Ephrath — Bethlehem, with the first weak letter omitted, so that the command would be, Go to Bethlehem. But this is violent and without warrant, and misses the significance of the locality. Ewald conjectures that the word is from the Arabic for water-fissure; “a view,” says Keil, “requiring no serious refutation.”

Verse 7

7. Digged — Showing that Jeremiah had filled in with gravel or earth above the girdle, and so concealed it.

Verse 9

9. Mar the pride of Judah — This was fulfilled in her physical decay — the loss of her temporal greatness.

Verse 10

10. Good for nothing — In themselves, and to outward appearance, but really more fit for God’s high purposes than before. Their political existence was virtually terminated; but as instruments of preparation for the coming reign of Messiah they were still to serve an important use.

Verse 11

11. A people… a name… a praise… a glory — Observe again here, as in so many other places, the piling up of epithets, as if language must be taxed to the utmost to express what this people are to God. This mode of expressing emphasis illustrates the genius of the Hebrew language, and is specially characteristic of Jeremiah.

Verse 12

12. Every bottle — Rather, jar. The same term is used in Isaiah 30:14, and is rendered potter’s vessel. This remark is in the form of a proverb, as if the more certainly to arrest attention.

Verse 13

13. Kings, etc. — Four kings in succession were destroyed in the downfall of Jerusalem.

Drunkenness — Such impotence as comes from “the wine of the wrath of God.”

Verse 14

14. Dash them one against another — See Psalms 2:9, and Revelation 2:27. Not civil war, but indiscriminate destruction, is here foretold.

Verse 15

15. Hear ye, etc. — The earnest words of the prophet entreating attention.

Be not proud — Because pride would keep them from profiting by the humbling lessons he had given.

Verse 16

16. Before he cause darkness — Make haste to seize the path of safety, lest nightfall overtake you and make it impossible.

Dark mountains — Literally, mountains of twilight; a double metaphor, suggesting in one figure sin and danger. Mountains were apt to be dangerous to travel, and in the gloom of gathering night especially so.

He turn it into the shadow of death — For this is not the twilight which grows into day, but that which goes out in utter darkness.

Verse 17

17. My soul shall weep in secret places — Most characteristic language! In it how clearly do we see reflected the heart of this man of God! A true “jeremiad” is not so much the language of gloom and hopelessness as of tenderness and earnest remonstrance. “Secret places” may, perhaps, suggest the present enforced privacy of the prophet.

Verse 18

18. Queen — Rather, queen-mother. It seems to have been the custom among many Oriental peoples for the king’s mother to take precedence of his wife.

Principalities — The marginal reading is better, your head-tires, even the crown of your glory, shall come down.

Verse 19

19. Cities of the south — The region south of Jerusalem.

Shut up — Not necessarily by siege, nor by ruins which shall block up the entrances, but by being uninhabited.


Lift up — The verb is feminine, indicating Jerusalem as the object of address. The flock are the dependent cities lying about her.

Verse 21

21. When he shall punish thee — This verse should read: What wilt thou (Jerusalem) say if he (Jehovah) shall set over thee, for a head, those whom thou accustomed to be thy bosom friends? The word “punish,” in our version, is quite incorrect. The thought is: You cannot complain of the divinely appointed visitation of these heathen enemies, since you have courted their intimacy.

Verse 22

22. Skirts discovered — Lifted so as to expose the person, expressive of ignominy and shame.

Heels made bare — Driven into exile as captives and slaves, barefoot and with violence.

Verse 23

23. The hopelessness of Judah’s case consists in the fact that her sin has become her nature. Her momentum in evil is practically resistless. But with God all things are possible.

Verse 24

24. Stubble — The broken straw which has to be separated from the wheat after the threshing.

Verses 25-27

25-27. A fearfully vivid statement of the apostasy and idolatry of the people, especially as to the unclean and debasing rites of that idolatry.


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 13:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

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Sunday, November 29th, 2020
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