|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
13:1-11 It was usual with the prophets to teach by signs. And we have the explanation, ver. 9-11. The people of Israel had been to God as this girdle. He caused them to cleave to him by the law he gave them, the prophets he sent among them, and the favours he showed them. They had by their idolatries and sins buried themselves in foreign earth, mingled among the nations, and were so corrupted that they were good for nothing. If we are proud of learning, power, and outward privileges, it is just with God to wither them. The minds of men should be awakened to a sense of their guilt and danger; yet nothing will be effectual without the influences of the Spirit.
Verses 1-11. - The entire people of the Jews is like a good-for-nothing apron. Verse 1. - A linen girdle; rather, a linen apron. "Girdle" is one of the meanings of the Hebrew ('ezor), but is here unsuitable. As Ver. 11 shows, it is an inner garment that is meant, one that "cleaveth to the loins of a man" (in fact, περίζωμα of the Septuagint, the lumbare of the Vulgate). The corresponding Arabic word, 'izar, has, according to Lane, the meaning of "waist-wrapper.' Israel was to Jehovah in as close a relation spiritually as that in which the inner garment referred to is to him who wears it materially. There is an Arabic proverb which well illustrates this: "He is to me in place of an 'izar" (Freytag, 'Studium der Arab. Spraohe,' p. 298). "A linen apron" may perhaps be specified, because linen was the material of the priestly dress (Leviticus 16:4), and Israel was to be spiritually" a kingdom of priests." But this is not absolutely necessary. The common man used linen in his dress as well as the priest; the only difference between them was that the priest was confined to linen garments. But an ,' apron" would in any case naturally be made of linen. Linen; literally, flax (a product of Judah, Hosea 2:5). Put it not in water. The object of the prohibition is well stated by St. Jerome. It was at once to symbolize the character of the people of Israel, stiff and impure, like unwashed linen, and to suggest the fate in store for it (Ver. 9).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Thus saith the Lord unto me,.... In a vision, and by the spirit of prophecy: when this was said is not certain, very likely in the reign of Jehoiakim; the prophet gives an account of what had been done, the present tense is put for the past.
Go and get thee a linen girdle; or, "a girdle of linens" (l); a girdle made of flax or fine linen, which the prophet had not used to wear; and having none, is bid to go, perhaps from Anathoth to Jerusalem, to "get" one, or "buy" one: this girdle represents the people of the Jews in their more pure and less corrupted state, when they were a people near unto the Lord, and greatly regarded by him, and had a share in his affections; when they cleaved unto him, and served him, and were to his praise and glory: "and put it upon thy loins"; near the reins, the seat of affection and desire, and that it might be visible and ornamental; denoting what has been before observed: "and" or
but put it not in water or, "bring it not through it" (m); meaning either before he put it on his loins; and the sense is, that he was not to wash it, and whiten it, but to wear it just as it was wrought, signifying that those people were originally taken by the Lord of his own mercy, and without any merits of theirs, rough, unwashed, and unpolished as they were: or else, after he had wore it, as Jarchi, when it was soiled with sweat; yet not to be washed, that it might rot the sooner: and so may design the corrupt and filthy state of this people, and the ruin brought thereby upon them, which was not to be prevented.
(l) "cingulum linorum", Montanus. (m) "sed per aquam non duces eam", Schmidt.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Jer 13:1-27. Symbolical Prophecy (Jer 13:1-7).
Many of these figurative acts being either not possible, or not probable, or decorous, seem to have existed only in the mind of the prophet as part of his inward vision. [So Calvin]. The world he moved in was not the sensible, but the spiritual, world. Inward acts were, however, when it was possible and proper, materialized by outward performance, but not always, and necessarily so. The internal act made a naked statement more impressive and presented the subject when extending over long portions of space and time more concentrated. The interruption of Jeremiah's official duty by a journey of more than two hundred miles twice is not likely to have literally taken place.
1. put it upon thy loins, &c.—expressing the close intimacy wherewith Jehovah had joined Israel and Judah to Him (Jer 13:11).
linen—implying it was the inner garment next the skin, not the outer one.
put it not in water—signifying the moral filth of His people, like the literal filth of a garment worn constantly next the skin, without being washed (Jer 13:10). Grotius understands a garment not bleached, but left in its native roughness, just as Judah had no beauty, but was adopted by the sole grace of God (Eze 16:4-6). "Neither wast thou washed in water," &c.
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