|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 4-6. - After Jeremiah has worn the apron for some time, he is directed to take it to P'rath, and hide it there in a cleft (not "hole") of the rock. A long interval elapses, and he is commanded to make a second journey to the same place, and fetch away the apron. What does this P'rath mean? It is by no means easy to decide. Hardly "the Euphrates,"
(1) because the common prefix, "the river," is wanting, though in so extraordinary a narrative it was peculiarly needed;
(2) because of the length of the journey to Babylonia, which has ex hyp. to be made twice; and
(3) because the Euphrates is not a rocky river. Ewald suggested that "some wet place near Jerusalem" probably had the name of P'rath, and indicates a valley and spring called Forah, about six English miles north-east of Jerusalem. Mr. Birch appears to have hit independently on the same spot, which he identifies with the Parah of Joshua 18:23, about three miles north-east of Anatbeth, and describes as a picturesque gorge between savage rocks, with a copious stream (Quarterly Statement of the Palestine Exploration Fund, October, 1880, p. 236). This combination, however, involves an emendation of the text (P'rath into Parah) - logically it involves this, as Mr. Birch has seen; Ewald's comparison of the Arabic furat, sweet water, seems inconsistent with his reference to Parah - for which there does not seem to be sufficient necessity; and it is better to adopt the view of the great old French Protestant scholar, Bochart, that P'rath is a shortened form of Ephrath, i.e. at once Bethlehem and the district in which Bethlehem lay (see 1 Chronicles 2:50; 1 Chronicles 4:4; and perhaps Psalm 132:6). It need hardly be said that the limestone hills of this region afforded abundance of secluded rocks. There may, of course, be at the same time an allusion to the ordinary meaning of P'rath, viz. Euphrates, on the analogy of the allusion in Isaiah 27:12. Those who hold the view here rejected, that P'rath is equivalent to the Euphrates, sometimes suppose that the narrative is a parable or symbolical fiction, such as Luther, Calvin, and others find in Hosea 1, 3, the thing signified being in this case the carrying captive of the people to Babylon; and this seems the best way of making this interpretation plausible.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Take the girdle which thou hast got, which is upon thy loins,.... Either he is bid to take it off his loins, on which it was; or to go with it on them; seeing the taking it off does not seem absolutely necessary; and go with it to the place directed to in the following words:
and arise, go to Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole of the rock; by the river side, where the waters, coming and going, would reach and wet it, and it drying again, would rot the sooner. This signifies the carrying of the Jews captive to Babylon, by which city the river Euphrates ran, and the obscure state and condition they would be in there; and where all their pride and glory would be marred, as afterwards declared.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. Euphrates—In order to support the view that Jeremiah's act was outward, Henderson considers that the Hebrew Phrath here is Ephratha, the original name of Beth-lehem, six miles south of Jerusalem, a journey easy to be made by Jeremiah. The non-addition of the word "river," which usually precedes Phrath, when meaning Euphrates, favors this view. But I prefer English Version. The Euphrates is specified as being near Babylon, the Jews future place of exile.
hole—typical of the prisons in which the Jews were to be confined.
the rock—some well-known rock. A sterile region, such as was that to which the Jews were led away (compare Isa 7:19) [Grotius].
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