Jeremiah 13:4
Take the girdle that you have got, which is on your loins, and arise, go to Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole of the rock.
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(4) Go to Euphrates.—The Hebrew word Phrath is the same as that which, everywhere else in the O.T., is rendered by the Greek name for the river, Euphrates. It has been suggested (1) that the word means “river” generally, or “rushing water,” applied by way of pre-eminence to the “great river” and therefore that it may have been used here in its general sense; and (2) that it may stand here for Ephratah, or Bethlehem, as the scene of Jeremiah’s symbolic actions, the place being chosen on account of its suggestive likeness to Euphrates. These conjectures, however, have no other basis than the assumed improbability of a double journey of two hundred and fifty miles, and this, as has been shown, can hardly be weighed as a serious element in the question. In Jeremiah 51 there can be no doubt that the writer means Euphrates. It may be noted, too, as a coincidence confirming this view, that Jeremiah appears as personally known to Nebuchadnezzar in Jeremiah 39:11. Those who make Ephratah the scene of what is here recorded, point to the caves and clefts in the rocky region between Bethlehem and the Dead Sea as agreeing with the description. On the other hand, the form Prath is nowhere found as substituted for the familiar Ephratah.

A hole of the rock.—Better, cleft. In the lower part of its course the Euphrates flows through an alluvial plain, and the words point therefore to some part of its upper course above Pylæ, where its course is through a valley more or less rocky.

Jeremiah 13:4. Arise, go to Euphrates — God commanded the prophet to go and hide the girdle on the bank of the Euphrates, to signify that the Jews should be carried captive over that river, called the waters of Babylon, Psalm 137:1. In the margin of our ancient English Bibles, it is observed, that, “because this river Perath, or Euphrates, was far from Jerusalem, it is evident that this was done in a vision.” And the generality of the best commentators have been of this opinion; it not being probable that the prophet should have been sent twice upon a journey of such considerable length and difficulty, to the very great loss of his time, merely upon the errands here mentioned, namely, to carry the girdle to the Euphrates, and to fetch it back, when, it seems, every purpose would have been answered altogether as well if the transaction had been represented in vision. Several things, it must be observed, are related in Scripture as actually done, which yet were certainly only performed in visions. One instance we have Jeremiah 25:15-29, where Jeremiah is commanded to take a cup of wine in his hand, and to cause several kings and nations, there enumerated, to drink of it: for it would be a perfect absurdity to believe that he actually went round to all those kings and nations, and made them drink of the contents of his cup. And yet he makes no more distinction in this latter case, than in that now before us, between mental and bodily action. Another remarkable instance we have Genesis 15:5, where the text says, that God brought Abraham forth abroad, and bid him tell the stars; and yet it appears, by a subsequent verse, that the sun was not then gone down. Indeed, in all these cases, and in many more that might be mentioned of a similar kind, it made no difference as to the end God had in view, whether the transactions related were visionary or real; for either way they served equally to represent the events which it was God’s pleasure to make known. See Lowth and Blaney.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.In a hole of the rock - "In a cleft of the rock." As there are no fissured rocks in Babylonia, the place where Jeremiah hid the girdle must have been somewhere in the upper part of the river. 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].

God having commanded the prophet to procure such a girdle as was before mentioned, and to tie it upon his loins, he a second time comes to him, and commandeth him to take this girdle, and carry it to Euphrates. This was one of the four great rivers that the river out of the garden of Eden divided itself into, Genesis 2:10,14. It was the border of the Promised Land, Genesis 15:18 Deu 1:7 11:24 1 Chronicles 5:9. Reuben’s lot was bounded by it. The prophet was commanded to hide his girdle in the

hole of a

rock in that river. But why there? Were there not other places nearer where the prophet might have hid it? It is judged by some that this command was also to signify unto them that they should be carried out of their own borders into captivity; or rather, that they had corrupted, and were become rotten, by doing after the fashions and manners of the heathens, who lived on the other side of Euphrates always, but having (a hundred years before this) captivated the ten tribes, lived also on this side of it. 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.

Take the sash that thou hast bought, which is upon thy loins, and arise, go to {a} Euphrates, and hide it there in a cleft of the rock.

(a) Because this river was far from Jerusalem, it is evident that this was a vision, by which it was signified that the Jews would pass over the Euphrates to be captives in Babylon, and there for length of time would seem to be rotten, although they were joined to the Lord before as a girdle about a man.

4. hide it there] in such a way that moisture should have full access to it.

the rock] If an actual visit to the Euphrates is meant, the part referred to “cannot be anywhere near Babylon, where there are no ‘rocks,’ or rather ‘crags’—but in the upper part of its course, above Carchemish, or even above Samosata, where it still flows between rocky sides.” Dr.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. The spoilers of the Lord's heritage are also to be carried off out of their land; but after they, like Judah, have been punished, the Lord will have pity on them, and will bring them back one and all into their own land. And if the heathen, who now seduce the people of God to idolatry, learn the ways of God's people and be converted to the Lord, they shall receive citizenship amongst God's people and be built up amongst them; but if they will not do so, they shall be extirpated. Thus will the Lord manifest Himself before the whole earth as righteous judge, and through judgment secure the weal not only of Israel, but of the heathen peoples too. By this discovery of His world-plan the Lord makes so complete a reply to the prophet's murmuring concerning the prosperity of the ungodly (Jeremiah 12:1-6), that from it may clearly be seen the justice of God's government on earth. Viewed thus, both strophes of the passage before us (Jeremiah 12:7-17) connect themselves singularly well with Jeremiah 12:1-6.

Jeremiah 12:14-15

The evil neighbours that lay hands on Jahve's heritage are the neighbouring heathen nations, the Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites, Philistines, and Syrians. It does not, however, follow that this threatening has special reference to the event related in 2 Kings 24:2, and that it belongs to the time of Jehoiakim. These nations were always endeavouring to assault Israel, and made use of every opportunity that seemed favourable for waging war against them and subjugating them; and not for the first time during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, at which time it was indeed that they suffered the punishment here pronounced, of being carried away into exile. The neighbours are brought up here simply as representatives of the heathen nations, and what is said of them is true for all the heathen. The transition to the first person in שׁכני is like that in Jeremiah 14:15. Jahveh is possessor of the land of Israel, and so the adjoining peoples are His neighbours. נגע ב, to touch as an enemy, to attack, cf. Zechariah 2:12. I pluck the house of Judah out of their midst, i.e., the midst of the evil neighbours. This is understood by most commentators of the carrying of Judah into captivity, since נתשׁ cannot be taken in two different senses in the two corresponding clauses. For this word used of deportation, cf. 1 Kings 14:15. "Them," Jeremiah 12:15, refers to the heathen peoples. After they have been carried forth of their land and have received their punishment, the Lord will again have compassion upon them, and will bring back each to its inheritance, its land. Here the restoration of Judah, the people of God, is assumed as a thing of course (cf. Jeremiah 12:16 and Jeremiah 32:37, Jeremiah 32:44; Jeremiah 33:26).

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