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An Object Lesson from Ruined Linen Shorts

13 The Lord said to me, “Go and buy some linen shorts[a] and put them on.[b] Do not put them in water.”[c] So I bought the shorts in keeping with the Lord’s instructions[d] and put them on.[e]

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Footnotes

  1. Jeremiah 13:1 tn The term here (אֵזוֹר, ʾezor) has been rendered in various ways: “girdle” (KJV, ASV), “waistband” (NASB), “waistcloth” (RSV), “sash” (NKJV), “belt” (NIV, NCV, NLT), and “loincloth” (NAB, NRSV, NJPS, REB). The latter is most accurate according to J. M. Myers, “Dress and Ornaments,” IDB 1:870, and W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah (Hermeneia), 1:399. It was a short, skirt-like garment reaching from the waist to the knees and worn next to the body (cf. v. 9). The modern equivalent is “shorts” as in TEV/GNB, CEV.sn The linen shorts (Heb “loincloth”) were representative of Israel and the wearing of them was to illustrate the Lord’s close relation to his people (v. 11). Since the priests’ garments were to be made wholly of linen (cf. Exod 28; Ezek 44:17-18), the fact that the shorts were to be made of linen probably was to symbolize the nature of Israel’s calling: they were to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exod 19:5-6). Just as the linen garments of the priest were to give him special honor and glory (Exod 28:40), so the linen garment was to be a source of praise and glory to the Lord (v. 11).
  2. Jeremiah 13:1 tn Heb “upon your loins.” The “loins” were the midriff of the body from the waist to the knees. For a further discussion including the figurative uses see, IDB, “Loins,” 3:149.
  3. Jeremiah 13:1 tn Or “Do not ever put them in water,” i.e., “Do not even wash them.”sn The fact that the garment was not to be put in water is not explained. A possible explanation within the context is that it was to be worn continuously, not even taken off to wash it. That would illustrate that the close relationship that the Lord had with his people was continuous and indissoluble. Other explanations are that it was not to be gotten wet because (1) that would have begun the process of rotting (This assumes that the rotting was done by the water of the Euphrates. But it was buried in a crack in the rocks, not in the river itself); (2) that would have made it softer and easier to wear; or (3) that showed that the garment was new, clean, and fresh from the merchant. For this latter interpretation see J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah (NICOT), 64. For a fuller discussion of most of the issues connected with this acted-out parable see W. McKane, Jeremiah (ICC), 1:285-92. However, the reason is not explained in the text, and there is not enough evidence in the text to come to a firm conclusion, though the most likely possibility is that it was not to be taken off and washed but worn continuously.
  4. Jeremiah 13:2 tn Heb “word, message.”
  5. Jeremiah 13:2 tn Heb “on my loins.” The “loins” were the midriff of the body from the waist to the knees. For a further discussion, including the figurative uses, see R. C. Dentan, “Loins,” IDB 3:149-50.

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