Jeremiah 13

DateVersionReading Plan
@July 5, 2023ESV (2016)ESV Prophets Plan 2023


  • The ruined loincloth
  • The jars filled with wine
  • Exile threatened


The chapter opens with the Lord giving Jeremiah instruction to purchase a loincloth, put it around his waist for a time and then take it off and hide it in the cleft of the rock at the Euphrates. After digging it out, Jeremiah saw that it was spoiled, representing the spoiling of Jerusalem. Judah once occupied a place of closest intimacy with God but, like the sash, would be carried away and hidden in Babylonian captivity.

Jer. 13:12 begins another instruction given by God to Jeremiah in which “Every jar shall be filled with wine”. Everyone from the top of society, the kings, priests and prophets on down will be filled with drunkenness or the wrath of God. God will smash these jars.

In Jer. 13:15-17, God calls the people to give glory to Him before calamity strikes. Pride is the main theme in these sections as Judah was guilty of self-exaltation, haughtiness, and high-mindedness. She would not heed God’s directives.

In Jer. 13:18, Jeremiah is told to tell Judah’s royalty that they will be dethroned. Jehoiachin was taken into exile in 597 BC. Jeremiah is likely alluding to the loss of royal power at that time as most of the ruling class went into exile with Jehoiachin.

In Jer. 13:21, we see that Judah’s self-chosen allies will become not just their chiefs but also their poison. Their skirts will be lifted up, exposing Judah’s secret parts, a violence symbolized as a sexual attack (Jer. Jer. 13:22)

Jer. 13:23 is a well-known verse asking rhetorically, “Can an Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.” Just as neither Ethiopian nor leopard is capable of such change, Judah is incapable of changing their evil ways.

The final verses (Jer. 13:26-27) return to the sexual exposure motif, that the LORD will “lift up your skirts over your face, and your shame will be seen.” (Jer. 13:26). Like a lustful, adulterous wife, the people had worshiped the Canaanite gods with animalistic passion.


The graphic language portraying Judah as an unfaithful wife is difficult to read, but rightfully so. To experience this level of spousal infidelity would be heart-crushing. We are are meant to feel the stomach-churning effects of betrayal in order to get a glimpse of what God feels in our rebellion against Him. What’s more, we are to see His just and righteous reaction as the Bridegroom in uncovering her blatant disloyalty.

As His bride, our hearts should be filled with gratitude realizing the grief we have caused our Lord and of what great price He has paid for our redemption. What joyful obedience this should engender that the love of our Lord remains steadfast, enduring forever, with mercies without end.

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