Waistbands In Water: What Is The Purpose For Jeremiah’s Actions In Jeremiah 13:1-7? -- By: Charles H. Dyer
MTJ 1:1 (Spring 1990) p. 94
Waistbands In Water: What Is The Purpose For Jeremiah’s Actions In Jeremiah 13:1-7?
In Jeremiah 13:1–7 the Lord commanded Jeremiah to buy a linen waistband, wear it for a time, take it to a location called פְרָת and bury it. Later, he was commanded to go back to פְרָת, dig up the waistband, observe its ruined condition, and explain the point of the message to the people. Jeremiah was to perform this symbolic act to drive home God’s message of judgment to the disobedient people of Judah and Jerusalem. As Thompson has noted, such actions were not uncommon on the part of Israel’s prophets.
It was not unusual for Jeremiah to perform symbolic actions which were in the nature of parables. Evidently the people of Israel were used to such performances from the prophets and knew how to expect a word from Yahweh through them. The general purport of the symbol was that the nation’s pride would be destroyed (v. 9) by her impending removal from her home territory, that is, by the exile that was soon to take place.1
The “parable of the linen waistband” has received several different interpretations.2 The symbolic act has been said to refer to everything from the results of God’s impending judgment on Judah, to the cause for God’s impending judgment on Judah, to the nature of God’s impending on Judah. Part of the difficulty in interpreting this symbolic act is determining the location of פְרָת. This location has been identified with the Euphrates River, with the village of Parah in the Wadi Farah, and with a place not attested to in any other Old Testament passage called Perath.3 However, in spite of the
MTJ 1:1 (Spring 1990) p. 95
difficulties of determining the location where Jeremiah’s actions were performed, it is this writer’s belief that the purpose for Jeremiah’s actions can be determined. The goal of this article is to examine some key elements in Jeremiah 13:1–7 to see why, specifically, Jeremiah buried his waistband in water.
Examination Of The Various Views
What was the message that God intended to convey through Jeremiah’s symbolic act? At least three views have been advanced to explain the purpose of Jeremiah’s action. Each will be examined in some detail.
To predict the results of God’s judgment
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