By Fr. Felix (African Times Guest Writer)

Symbolic actions have always been a forceful

way for prophets to illustrate and drive home

their message.

One remembers the symbol of the prophet

Ahijah tearing his new cloak into twelve strips

to symbolize the division of the tribes (1 Kings

11.29), or Agabus binding himself, hands and

feet, to indicate Paul’s coming captivity (Acts

21.11). Such actions were favourites of Ezekiel,

as we shall see in Week 19.

A loincloth, clinging to the body and protecting

the most private parts, is the most intimate and

personal of garments.

Who would wear someone else’s underwear? So

Jeremiah is indicating that the people of Israel

is to the LORD the most intimate and personal

possession, which should be clinging, so to

speak, to the LORD most intimately and

personally in a way which is almost too private

to mention. It should be treasured, not rejected

and spoiled.

And yet this thing is to be deliberately ruined as

a sign of the ruin of Israel. However, in the end,

after the rejection and the long journeying, the

rags of the cloth are reclaimed. The LORD will

not for ever reject his people; they are too dear

to him.

Did Jeremiah really tramp twice all the way to

the River Euphrates, several hundred miles

away across the desert? There is a little and

lovely valley a few miles from Jerusalem, going

down from Anathoth, Jeremiah’s village, to

Jericho; it is called the Wadi Phraat. A sparkling

stream flows down to Jericho, with lots of

crevices in the rocks.

In Hebrew it is the consonants, not the vowels

which matter, and the consonants of the two

words are almost the same. Could this have

been the stream?

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