Euphrates or Parath, Jeremiah 13:1-11

by Bobcat 14 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Bobcat

    For those attending the Jeremiah Bookstudy this week, there is an interesting footnote of page 52. Below it is reproduced:

    *** jr chap. 4 p. 52 Guard Against a Treacherous Heart ***

    Some consider Jeremiah’s destination to be nearby instead of at the Euphrates. Why? “The sole object of this criticism,” states one scholar, “is to save the prophet the labour of two supposed journeys from Jerusalem to the Euphrates.”

    The footnote makes the conclusion seem very straightforward. Jeremiah took the linen garment to the Euphrates. But this is far from an honest evaluation. Below is a reproduction of a couple of paragraphs from the Bible Knowledge Commentary, Vol I p.1146.

    Some scholars have felt that verses 1-7 describe a vision Jeremiah had. But nothing in the text indicates that the event did not actually occur. In fact verse 2 says that Jeremiah actually carried out the assignment.

    After wearing the belt for a time, God told him to take it to Perath and hide it . . . in a crevice in the rocks. Perath (p e rat) is usually translated "Euphrates" (cf. Jer. 51:63); many have felt that Jeremiah walked to the Euphrates River, a round-trip journey of about 700 miles, to bury the sash. However, another possibility is that Jeremiah traveled to the village of Parah (parah) about three miles northeast of Anathoth in the tribe of Benjamin (cf. Josh 18:21, 23). A deep wadi in this area, known today as 'Ain Farah, fits the description of a place with crevices and rocks. In Hebrew the spelling for "to Parah" and "to Euphrates" are identical (both are p e ratah; cf Jer 13:4-7). By using the location so close to home the people were able to observe Jeremiah's symbolic actions, and the similarity of name would remind the nation of the army from the Euphrates that was coming to destroy them.

    The NICOT and NAC commentaries have similar writeups (although more lengthy, which is why I opted to copy this one).

    It should be noted that in Jeremiah 13, where the NWT has "Euphrates," the NIV has "Perath."

    Here is the source of the quote in the Jeremiah book. It dates to 1883. If you read the entire note, towards the end there is an interesting comment about the fact that Jeremiah would have had to go someplace along the Euphrates other than Babylonia in order to find "clefts" and "rocks" (if in fact he actually went there rather than Parath).

  • Bobcat

    I probably should have added that the WT Jeremiah book makes a big deal out of the idea that Jeremiah made this arduous trip, twice, in fact. It then points out that Christians should do whatever the "Faithful Slave" asks, regardless of how strange it might seem. This is probably why they needed Jerermiah to make the long trip to the Euphrates rather than to Parath.

  • Bobcat

    bump, while this is still current.

  • 2+2=5

    Yes this point was made clear at our meeting. Lots of emphasis on obedience. Jehovah molds us through his org, the slave.

    We were converting the miles into kilometers in order to fully grasp the amazing attitude Jeremiah displayed in obeying the Governing Body. . . . I mean Jehovah.

    I thought it was interesting that the book said we know that he did actually make the journey, without explaining how we can be sure, or without showing the full criticism that they said some have made. Now I see it is a fair point that these 'evil' critics make.

    I don't know if it because I am just more aware now that I have awakend, but the gushing over the slave class seems to happen more and more. Every second comment, the opening and closing prayer. After a public talk the chairman will often (a couple of brothers ALWAYS) thank the faithfull slave for the outline.

    It seems more and more cultish the further you mentally escape.

  • Promitheas

    It’s interesting to be noted how the FDS=GB (and not Class any more) has applied these verses (Jeremiah 13: 1- 11) in par 20 on page 53 of Jeremiah book (emphasis is added by me) :

    20 Christians today are not being asked to walk hundreds of miles as part of a divine lesson. Might it be, though, that the Christian course you pursue could cause neighbors or associates to be puzzled or even to criticize you? It may involve your dress and grooming, your choice as to education, what you prefer as a career, or even your view of alcoholic beverages. Will you be as determined to comply with God’s guidance as Jeremiah was? Your choices because of allowing your heart to be molded by God may lead to your giving a fine witness. In any case, being obedient to Jehovah’s direction found in his Word and accepting the guidance given through the faithful slave class is for your lasting good. Rather than being led by a treacherous heart, you can be like Jeremiah. Be resolved, then, to accept being molded by God; let him form you into an honorable vessel for his lasting use.

  • Bobcat


    Yea, it is interesting how those who disagree with the Society's view are "critics." But if you agree with them then you are a "scholar."

    All of the commentaries noted in my post above hold to the inspiration of the Bible. And their reasoning that it may have been Parath that Jeremiah went to seems well thought thru. Even so, none of those commentaries were adamant that it HAD to be Parath. They all allowed that it was possible that Jeremiah went all the way to the Euphrates.

    Note also how the commentary quoted respected those who thought it was just a visionary trip, calling them "scholars," rather than demeaning them as "critics."

    I wonder how long the WT writers had to search to find that quote from F. C. Cook? They needed something concise to do their dirty work. And as ususal, they give no source. As publishers, they are a sorry lot.

    The info towards the end of the quote that Jeremiah would have had to find another place along the Euphrates for "clefts" was particularly interesting to me. He would have had to travel 350 miles to a formerly unknown (to him) location, bury the garment, leave for . . . months?, then return to find it. After I saw that, Parath seemed much more logical, and not just because I did not want Jeremiah to make the long trip.

    Another interesting point, regardless of whether Jeremiah went to the Euphrates or not, is that he makes no issue of the trip. No comment at all from him regarding it. The trip, no matter how long, was besides the point. Yet, that was the only point for the Society. Jeremiah is simply a soap-box for the Society to preach from.

  • Leolaia

    There is also an interesting textual issue. The witnesses of this text vary quite a bit between themselves, suggesting that different interpretations of the passage were taken in antiquity. Here are some of the more salient variants:

    MT: The directional form P e ratâ in v. 4, 6, 7 is pointed the same as the word for the Euphrates (P e rat), which includes a suffixed he-locale (i.e. "to/towards [the place]"). This suffixed form could refer either to the Euphrates (or a place called Perat, see below) or a place called Perah/Parah; cf. Timnah having the directional form Timnatâ "to (the vineyards of) Timnah" in Judges 14:2, 5. The MT however in v. 5 has biprat "in P e rat", which rules out Perah/Parah and points clearly to Euphrates (or a place sharing the same name). The MT thus weighs against the reading Parah, both in the spelling in v. 5 (which would have to have the taw replaced with a he in order to refer to Perah/Parah), and the vowel pointing. It is also noteworthy that the name occurs without a mention of the river which is unusual (occurring in the OT only at Jeremiah 51:63, 2 Chronicles 35:20); the usual expression is nahar-P e rat "Euphrates River" (Genesis 15:18, Deuteronomy 1:7, 11:24, Joshua 1:4, 2 Samuel 8:3, 2 Kings 23:29, 24:7, 1 Chronicles 5:9, 18:3, Jeremiah 46:2, 6, 10). This might be a clue that despite the form of the MT, the explicit reference to the Euphrates was not original.

    4QJer a, col. 8: This version of the text has bipratâ (consonantal b-prth) instead of biprat (b-prt) in v. 5, adding a directional he here as well. So while the MT could only refer to the Euphrates without consonantal emendation, the Qumran version could refer equally to both Parah or the Euphrates. If the Qumran version is closer to the original, then the MT would have forced a reading as "Euphrates" by removing the suffixed he in this verse.

    LXX: The (putative) OG has epi ton Euphratèn in v. 4, 6, 7 and en tò Euphratè in v. 5. This clearly follows an interpretation identifying the PN with the Euphrates. This is enhanced further by the addition of potamon "river" in v. 7 which lacks any Hebrew antecendent (4QJer a and MT). Symmachus retains the identification by rendering eis ton Euphratèn in v. 4 (inter alia).

    Aquila: This Hebraizing revision of the OG renders P e ratâ in v. 4 as eis Pharan. Not only is the Euphrates interpretation eschewed, but the underlying PN here is taken to be Perah/Parah (i.e. a PN lacking a terminal taw). So the Parah interpretation is clearly ancient.

    As mentioned above, there is a slight possibility of other place names bearing a homophonous name to the Euphrates (P e rat) that the author could have intended: Pheretae (Josephus, Bellum Judaicum 4.511-512) and Pharathoni (1 Maccabees 9:50), but these are not associated with water per se. The best explanation is probably that Jeremiah utilized word play in the parable, with consonantal prth in v. 4, 5, 6, 7 (following the Qumran text) being intentionally ambiguous between P e ratâ (to the Euphrates) and Paratâ (to Parah), allowing a wadi (Wadi Farah) to stand in for the Euphrates symbolically; in Isaiah 7:14 rock clefts are similarly mentioned together with wadis. The association with the Euphrates is central to the parable because the loincloth is to be soaked in water (v. 1), and the water damage it suffers during the seasonal wadi flooding is likened in v. 9-10 to the coming Babylonian siege and exile (cf. v. 19: "All Judah has been deported, wholly deported").

    Also, there were no rock clefts anywhere near the Euphrates in the environs of Babylon, or even throughout Mesopotamia. One would have to go up into Turkey, way beyond even Carchemish (where the Babylonians had their fateful victory over Egypt and the Assyrians).

  • breakfast of champions
    breakfast of champions

    BOBCAT - thanks for this thread. Used it for a brief "talking point" with my wife.

  • Bobcat


    Thanks and glad to be of help. More often than not, whenever the Society quotes someone, it leads to something interesting.


    Thats some fascinating extra research. Very much appreciated! I was hoping you or AnnOMaly would put in an appearance.

    Its amazing that in the WT Jeremiah book it is all written off by simply quoting F. C. Cook. Yet the same reference, just a few sentences down mentioned the problem with the lack of "clefts/crags."

    Page 51 par. 17 (of the WT Jeremiah book) says, "God commanded him to travel to the Euphrates. Consult a map, and you will see that this meant a trip of some 300 miles [500 km]. Once there, Jeremiah was to hide the belt in the cleft of a crag."

    Surely they had to read Cook's entire footnote and see the problem with finding a "cleft of a crag." I guess that is the "genius" of not citing one's sources.

  • 88JM

    Amazing, Leolaia. I can't belive these were the same verses I heard at the meeting this evening.

    Not only do they fabricate the account to shore up support for the FDS, they totally miss the REAL meaning and nuances of what Jeremiah was alluding to.

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