In the thirteenth chapter of Jeremiah we read of a physical act by Jeremiah that represents the impending doom of the people of Israel once again. Chapter thirteen begins by Yahweh telling Jeremiah to buy a linen loincloth (underwear), put it around his waist and not to dip it into water. So basically what Yahweh is instructing Jeremiah to do is go buy a pair of undies, put them on and wear them around for a while without washing them. It’s a pretty gross thought really to think about, but I believe that this was the point that Yahweh was trying to get across to the people, that if you do not do his will you will be worthless like an old pair of underwear. To add insult to injury Yahweh then instructs Jeremiah to hide the undies in the cleft of the rock (pretty much bury them), and leave them there for a while so they can get real nice and dirty. After digging up the underwear Jeremiah see’s that they are useless and spoiled. Yahweh used this image of the spoiled underwear to show Jeremiah the worthlessness of the people who are foolish and go against the word of Yahweh.
“Thus says the Lord to me, “Go and buy a linen loincloth and put it around your waist, and do not dip it in to water.” So I bought a loincloth according to the word of the Lord, and put it around my waist. And the word of the Lord came to me a second time, “Take the loincloth that you have bought, which is around your waist, and arise, go to the Euphrates and hid it there in a cleft of the rock.” So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the Lord commanded me. And after many days the Lord said to me, “Arise, go to the Euphrates, and take from there the loincloth that I commanded you to hid there.” Then I went to the Euphrates, and dug, and I took the loincloth from the place where I had hidden it. And behold, the loincloth was spoiled; it was good for nothing.” Jeremiah 13:1-7
Upon research I found that many people believe the underwear was symbolic because of two simple reasons. The first being that most people of this time could associate with underwear because most people of the time used underwear themselves. Secondly, the loincloth (underwear) was something that people found quite gross and very personal, being that this was a personal item. Yahweh used this to his advantage by associating the people of Israel with undies if they choose to not follow his word. It is amazing to me how literal Yahweh can be with his analogies. This example could be more of a slap in the face to the Israelites when Jeremiah explained this to them, this I would have to say probably increased hate toward him.