Lecture Third

Jeremiah 1:13-14

13. And the word of the Lord came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething -- pot; and the face thereof is toward the north.

13. Et fuit sermo Jehovae ad me secundo, dicendo, Quid tu rides? Et dixi, Ollam ferventem ego video, facies ejus a facie Aquilonis.

14. Then the Lord said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.

14. Et dixit Jehova ad me, Ab Aquilone aperietur (alii vertunt, pendetur; alii, solvetur; erumpet, proprie) malum super cunctos habitatores terrae.


Jeremiah begins now to address the people to whom he was sent as a Prophet. He has hitherto spoken of his calling, that the authority of his doctrine might be evident: and he spoke generally; but now he accommodates his teaching specially to the people. Hence he says, that he had a vision, and saw a boiling-pot, whose face was towards the north. By God asking, and the Prophet answering, the design was to confirm the prediction; for if it had been only said that he saw a boiling-pot, and if an explanation of the metaphor had been given, there would not have been so much force and weight in the narrative. But when God is set forth as being present, and explaining what the boiling-pot signified, the prediction becomes more certain: and the Prophet no doubt gave this narrative, in order to shew that God, being as it were present, thereby proved himself to he the Author of this prophecy.

Now the import of the whole is, that the Chaldeans would come to overthrow the city Jerusalem, to take away and abolish all the honor and dignity both of the kingdom and of the priesthood.

This indeed had been previously announced by Isaiah as well as by other prophets; but all their threatenings had been despised. While indeed Isaiah was living, the king of Babylon had secured the friendship of Hezekiah; and the Jews thought that his protection had been opportunely obtained against the Assyrians. But they did not consider that the hearts of men are ruled by the hand of God, and are turned as he pleases: nor did they consider that they had for many years provoked God, and that he was become their enemy. Since, then, all threatening had been despised and regarded with derision, Jeremiah came forth and declared, that the northern nations would come, the Assyrians as well as the Chaldeans. For we know that the one monarchy had been swallowed up by the other; and the Chaldeans ruled over the Assyrians; and thus it happened that the whole eastern empire, with the exception of the Medes and Persians, had passed over to them; and with respect to Judea, they were northward. Hence the Prophet says, that he saw a boiling-pot, having its face towards the north.

By the pot many understand the king of Babylon; but they seem not rightly to understand what the Prophet says: and I could easily disprove their interpretation, but I shall be satisfied with a simple statement of what is true; and the meaning will become evident as we proceed. The pot, then, as it will be presently seen more clearly, is the nation of the Jews: I say this now, as I do not wish to heap together too many things. They are said to be like a boiling-pot, because the Lord, as it were, boiled them, until they were reduced almost to nothing. It is said also, that the face of the pot was towards the north; because there, as Jeremiah immediately explains, was the fire kindled. And the comparison is very apposite; for when a pot is set on the fire, it boils on that side nearest the fire, and all the scum passes over to the other side. Hence he says that it boiled, but so that its mouth was on the north side; for there was the fire, and there was the blowing. In short, God intended to shew to his Prophet, that the people were like flesh which is cast into the pot, boiled, and afterwards burnt, or reduced after a long time almost to nothing. The Prophet saw the mouth or the face of the boiling-pot, and on the side on which it boiled it looked towards the north; hence God, the interpreter of the vision which he presented to his servant, answers and says, From the north shall break forth evil on all the inhabitants of the land, that is, of Judea. In these words God declares, that the fire was already kindled by the Chaldeans and the Assyrians, by which he would boil, as it were, his people like flesh, and at length wholly consume them, as it is commonly the case, when the flesh remains in the pot, and the fire is continually burning, and blowing is also added; the flesh must necessarily be reduced to nothing when thus boiled or seethed.1

And thus God testifies that the fire was already kindled in Chaldea and Assyria, which was not only to boil the Jews, but also reduce them to nothing. And then he expresses the same in other words -- that evil would come from the north upon all the Jews. We shall hereafter see that there is presented here a brief summary of the truth which was committed to Jeremiah; at least it is a summary of one half of it; for God designed also to provide for his own elect; and he thus terrified them, that they might be subdued, and submit to him, and not that they might abandon themselves to despair. At the same time, this half of the prediction was -- that there was no hope of pardon, because the Jews had with extreme obstinacy provoked God's wrath, and had so abused his patience, that their impiety could no longer be tolerated. Hence, what other prophets had denounced Jeremiah now confirms more strongly, and points it out, as it were, by the finger. It afterwards follows --

1 Most agree with Calvin, that the pot means the Jewish nation; so the learned Gataker in the Ass. Ann., Grotius, Henry, and Scott. There is some difference as to " its face." The first of these authors, followed by the two last, thinks that the face means the front of the fire or the hearth, and therefore the front of the pot. This face or front was towards the north, signifying that the fuel and the blowing would be from that quarter, as it is afterwards stated. As to the metaphor, the pot, or cauldron, see Ezekiel 11:3, 7; 24:3, 5.

The version of the Geneva Bible is, " I see a seething-pot looking out of the north;" and the Chaldean army is regarded as the pot: and Blayney, following the marginal reading of our version, has given a similar rendering, " and the face thereof is turned from the north." But ynpm is a preposition, and rendered often, "from before," and, "before," (see note on verse 8;) and to say that its face was before the north means the same as towards the north: and this is the rendering of Jun. and Trem., and Piscator, " versus Aquilonem."

"The boiling-pot" is a pot "kindled under-uJpokaio>menon," by the Sept. The literal rendering of xwpn ryo is, " a pot blown, " meaning the fire under it. It was a pot set on a fire that was blown, and the front of it was toward the north, from whence the blowing came. The same word as a noun is used by Jeremiah in Jeremiah 6:29, and signifies an instrument for blowing, and is rendered " bellows" in our version. It was then a pot set on a fire that was blown, which intimated the severe calamities which the Jews were soon to endure, as Grotius observes.-Ed.