|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:8-19 Strong-holds, even the strongest, are no defence against the judgments of God. They shall be unable to do any thing for themselves. The Chaldeans and Medes would devour the land like canker-worms. The Assyrians also would be eaten up by their own numerous hired troops, which seem to be meant by the word rendered merchants. Those that have done evil to their neighbours, will find it come home to them. Nineveh, and many other cities, states, and empires, have been ruined, and should be a warning to us. Are we better, except as there are some true Christians amongst us, who are a greater security, and a stronger defence, than all the advantages of situation or strength? When the Lord shows himself against a people, every thing they trust in must fail, or prove a disadvantage; but he continues good to Israel. He is a strong-hold for every believer in time of trouble, that cannot be stormed or taken; and he knoweth those that trust in Him.
Verse 18. - Thy shepherds. The princes and counsellors, on whom the safety of the state depends. Slumber. Sleep the sleep of death - slain in the war (Psalm 76:6). O King of Assyria. The power and evil of Nineveh personified, not any particular king. Shall dwell in the dust; are lying, or are at rest, in death; Septuagint, Ἐκοίμισε τοὺς δυνάστας σου, "Put to sleep thy mighty men" (comp. Euripides, 'Hec.,' 473, where κοιμίζειν is used in the sense of "to slay"): Vulgate, sepelientur. Is scattered upon the mountains. Their shepherds being dead, the flock, the herd of common people, is scattered abroad and perishes, because no man gathereth them - there is no one to collect them. "The mountains" referred to are those which shut in Assyria on the north.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria,.... Who this king of Assyria was is not easy to say; some think Esarhaddon, who is the last of the kings of Assyria the Scriptures speak of; according to Diodorus Siculus (n), Sardanapalus was the last of these kings, and in him the Assyrian monarchy ended; though, according to Alexander Polyhistor (o), Saracus, perhaps the Chyniladanus of Ptolemy, was king when Nineveh was destroyed: it is very likely that Sardanapalus and Saracus design the same person, though set at a great distance by historians; since the same things are said of the one as of the other; particularly that, when they saw their danger, they burnt themselves and theirs in the royal palace at Nineveh; nor is it probable that the same city with the empire should be destroyed and subverted twice by the same people, the Medes and Babylonians, uniting together; and it is remarkable that the double destruction of this city and empire is related by different historians; and those that speak of the one say nothing of the other: but this king, be he who he will, his case was very bad, his "shepherds slumbered"; his ministers of state, his counsellors, subordinate magistrates in provinces and cities, and particularly in Nineveh; his generals and officers in his army were careless and negligent of their duty, and gave themselves up to sloth and ease; and which also was his own character, as historians agree in; or they were dead, slumbering in their graves, and so could be of no service to him:
thy nobles shall dwell in the dust; be brought very low, into a very mean and abject condition; their honour shall be laid in the dust, and they be trampled upon by everyone: or, "they shall sleep" (p); that is, die, and be buried, as the Vulgate Latin renders it: or, "shall dwell in silence", as others (q); have their habitation in the silent grave, being cut off by the enemy; so that this prince would have none of his mighty men to trust in, but see himself stripped of all his vain confidences:
thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth them; like sheep without a shepherd, which being frightened by beasts of prey, run here and there, and there is none to get them together, and bring them back again; so the subjects of this king, being terrified at the approach of the Medes and Babylonians, forsook their cities, and fled to the mountains; where they were scattered about, having no leader and commander to gather them together, and put them in regular order to face and oppose the enemy. So the Targum interprets it
"the people of thine armies.''
(n) Bibliothec. l. 2. p. 109, 115. (o) Apud Syncell. p. 210. (p) "dormiunt", Piscator; so Ben Melech interprets it, "the rest of death." (q) "Habitarunt in silentio", Buxtorf, Drusius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
18. Thy shepherds—that is, Thy leaders.
slumber—are carelessly secure [Maurer]. Rather, "lie in death's sleep, having been slain" [Jerome] (Ex 15:16; Ps 76:6).
shall dwell in the dust—(Ps 7:5; 94:17).
thy people is scattered—the necessary consequence of their leaders being laid low (1Ki 22:17).
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