Habakkuk 1:10
And they shall scoff at the kings, and the princes shall be a scorn to them: they shall deride every strong hold; for they shall heap dust, and take it.
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(10) Kings and princes are deposed or enthroned at the invader’s pleasure. Thus Nebuchadnezzar set Jehoiakim as a tributary sovereign on the throne of Jerusalem and three years later deposed his son and successor Jehciaohin and made Zedekiah king.

For they shall heap dust, and take it.—This means that they shall besiege and carry all strongholds by means of the mounds of earth commonly used in sieges. These mounds were employed either to place the besieger on a level with the besieged, and so facilitate the operations of siege engines, or to form an inclined plane, up which the besieger might march his men, and so take the place by escalade. We find they were used by the Egyptians (Ezekiel 17:17) and the Assyrians (2Kings 19:32), as well as by the Babylonians (Jeremiah 6:6, and passim). They are mentioned as employed by the Spartan king Archidamus in the celebrated siege of Platæa in B.C. 429 (Thucydides, lib. 2). In the present passage the term “dust” is used to indicate these mounds of earth, as expressing the contemptuous ease with which the invader effects his capture of strongholds.

Habakkuk 1:10-11. And they shall scoff at the kings, &c. — The Hebrew use the singular number here, (He shall scoff, &c.,) as well as in the following verse, and it is to be understood of the king of Babylon, who treated the kings he conquered with scorn and contempt: so he used Zedekiah and his princes. They shall deride every strong hold — They shall contemn, or count as nothing, the most strongly fortified places. They shall heap dust and take it — They shall cast up mounds against them, and so take them. Then shall his mind change, and he shall pass over — Rather, And shall pass over, (without the personal pronoun he,) that is, his mind shall change, and pass beyond the bounds of moderation. By this and the next clause, imputing this his power unto his god, was foretold that the king of Babylon should be made arrogant by his victories, and should impute them to the power of the false gods he worshipped. This was remarkably true of Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar’s successor, who, with his thousand lords, when he was drinking wine in the golden and silver vessels taken out of God’s temple, and was thereby triumphing over Jehovah and his people, praised the gods of gold and silver, &c., as the authors of their successes and victories. It was also remarkably verified in Nebuchadnezzar himself, who, as we find from Daniel 3., cast three otherwise innocent persons, and faithful to him, into a furnace of fire, because they would not fall down before the idol which he had set up. But Grotius, and many others, interpret the latter part of the verse thus: Saying this his strength is his god; that is, imputing all his success to his own skill and prowess; a sense of the words which answers remarkably to the character of Nebuchadnezzar, as given in the book of Daniel: see chapter Daniel 3:17, and Daniel 4:30, and Daniel 5:20. Probably the extraordinary insanity which befell Nebuchadnezzar, as the punishment of his pride and arrogance, might be also here intended in the first clause of this verse, which in the Hebrew is, Then shall his spirit change and pass over, &c. Here, then, is a remarkable proof of what the psalmist says, namely, that God understandeth our thoughts afar off: for here the alteration that should in after times be made in Nebuchadnezzar’s mind by his prosperity is expressly foretold, together with the punishment that should follow upon it.1:1-11 The servants of the Lord are deeply afflicted by seeing ungodliness and violence prevail; especially among those who profess the truth. No man scrupled doing wrong to his neighbour. We should long to remove to the world where holiness and love reign for ever, and no violence shall be before us. God has good reasons for his long-suffering towards bad men, and the rebukes of good men. The day will come when the cry of sin will be heard against those that do wrong, and the cry of prayer for those that suffer wrong. They were to notice what was going forward among the heathen by the Chaldeans, and to consider themselves a nation to be scourged by them. But most men presume on continued prosperity, or that calamities will not come in their days. They are a bitter and hasty nation, fierce, cruel, and bearing down all before them. They shall overcome all that oppose them. But it is a great offence, and the common offence of proud people, to take glory to themselves. The closing words give a glimpse of comfort.And they - literally, "he," the word stands emphatically, he, alone against all the kings of the earth

Shall scoff at the kings - and all their might taking them away or setting them up at his pleasure and caprice, subduing them as though in sport

And princes - literally, grave and majestic

Shall be a scorn unto them - i. e. him. Compare Job 41:29. So Nebuchadnezzar bound Jehoiakim 2 Chronicles 36:6; Daniel 1:2 "in fetters to carry him to Babylon;" then, on his submission made him for three years a tributary king 2 Kings 24:1, then on his rebellion sent bands of Chaldees and other tributaries against him 2 Kings 24:2; and then, or when Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin, Jeremiah's prophecy was fulfilled, that he should "be buried with the burial of an ass, dragged and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem Jeremiah 22:19, his dead body cast out in the day to the heat and in the night to the frost" Jeremiah 36:30. On the one hand, the expression "slept with his fathers" does not necessarily imply that Jehoiakim died a peaceful death, since it is used of Ahab 1 Kings 22:40 and Amaziah 2 Kings 14:20, 2 Kings 14:22 (in the other, Jeremiah's prophecy was equally fulfilled, if the insult to his corpse took place when Nebuchadnezzar took away Jehoiachin three months after his father's death. See Daniel. Josephus attributes both the death and disgrace to Nebuchadnezzar: Ant. x. 6. 3), then Nebuchadnezzar took away Jehoiachin; then Zedekiah. He had also many kings captive with him in Babylon. For on his decease Evil-Merodach brought Jehoiachin out of his prison after 27 years of imprisonment, "and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon" 2 Kings 25:27-28. Daniel says also to Nebuchadnezzar Daniel 2:37-38; Daniel 4:22, "Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power and strength and glory. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of heaven hath He given into thine hand and hath made thee ruler over all."

They (he) shall deride every strong hold - as, aforetime, when God helped her, Jerusalem laughed the Assyrian to scorn Isaiah 38:22.

For they (he) shall heap dust, and take it - as Nebuchadnezzar did Tyre, whose very name (Rock) betokened its strength. Jerome: "He shall come to Tyre, and, casting a mound in the sea, shall make an island a peninsula, and, amid the waves of the sea, land shall give an entrance to the city."

The mount, or heaped-up earth, by which the besiegers fought on a level with the besieged, or planted their engines at advantage, was an old and simple form of siege, especially adapted to the great masses of the Eastern armies. It was used in David's time 2 Samuel 20:15; and by the Assyrians 2 Kings 19:32, Egyptians Ezra 17:17, Babylonians (Jeremiah 6:6; Jeremiah 32:24; Jeremiah 33:4; Ezekiel 4:2; Ezekiel 21:22 (Ezekiel 21:27 in Hebrew), Ezekiel 26:8), and afterward, the Persians (Herodotus i. 162). Here he describes the rapidity of the siege. To heap up dust and to capture were one and the same thing.

It needed no great means; things slight as the dust sufficed in the hands of those employed by God. Portion by portion 2 Kings 24:7, "the King of Babylon took; all that pertained to the king of Egypt, from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates."

10. scoff at … kings—as unable to resist them.

they shall heap dust, and take it—"they shall heap" earth mounds outside, and so "take every stronghold" (compare 2Sa 20:15; 2Ki 19:32) [Grotius].

They, both the king of Babylon and his soldiers, shall scoff, deride and contemn,

at the kings, which either confederated with the Jews, or else opposed the designs of the Chaldeans; as the kings of Egypt, of Tyre, &c.; or the kings of the Jews, as Jehoiachin and Zedekiah.

The princes, governors, counsellors, valiant commanders, and officers, shall be a scorn unto them, to the whole army of the Chaldeans.

They shall heap dust, and take it; by mighty mounts cast up, or by filling up the trenches about your cities and fortresses, shall master them. And they shall scoff at the kings,.... Or, "he shall" (u), Nebuchadnezzar king of the Chaldeans, and the army with him; who would make a jest of kings and their armies that should oppose them, as being not at all a match for them; as the kings of Judah, Jehoiakim and Zedekiah, they carried captive, and all others confederate with them, in whom they trusted, as the king of Egypt particularly; and which is observed to show the vanity of trusting in princes for safety; though it may also include all other kings the Chaldeans fought against, and the kingdoms they invaded and subdued:

and the princes shall be a scorn unto them; the nobles, counsellors, and ministers of state; or leaders and commanders of armies, and general officers, in whom great confidence is often put; but these the king of Babylon and his forces would mock and laugh at, as being nothing in their hands, and who would fall an easy prey to them:

they shall deride every strong hold; in Jerusalem, in the whole land of Judea, and in every other country they invade, or pass through, none being able to stand out against them:

for they shall heap dust, and take it; easily, as it were in sport, only by raising a dust heap, or a heap of dirt; by which is meant a mount raised up to give them a little rise, to throw in their darts or stones, or use their engines and battering rams to more advantage, and to scale the walls, and get possession. There are two other senses mentioned by Kimchi; as that they shall gather a great number of people as dust, and take it; or they shall gather dust to till up the trenches and ditches about the wall, that so they may come at it, and take it.

(u) "et ipse", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius, Tarnovius, Grotius, Cocceius.

And they shall scoff at the kings, and the princes shall be a scorn to them: they shall deride every strong hold; for they shall heap {h} dust, and take it.

(h) They will cast up mounds against it.

10. shall scoff at the kings] he scoffeth at kings. The Chaldean is referred to. All the verbs in the verse should be in the present: are a scorn, he derideth, he heapeth up.

shall heap dust] he heapeth up. The phrase refers to the dykes or “mounts” which the besiegers cast up in order to be on a level with the walls of the besieged fortress and command them, 2 Samuel 20:15; Jeremiah 32:24. The ease and rapidity of the Chaldean operations is forcibly expressed. Nothing can withstand their impetuosity. Kings with their armies who might oppose them, and fortresses which might arrest their progress, they laugh at.Verse 10. - And they shall scoff, etc.; it, or he, scoffeth at kings. The Chaldean nation makes light of the power and persons of kings. Compare Nebuchadnezzar's treatment of Jehoiakim (2 Chronicles 36:6; 2 Kings 24:1, 3; Jeremiah 22:19) and Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:12, 15). They shall deride every strong hold. The strongest fortress is no impediment to them. They shall heap dust. This refers to the raising of a mound or embankment for the purpose of attacking a city (comp. 2 Samuel 20:15; 2 Kings 19:32; 2 Kings 25:1). In the Assyrian monuments one often sees representations of these mounds, or of inclined planes constructed to facilitate the approach of the battering ram (see Bonomi, 'Nineveh and its Palaces,' pp. 181, 188, etc.; Layard, 'Nineveh,' etc., 2:369). And the judgment will not even stop at Jerusalem, but will spread still further over the land. This spreading is depicted in Micah 1:13-15 in the same manner as before. Micah 1:13. "Harness the horse to the chariot, O inhabitress of Lachish! It was the beginning of sin to the daughter Zion, that the iniquities of Israel were found in her. Micah 1:14. Therefore wilt thou give dismissal-presents to Moresheth-gath (i.e., the betrothed of Gath); the houses of Achzib (lying fountain) become a lying brook for Israel's kings. Micah 1:15. I will still bring thee the heir, O inhabitress of Mareshah (hereditary city); the nobility of Israel will come to Adullam. Micah 1:16. Make thyself bald, and shave thyself upon the sons of thy delights: spread out thy baldness like the eagle; for they have wandered away from thee." The inhabitants of Lachish, a fortified city in the Shephelah, to the west of Eleutheropolis, preserved in the ruins of Um Lakis (see at Joshua 10:3), are to harness the horses to the chariot (rekhesh, a runner; see at 1 Kings 5:8 : the word is used as ringing with lâkhı̄sh), namely, to flee as rapidly as possible before the advancing foe. רתם, ἁπ. λεγ. "to bind ... the horse to the chariot," answering to the Latin currum jungere equis. Upon this city will the judgment fall with especial severity, because it has grievously sinned. It was the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion, i.e., to the population of Jerusalem; it was the first to grant admission to the iniquities of Israel, i.e., to the idolatry of the image-worship of the ten tribes (for פּשׁעי ישׂראל, see Micah 1:5 and Amos 3:14), which penetrated even to the capital. Nothing more is known of this, as the historical books contain no account of it. For this reason, namely, because the sin of Israel found admission into Jerusalem, she (the daughter Zion) will be obliged to renounce Moresheth-gath. This is the thought of Micah 1:14, the drapery of which rests upon the resemblance in sound between Moresheth and me'orâsâh, the betrothed (Deuteronomy 22:23). Shillūchı̄m, dismissal, denotes anything belonging to a man, which he dismisses or gives up for a time, or for ever. It is applied in Exodus 18:2 to the sending away of wife and children to the father-in-law for a time; and in 1 Kings 9:16 to a dowry, or the present which a father gives to his daughter when she is married and leaves his house. The meaning "divorce," i.e., sēpher kerı̄thuth (Deuteronomy 24:1, Deuteronomy 24:3), has been arbitrarily forced upon the word. The meaning is not to be determined from shillēăch in Jeremiah 3:8, as Hitzig supposes, but from 1 Kings 9:16, where the same expression occurs, except that it is construed with ל, which makes no material difference. For נתן אל signifies to give to a person, either to lay upon him or to hand to him; נתן ל, to give to him. The object given by Zion to Moresheth as a parting present is not mentioned, but it is really the city itself; for the meaning is simply this: Zion will be obliged to relinquish all further claim to Moresheth, to give it up to the enemy. Mōresheth is not an appellative, as the old translators suppose, but the proper name of Micah's home; and Gath is a more precise definition of its situation - "by Gath," viz., the well-known Philistian capital, analogous to Bethlehem-Judah in Judges 17:7-9; Judges 19:1, or Abel-maim (Abel by the water) in 2 Chronicles 16:4. According to Jerome (comm. in Mich. Prol.), Morasthi, qui usque hodie juxta Eleutheropolin, urbem Palaestinae, haud grandis est viculus (cf. Robinson, Pal. ii. p. 423). The context does not admit of our taking the word in an appellative sense, "possession of Gath," since the prophet does not mean to say that Judah will have to give up to the enemy a place belonging to Gath, but rather that it will have to give up the cities of its own possession. For, as Maurer correctly observes, "when the enemy is at the gate, men think of defending the kingdom, not of enlarging it." But if the addition of the term Gath is not merely intended to define the situation of Moresheth with greater minuteness, or to distinguish it from other places of the same name, and if the play upon words in Moresheth was intended to point to a closer relation to Gath, the thought expressed could only be, that the place situated in the neighbourhood of Gath had frequently been taken by the Philistines, or claimed as their property, and not that they were in actual possession of Gath at this time.

The play upon words in the second clause of the verse also points to the loss of places in Judaea: "the houses of Achzib will become Achzab to the kings of Israel." אכזב, a lie, for נחל אכזב, is a stream which dries up in the hot season, and deceives the expectation of the traveller that he shall find water (Jeremiah 15:18; cf. Job 6:15.). Achzib, a city in the plain of Judah, whose name has been preserved in the ruins of Kussabeh, to the south-west of Beit-Jibrin (see at Joshua 15:44). The houses of Achzib are mentioned, because they are, properly speaking, to be compared to the contents of the river's bed, whereas the ground on which they stood, with the wall that surrounded them, answered to the river's bed itself (Hitzig), so that the words do not denote the loss or destruction of the houses so much as the loss of the city itself. The "kings of Israel" are not the kings of Samaria and Judah, for Achzib belonged to the kingdom of Judah alone, but the kings of Judah who followed one another (cf. Jeremiah 19:13); so that the plural is to be understood as relating to the monarchy of Israel (Judah). Mareshah will also pass into other hands. This is affirmed in the words, "I will bring the heir to thee again" (אבי for אביא, as in 1 Kings 21:29). The first heir of Mareshah was the Israelites, who received the city, which had been previously occupied by the Canaanites, for their possession on the conquest of the land. The second heir will be the enemy, into whose possession the land is now to pass. Mareshah, also in the lowland of Judah, has been preserved, so far as the name is concerned, in the ruins of Marash (see at Joshua 15:44, and Tobler, Dritte Wanderung, pp. 129, 142-3). To the north of this was Adullam (see at Joshua 12:15), which has not yet been discovered, but which Tobler (p. 151) erroneously seeks for in Bêt Dûla. Micah mentions it simply on account of the cave there (1 Samuel 22:1), as a place of refuge, to which the great and glorious of Israel would flee ("the glory of Israel," as in Isaiah 5:13). The description is rounded off in Micah 1:16, by returning to the thought that Zion would mourn deeply over the carrying away of the people, with which it had first set out in Micah 1:8. In קרחי וגזּי Zion is addressed as the mother of the people. קרח, to shave smooth, and גּזז, to cut off the hair, are synonyms, which are here combined to strengthen the meaning. The children of thy delights, in whom thou hast thy pleasure, are the members of the nation. Shaving the head bald, or shaving a bald place, was a sing of mourning, which had been handed down as a traditional custom in Israel, in spite of the prohibition in Deuteronomy 14:1 (see at Leviticus 19:28). The bald place is to be made to spread out like that of a nesher, i.e., not the true eagle, but the vulture, which was also commonly classed in the eagle family, - either the bearded vulture, vultur barbatus (see Oedmann, Verm. Samml. i. p. 54ff.), or more probably the carrion vulture, vultur percnopterus L., common in Egypt, and also in Palestine, which has the front part of the head completely bald, and only a few hairs at the back of the head, so that a bald place may very well be attributed to it (see Hasselquist, Reise, p. 286ff.). The words cannot possibly be understood as referring to the yearly moulting of the eagle itself.

If we inquire still further as to the fulfilment of the prophecy concerning Judah (Micah 1:8-16), it cannot be referred, or speaking more correctly, it must not be restricted, to the Assyrian invasion, as Theod., Cyril, Marck, and others suppose. For the carrying away of Judah, which is hinted at in Micah 1:11, and clearly expressed in Micah 1:16, was not effected by the Assyrians, but by the Chaldeans; and that Micah himself did not expect this judgment from the Assyrians, but from Babel, is perfectly obvious from Micah 4:10, where he mentions Babel as the place to which Judah was to be carried into exile. At the same time, we must not exclude the Assyrian oppression altogether; for Sennacherib had not only already conquered the greater part of Judah, and penetrated to the very gates of Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:13-14, 2 Kings 18:19; Isaiah 36:1-38:22), but would have destroyed the kingdom of Judah, as his predecessor Shalmaneser had destroyed the kingdom of Israel, if the Lord had not heard the prayer of His servant Hezekiah, and miraculously destroyed Sennacherib's army before the walls of Jerusalem. Micah prophesies throughout this chapter, not of certain distinct judgment, but of judgment in general, without any special allusions to the way in which it would be realized; so that the proclamation embraces all the judgments that have fallen upon Judah from the Assyrian invasion down to the Roman catastrophe.

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