Nahum 2:12
The lion did tear in pieces enough for his whelps, and strangled for his lionesses, and filled his holes with prey, and his dens with shred.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
2:11-13 The kings of Assyria had long been terrible and cruel to their neighbours, but the Lord would destroy their power. Many plead as an excuse for rapine and fraud, that they have families to provide for; but what is thus obtained will never do them any good. Those that fear the Lord, and get honestly what they have, shall not want for themselves and theirs. It is just with God to deprive those of children, or of comfort in them, who take sinful courses to enrich them. Those are not worthy to be heard again, that have spoken reproachfully of God. Let us then come to God upon his mercy-seat, that having peace with him through our Lord Jesus Christ, we may know that he is for us, and that all things shall work together for our everlasting good.Where is the dwelling of the lions, and the feeding place of the young lions? - Great indeed must be the desolation, which should call forth the wonder of the prophet of God. He asks "where is it?" For so utterly was Nineveh to be effaced, that its place should scarcely be known, and now is known by the ruins which have been buried, and are dug up. The messengers of her king had asked, "Where are the gods of Hamath and of Arpad? of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah?" 2 Kings 18:34. And now of her it is asked, "Where is Nineveh?" It had "destroyed utterly all lands," and now itself is utterly destroyed. The lion dwelt, fed, walked there, up and down, at will; all was spacious and secure; he terrified all, and none terrified him; he tore, strangled, laid up, as he willed, booty in store; but when he had filled it to the full, he filled up also the measure of his iniquities, and his sentence came from God. Nineveh had set at nought all human power, and destroyed it; now, therefore, God appears in His own Person. 12. prey … ravin—different kinds of prey. Compare Isa 3:1, "the stay and the staff." The prophet continues the metaphor; this lion is the king of Assyria.

Did tear in pieces; formerly did fall upon his neighbour nations, broke their strength, and robbed their treasuries and store-houses, and broke them in pieces.

For his whelps; the young brood of the Assyrian royal family.

Lionesses; queens, concubines, or ladies in the Assyrian court.

Filled his holes; his treasuries, magazines, and royal seats, called dens in a decorum to the speech he had used.

And his dens; ingeminating what was before spoken.

With ravin; spoils which his ravenous mind and hand could lay hold on; all was prey that he could take. The lion did tear in pieces enough for his whelps,.... The metaphor is still continued; and the kings of Assyria are compared to lions that hunt for their prey, and, having found it, tear it in pieces, and carry home a sufficiency for their whelps. It is a notion that is advanced by some writers, as Herodotus (p), that the lioness, the strongest and boldest creature, brings forth but once in its life, and then but one; which Gellius (q) confutes by the testimonies of Homer and Aristotle; and it appears from the prophet here to be a false one, as well as from Ezekiel 19:2 thus the Assyrians made war on other nations, and pillaged and plundered them, to enlarge their dominions, provide for their posterity, and enrich their children:

and strangled for his lionesses; that is, strangled other beasts, as the lion first does, when it seizes a creature, and then tears it in pieces, and brings it to the she lion in the den with its whelps. These "lionesses" design the wives and concubines of the kings of Assyria, among whom they parted the spoils of their neighbours. So the Targum,

"kings bring rapine to their wives, and a prey to their children;''

that is, riches, which they have taken from others by force and rapine: thus Cicero (r) observes of the kings of Persia and Syria, that they had many wives, and gave cities to them after this manner; this city for their headdress, this for the neck, and the other for the hair; the expenses of them:

and filled his holes with prey, and his dens with ravine; as the lion fills his dens and lurking holes with the prey he has seized and ravened; so the kings of Assyria filled their palaces, treasures, magazines, towers, cities, and towns, with the wealth and riches they took by force from other nations; as the Targum,

"and they filled their treasuries with rapine, and their palaces with spoil.''

(p) Thalia, sive l. 3. c. 108. (q) Noctes Atticae, l. 13. c. 7. (r) Orat. 8. in Verrem, l. 3. p. 509.

The lion did tear in pieces enough for his whelps, and strangled for his lionesses, and filled his holes with prey, and his dens with ravin.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. The lion did tear] Perhaps, the lion, which did tear, carrying on previous verse.

with ravin] i.e. torn carcases.Verse 12. - The figure of the lieu is continued, and this verse, in loose apposition to the preceding, may be best explained by continuing the interrogation in thought - Where is now the lion that used to tear in pieces, etc.? The lion did tear in pieces enough for his whelps. The Assyrian monarch provided for his children and dependents by plundering other nations. His lionesses may mean his wives and concubines. It was the custom both with the Persians and Assyrians to assign towns and provinces to their favourites. Xenophon ('Anab.,' 1:4. 10) mentions certain villages as set apart for the girdle of Queen Parysatis. A Lapide quotes Cicero, 'Verr.,' 2:3. 33, "They say that the barbarian kings of the Persians and Syrians [i.e. Assyrians] are wont to have many wives, to whom they assign cities in this fashion - this city is to provide a girdle for her waist, that a necklace, that again to dress her hair; and so they have whole nations, not only privy to their lusts, but also abettors of them" (see Arnold's note on Thucydides, 1:138; temp. 2 Macc. 4:30). The word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, to go to Nineveh and proclaim to that city what Jehovah would say to him. קריאה: that which is called out, the proclamation, τὸ κήρυγμα (lxx). Jonah now obeyed the word of Jehovah. But Nineveh was a great city to God (lē'lōhı̄m), i.e., it was regarded by God as a great city. This remark points to the motive for sparing it (cf. Jonah 4:11), in case its inhabitants hearkened to the word of God. Its greatness amounted to "a three days' walk." This is usually supposed to refer to the circumference of the city, by which the size of a city is generally determined. But the statement in Jonah 3:4, that "Jonah began to enter into the city the walk of a day," i.e., a day's journey, is apparently at variance with this. Hence Hitzig has come to the conclusion that the diameter or length of the city is intended, and that, as the walk of a day in Jonah 3:4 evidently points to the walk of three days in Jonah 3:3, the latter must also be understood as referring to the length of Nineveh. But according to Diod. ii. 3 the length of the city was 150 stadia, and Herodotus (v. 53) gives just this number of stadia as a day's journey. Hence Jonah would not have commenced his preaching till he had reached the opposite end of the city. This line of argument, the intention of which is to prove the absurdity of the narrative, is based upon the perfectly arbitrary assumption that Jonah went through the entire length of the city in a straight line, which is neither probable in itself, nor implied in בּוא בעיר. This simply means to enter, or go into the city, and says nothing about the direction of the course he took within the city. But in a city, the diameter of which was 150 stadia, and the circumference 480 stadia, one might easily walk for a whole day without reaching the other end, by winding about from one street into another. And Jonah would have to do this to find a suitable place for his preaching, since we are not warranted in assuming that it lay exactly in the geographical centre, or at the end of the street which led from the gate into the city. But if Jonah wandered about in different directions, as Theodoret says, "not going straight through the city, but strolling through market-places, streets, etc.," the distance of a day's journey over which he travelled must not be understood as relating to the diameter or length of the city; so that the objection to the general opinion, that the three days' journey given as the size of the city refers to the circumference, entirely falls to the ground. Moreover, Hitzig has quite overlooked the word ויּחל in his argument. The text does not affirm that Jonah went a day's journey into the city, but that he "began to go into the city a day's journey, and cried out." These words do not affirm that he did not begin to preach till after he had gone a whole day's journey, but simply that he had commenced his day's journey in the city when he found a suitable place and a fitting opportunity for his proclamation. They leave the distance that he had really gone, when he began his preaching, quite indefinite; and by no means necessitate the assumption that he only began to preach in the evening, after his day's journey was ended. All that they distinctly affirm is, that he did not preach directly he entered the city, but only after he had commenced a day's journey, that is to say, had gone some distance into the city. And this is in perfect harmony with all that we know about the size of Nineveh at that time. The circumference of the great city Nineveh, or the length of the boundaries of the city of Nineveh in the broadest sense, was, as Niebuhr says (p. 277), "nearly ninety English miles, not reckoning the smaller windings of the boundary; and this would be just three days' travelling for a good walker on a long journey." "Jonah," he continues, "begins to go a day's journey into the city, then preaches, and the preaching reaches the ears of the king (cf. Jonah 3:6). He therefore came very near to the citadel as he went along on his first day's journey. At that time the citadel was probably in Nimrud (Calah). Jonah, who would hardly have travelled through the desert, went by what is now the ordinary caravan road past Amida, and therefore entered the city at Nineveh. And it was on the road from Nineveh to Calah, not far off the city, possibly in the city itself, that he preached. Now the distance between Calah and Nineveh (not reckoning either city), measured in a straight line upon the map, is 18 1/2 English miles." If, then, we add to this, (1) that the road from Nineveh to Calah or Nimrud hardly ran in a perfectly straight line, and therefore would be really longer than the exact distance between the two parts of the city according to the map, and (2) that Jonah had first of all to go through Nineveh, and possibly into Calah, he may very well have walked twenty English miles, or a short day's journey, before he preached. The main point of his preaching is all that is given, viz., the threat that Nineveh would be destroyed, which was the point of chief importance, so far as the object of the book was concerned, and which Jonah of course explained by denouncing the sins and vices of the city. The threat ran thus: "Yet forty days, and Nineveh will be destroyed." נהפּך, lit., overturned, i.e., destroyed from the very foundations, is the word applied to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The respite granted is fixed at forty days, according to the number which, even as early as the flood, was taken as the measure for determining the delaying of visitations of God.

(Note: The lxx, however, τρεῖς ἡμέρας, probably from a peculiar and arbitrary combination, and not merely from an early error of the pen. The other Greek translators (Aquil., Symm., and Theodot.) had, according to Theodoret, the number forty; and so also had the Syriac.)

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