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 ravin.
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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.
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). Nahum 2:12Thus will the mighty city be destroyed, with its men of war and booty. Nahum 2:11. "Where is the dwelling of the lions and the feeding-place of the young lions, where the lion walked, the lioness, the lion's whelp, and no one frightened? Nahum 2:12. The lion robbing for the need of his young ones, and strangling for his lionesses, and he filled his dens with prey, and his dwelling-places with spoil. Nahum 2:13. Behold, O come to thee, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts, and I cause her chariots to turn in smoke, and thy young lions the sword devours; and I cut off thy prey from the earth, and the voice of thy messengers shall be heard no more." The prophet, beholding the destruction in spirit as having already taken place, looks round for the site on which the mighty city once stood, and sees it no more. This is the meaning of the question in Nahum 2:11. He describes it as the dwelling-place of lions. The point of comparison is the predatory lust of its rulers and their warriors, who crushed the nations like lions, plundering their treasures, and bringing them together in Nineveh. To fill up the picture, the epithets applied to the lions are grouped together according to the difference of sex and age. אריה is the full-grown male lion; לביא, the lioness; כּפיר, the young lion, though old enough to go in search of prey; גּוּר אריה, catulus leonis, the lion's whelp, which cannot yet seek prey for itself. וּמרעה הוּא, lit., "and a feeding-place is it," sc. the dwelling-place (הוּא pointing back to מעון) in this sense: "Where is the dwelling-place which was also a feeding-place for the young lions?" By the apposition the thought is expressed, that the city of lions was not only a resting-place, but also afforded a comfortable living. אשׁר is to be taken in connection with the following שׁם: in the very place where; and hâlakh signifies simply to walk, to walk about, not "to take exercise," in which case the kal would stand for piel. The more precise definition follows in ואין מחריד, without any one terrifying, hence in perfect rest and security, and undisturbed might (cf. Micah 4:4; Leviticus 26:6; Deuteronomy 28:26, etc.). Under the same figure Nahum 2:12 describes the tyranny and predatory lust of the Assyrians in their wars. This description is subordinate in sense to the leading thought, or to the question contained in the previous verse. Where is the city now, into which the Assyrians swept together the booty of the peoples and kingdoms which they had destroyed? In form, however, the verse is attached poetically in loose apposition to Nahum 2:12. The lion, as king of the beasts, is a very fitting emblem of the kings or rulers of Assyria. The lionesses and young lions are the citizens of Nineveh and of the province of Assyria, the tribe-land of the imperial monarchy of Assyria, and not the queens and princes, as the Chaldee explains it. Gōrōth with the o-inflection for gūrōth, as in Jeremiah 51:38. Chōrı̄m, holes for hiding-places, or caves, not only applies to the robbers, in which character the Assyrians are exhibited through the figure of the lion (Hitzig), but also to the lions, which carry their prey into caves (cf. Bochart, Hieroz. i. 737). This destruction of Nineveh will assuredly take place; for Jehovah the Almighty God has proclaimed it, and He will fulfil His word. The word of God in Nahum 2:13 stamps the foregoing threat with the seal of confirmation. הנני אליך, behold I((will) to thee (Nineveh). We have not to supply אבוא here, but simply the verb. copul., which is always omitted in such sentences. The relation of the subject to the object is expressed by אל (cf. Nahum 3:5; Jeremiah 51:25). הבערתּי בעשׁן, I burn into smoke, i.e., so that it vanishes into smoke (cf. Psalm 37:20). רכבּהּ, her war-chariots, stands synecdochically for the whole of the apparatus of war (Calvin). The suffix in the third person must not be altered; it may easily be explained from the poetical variation of prophetic announcement and direct address. The young lions are the warriors; the echo of the figure in the previous verse still lingers in this figure, as well as in טרפּך. The last clause expresses the complete destruction of the imperial might of Assyria. The messengers of Nineveh are partly heralds, as the carriers of the king's commands; partly halberdiers, or delegates who fulfilled the ruler's commands (cf. 1 Kings 19:2; 2 Kings 19:23). The suffix in מלאככה is in a lengthened form, on account of the tone at the end of the section, analogous to אתכה in Exodus 29:35, and is not to be regarded as an Aramaeism or a dialectical variation (Ewald, 258, a). The tsere of the last syllable is occasioned by the previous tsere. Jerome has summed up the meaning very well as follows: "Thou wilt never lay countries waste any more, nor exact tribute, nor will thy messengers be heard throughout thy provinces." (On the last clause, see Ezekiel 19:9.)
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