The destruction of the lions’ den of Assyria (Nah 2:11-2:13)

“What became

Of the lions’ den?

What became

Of the cave

Of the young lions?

There the lion goes.

There his cubs were,

With none to disturb them.

The lion has torn enough

For his whelps.

He strangled prey

For his lionesses.

He has filled his caves

With prey.

He has filled his dens

With torn flesh.

‘See!

I am against you!’

Says Yahweh of hosts!

‘I will burn

Your chariots

In smoke.

The sword shall devour

Your young lions.

I will cut off

Your prey

From the earth.

The voice

Of your messengers

Shall be heard no more.’”

Assyria was considered a lion or a destroyer.  Nahum wanted to know what had happened to this proud lion’s den or his cave.  There his young cubs would be undisturbed.  He had gathered enough prey for these lionesses, as well as their cubs.  This lion of Assyria had filled his caves and dens with torn flesh.  All this would be gone.  Yahweh has issued an oracle against Assyria.  Yahweh would burn their chariots as they would go up in smoke.  Their young lions would die by the sword.  They would lose all their prey.  The voice of their messengers would not be heard anymore.  The end of Nineveh and Assyria was near.

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The punishment of Israel (Am 2:13-2:16)

“‘So,

I will press you down

In your place.

Just as a cart

Presses down,

When it is full of sheaves.

Flight shall perish

From the swift.

The strong

Shall not

Retain their strength.

The mighty

Shall not

Save their lives.

Those who handle the bow

Shall not stand.

Those who are swift

Of foot

Shall not save themselves.

Those who ride horses

Shall not save their lives.

Those who are stout

Of heart,

Among the mighty,

Shall flee away naked,

In that day.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh, via Amos, issued his punishment. The Israelites were going to be pressed down like a bundle of hay or sheaves. The swift people would lose their quick agility. The strong people would lose their strength. The mighty people would lose their lives. The archers would not be able to stand. The fast people would not be able to save themselves. The horse riders would lose their lives also. The mighty strong people would run away naked. Yahweh said that all this would take place on the appointed day.

The punishment for Samaria (Hos 13:15-13:16)

“Although he may flourish

Among the rushes of reed plants,

The east wind shall come,

A blast from Yahweh.

It will rise

From the wilderness.

His fountain

Shall dry up.

His spring

Shall be parched.

It shall strip

His treasury

Of every precious thing.

Samaria shall bear

Her guilt.

Because she has rebelled

Against her God.

They shall fall

By the sword.

Their little ones

Shall be dashed

In pieces.

Their pregnant women

Shall be ripped open.”

This is very strong criticism of Samaria, the capital city of the northern Israelite kingdom. It might flourish now, but the deadly east wind of Yahweh will come from the wilderness. Its fountains and springs will dry up and be parched. It will lose all the precious things of its treasury. Samaria will have to carry the guilt, because it rebelled against God. It will fall by the sword or die. Its little children will be broken into little pieces. Its pregnant women will have their pregnancies terminated by ripping open their wombs. This will be a bad time for Samaria.

Under what tree did all this take place (Dan 13:54-13:55)

“Now then,

If you really saw

This woman,

Tell me this.

Under what tree

Did you see them

Being intimate

With each other?’

He answered.

‘Under a mastic tree.’

Daniel said.

‘Very well!

This lie

Has cost you

Your head.

The angel of God

Has received

The sentence

From God.

He will immediately cut you

In two.’”

Then Daniel asked this old judge under what tree did Susanna and the young man have this famous intimate embrace. This elder answered that it was under the mastic tree, a small sweet evergreen tree. Daniel immediately responded that this was a lie, without any indication of why he felt this way. Daniel was very forceful in his response to this elder. Daniel told him that he would lose his head. An angel of God was going to deliver a sentence on him, by cutting him into two pieces. This was a Greek play on words, since the Greek word for mastic tree (σχϊνος) was close to the Greek word to cut (σχισει).

The other beasts were spared (Dan 7:12-7:12)

“As for the rest

Of the beasts,

Their dominion

Was taken away.

But their lives

Were prolonged

For a season,

For a time.”

The other beasts or rulers would lose their kingdoms. However, their lives would be prolonged, for a time at least. Their judgment was less severe than that of the arrogant little horn.

The king’s decree (Dan 3:29-3:29)

Therefore,

I make a decree.

‘Any people,

Any nation,

Any language

That utters

Blasphemy

Against the God

Of Shadrach,

Of Meshach,

Of Abednego,

Shall be torn

Limb from limb.

Their houses will be

Laid in ruins.

There is no other god

Who is able

To deliver

In this way.’”

Now in a complete reversal, King Nebuchadnezzar issued a decree to all the people, all the countries, and all the language groups. Anyone who blasphemed the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would be torn limb from limb. They would also lose their houses. Anyone speaking badly about the God of Israel would be punished. This king was able to accept a new better God in his polytheistic vision of the world, as his golden statute became less important.

The future sign of Ezekiel (Ezek 24:25-24:27)

“You!

Son of man!

On the day

When I take

From them

Their stronghold,

Their joy,

Their glory,

The delight of their eyes,

Their heart’s affection,

Someone will come

To you.

I will take their sons.

I will take their daughters.

On that day,

One who has escaped

Will come

To you

To report

To you

The news.

On that day,

Your mouth

Shall be opened

To the one

Who has escaped.

You shall speak.

You will no longer

Be silent.

So you shall be a sign

To them.

They shall know

That I am Yahweh.”

Yahweh spoke directly to Ezekiel, the son of man. On a future day, Yahweh was going to bring down Jerusalem. The Israelites would lose their stronghold, their joy, their glory, the delight of their eyes, and their heart’s affection. They would also lose their sons and daughters. Someone, who had escaped from Jerusalem, would come to Ezekiel on that day with the report of the news about the fall of Jerusalem. On that day, Ezekiel would open his mouth to speak. He would not be silent anymore. Thus the actions of Ezekiel would a sign, so that everyone would know that Yahweh was in charge.