A Bible Study -
Commentary by Jim Melough
Copyright 2002 James
2:1. “He that dasheth in pieces is come up
before thy face: keep the munition, watch the way, make thy loins strong,
fortify thy power mightily.”
“He that dasheth in pieces,” is generally understood to be the king of Medo-Babylon,
but ultimately, of course, Nineveh’s destroyer is God using Medo-Babylon as
His instrument; and He mockingly advises Nineveh to man all their defenses
against the coming attack.
Something of the might with which God would endow Nineveh’s attacker is
implied in the description used, “He that dasheth in pieces,” being rendered
also as, shatterer: battering-ram. The seemingly invincible Nineveh
was about to be destroyed - and by none other than the One she not only took
little account of, but in fact mocked: Jehovah. And as it was with Nineveh,
so is it with every man who declares his defiance of God by rejecting His
warning relative to the need of salvation. He too must eventually meet that
same God as the Destroyer.
2:2. “For the Lord hath turned away the
excellency of Jacob, as the excellency of Israel: for the emptiers have
emptied them out, and marred their vine branches.”
The “hath turned away” of the KJ version is misleading, for the statement is
that the Lord is about to restore the majesty or excellency of His people
Israel. He has had to chastise them for a little while because of their sin,
but they are His children, and His anger against them is corrective and for
their blessing, not destructive as it is about to be against Nineveh.
The enemy had been permitted to come against them, but he had been harshly
vindictive and cruel, for he had stripped them of everything, seeking to
destroy them; and now God was about to recompense that cruelty. The would-be
destroyer is himself about to be destroyed.
The vine is one of the biblical symbols of Israel, so that the marring of the
vine branches is the metaphoric description of Assyria’s destruction of Israel
(the ten northern tribes), and his purposed destruction of the two southern
tribes, Judah and Benjamin.
2:3. “The shield of his mighty men is made red,
the valiant men are in scarlet: the chariots shall be with flaming torches in
the day of his preparation, and the fir trees shall be terribly shaken.”
This is the description of the Medo-Babylonian forces, and it speaks of the
might and power with which God would invest them on the day He sent them as
His agents of destruction against Nineveh.
The Babylonian military color was red, and that of the Medes scarlet.
“... the chariots shall be with flaming torches” is better translated “the
chariots flash with steel,” the reference being to the glinting of the sun off
the sharp blades usually attached to the wheels of war chariots; and the
shaken fir trees are understood to refer to the brandished spears of the
2:4. “The chariots shall rage in the streets,
they shall jostle one against another in the broad ways: they shall seem like
torches, they shall run like the lightnings.”
It seems that this is the description of the confusion that will reign in
Nineveh during the attack. Their war chariots would race through the streets,
jostling one another, and accomplishing nothing. Their being like torches and
flashes of lightning may be simply another way of saying that they would be
like the brief flicker of a torch or the momentary flash of lightning in the
darkness: worthless as far as dispelling that darkness is concerned.
2:5. “He shall recount his worthies: they shall
stumble in their walk; they shall make haste to the wall thereof, and the
defense (mantelet) shall be prepared.”
The king of Nineveh would have his best soldiers rush to the defense of the
walls, but the fact that they are said to stumble indicates that they would be
drunk, as in fact history records, many of them were. They would go through
all the motions of defense, but to no avail: the attacker is the omnipotent
Jehovah against Whom there is no defense.
“... the defense” was literally a mantelet, a portable shelter used, not to
protect the defenders, but the invaders using battering rams to breach the
city walls, so while the first part of the verse refers to the defenders, this
latter clause applies to the invaders.
2:6. “The gates of the rivers shall be opened,
and the palace shall be dissolved.”
History confirms the fulfillment of this prophecy. Heavy rains had caused the
Tigris and its tributary stream the Khosr to rise rapidly, and this, together
with the collapse of the controlling sluice gates, resulted in the rampaging
flood waters washing away the foundations of the palace, together with an
extensive section of the wall of the city, the flooding effectively destroying
any defense of the city, and making it easy prey for the attackers.
2:7. “And Huzzab shall be led away captive, she
shall be brought up, and her maids shall lead her as with the voice of doves,
tabering (drumming, beating) upon their breasts.”
Huzzab is understood by some to have been the queen, who would be brought out
naked, and led off as a slave, her maids being led off with her, beating their
breasts, wailing and mourning like doves. Others, however, point out that
there is no known queen of this name, and that, in fact, the word means
literally “It is decreed...” i.e., Nineveh’s destruction was decreed.
Strong’s Concordance also notes that it has been used “by mistake for a
2:8. “But Nineveh is of old like a pool of
water: yet they shall flee away. Stand, stand, shall they cry; but none shall
“... of old” may refer to God’s foreknowledge of her fate, known to Him from
eternity past, as is the ultimate end of every man. His foreknowledge,
however, is not to be confused with predestination. They are two very
different things. He has, for example, predestinated that every believer will
ultimately be conformed to Christ’s image, but He has not predestinated either
the salvation or damnation of any man. That choice He leaves with each man,
His foreknowledge of the choice in no way influencing it.
This, however, may not be taken to mean that He doesn’t predestinate. He
does, and once a man crosses the boundary of that invisible line which
separates the time allotted by God for freedom of choice, the freedom ends -
for ever. Thereafter, the man becomes the object of God’s directive, rather
than His permissive will. And this applies to believer and unbeliever alike.
Once a man has trusted Christ as Savior he is predestinated to dwell for ever
in heaven; and once the unbeliever has crossed the invisible line marking the
boundary of the area of permitted free will choice, he is predestinated to
exist for ever in the torment of the lake of fire.
In the days of Jonah, Nineveh had been given the opportunity to choose her
fate, and that generation, by genuine repentance, had wisely chosen to save
itself, God’s response to that foreknown repentance, angering Jonah. But the
generation of which we are now reading, had sealed its doom by ignoring the
lesson of that earlier generation. It, as it were, had hardened its heart,
and must therefore perish, and God, foreknowing that foolish choice, had
predestinated the details of its ruin.
“... like a pool of water” may refer to the city’s flooded condition.
2:9. “Take ye the spoil of silver, take the
spoil of gold: for there is none end of the store and glory out of all the
This is God’s invitation to the invaders. What Nineveh had rapaciously taken
from her helpless victims, God was now giving to those He had made the
instruments of Nineveh’s destruction. And how fitting the recompense. What
Nineveh in the days of her power had seized from her hapless victims, was now
to be taken from her in the same fashion. This is just another example of
God’s fitting the punishment to the crime.
2:10. “She is empty, and void, and waste: and
the heart melteth, and the knees smite together, and much pain is in all
loins, and the faces of them all gather blackness.”
How perfect was God’s knowledge of Nineveh’s end: and how could it be
otherwise? He Himself had arranged every detail, as He has done for every
man. He knows every detail of the eternal glory awaiting the believer, as He
does also every detail of the eternal anguish awaiting every unbeliever.
He knew how empty, desolate, and waste the great city would become; as He did
also the fear and dread and pain that would grip every one of its citizens.
The reference to all the faces gathering blackness means simply that fear and
dread would drain the color from every countenance.
2:11. “Where is the dwelling of the lions, and
feeding place of the young lions, where the lion, even the old lion walked,
and the lion’s whelp, and none made them afraid?”
The lion was a favorite motif of Assyrian artists and sculptors.
This is God’s sarcastic reference to the coming departure of Nineveh’s
greatness. The city was as a dwelling place of people who were as lions in
the sight of the nations who lived in fear of them because of their brutal
fierceness. It was like a place where lions fed, for as the lion seizes its
prey by sheer brute strength so did the Ninevites also seize anything they
wanted from their victims. Such was the dread of them that one would no more
dare to offend either an old citizen or a Ninevite child than he would an old
lion or a cub in the midst of the pride. They in the arrogant confidence of
superior might and power conducted themselves like lions in the midst of
weaker animals. The nations lived in dread of them.
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.”
God continues His vivid verbal caricature of the Ninevites. As lions tear
prey into pieces for their whelps so did these cruel people metaphorically
tear their victims into pieces to provide for all the wants and whims of their
own children. They likewise gratified every whim of their wives by simply
taking the desired thing by force from its rightful owner.
“Prey” is used here in the sense of something plucked off as, e.g., a leaf.
They took what they wanted just as casually as they would have plucked a
leaf. Their houses were filled with such booty.
“Ravin” refers to what is taken as prey or plunder.
2:13. “Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord
of hosts, and I will burn her chariots in the smoke, and the sword shall
devour thy young lions: and I will cut off thy prey from the earth, and the
voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard.”
But Nineveh’s days were numbered. She herself was about to become the prey of
the omnipotent Lord of hosts or armies, and He was going to burn her chariots,
and give her choicest young men to the sword of the enemy. The wicked city
would no more plunder helpless victims, for she herself was about to become
the victim of Jehovah.
The silencing of the voice of her messengers is simply another way of saying
that no more would her agents convey her insolent arrogant demands to the
We are reading this portion of Scripture wrongly, however, if we fail to see
in the downfall of Nineveh a foreshadowing of the destruction of our present
civilization in the impending terrible Tribulation judgments, for today’s
world is as arrogantly defiant of God as was Nineveh.