2:11 Where now is the den of the lions, 1
the feeding place 2 of the young lions,
where 3 the lion, lioness, 4 and lion cub once prowled 5
and no one disturbed them? 6
2:12 The lion tore apart as much prey as his cubs needed 7
and strangled prey to provide food 8 for his lionesses;
he filled 9 his lairs with prey
and his dens with torn flesh.
2:13 “I am against you!” declares 10 the Lord who commands armies: 11
“I will burn your chariots 12 with fire; 13
the sword will devour your young lions; 14
you will no longer prey upon the land; 15
the voices of your messengers 16 will no longer be heard.”
1 tn Or “What has become of the den of the lions?”
2 tc The Masoretic form וּמִרְעֶה (umir’eh, “the feeding ground”) is supported by the Dead Sea Scrolls: ומרעה (4QpNah). It is also reflected in the LXX reading ἡ νομή (Je nomh, “the pasture”). The BHS editors suggest emending to וּמְעָרָה (umÿ’arah, “the cave”), which involves the metathesis of ר (resh) and ע (ayin). This proposed emendation is designed to create a tighter parallelism with מְעוֹן (mÿ’on, “the den”) in the preceding line. However, this emendation has no textual support and conflicts with the grammar of the rest of the line: the feminine noun וּמְעָרָה (umÿ’arah, “the cave”) would demand a feminine independent pronoun instead of the masculine independent pronoun הוּא which follows. Nevertheless, several English versions adopt the emendation (NJB, NEB, RSV, NRSV), while others follow the reading of the MT (KJV, NASB, NIV, NJPS).
3 tn Alternately, “the lion…[once] prowled there.” The construction שָׁם…אֲשֶׁר (’asher...sham) denotes “where…there” (BDB 81 s.v. אֲשֶׁר). This locative construction is approximately reflected in the LXX interrogative ποῦ (pou, “where?”).
4 tn The meaning of the term לָבִיא (lavi’) is debated. There are three basic approaches: (1) The MT reads לָבִיא, which is supported by the Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpNah) which preserves the consonantal form לביא (see DJD 5:38). Most English versions render לָבִיא as “lioness,” the parallel term for אַרְיֵה (’aryeh, “lion”); so RSV, NASB, NIV, NJPS; in contrast, KJV has “old lion.” Indeed, the noun לָבִיא (“lioness” or “lion”; BDB 522 s.v. לָבִיא) occurs frequently in poetic texts (Gen 49:9; Num 23:24; 24:9; Deut 33:20; Isa 5:29; 30:6; Joel 1:6; Job 4:11; 38:39). The problem is the absence of a vav (ו) conjunction between the two nouns and the presence of a singular rather than plural verb: הָלַךְ אַרְיֵה לָבִיא (halakh ’aryeh lavi’, “lion [and] lioness prowled”). Furthermore, the term for “lioness” in the following verse is not לָבִיא but לִבְאָה (liv’ah; see HALOT 515 s.v. *לִבְאָה; BDB 522 s.v. לָבִיא). (2) Due to the grammatical, syntactical, and lexical difficulties of the previous approach, several scholars propose that the MT’s לָבִיא is a Hiphil infinitive construct form shortened from לְהָבִיא (lÿhavi’, “to bring”); cf. Jer 27:7; 39:7; 2 Chr 31:10; HALOT 114 s.v. בוא. Because the Hiphil of בּוֹא (bo’) can depict an animal bringing food to its dependents (cf. 1 Kgs 17:6), they treat the line thus: “where the lion prowled to bring [food]” (Ehrlich, Haldar, Maier). The Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpNah) reading לביא does not solve the problem because the pesher to this line uses לבוא (“to enter”), and it is not clear whether this is a literal translation or creative word-play: “Its pesher concerns Demetrius, king of Greece, who sought to enter (לבוא) Jerusalem” (col. 1, line 4). (3) The LXX translation τοῦ εἰσελθεῖν (tou eiselqein, “would enter”) seems to have confused the consonantal form לביא with לבוא which it viewed as Qal infinitive construct לָבוֹא from בּוֹא (“to enter”). This approach is followed by at least one modern translation: “where the lion goes” (NRSV).
5 tn The verb הָלַךְ (halakh, “to go, to walk”) is occasionally used of animals (1 Sam 6:12). Here it is nuanced “prowled” in the light of the hunting or stalking imagery in vv. 12-13.
6 tn Or “and no one frightened [them].” Alternately, reflecting a different division of the lines, “Where the lion [and] lioness [once] prowled // the lion-cub – and no one disturbed [them].”
7 tn Heb “as much as he needs.” The term בְּדי (bÿdi, “as much as he needs”; HALOT 219 s.v. 2a) is composed of the preposition בְּ (bet) and the noun דַּי (day, “enough, what is required”). This idiom means” to satisfy the hunger of [something]” (cf. Jer 51:58; Hab 2:13).
8 tn The words “to provide food” are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied in the translation for clarity.
9 tn The Piel verb וַיְמַלֵּא (vayÿmalle’) is a preterite with vav (ו) consecutive which depicts a sequence of events.
10 tn The term נְאֻם (nÿ’um) is a fixed formulaic term meaning “oracle” (Isa 14:22-23; 17:3; 22:25; Jer 8:3; 25:29; 31:38; 49:26; Zech 13:2, 7).
11 tn Traditionally, “the
12 tc The MT reads the 3rd person feminine singular suffix on a singular noun: רִכְבָּהּ (rikhbah, “her chariot”). However, the BHS editors suggest emending to the 2nd person feminine singular suffix on a plural noun: רִכְבֵּךְ (rikhbekh, “your chariots”) due to the use of 2nd person feminine singular suffixes throughout this verse and the anomaly of the singular noun. On the other hand, the Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpNah) read רובכה (“your abundance”) which is the plene spelling of רֹבְכָה (rovÿkhah). This reflects the transposition (metathesis) of כ (kaf) and ב (bet) in the consonantal forms רכבה and רבכה. The textual tradition attested at Qumran is reflected in the LXX’s πλῆθος σου (plhqo" sou, “your abundance”) which reflects a reading of רֹבְכָה (“your abundance”) as well. It should be noted that the plene form of the 2nd person feminine singular suffix appears elsewhere in the MT of this verse: מַלְאָכֵכֵה (mal’akhekheh, “your messenger”). Although there is good evidence for the alternate traditions, the MT reading may be retained for three reasons: (1) The burning of enemy chariots was a common threat in ancient Near Eastern warfare (see D. R. Hillers, Treaty-Curses and the Old Testament Prophets, 60; K. J. Cathcart, “Treaty-Curses and the Book of Nahum,” CBQ 35 : 182). (2) The singular רֶכֶב (rekhev, “chariot”) is often used collectively to refer to all the chariots of a nation (Exod 14:7; Josh 11:4; 24:6; Judg 4:7, 13; 5:28). (3) The abrupt shift from the 2nd person feminine singular suffix on אֵלַיִךְ (’elayikh, “I am against you!”) to the 3rd person feminine singular suffix on רִכְבָּהּ (“her chariot”) is an example of a common poetic/stylistic device: heterosis of second to third person (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 525 [4.5]). The 2nd person feminine singular suffix in the translation above is used simply for smooth literary style. This is a good example of how sensitivity to figures of speech, ancient Near Eastern backgrounds, and syntax can prevent unnecessary textual emendations.
13 tn Heb “with smoke.” The term “smoke” (עָשָׁן, ’ashan) is a figure of speech (metonymy of effect for the cause) representing the fire which produces the smoke (Josh 8:19-20; Isa 65:5; cf. Rev 14:11). In the translation this has been replaced with “fire” since most English readers would find the expression “to burn [something] with smoke” unfamiliar.
14 tc The MT reads וּכְפִירַיִךְ (ukhÿfirayikh, “and your young lions”), as reflected by the LXX. The BHS editors emend to וּגִיבֹּרַיִךְ (ugibborayikh, “and your warriors”); this lacks textual support and is unnecessary.
sn The Assyrian warriors are pictured as young lions in Nah 2:11-13. The Assyrians often pictured themselves with lion imagery (see D. Marcus, “Animal Similes in Assyrian Royal Inscriptions,” Or 46 : 87).
15 tn Heb “I will cut off your prey from the land.”
16 tc The MT reading מַלְאָכֵכֵה (mal’akhekheh, “your messengers”) has a very unusual ending: the plural ending of the noun is spelled defectively (short spelling), while the 2nd person feminine singular pronominal suffix is spelled plene (long spelling); see GKC 258 §91.l. It is possible that the final ה (hey) is due to dittography with the first letter of the first word of the next verse, הוֹי (hoy, “Woe!”). On the other hand, the LXX reads τὰ ἔργα σου (ta erga sou, “your deeds”) which reflects מַלְאֲכַיִךְ (mal’akhayikh, “your deeds”) – a confusion of מַלְאָךְ (mal’akh, “messenger”) for מְלָאכָה (mÿla’khah, “deed”) due to the unusual Hebrew ending here.