Micah 1:8 MEANING

Micah 1:8
(8) Dragons . . . owls.--Literally, jackals and ostriches. They are selected by reason of the dismal howls and screeches they make during the night.

Verses 8, 9. - 3. Micah mourns because the punishment extends to Judah also. Verse 8. - I will wail. The prophet marks the destruction of Samaria with these outward signs of mourning, in order that he might affect the minds of his own countrymen, and show how he grieved over their sins which should bring like punishment. The word rendered "wail" means "to beat" the breast. Septuagint, κόψεται: Vulgate, plangam. Stripped and naked. The former epithet the LXX. translate ἀνυπόδετος, as if it meant "barefoot;" and they refer the verse to Samaria, not to Micah. The two epithets contain one notion; the prophet assumes the character, not merely of a mourner, who put off his usual garments, but that of a captive who was stripped to the skin and carried away naked and despoiled (comp. Isaiah 20:2-4; Isaiah 47:2, 8). Dragons; Septuagint, δρακόντων: Hebrew, tannim, "jackals" (Job 30:29; Malachi 1:3), whose mournful howling is well known to all travellers in the East. Owls; Septuagint, θυγατέρων σειρήνων, "daughters of sirens;" Vulgate, struthionum. The bird is called in Hebrew bath yaanah, which some explain "daughter of the desert," or else refer to roots meaning either "to cry out" or "to be freed." Doubtless the ostrich is meant. Concerning the fearful screech of this bird, Pusey quotes Shaw, 'Travels,' 2:349, "During the lonesome part of the night they often make a doleful and piteous noise. I have often heard them groan as if they were in the greatest agonies."

1:8-16 The prophet laments that Israel's case is desperate; but declare it not in Gath. Gratify not those that make merry with the sins or with the sorrows of God's Israel. Roll thyself in the dust, as mourners used to do; let every house in Jerusalem become a house of Aphrah, a house of dust. When God makes the house dust it becomes us to humble ourselves to the dust under his mighty hand. Many places should share this mourning. The names have meanings which pointed out the miseries coming upon them; thereby to awaken the people to a holy fear of Divine wrath. All refuges but Christ, must be refuges of lies to those who trust in them; other heirs will succeed to every inheritance but that of heaven; and all glory will be turned into shame, except that honour which cometh from God only. Sinners may now disregard their neighbours' sufferings, yet their turn to be punished will some come.Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked,.... To his shut, putting off his upper garment; the rough one, such as the prophets used to wear; which he did as the greater sign of his mourning: sometimes, in such cases, they rent their garments; at other times they stripped themselves of them, and walked naked, as Isaiah did, Isaiah 20:3; he went about like a madman, one disturbed in his mind, bereft of his senses, because of the desolation coming upon Israel; and without his clothes, as such persons often do: so the word rendered "stripped" signifies, as the Jewish commentators observe. This lamentation, and with these circumstances, the prophet made in his own person, to show the reality and certainty of their ruin, and to represent to them the desolate condition they would be in, destitute of all good things, and to them with it; as well as to express the sympathy of his heart, and thereby to assure them that it was not out of ill will to them, or a spirit of revenge, that he delivered such a message: or this he did in the person of all the people, showing what they would do, and that this would be their case shortly. So the Targum,

"for this they shall wail and howl, and go naked among the spoilers;''

I will make a wailing like the dragons; as in their fight with elephants, at which time they make a hideous noise (n); and whose hissings have been very terrible to large bodies of men. Aelianus (o) speaks of a dragon in India, which, when it perceived Alexander's army near at hand, gave such a prodigious hiss and blast, that it greatly frightened and disturbed the whole army: and he relates (p) of another, that was in a valley near Mount Pellenaeus, in the isle of Chios, whose hissing was very terrible to the inhabitants of that place; and Bochart (q) conjectures that this their hissing is here referred to; and who observes of the whale, that it has its name from a word in the Hebrew tongue, which signifies to lament; and which word is here used, and is frequently used of large fishes, as whales, sea calves, dolphins, &c. which make a great noise and bellowing, as the sea calf; particularly the balaena, which is one kind of a whale, and makes such a large and continued noise, as to be heard at the distance of two miles, as Rondeletius (r) says; and dolphins are said to make a moan and groaning like human creatures, as Pliny (s) and Solinus (t) report: and Peter Gillius relates, from his own experience, that lodging one night in a vessel, in which many dolphins were taken, there were such weeping and mourning, that he could not sleep for them; he thought they deplored their condition with mourning, lamentation, and a large flow of tears, as men do, and therefore could not help pitying their case; and, while the fisherman was asleep, took that which was next him, that seemed to mourn most, and cast it into the sea; but this was of no avail, for the rest increased their mourning more and more, and seemed plainly to desire the like deliverance; so that all the night he was in the midst of the most bitter moaning: wherefore Bochart, who quotes these instances, elsewhere (u) thinks that the prophet compares his mourning with the mourning of these creatures, rather than with the hissing of dragons. Some (w) think crocodiles are here meant; and of them it is reported (x), that when they have eaten the body of a creature, which they do first, and come to the head, they weep over it with tears; hence the proverb of crocodiles tears, for hypocritical ones; but it cannot well be thought, surely, that the prophet would compare his mourning to that of such a creature. The learned Pocock thinks it more reasonable that the "jackals" are meant, called by the Arabians "ebn awi", rather than dragons; a creature of a size between a fox and a wolf, or a dog and a fox, which makes a dreadful howling in the night; by which travellers, unacquainted with it, would think a company of women or children were howling, and goes before the lion as his provider;

and mourning as the owls; or "daughters of the owl" (y); which is a night bird, and makes a very frightful noise, especially the screech owl. The Targum interprets it of the ostrich (z); and it may be meant either of the mourning it makes when its young are about to be taken away, and it exposes itself to danger on their account, and perishes in the attempt. Aelianus (a) reports that they are taken by sharp iron spikes fixed about their nest, when they are returning to their young, after having been in quest of food for them; and, though they see the shining iron, yet such is their vehement desire after their young, that they spread their wings like sails, and with great swiftness and noise rush into the nest, where they are transfixed with the spikes, and die: and not only Vatablus observes, that these creatures have a very mournful voice; but Bochart (b) has shown, from the Arabic writers, that they frequently cry and howl; and from John de Laet, who affirms that those in the parts about Brazil cry so loud as to be heard half a mile; and indeed they have their name from crying and howling. The Targum renders it by a word which signifies pleasant; and so Onkelos on Leviticus 11:16, by an antiphrasis, because its voice is so very unpleasant. Or, since the words may be rendered, "the daughters of the ostrich" (c), it may be understood of the mourning of its young, when left by her, when they make a hideous noise and miserable moan, as some observe (d).

(n) Aelian. de Animal. l. 6. c. 22. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 11. (o) Ib. l. 15. c. 21. (p) Ib. l. 16. c. 39. (q) Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 3. c. 14. col. 437. (r) Apud Bochart. ib. par. 1. l. 1. c. 7. Colossians 47. (s) Nat. Hist. l. 9. c. 9. (t) Polyhistor. c. 22. (u) Ut supra, (Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 3. c. 14.) Colossians 48. (w) Ludolphus apud Burkium in loc. (x) Vid. Frantzii Hist. Animal. Sacr. par. 1. c. 26. sect. 2.((y) "ut filiae ululae", Piscator, Burkius; "instar filiarum. ululae", Cocceius. So Montanus. (z) So the Vulgate Latin, Munster, Pagninus, Drusius, Bochartus, and others. (a) De Animal. l. 14. c. 7. (b) Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 2. c. 14. col. c. 228. (c) "Filiarum struthionis", Pagninus; "juvenes struthiones", Tigurine version. (d) Vid. Frantz. Hist. Animal. Sacr. par. 2. c. 2. p. 339, 342.

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