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Taunt against the Once-Mighty Lion

11 Where now is the den of the lions[a]
and the feeding place[b] of the young lions,
where the lion, lioness,[c] and lion cub once prowled[d]
and no one disturbed them?[e]

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Footnotes

  1. Nahum 2:11 tn Or “What has become of the den of the lions?”
  2. Nahum 2:11 tc The Masoretic form וּמִרְעֶה (umirʿeh, “the feeding ground”) is supported by the Dead Sea Scrolls with ומרעה in 4QpNah. It is also reflected in the LXX reading ἡ νομή (hē nomē, “the pasture”). The BHS editors suggest emending to וּמְעָרָה (umeʿarah, “the cave”), which involves the metathesis of ר (resh) and ע (ʿayin). This proposed emendation is designed to create a tighter parallelism with מְעוֹן (meʿon, “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 (umeʿarah, “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. Nahum 2:11 tn The meaning of the term לָבִיא (laviʾ) is debated. There are three basic approaches: (1) the noun “lioness,” (2) the Hiphil infinitive construct of בּוֹא (boʾ), “to bring,” shortened from לְהָבִיא (lehaviʾ) to לָבִיא (cf. Jer 39:7; 2 Chr 31:10) and (3) as לבוא, “to enter,” the Qal infinitive construct of בּוֹא (boʾ). The first option has the support of the consonantal text of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 4QpNah and Mur88. Most English versions render לָבִיא as “lioness,” the parallel term for אַרְיֵה (ʾaryeh, “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). However if lion and lioness are the subjects of the verb, one would expect the nouns to be joined by the conjunction vav (ו) and the verb to be plural rather than singular. The line, as is, would read “where lion prowled, lioness there cub of a lion”). Furthermore, the term for “lioness” differs in form in the following verse: לִבְאָה (livʾah; see HALOT 515 s.v. *לִבְאָה) not לָבִיא (laviʾ). The grammatical, syntactical, and lexical difficulties of the first approach have led several scholars to the second approach. Because the Hiphil of בּוֹא (boʾ) can depict an animal bringing food to its dependents (cf. 1 Kgs 17:6), they treat the line thus: “where the lion went to bring [food to his] lion cub” (Ehrlich, Haldar, Maier). While the picture of a male lion bringing food to its cubs seems odd zoologically, the next verse presents that exact picture clearly (it is a metaphor). The third approach involves a small change of the consonantal text, from י (yod) to ו (vav) and has the support of the LXX which renders τοῦ εἰσελθεῖν (tou eiselthein) “where the lion went to enter there.” The pesher of 4QpNah employs לבוא (laboʾ) 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). The approach of the LXX is followed by the NRSV “where the lion goes, and the lion’s cubs, with no one to disturb them.”
  4. Nahum 2:11 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.
  5. Nahum 2:11 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].”

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