Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them
Meaning King Nebuchadnezzar out of Babylon, a place full of people, and so comparable to a forest, as the king is to a lion, for his strength, fierceness, and cruelty; and who came from thence, besieged and took Jerusalem; and who not only slew their young men with the sword, but also the king's sons, and the princes and nobles of Judah, ( 2 Chronicles 36:17 ) ( Jeremiah 52:10 ) ( 4:7 ) and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them;
which, having sought for its prey all the day, or not daring to go out for any, is hungry, raging and furious, and tears and destroys whatever it meets with; see ( Zephaniah 3:3 ) , so the Targum and Kimchi understand it of such a wolf; but Jarchi and Ben Melech interpret it, "a wolf of the desert", or deserts; as the word F17 will bear to be rendered; one that frequents desert places, and rages about in the wilderness; as the king of Babylon with his army did among the wilderness of the people of the nations about him, and at length spoiled Judea, and laid it desolate: a leopard shall watch over their cities;
the same enemies, who are compared to watchers, and to keepers of a field, ( Jeremiah 4:16 Jeremiah 4:17 ) . Kimchi interprets the lion of a king, that being the king among beasts; the wolf, of his army; and the leopard, of the princes of the army; and so the Targum,
``wherefore a king with his army shall come up against them, as a lion out of the forest; and the people, who are strong as the wolves of the evening, shall slay them; and the rulers, who are mighty as the leopard, shall make a prey of them, watching over their cities;''but Jarchi applies them to the several monarchies; by the lion, he understands the kingdom of Babylon; by the wolf, the kingdom of the Medes; and by the leopard, the kingdom of Greece; and so Jerom: everyone that goes out thence;
from any of the cities of Judea, watched by the enemy: shall be torn in pieces;
by those beasts of prey. Jarchi adds, by the Persians; the reason of all which follows, and shows it to be a righteous judgment of God upon them: because their transgressions are many:
their rebellions against God, their violations of his righteous law, were not a few, but many; God had bore long with them, and they had abused his patience and longsuffering; and therefore now he determines to punish them by such instruments: and their backslidings are increased;
though he had so often, and so kindly and tenderly, invited them to return unto him, ( Jeremiah 3:12 Jeremiah 3:14 Jeremiah 3:22 ) .
F17 (twbre baz) "lupus desertorum", Montanus; "lupus solitudinum", Calvin; "deserta incolaus", Pagninuns, Vatablus; "lupus camporum", Schmidt.