Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria
Who this king of Assyria was is not easy to say; some think Esarhaddon, who is the last of the kings of Assyria the Scriptures speak of; according to Diodorus Siculus F14, Sardanapalus was the last of these kings, and in him the Assyrian monarchy ended; though, according to Alexander Polyhistor F15, Saracus, perhaps the Chyniladanus of Ptolemy, was king when Nineveh was destroyed: it is very likely that Sardanapalus and Saracus design the same person, though set at a great distance by historians; since the same things are said of the one as of the other; particularly that, when they saw their danger, they burnt themselves and theirs in the royal palace at Nineveh; nor is it probable that the same city with the empire should be destroyed and subverted twice by the same people, the Medes and Babylonians, uniting together; and it is remarkable that the double destruction of this city and empire is related by different historians; and those that speak of the one say nothing of the other: but this king, be he who he will, his case was very bad, his "shepherds slumbered"; his ministers of state, his counsellors, subordinate magistrates in provinces and cities, and particularly in Nineveh; his generals and officers in his army were careless and negligent of their duty, and gave themselves up to sloth and ease; and which also was his own character, as historians agree in; or they were dead, slumbering in their graves, and so could be of no service to him: thy nobles shall dwell [in the dust];
be brought very low, into a very mean and abject condition; their honour shall be laid in the dust, and they be trampled upon by everyone: or, "they shall sleep" F16; that is, die, and be buried, as the Vulgate Latin renders it: or, "shall dwell in silence", as others F17; have their habitation in the silent grave, being cut off by the enemy; so that this prince would have none of his mighty men to trust in, but see himself stripped of all his vain confidences: thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth
like sheep without a shepherd, which being frightened by beasts of prey, run here and there, and there is none to get them together, and bring them back again; so the subjects of this king, being terrified at the approach of the Medes and Babylonians, forsook their cities, and fled to the mountains; where they were scattered about, having no leader and commander to gather them together, and put them in regular order to face and oppose the enemy. So the Targum interprets it
``the people of thine armies.''
F14 Bibliothec. l. 2. p. 109, 115.
F15 Apud Syncell. p. 210.
F16 (wbkvy) "dormiunt", Piscator; so Ben Melech interprets it, "the rest of death."
F17 "Habitarunt in silentio", Buxtorf, Drusius.