Will a lion roar in the forest when he hath no prey?
&c.] He will not, unless he has it in his sight, or in his paws; he roars when he first sees it, whereby he terrifies the creature, that it cannot move till he comes up to it; and when he has got it in his paws, he roars over it, to invite others to partake with him. Now prophecy from the Lord is compared to the roaring of a lion, ( Amos 1:2 ) ; and this is never in a way of judgment without a cause; the sin of men, or of a nation, which makes them a prey to the wrath and fury of God; will a young lion cry,
or "give forth his voice"; out of his den, if he have taken nothing?
that is, if the old lion has taken nothing, and brought nothing unto him; which signifies the same as before; unless by the young lion is meant the prophets of the Lord, who never prophesy but when they have a commission from him, and a people are pointed out to them as the just prey of his wrath and vengeance. All the images here used are very natural; the lion is for the most part in woods and forests, hence called the "lion out of the forest", ( Jeremiah 5:6 ) ; as he is by Theocritus F4; where his voice is heard, but not unless he is in sight of his prey, or has got it, even though ever so hungry; but when he has it in view, he roars so terribly, that, as Basil F5 observes, many animals that could escape him through their swiftness, yet are so frightened at his roaring, that they have no power to move; and they have their dens either in caves or in thickets, where are the she lioness and the young lions, to whom the prey is brought; see ( Nahum 2:11 Nahum 2:12 ) .
F4 (ek drumoio lewn) , Theocrit. Idyll. 1.
F5 In Hexaemeron, Homil. 9.