Context: 8 Are you better than Thebes, situated on the Nile, with water around her? The river was her defense, the waters her wall. 9 Cush and Egypt were her boundless strength; Put and Libya were among her allies. 10 Yet she was taken captive and went into exile. Her infants were dashed to pieces at every street corner. Lots were cast for her nobles, and all her great men were put in chains.
ESV - 10 Yet she became an exile; she went into captivity; her infants were dashed in pieces at the head of every street; for her honored men lots were cast, and all her great men were bound in chains.
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The passage cited in the question is referring to the devastation inflicted on Egypt during multiple invasions by Assyria under separate Assyrian rulers from 716 BC to 665 BC. The prophet is saying that the same fate awaits Nineveh (the capital of Assyria), which he is prophesying against.
The infants in Thebes were dashed to pieces by the armies of Assyria, yet God brought justice to those responsible. The tables were turned, and Nineveh was the recipient of similar atrocities. As God promised, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them” (Deuteronomy 32:35). Compare Jonathan Edward’s famous sermon based on this verse, Deut. 32:35, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” A word study of the word, “DASH” yields this - The idea of "to throw violently" or "to strike" to cause destruction is usually connected with the word "to dash." There is perhaps but one exception to this: Ps 91:12 and the quotations of this passage in the New Testament (Mt 4:6; Lk 4:11, proskopto), have the meaning "to strike against accidentally" and not intentionally. Nah 2:1, "He that dasheth in pieces" is doubtful. "He that scatters" would be in better harmony with the Hebrew mephits, and the following description of destruction. In all other cases "to dash" is connected with the idea of destruction, especially the infliction of punishment which is usually expressed by raTash, "to dash to the ground" (2 Ki 8:12; Isa 13:16 ff, et al., "to dash in pieces," the King James Version simply "to dash"), but also by naphats, "to break to pieces" (Ps 2:9; 137:9, et al.). The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew lexicon of the Old Testament (The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon) says “dash to pieces” means “cast away, reject”. A Bible commentary says this of the phrase, “Were dashed in pieces”; first barbarously murdered, and then trod underfoot in the streets, as was usual with those cruel, bloody soldiers, 2 Kings 8:12 Psalm 137:9 Isaiah 13:16. Another commentary says this: “her young children also were dashed in pieces at the top of all the streets: against the walls of the houses, or upon the stones and pavements of the streets; which cruelties were often used by conquerors upon innocent babes at the sacking of cities, Psalm 137:9,…” A third commentary says, “children were dashed in pieces] A barbarous practice in ancient warfare; the children were taken hold of and their heads dashed against the wall or stones. The term used appears technical, 2 Kings 8:12; Isaiah 13:16; Hosea 13:16 (14:1 Heb.); cf. However the two passages, Isaiah 13:18; Hosea 10:14. The object of this savage act was to exterminate the whole population with which war was waged; a similar practice was to rip up the women with child, Amos 1:13; Hosea 13:16.” Finally, a fourth commentary says, “Were dashed in pieces. The prophet describes the usual treatment of captured cities (comp. 2 Kings 8:12; Psalm 137:9; Isaiah 13:16). At the top of all the streets. In the most public places, where many streets converge (Lamentations 2:19).” My own Faithlife Study Bible says, “her children were dashed to pieces Other OT passages also attest to this barbaric practice (see 2 Kgs 8:12; Psa 137:9; Isa 13:16; Hos 13:16).”
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