Verse 16. "They sacrifice unto their net" - He had no God; he cared for none; and worshipped only his armour and himself. King Mezentius, one of the worst characters in the AEneid of Virgil, is represented as invoking his own right hand and his spear in battle. AEn. x. 773.
Dextra mihi Deus, et telum quod missile libro, Nunc adsint.
"My strong right hand and sword, assert my stroke. Those only gods Mezentius will invoke." DRYDEN.
And Capaneus, in Statius, gives us a more decisive proof of this self-idolatry. Thebaid, lib. x.
Ades, O mihi dextera tantum Tu praeses belli, et inevitabile Numen, Te voco, te solum Superum contemptor adoro.
"Only thou, my right hand, be my aid; I contemn the gods, and adore thee as the chief in battle, and the irresistible deity." The poet tells us that, for his impiety, Jupiter slew him with thunder.
This was an ancient idolatry in this country, and has existed till within about a century. There are relics of it in different parts of Europe; for when military men bind themselves to accomplish any particular purpose, it is usual to lay their hand upon their sword: but formerly they kissed it, when swearing by it. With most heroes, the sword is both their Bible and their God. To the present day it is a custom among the Hindoos annually to worship the implements of their trades. See WARD.
Verse 17. "And not spare continually to slay the nation?" - They are running from conquest to conquest; burning, slaying, sacking, and slaughtering. Like the fishermen, who throw cast after cast while any fish are to be caught, so Nebuchadnezzar is destroying one nation after another. This last sentence explains the allegory of the net.