|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:1-8 About a hundred years before, at Jonah's preaching, the Ninevites repented, and were spared, yet, soon after, they became worse than ever. Nineveh knows not that God who contends with her, but is told what a God he is. It is good for all to mix faith with what is here said concerning Him, which speaks great terror to the wicked, and comfort to believers. Let each take his portion from it: let sinners read it and tremble; and let saints read it and triumph. The anger of the Lord is contrasted with his goodness to his people. Perhaps they are obscure and little regarded in the world, but the Lord knows them. The Scripture character of Jehovah agrees not with the views of proud reasoners. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is slow to wrath and ready to forgive, but he will by no means acquit the wicked; and there is tribulation and anguish for every soul that doeth evil: but who duly regards the power of his wrath?
Verse 1. - § 1. The heading of the book. The book has a double title, the first giving the object of the prophecy, which otherwise would not be evident; the second, its author, added to give confidence in its contents. The burden; massa (Habakkuk 1:1) - a term generally used of a weighty, threatening prophecy (Isaiah 13:1), though translated by the LXX. λῆμμα here, and elsewhere ὄρασις, and ῤῆμα. Some prefer to render it "utterance," or "oracle." The word is capable of either meaning. It almost always (except, perhaps, in Zechariah 12:1) introduces a threat of judgment. Of Nineveh. The denunciation of this city is the object of the prophecy. The effect of Jonah's preaching had been only temporary; the reformation was partial and superficial; and now God's long suffering was wearied out, and the time of punishment was to come. (For an account of Nineveh, see note on Jonah 1:2.) Some critics have deemed one part of the title an interpolation; but the connection of the two portions is obvious, and without the former we should not know the object of the prophet's denunciation till Nahum 2:8. The book of the vision. This is the second title, in apposition with the former, and defining it more closely as the Book in which was written the prophecy of Nahum. It is called a "vision," because what the prophet foretold was presented to his mental sight, and stood plainly before him (comp. Isaiah 1:1). The Elkoshite; i.e. native of Elkosh, for which, see Introduction, § II.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The burden of Nineveh,.... Of the city of Nineveh, and the greatness of it; see Gill on Jonah 1:2; See Gill on Jonah 3:3; Jonah was sent to this city to threaten it with ruin for its sins; at that time the king and all his people humbled themselves and repented, and the threatened destruction was averted; but they relapsing to their former iniquities, this prophet foretells what would be their certain fate; very rightly therefore the Targum, and some other Jewish writings (m), observe, that Jonah prophesied against this city of old; and that Nahum prophesied after him a considerable time, perhaps at a hundred years distance. This prophecy is called a burden; it was taken up by the prophet at the command of the Lord, and was carried or sent by him to Nineveh; and was a hard, heavy, grievous, and burdensome prophecy to that city, predicting its utter ruin and desolation; and which, as Josephus (n) says, came to pass hundred fifteen years after this prophecy; and which event is placed by the learned Usher (o) in the year of the world 3378 A.M., and which was 626 B.C.; and by others (p) in the year of the world 3403 A.M., of the flood 1747, in 601 B.C.; but by Dean Prideaux (q) and Mr. Whiston (r), in 612 B.C.;
the book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite; no other prophecy is called, a book but this, as Abarbinel observes; and gives this reason for it, because the other prophets immediately declared their prophecies, as Jonah; but Nahum never went to the Ninevites, but wrote his prophecy in a book, and sent it to them. It is called "the book of the vision"; what it contains being made known to him by the Lord in a vision, as was common; hence the prophets are called seers; and the prophet is described by the place of his birth, an Elkoshite; though some think he is so called from his father, whose name was Helkesi, and said to be a prophet too, as Jerom relates; and with this agrees the Targum, which calls him Nahum of the house or family of Koshi; but Jarchi says that Elkosh was the name of his city; Aben Ezra and Kimchi are in doubt which to refer it to, whether to his city, or to his ancestors; but there seems no reason to doubt but that he is so called from his native place; since Jerom (s) says, that there was a village in Galilee called Helkesi in his days, and which he had seen; though scarce any traces of the old buildings could be discerned, it was so fallen to ruin, yet known, to the Jews; and was shown him by one that went about with him; and which is, by Hesychius (t) the presbyter, placed in the tribe of Simeon. This is another instance, besides that of Jonah, disproving the assertion of the Jews, that no prophet rose out of Galilee, John 7:52.
(m) Tzemach David, fol. 15. 1.((n) Antiqu. l. 9. c. 11. sect. 3.((o) Annales Vet. Test. A. M. 3378. (p) Universal History, vol. 4. p. 331. (q) Connexion, &c. par. 1. B. 1. p. 47, 48. (r) Chronological Table, cent. 9. (s) Proem. in Nahum. (t) Apud Reland. Palestina Illustrata, tom. 2. p. 748.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
THE BOOK OF NAHUM Commentary by A. R. Faussett
Nahum means "consolation" and "vengeance"; symbolizing the "consolation" in the book for God's people, and the "vengeance" coming on their enemies. In the first chapter the two themes alternate; but as the prophet advances, vengeance on the capital of the Assyrian foe is the predominant topic. He is called "the Elkoshite" (Na 1:1), from Elkosh, or Elkesi, a village of Galilee, pointed out to Jerome [Preface in Nahum] as a place of note among the Jews, having traces of ancient buildings. The name Capernaum, that is, "village of Nahum," seems to take its name from Nahum having resided in it, though born in Elkosh in the neighborhood. There is another Elkosh east of the Tigris, and north of Mosul, believed by Jewish pilgrims to be the birthplace and burial place of the prophet. But the book of Nahum in its allusions shows a particularity of acquaintance with Palestine (Na 1:4), and only a more general knowledge as to Nineveh (Na 2:4-6; 3:2, 3).
His graphic description of Sennacherib and his army (Na 1:9-12) makes it not unlikely that he was in or near Jerusalem at the time: hence the number of phrases corresponding to those of Isaiah (compare Na 1:8, 9, with Isa 8:8; 10:23; Na 2:10, with Isa 24:1; 21:3; Na 1:15, with Isa 52:7). The prophecy in Na 1:14 probably refers to the murder of Sennacherib twenty years after his return from Palestine (Isa 37:38). The date of his prophecies, thus, seems to be about the former years of Hezekiah. So Jerome thinks. He plainly writes while the Assyrian power was yet unbroken (Na 1:12; 2:11-13 Na 3:15-17). The correspondence between the sentiments of Nahum and those of Isaiah and Hezekiah, as recorded in Second Kings and Isaiah, proves the likelihood of Nahum's prophecies belonging to the time when Sennacherib was demanding the surrender of Jerusalem, and had not yet raised the siege (compare Na 1:2, &c., with 2Ki 19:14, 15; Na 1:7, with 2Ki 18:22; 19:19, 31; 2Ch 32:7, 8; Na 1:9, 11, with 2Ki 19:22, 27, 28; Na 1:14, with 2Ki 19:6, 7; Na 1:15; 2:1, 2, with 2Ki 19:32, 33; Na 2:13, with 2Ki 19:22, 23). The historical data in the book itself are the humiliation of Israel and Judah by Assyria (Na 2:2); the invasion of Judah (Na 1:9, 11); and the conquest of No-ammon, or Thebes, in Upper Egypt (Na 3:8-10). Tiglath-pileser and Shalmaneser had carried away Israel. The Jews were harassed by the Syrians, and impoverished by Ahaz' payments to Tiglath-pileser (2Ch 28:1-27; Isa 7:9). Sargon, Shalmaneser's successor, after the reduction of Phonicia by the latter, fearing lest Egypt should join Palestine against him, undertook an expedition to Africa (Isa 20:1-6), and took Thebes; the latter fact we know only from Nahum, but the success of the expedition in general is corroborated in Isa 20:1-6. Sennacherib, Sargon's successor, made the last Assyrian attempt against Judea, ending in the destruction of his army in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah (713-710 B.C.). As Nahum refers to this in part prophetically, in part as matter of history (Na 1:9-13; 2:13), he must have lived about 720-714 B.C., that is, almost a hundred years before the event foretold, namely, the overthrow of Nineveh by the joint forces of Cyaxares and Nabopolassar in the reign of Chyniladanus, 625 or 603 B.C.
The prophecy is remarkable for its unity of aim. Nahum's object was to inspire his countrymen, the Jews, with the assurance that, however alarming their position might seem, exposed to the attacks of the mighty Assyrian, who had already carried away the ten tribes, yet that not only should the Assyrian (Sennacherib) fail in his attack on Jerusalem, but Nineveh, his own capital, be taken and his empire overthrown; and this, not by an arbitrary exercise of Jehovah's power, but for the iniquities of the city and its people.
His position in the canon is seventh of the minor prophets in both the Hebrew and Greek arrangement. He is seventh in point of date.
His style is clear, elegant, and forcible. Its most striking characteristic is the power of representing several phases of an idea in the briefest sentences, as in the majestic description of God in the commencement, the conquest of Nineveh, and the destruction of No-ammon [Eichorn]. De Wette calls attention to his variety of manner in presenting ideas, as marking great poetic talent. "Here there is something sonorous in his language there something murmuring; with both these alternates something that is soft, delicate, and melting, as the subject demands." Excepting two alleged Assyrian words (Na 3:17), English Version, "crowned," or princes, and English Version, "captains," or satraps (used by Jer 51:27), the language is pure. These two, doubtless, came to be known in Judea from the intercourse with Assyria in the eighth and seventh centuries B.C.
Na 1:1-15. Jehovah's Attributes as a Jealous Judge of Sin, Yet Merciful to His Trusting People, Should Inspire Them with Confidence. He Will Not Allow the Assyrians Again to Assail Them, but Will Destroy the Foe.
1. burden of Nineveh—the prophetic doom of Nineveh. Nahum prophesied against that city a hundred fifty years after Jonah.
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