|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 8. - With an overrunning flood. This may be merely a metaphor to express the utter devastation which should overwhelm Nineveh, as the invasion of a hostile army is often thus depicted (comp. Isaiah 8:7; Daniel 11:26, 40); or it may be an allusion to the inundation which aided the capture of the city (see note on Nahum 2:6). Of the place thereof; i.e. of Nineveh, not named, but present to the prophet's mind, and understood from the heading (ver. 1). (For the utter destruction of Nineveh, comp. Zephaniah 2:13, etc.) The LXX. has, τοὺς ἐπένειρομένους ("those that rise up"). The Chaldee has a similar reading, with the meaning that God would exterminate those who rise up against him. Darkness shall pursue his enemies. So the Septuagint and Vulgate. But it is better rendered, He shall pursue his enemies into darkness, so that they disappear from the earth. If this is the meaning of the clause, it resembles the termination of many Assyrian inscriptions which record the defeat of a hostile chieftain: "and no one has seen any trace of him since."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof,.... Of Nineveh, against whom this prophecy was, and upon whom it lay as a burden, Nahum 1:1; and now though the Lord was good to them that trust in him, and a strong hold to them in a time of trouble; yet he was determined to destroy their enemies the Assyrians, and Nineveh their chief city; and that by the means of a powerful army, which, like a flood or inundation of water breaking in, overruns and carries all before it; and very fitly may the Medes and Babylonians, who joined together in an expedition against Nineveh, be compared to such a flood for their number and force; since, as the historian tells (y) us, they were no less than four hundred thousand men: though this may be literally understood; for as the same writer (z) observes,
"there was an oracle received by the Ninevites from their ancestors, that Nineveh could never be taken by any, unless the river (on which it stood) first became an enemy to it; and so it was, that, in the third year of the siege, the river, being swelled with continual rains, overflowed part of the city, and broke down the wall for the space of two and half miles; hence the king concluded the oracle was fulfilled, and gave up all hopes of safety; and through the breach of the wall the enemy entered, and took the city;''
and an "utter end" was made of it, and of the place of it, insomuch that historians and geographers disagree about it; some say it was situated upon the river Euphrates, others upon the river Tigris, which is the most correct; some say on the east of that river, others on the west; some will have it to be above the river Lycus, and others below it; so true is that of Lucian (a), that Nineveh is now entirely lost, and no traces of it remain; nor can one easily say where it once was; and travellers in general, both ancient and modern, agree that it lies wholly in ruins, and is a heap of rubbish. Benjamin Tudelensis (b), who travelled into these parts in the twelfth century, relates, that between Almozal or Mosul, and Nineveh, is only a bridge, and it (Nineveh) is a waste; but there are villages, and many towers. Haitho, an Armenian (c), who wrote more than a hundred years after the former, says,
"this city (Nineveh) at present is wholly destroyed; but, by what yet appears in it, it may be firmly believed that it was one of the greatest cities in the world.''
Monsieur Thevenot (d), who was upon the spot in the last century, observes,
"on the other side of the river (Tigris from that on which Mosul stands) at the end of the bridge begins the place, where, in ancient times, stood the famous city of Nineveh. --There is nothing of it, (adds he) now to be seen, but some hillocks, which (they say) are its foundations, the houses being underneath; and these reach a good way below the city of Mosul:''
and darkness shall pursue his enemies; the enemies of God and his people, who would make such a devastation of Nineveh; even he would cause all manner of calamities, often signified in Scripture by darkness, to follow and overtake them; so that they should be brought into the most uncomfortable and distressed condition imaginable.
(y) Diodor. Sicul. l. 2. p. 111. Ed. Rhodum. (z) Ibid. p. 113, 114. (a) sive, "contemplantes", in fine. (b) Itinerarium, p. 62. (c) Apud Bochart Phaleg. l. 4. c. 20. p. 255. (d) Travels, par. 1. B. 1. c. 11. p. 52.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
8. with an overrunning flood—that is, with irresistible might which overruns every barrier like a flood. This image is often applied to overwhelming armies of invaders. Also of calamity in general (Ps 32:6; 42:7; 90:5). There is, perhaps, a special allusion to the mode of Nineveh's capture by the Medo-Babylonian army; namely, through a flood in the river which broke down the wall twenty furlongs (see on Na 2:6; Isa 8:8; Da 9:26; 11:10, 22, 40).
end of the place thereof—Nineveh is personified as a queen; and "her place" of residence (the Hebrew for "thereof" is feminine) is the city itself (Na 2:8), [Maurer]. Or, He shall so utterly destroy Nineveh that its place cannot be found; Na 3:17 confirms this (compare Ps 37:36; Da 2:35; Re 12:8; 20:11).
darkness—the severest calamities.
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