Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
THE PROPHECY OF NAHUM.
Nahum, whose name signifies a comforter, was a native of Elcese, or Elcesai, supposed to be a little town in Galilee. He prophesied after the ten tribes were carried into captivity, and foretold the utter destruction of Ninive by the Babylonians and Medes; which happened in the reign of Josias, (Challoner) in the sixteenth year, when the father of Nabuchodonosor and the grandfather of Cyrus entirely ruined Ninive, and divided the empire between them, (Calmet) in the year of the world 3378. (Usher) Tobias xiv. 16. --- Nahum was probably on the spot when he proclaimed this beautiful prediction, which yields not to any work of profane authors. He might have been carried captive by Salmanasar, as he alludes to the captivity of Israel and to the blasphemies of Sennacherib. We cannot, therefore, place his prophecy before the fifteenth year of Ezechias. (Calmet) --- He appeared about fifty years after Jonas, when the Ninivites had relapsed, and were destroyed in the space of one hundred and thirty-five years, as a figure of the subversion of idolatry by Christ's preaching the gospel of peace. (Worthington)
Burden, or threat. (Worthington) --- Septuagint, "assumption," (Haydock) when the prophet saw in spirit the impending ruin. (Theodoret) --- Allegorically, Nahum is "the comforter" of the just, shewing that God will avenge their cause against Ninive, "the beautiful," and destroy the world, (kosmos, which also means "beautiful,") after which the saints shall reign in eternal glory. (Worthington) --- We have describe Ninive, Jonas i. (Calmet) --- It was overturned first in the year of the world 3257, and again in the year 3378. (Usher) --- Elcesite. Some think that Elcesai was the father of Nahum; but most suppose that it was a village Galilee. (Calmet)
The Lord. The six following verses (Haydock) tend to excite attention. (Calmet)
Cleanse. Literally, cleansing, he will not make innocent." (Haydock) --- The same expression is rendered, No man of himself is innocent before thee, Exodus xxxiv. 7. (Calmet) --- Septuagint, "the innocent he will not deem innocent." (Haydock) --- No man is perfect in God’s sight, (Calmet) though they may appear to be such to others. (Haydock) --- None can escape punishment, if he be treated with rigour. De Dieu translates, "he will not utterly evacuate," or destroy, which seems very correct, Jeremias xxx. 11., and Numbers xiv. 18. --- Dust. He walks upon them as we do on dry land.
Desert, as at the Red Sea, Psalm cv. 9. --- Languisheth. The most fruitful places produce nothing, when God is angry.
Made. Septuagint, "shaken." --- Quaked. Hebrew and Septuagint, "risen." (Calmet)
Like fire. Septuagint, "melts kingdoms."
Hope. Septuagint, "fear." He approves of his faithful servants. (Haydock)
Thereof; viz. of Ninive. (Challoner) --- This is connected with Ver. 1. (Haydock) --- Ninive was taken by the waters of the Tigris overflowing, at the first siege. (Diodorus ii.; Atheneus xii.) --- The like might happen at the second, though profane authors be silent. (Calmet) --- Many think that the flood means great armies, Isaias viii. 7. (Forerius; Vatable) --- Septuagint, "He will utterly destroy: those who rise up and his enemies, darkness," &c. (Haydock) --- Chaldean, The.[Theodotion?] and Aq.[Aquila?] adopt the same sense, but Symmachus, &c., agree with us. (Calmet)
Affliction. Septuagint add, "for the same thing, or together." (Haydock) --- :Many hence infer, that those who have been slain by God, like the Sodomites, &c., will not be condemned to hell. (Origen, i. Ezec.; St. Jerome.; St. Thomas Aquinas, [Summa Theologiae] 3. p. q. 59. a. 5.) --- But this principle cannot be always correct. (Calmet) --- Their temporal suffering might usher in eternal ones. (St. Gregory, Mor. xviii. 12.) --- Ninive shall perish; so that a second blow will not be requisite, 1 Kings xxvi. 8. (Drusius) (Calmet)
Dry. The Assyrians, feasting in the hopes that they would speedily become masters of Jerusalem, were cut off in one night. (Worthington) --- God's enemies cannot escape; as when a thorn bush has taken fire, all must perish, Psalm lvii. 10., and Isaias ix. 18. (Calmet)
Forth. Some understand this of Sennacherib. But as his attempt against the people seems to have been prior to the prophecy of Nahum, we may better understand it of Holofernes. (Challoner) --- One. Septuagint, "a most wicked thought against the Lord, devising opposition." (Haydock) --- We may render, "hath come," &c., alluding to Sennacherib and Rabsaces, Isaias xxxvi. 18. and xxxvii. 23. (Calmet)
Perfect. That is, however strong or numerous their forces may be, they shall be cut off, and their prince or leader shall pass away and disappear. (Challoner) --- If there were many just at Ninive, or among the Jews, (Calmet) a moderate chastisement would suffice. (Haydock) --- The latter have been afflicted; now their enemies shall suffer. Septuagint have read otherwise: (Calmet) "the Lord, reigning over the great waters; thus shall they be divided, and thou shalt be heard of no more." (Haydock)
Asunder. Ezechias was tributary to Assyria, 4 Kings xviii. 14. After the fall of Ninive, its yoke was removed. (Calmet)
Commandment. That is, a decree concerning thee, O king of Ninive, thy seed shall fail, &c. (Challoner) --- His son Asarhaddon succeeded; but soon the line was extinct. (Worthington) --- No alarm shall be spread by thee. --- Grave. Sennacherib was slain in the temple: (Isaias xxxvii. 38.; Calmet) or the idols were deemed unclean by the victors. (Eurip.[Euripides?] Troad.) (Haydock)
Peace. Sentinels were established on the hills. --- Festivals. St. Jerome quotes the Book of Paralipomenon as saying (Calmet) that the Jews could not observe the Passover in the first month. But they did it in the second, after they knew that Sennacherib was slain, 2 Paralipomenon xxxii. (Haydock) --- This passage does not, however, appear at present in Scripture, and it could not speak of the second month (Calmet) following Nisan, (Haydock) as the king was slain forty-five days (Tobias i. 22.; Greek 55.) after his return to Ninive; and some time must have elapsed before he could get thither, and the news arrive in Judea. (Calmet) --- Belial; the wicked one, viz. the Assyrian. (Challoner)