Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
Conquest, Plundering, and Destruction of Nineveh. Nahum 1:15–2:14 (Heb. Bib., chap. 2)
1 Behold! upon the mountains
The feet of him, who brings1 glad tidings;
That proclaims peace:
Celebrate thy feats, O Judah!
Perform thy vows;
For the worthless2 one shall no more pass through thee;
He is utterly cut off.
2 The disperser has come up against thee [thy face];
Keep the fortress, look out upon the way;
Make strong the loins;
Strengthen thee with power mightily.
3 For Jehovah restoreth the excellency of Jacob
As the excellency of Israel;
For plunderers have plundered them
And their branches have they destroyed.
4 The shield of his heroes is made red:
The men of his host are clothed in scarlet:
With the flashing of steel the chariots [glitter]
In the day of his preparation;
And the cypresses are brandished.
5 The chariots rave in the streets:
They run to and fro in the broad ways:
Their appearance is like the torches;
Like the lightning they rush.
6 He remembers his nobles;
They stumble in their march:
They hasten to her wall,
And the defence3 is prepared.
7 The gates of the rivers are opened;
And the palace is dissolved.
8 It is determined:4
She is made bare and carried away;
And her maids moan like doves,
Smiting upon their breasts.
9 And Nineveh is like a pool of water from the time5 she has existed;
And they are fleeing!
And no one looks back.
10 Take plunder of silver, take plunder of gold;
There is no end to the store:6
[There is] abundance of all desirable vessels.
11 Emptying, and emptiedness, and wasteness:
And the heart melts;
And [there is] tottering of knees:
[There is] intense pain in all loins;
And all faces withdraw their brightness.7
As the announcement 1:7 if. closes the delineation of the catastrophe, by immediately introducing the Divine sentence 1:12 ff., so the description itself [2:1–11] begins with a consolatory address, a ray of light for the people of God, in the midst of the approaching night of judgment against Nineveh. Behold on the mountains which separate Nineveh from Jerusalem, and to which the dejected look of the despairing should raise itself (Ps. 121:1), the feet—and not simply these; but they are mentioned as that, which is specially valued in a messenger: he hastens, because he brings good tidings—of the messenger of joy.מבש is not a definite individual, but every one collectively, who brings the tidings. Who announces peace.שלום is the accusative, denoting the thing proclaimed, as in Hab. 1:2. The messenger of joy (comp. Is. 52:7) begins his address with the salutation of peace, שָלוֹס לִךָ, and continues: Keep thy feasts, O Judah, for no more will the battle-cry of the disturber sound in thee (Is. 16:9); pay thy vows, which thou didst promise in anguish, when thou desiredst to be delivered from the oppressor (Gen. 28:20 ff.). For the worthless shall no more pass through thee; for he is wholly destroyed.בליעל (1:11), according to the etymon of the thing, designates the author [the concrete—C. E.] as in 2 Sam. 23:6. כֻּלּהֹ, he taken collectively, i. e. his whole people (1:12); the orthography (—הֹ for —ָהוּ) as in Hab. 1:9. The concluding sentence shows the same abbreviation as that in 1:14, a form of energetic expression frequent in prophecy. In a genuine prophetic manner, the result, the joy of Judah, is mentioned first; after which, in. the address directed against Nineveh, Nahum 2:2 ff., follows the real prophecy, the description of the catastrophe, assigning the reason [of the judgment.—C. E.]
Comp. Is. 2:10 ff. This is intimately and plainly connected with the course of the work of destruction. The dasher in pieces comes up against thee (Nineveh was situated on the upper course of the Tigris), whom God employed for dispersing the world-power rallied against Him (comp. Jer. 51:20), as He had done on a former occasion (Gen. 11:8). The prophet fixes (עלה and the sing. מפיץ) his eye especially upon the King of Babylon (comp. above Introd. 4). He comes up against thee,—literally against thy face,—before whom the earth was once dumb with fear (Is. 5:25). Nineveh arms itself against him, forsooth in vain: Guard the fortress! infinitive absolute for the imperative (Ges., sec. 131, 4 b); the imperative form has, as it often does in the prophetical style, the meaning of sarcastic description (comp. 3:15 b). Look to the way, on which the enemies approach, in order to barricade it against them. Strengthen the loins! comp. Is. 5:27. Exert thy strength greatly.
[Keil and Delitzsch: על־פָכַיִךָ cannot be addressed to Judah, as in 1:15 (Chald., Rashi, etc.). It cannot indeed be objected that in Nahum 1:15, the destruction of Asshur has already been announced, since the prophet might nevertheless have returned to the time when Asshur had made war upon Judah, in order to depict its ruin with greater precision. But such an assumption does not agree with the second clause of the verse as compared with Nahum 2:2, and still less with the description of the approaching enemy which follows in Nahum 2:3, since this is unquestionably, according to Nahum 2:5, the power advancing against Nineveh, and destroying that city. We must therefore assume that we have here a sudden change in the person addressed, as in Nahum 1:11 and 12, 13 and 14. Henderson thinks that the words are addressed to Hezekiah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.—C. E.]
Nahum 2:3. For He who is with this enemy, is none less than Jehovah. He restores (comp. Is. 4:2) the glory of Jacob, at present humbled, yet on the way to grace, so that it becomes again as the glory of Israel, the favored [people], once in a glorious condition, called forever to grace (comp. Gen. 32:28). The כְ does not indicate comparison; but designates the standard [or rule], according to which the restoration is to result. Also elsewhere, though not regularly, the prophets observe this mode of speech conformed to the Torah, of designating by the name Jacob, given at his birth, the people standing in need of grace; and by the name Israel, bestowed by God, the people that have become partakers of grace. (Compare the expressions, “worm Jacob” and “Holy One of Israel,” in Is. 40. ff.). Cyril: Τὸ μὲν Ια‘κὼβ ὑπὸτῶν πατέρων ἐτέθη τῶ Ιακώβ, τὸ δὲ Ισραὴλ ὑποτοῦ Θεοῦ,ἀμΦοτέρων, δὲ ὀνομάτων μετέλεχεν ὁ ἐξ Ιακὼβ λαός The distinction of the Southern kingdom and of the Northern kingdom by these two names, is scarcely to be thought of, and it would in nowise assist in obtaining a meaning for the passage. That שׁוּב has the causative signification to restore, which following. Hengstenberg (Contributions, 2:104, on Deut. 30:3), Keil and Strauss deny also in this passage, is not to be doubted in the constant mode of expression שׁבוּת שוּב (and no where אֶלשׁב וּת), in which to take שׁבוּת as acc. loc, is a mere artifice. [Comp. on Mic. 4:10. Of the parallels cited by Keil, Ex. 4:20 and Gen. 50:14 have ה local; and Num. 10:36 is poetic] In this passage the signification, “to turn himself back to,” is not possible, not merely on account of the את, but also on account of the following כגאן; moreover, Jacob at present has no glory, to which God could return, and the expression, “God will turn again to the glory of Jacob,” would be too insipid in the mouth of Nahum for that which he evidently intended to say.
[Keil and Delitzsch: שָב (perf. proph.) has not the force of the hiphil, reducere, restituere, either here or in Ps. 85:5 and Is. 52:8, and other passages, where the modern lexicons give it, but means to turn round, or return to a person, and is construed with the accusative, as in Num. 10:36; Ex. 4:20, and Gen. 1:14, although in actual fact the return of Jehovah to the eminence of Jacob involves its restoration. גְּאוֹןיַ עַקֹב, that of which Jacob is proud, i. e. the eminence and greatness or glory accruing to Israel by virtue of its election to be the nation of God, which the enemy into whose power it had been given up on account of its rebellion against God had taken away (see at Amos 6:8). Jacob does not stand for Judah, nor Israel for the ten tribes, for Nahum never refers to the ten tribes, in distinction from Judah; and Ob. 18, where Jacob is distinguished from the house of Joseph, is of a totally different character Both names stand here for the whole of Israel.—C. E.]
The expression גָאֹן is used by the oldest prophets in a bad sense (pride, haughtiness of Israel, Am. 6:8; Hos. 5:5; 7:10); but in Is. 4:2 in a good one. The glory is restored, for plunderers (Is. 24:1), chastisers who abused their power, have plundered them—the Israelites; and their vines (comp. Ps. 80:9 ff.) they have outrageously destroyed. Hence it is that the approaching distress, (Nahum 2:4,) comes in His power: the shield of His [It is the opinion of Keil and Kleinert that the suffix גִּבּרֵהוּ refers to Jehovah (Nahum 2:3), and not to מֵפִיץ, Henderson refers it to the latter, viz., Cyaxares.—C. E.] heroes, the executors of the punitive sentence, commissioned by Him (comp. Is. 13:3; Ob. 2), is red, the valiant men are clothed in brilliant scarlet; the chariots blaze with their iron equipments in the day of his preparation. In the closing words the subject is the disposition of the troops in battle array before the fight; hence the shields could not be made red with blood (Abarb, Grot.). But their redness, together with that of their uniform and of the metal ornaments of their chariots, is the color, first, of the joyous splendor of the host of divine warriors (comp. 2 Kings 6:17); then it is the color of [those who execute—C. E.] the judgment (Zech. 1:8; Rev. 6:4). That this red light from the shields could proceed from their copper covering (Hitz. according to Jos., Ant., 13:12, 5), is possible, without being necessary to the interpretation. Gosse [Ass., p. 279) says (comp. 1 Kings 10:16 f.): From the eagerness with which these shields (on a wall sculpture in Khorsabad) were snatched away, we may suppose that they were made of gold; and this suits just as well and perhaps still better the association of ideas of the prophet, who had no intention of giving us a dissertation upon arms, but a description of the flashing and glittering army. The bright red (מתלעים, part, denom. von תוֹלע, purple worm), on the men of power, the select heroes of the army, is most correctly understood with Strauss and others, of their dress. Red was not the favorite color of the Medes only (Xenophon states that the Persians obtained from them πορΦυροῦς χιτῶνας; comp. Pollux i. 13; Σαράγης, Μήδων τι Φόρημα, πόρΦυρος μεσόλευκος χιτών), but on account of Nahum 2:2, we must not, with Strauss, think only of them; it was also the favorite color of the Babylonians (Ezek. 23:14; comp. Layard’s Nineveh and its Remains, p. 347): the favorite color of the Assyrians was blue (Ezek. 23:6; 27:23 f.). פלדות is a hapax legomenon in Hebrew in Arabic and Syriac the corresponding words signify steal. Therefore פלדת are certainly not scythes on scythe chariots (Hitz.), for these do not occur on the Assyrian monuments, since they were first introduced by Cyrus; but the glittering steel equipment of the chariots generally: “Nam Assyriorum currus, quales in monumentis conspicimus horrent fulgentibus rebus, seu e ferro seu e chalybe factis, securibus, arcubus, sagittis clypeisque et quibusvis instrumentis; equi rubris cirris ornati, temones denique fulgentibus solibus lunisque apparent distincti.” Strauss. Raschi conjectures the same thing. Comp. also Jos. 17:16; Judges 1:19. God is to be considered the subject of הכינוֹ; so above the suffix in גבּוריהו refers to Him. And the cypresses, the spears made of cypresses, are brandished, literally, made to reel; here also the brandishing of the lances for throwing does not seem to be meant; but the glittering of the forest of approaching lances over the scarlet sheen of the army.
In contrast with this there is indeed, Nahum 2:5 f., a very different scene in Nineveh. Without, God arranges his hosts: within is the disorder of wild terror: without, a steady approach against the city, within, a frantic rushing hither and thither: without, a joyful splendor: within, a deadly paleness, like torch-light. Through the streets the chariots rave [are driven furiously.—C. E.], they run to and fro in the market-places, of which in Nineveh there were many, for an entire inclosed part of the great circuit [ein ganzer geschlossener stadtkör per des grossen Complexes] bore this name [the name rendered market-places above—C. E.]. Rehoboth [i. e., streets, or wide places—C. E.] (Gen. 10:11). Like torches, so pallid, not red like purple, is their appearance, that of the Assyrians: like lightning, so pale and unsteady, they shoot hither and thither. “The intensive form רוצץ, indicates the manifoldness of the direction, the zigzag of the lightning.” Hitzig. The torches and lightning give a gloomy and not a joyful light; hence (Is. 13:8) anxious faces, “which have withdrawn their ruddiness (comp. Joel 2:6; Nah. 2:11, with Is. 29:22; Joel 4:15), are compared to them.
Hitz., Hölemann, Strauss, Keil refer, however, Nahum 2:5, to the approaching army of conquerors: which would make it a continuation of Nahum 2:4. But it is evident at a glance, that it stands in contrast with Nahum 2:4. For in a city of the immense circumference and extensive circumvallation of Nineveh (comp. Jonah 3), when streets and places are spoken of, the pastures and commons before the city cannot well be meant, but only those within. Moreover, in referring it to the Assyrians, which Theodoret has already done (among the moderns Ewald, Umbreit), the transition to what follows, which the interpreters mentioned before cannot adjust, becomes plain of itself.
Nahum 2:6. He, the King of Assyria, under whose eyes this frantic tumult fills the city, thinks of his brave men.אדּירים are not the rich and noble (Marck, Strauss), but the heroes, as in Judges 5:13 (parallel גּבּרים), for these are the persons who alone come into account in the exigencies of war. But they also lose their footing, in the panic terror caused by God (comp. 5:11; Ob. 9; Is. 19:14); they stumble in their paths, in their different routes of march, which they, in their hurry, took through the wide city, in order to maintain the hard-pressed point. They hasten to her, Nineveh’s, walls, and arrive just in time to see the last work of the besiegers: there the testudo [see note on Nahum 2:6—C. E.] has already been erected. It is erected, for the Babylonians did not construct it as the Romans did (Liv. 34:9) by standing close to each other and holding their shields over their heads; but (besides the movable battering-rams, which went on wheels) towers, which were occupied by warriors, were built on a place and in a position before the walls: the whole formed a temporary building, whose top is represented in the sculptures as on a level with the walls, and even sometimes with the turrets, of the besieged city. Layard, p. 377. Comp. Deut. 20:19 f.
Ver 7–9 b introduces a new turn: the elements interfere. The gates of the rivers are opened. These words have vexed interpreters. One understands by the gates of the rivers those which were situated down by the water, which the enemy broke open by storm: Luther, Tuch (who thinks that the east gate is meant, where the If Khosr enters and flows rapidly through the city into the Tigris), Ewald, Strauss, Keil. But Rosenm. justly replies: how foolish would it be in the enemy to make an attack just at the most difficult point, where nature assists the fortifications. The different explanations indicated by Rosenm., De Wette (rivers: rushing masses of the enemy); Hieron. (rivers: swarming population, comp. LXX. πῦλαι τῶν πόλεων), Hitzig (rivers: the streets of Nineveh); Umbreit (rivers, an image of calamity risen to its highest pitch) are make-shifts, which introduce obscure bombast into the pregnant expression. And if it is now certain that נפהח is not used in the Hebrew before the captivity for an opening effected by breaching the walls, but always for a voluntary opening, loosening one’s self, opening itself; if it is never used at all for the breaking open of gates by enemies, but rather for the opening of that which has been kept locked up, of the fountain (Zech. 13:1), of the sluices of heaven (Gen. 7:11; Is. 24:18; comp. Ezek. 1:1); if finally, notwithstanding the consideration of Hitzig drawn from the locality, there is no reason to doubt the statements of the ancients, that in the third year the river became an enemy to the city, that by violent rains an unprecedented inundation took place and broke down the walls of Nineveh to a great extent (comp. Introd. 4; Diod. Sic., ii. 27; and the tradition of the surrounding inhabitants mentioned by Xenophon, Anab., III. iv. 8–12), why should the prophet make no announcement of it, since from the time of Deborah it was rather the manner of the Prophet to mention prominently such interference on the part of God? Judges 5:20, 21. He has at least even already plainly enough referred to something similar, 1:8, 10. (Comp. Duncker, l. c. i. p. 806 f). The objection of Strauss and Keil, that “gates of the rivers” cannot stand for gates opened by the rivers, has no pertinency, since the thing spoken of is the gates from which the formerly restrained, checked floods burst forth, the sluices of the inundations, and not this or that city-gate. The excellent natural fortification of the city effected by the rivers flowing around, which had, in no small degree, contributed to form just here the magnificent centre of the Mesopotamian despotism (Spiegel, x. 363), turns now to the destruction of Nineveh, since the rivers break its gates and overflow. Our opinion is the more recommended, because first, from it 1:8, receives a much clearer light; secondly, the mention of the water very naturally follows that of the battering-rams, Nahum 2:6; thirdly, Nahum 2:10 a affords only, from this view, a plain meaning, and finally also the immediately following context fits in with it admirably: the King’s palace,היכ, 1 Kings 21:1, is dissolved. The derivatives of מוג are used commonly for the melting of what is solid by destructive floods (comp. 1:5 and Com. on Mic. 1:4 f.). Thus the floods flowing around undermine the king’s palace, so that it falls together of itself. The kings of Nineveh understood how to build (comp. Introd. 4, p. 101). They first erected a colossal, pyramidal, quadrate substructure, surrounded by walls with towers, gates, and outside stairs. On a plateau rose a second peribolus. Thus the structure towered through several stories and ramparts to the residence proper of the dynasty, to the two significant gates guarded by the mystic colossal animals. From the court of justice it mounted upwards, in the form of a terrace, to the private pavilions of the princes, which stood in isolated masses in shady garden-plots. And over all this arose as the crowning work, the high pyramid, with the terraces planted with trees, and outside stairs winding up to it. Above was found the sepulchre of the ancestral prince, who was forced upon the subjugated people as a god. Helfferich, Aphorismen über den Kunststil, in the Morgenblaff,8 for 1852, p. 900 fF. [For a description of an Assyrian palace, see Layard’s Nineveh and its Remains, vol. ii. p. 207.—C. E.]
The palace, indeed, of the last king (whom Nahum has not named), the so-called southeast palace, was less magnificent (Spiegel, x, 372; 1 c.). With propriety could the difficult word הצב which follows, in Nahum 2:8, be connected with the words, the king’s palace dissolves, if, with Gesenius, we were to translate it, “und zerfliesst,” and it flows down. But the word צבב [of which הצב is the Hophal form—C. E.] would occur only in this single passage: it, therefore, seems precarious to give up the old division of verses on account of an uncertain translation. The correction of Hitzig, וְהַצָּב, “and the lizard is heaved up,” is too far-fetched; and the shift of Ewald interpreting Hussab [Hebrew הֻצַּב, the word in question—C. E.], as designating the Assyrian queen (which is found moreover in Nic. 5 Lyra, Luther, Burck, and others), is supported by neither the original text, nor by fact.
The king had caused the queen to be removed from the distressed city (Introd. 4). Just as little probable is it, that Hussab (the stronghold: the audacious) was intended to be a symbolical name for Nineveh itself (Schegg, Breiteneicher). We must, therefore, retain, with Strauss, the old solution of De Dieu and Seb. Schmid, which considers ה [הֻצַּב—C. E.] as an independent neuter sentence (comp. קרבם, Ps.49:12), and הצב, as the Hophal of כצב, statuere (Gen. 28:11; Ps. 74:17); and it is established, fixed; it is plain, and there the matter rests, namely, in the decree, which now to 10 b completes the description of the inundation. [Henderson connects הֻצַּב with the preceding verse, and translates וְהַהֵיכָל, etc., “And the place” (palace?) “is dissolved, though firmly established.” This rendering takes כצב instead of צבב as the root, but, with Gesenius, removes the word to the end of the preceding verse. Gesenius does not speak very positively: he says, under the Hophal of נָצַב: “Sed vix dubito, quinוְהֻצּב, ad prœcedens comma referendum et a rad.צָבַב, repetendum sit, ubi vide.” Thesaurus, p. 903. Keil follows De Dieu. The English Version reads. “Huzzab,” making it a proper name.—C. E.], She is made bare, the not yet vanquished maid abandoned to the shame of capture (comp. 3:5; Is. 47:3), removed away,הצלה, like the Latin tollere. The verb does not have the meaning of deportare, of leading into captivity: in all the six passages specified by Strauss in favor of that meaning, the Niphal is used, and that with the signification of getting one’s self away. And her maids, the associated dependent states and cities (Theod. Cyril., Hieron.; comp. Is. 23:6 f.): not her inhabitants (Hitz., Strauss, Keil), for these in the inundating deluge have something else to do, they flee, or are already drowned: because the prophet sees the waves rolling over her, she is herself considered as removed—moan like the cry of doves (comp. Is. 38:14; 59:11; Ez. 7:16). “The meaning of כהג is rendered certain by the parallelism, by the versions, and by the dialects.” Hitzig, Hieronymus: “Tantus terror erit, ut ne in singultus quidem et ululatum erumpat dolor, sed intra se tacite gemant et obscuro murmure devorent lacrimas, in morem mussitantium columbarum, … smiting on their breasts, a mournful gesture (Luke 18:23; 23:27). It is noted in the Kri that the י is wanting in לבבהן (comp. a similar case in Ewald, sec. 258 a).
Nahum 2:9. But Nineveh, like a pool of water are her waters. The rivers, on which it is situated, formerly flowing so rapidly into their beds, form by their inundation a large expanse of water; compare Nahum 2:7. In accordance with the LXX., we read the consonants מימי היא, Vulgate: מֵימֵי חִיא. The Masoretic reading מִימֵי, “since her days,” does not give any correct sense, though we compare, with Hitzig, Is. 18:2. [Henderson and Keil follow the Masoretic reading. The latter says מִן הוּא in Is. 18:2 is different.—C. E.]
Nahum 2:9 b–11. After that the fury of the devastating element has made an end, all resistance is given up, and the abandoned city stands open to plunder. [The inundation could, on account of the elevated situation of the city (30–150 above the bed of the Tigris), and the rapid descent of that river, be only very transient. And they, not the maids (Strauss), that would require הכה נסות, but the Assyrian warriors, whom the king, Nahum 2:6, had summoned, flee (comp. Ex. 14:27), because they could not contend with the united power of God and men. Stand, stand! he calls after them, which the prophet sarcastically reëchoes (comp. Nahum 2:2)—but no one turns back. So then nothing stands any longer in the way of pillage: plunder silver, plunder gold!
Nahum 2:10. Compare, on the immense quantity of the booty, the Introd. Jos., Ant., x. 11, 1. And endless are the dwellings to be plundered (Job 23:3). [The meaning of furniture (Strauss), of garments (Hitzig, comp. LXX. κόσμος) given to תכוּנה is not very probable: at the most, according to the etymology, the magnificent pedestals of the images of the gods could be thought of; but the tense of our translation guaranteed by the passage in Job is sufficient.] An immense quantity (Ps. 49:13) of all kinds of ornamental vessels. And thus comes the illustrious city, Nahum 2:12, to an end in misery: desolation, devastation, and destruction. For this pictorial accumulation of similar sounds compare Is. 24:1; Gen. 1:2; Zeph. 1:15; Is. 29:1 ff. “The place is laid waste by fire,” etc. And the heart (sing. coll.) melts (for the form, comp. Olsh., p. 592) in complete humiliation and sorrow (Is. 13:7); and tottering knees and pain in all loins, a tragical contrast with Nahum 2:2. And all countenances lose their color [literally, the countenances of all of them withdraw ruddiness.—C. E.] (comp. Com. on Nahum 2:5; Joel 2:6.)
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL9
The violent shaking, relatively the destruction of the heathen, is a requisite for the restoration of peace and prosperity in Israel, and consequently a condition of accomplishing their salvation. Compare Zech. 1; Hagg. 2. The destruction of the heathen is not an independent end, but a means to the end [the salvation of God’s people—C. E.]; for God is a God of life and of glory. But Israel, upon whom He bestows in love such great blessings, has now no excuse, if he withholds from Him the honor due. The destruction of Nineveh is another item in the account-book which is held before those who withhold from God his feasts and their vows. Comp. Mic. 6.
The overthrow of the enemy of God is not the work of men, but His work. A disperser comes up; men would be satisfied with the capture (comp. Obadiah). His heroes are God’s heroes; the terror which is in the city is a bewilderment of mind caused by God: stumbling in the level streets, trembling of the knees of heroes: irremediable and ceaseless flight of those accustomed to victory; and as a last sign that God approaches, He causes the powers of nature, which are subject to Him alone, to take part in the scene: He conquers: to the human conquerors he leaves the [task of] plundering; for as Nineveh had amassed gain, so must it be scattered. The fundamental thought of the patriarchal promise, the election of Israel, and the fundamental thought of the Law, the talio, meet very closely with each other on this point of the prophetic announcement.
The passage, if one does not do violence to it, is to be treated only as a picture of the judgment, thus in a manner purely expository, or rather periphrastic, with interspersed observations. The homiletical part of the treatment can be limited only to the placing, on the one hand, of the whole under the three points of view given in the beginning (Nahum 2:2–4), and to the rendering prominent, on the other, of the typical reference to the end. The judgment takes place, (1) because it is necessary to the peace of the kingdom of God (Nahum 2:1, 3 a); (2) because an evil accumulation of [the means of] human pride, [Höhen] (riches, power, worthlessness), must be destroyed (Nahum 2:2); (3) because it is richly deserved. So will it also be at the last judgment.
On Nahum 2:1. Even in the most gloomy night there is a ray of light for the pious. (On Nahum 2:2 compare Kaulbach’s mural painting of the Christians leaving Jerusalem.) Darkness is not dark to him who is near to God. Will it not be peace, when the great restoration comes, which no rude hand of the world, smothering and chilling, can snatch away! (Ps. 126).
Nahum 2:2 f. The saying, “hitherto shalt thou come, and no further,” is applicable also to him accustomed to power and victory. For awhile God goes with him and strengthens his steps; then He turns to the side of the down-trodden.
Nahum 2:4 f. So will the conflict of the kingdom of God against the powers of darkness always be: a joyful contest for order, which proceeds from God. But if those who would be his heroes, should tear one another, what will be the result? If they would keep still before Him, planless confusion would soon break forth in the ranks of the enemy, which would show that they are fighting against God. Then must the strong stumble in their paths. Julian and Libanius were strong. And the testudo is projected over their walls: Origen has outflanked the heathen philosophers. Neither equipment, nor the appearance of assembled power (Nahum 2:2), nor capacity of hasty movement and vehement and varied activity (Nahum 2:5), achieves victory in the battles of the kingdom of God: where God stands, there victory comes.
Nahum 2:7 ff. Where human power is not sufficient to accomplish his saving work of destruction against his scourges, there He knows how to interfere himself (1812). That on which a powerful man most firmly relies, may become the severest instrument of punishment to him.
Nahum 2:10 f. The greater the accumulated treasures, the more fearful the devastation. Whose will that be, which thou hast prepared, when thy knees tremble in the last agony?
STARKE: Nahum 2:1. Those who receive the Gospel with true faith possess in their hearts and consciences, as it were, a continual feast of joy. The Lord comforts and quickens: He leads into hell and out again. The Jewish people have still hope of being delivered from their miserable condition.
Nahum 2:4 f. To those who, in times of peace, give themselves up to pleasure, and who, like irrational persons, rage and cry in the streets, the same evil will be requited.
Nahum 2:6. If kings rely more upon their heroes and armies than upon God, they must become discouraged and flee before their enemies.
Nahum 2:8. God can find us, wherever we are, when He intends to punish us.
Nahum 2:9. God is not obliged to bestow his favors upon us continually. He can withdraw them on account of our ingratitude.
Nahum 2:10. War is terrible; Lord, grant us peace!
Nahum 2:11. Natural men, in adversity, allow all their courage to sink, and despair, when their goods, on which their hearts are set, are taken from them. It is certainly a great loss, when one loses money and goods, but not so great as when the heart falls into despair.
URSINUS: On Nahum 2:1. Partly a congratulation, that the congregation [die Gemeinde] shall no more be destroyed; partly an exhortation to give God the thanks that are his due (2 Chron. 32:23).
COCCEIUS: God has given many swords to serve the Church, which have cut off the persecutors.
RIEGER: The chief design in the judgment of Nineveh was that faith in the God of Israel should thereby be powerfully quickened, and the hearts [of God’s people—C. E.] strengthened in waiting for the promise (Is. 37:31). It is probable that very good news was brought into the land of Judah concerning the fall of the Assyrian kingdom; and the prophet hereby shows how they should take advantage of the state of rest acquired for them by it, by means of good regulations in the Church and commonwealth, yea that they should entertain the hope, that the Lord would restore the glory or excellency of Jacob, and also bring the whole nation to its formerly flourishing state.
SCHMIEDER: The peace newly granted by the grace of God was to be celebrated by a new consecration of the people (2 Chron. 30:1 ff.). The knave, i. e. Belial, who has evil in his mind against the Lord and his people (comp. Nahum 1:11). This has special reference to the King of Nineveh and Assyria; and the promise in this reference must have been very precious to his contemporaries oppressed by Assyria. But to us the fundamental truth is far more important, that to the people of God a perfect deliverance is near at hand, and has already appeared in Christ, by which the Belial, from whom every wicked spirit (Belialsgeist) proceeds, is forever cast out.
LUTHER: On Nahum 2:2. With this language he utters defiance, and speaks as if that were already present, which was still future.
PFAFF: Nahum 2:11. So even the greatest kingdoms come finally to nothing, when the Lord in flicts upon them his penal judgments; and all their power is unable to quench and stop the fire of his wrath.
[Nahum 2:1.—מְבַשֵׁר is collective, every one that brings the glad tidings of the overthrow of the enemy.
[בְּלִיַּעַל, abstract for concrete. Compare Nahum 1:11, יוֹעֵץ בְּלִיַּעַל, wicked counselor.
[Nahum 2:6.—וְהֻכַן הַסֹּכֵךְ, da ist das sturmdach errichtet (Kleinert), the vinea is erected. The vinea was a portable shed, or mantelet of boards, covered with wicker-work or hides, and served to protect from the weapons of the enemy the soldiers while undermining the walls.
[Nahum 2:8.—הֻצַּב has puzzled interpreters, and has received various interpretations. Some suppose that it is intended to designate the Queen of Nineveh, here called Huzzab; but this opinion cannot be maintained, Gesenius, instead of deriving it from the hophal of נָצַב, to set. to put, to place, has recourse to the root צָבַב, which he borrows from the Arabic , to flow, trickle, of water, to pour; and, then connecting the word to the end of the preceding verse, reads thus: הַהֵיכָל נָמוֹג הֻצבֹ, the palace is dissolved and made to flow down, Keil makes it the hophal of נָצב, which, in the hiphil, signifies to establish, to determine (Deut. 32:8; Ps. 74:17; and Chald. Dan. 2:45; 6:13), and translates it, it is established, i. e., determined, sc. by God. Kleinert renders it: Und fest ist’s. The LXX. read καἱ ἡ ὑπόστασις ἀπεκαλύΦθη.
[Nahum 2:9.—מימֵי היא, an example of a noun in the construct before the full form of the pronoun. See Green’s Heb. Gram., sec. 220, 1. a, p. 249. Since the days of her, i. e. since the time that she has existed. (See Keil and Henderson.) Kleinert renders it: Nineveh aber, wie ein Wasserteich sind ihre Wasser. The LXX. read: Καὶ Νινευὴ ἥν κολυμβήθρα ὕδατος τειχη ὕδ̀ατα αὺτῆς. The Vulgate has: “Et Ninive quasi piscina aquarum aquœ ejus.” It is evidently the plural of יוֹם, day, with the abbreviated preposition מ prefixed. Calvin: Atqui Nineveh quasi piscina aquarum a diebus (hoc est, a longo tempore) fuit.
[Nahum 2:10.—Kleinert renders תּכוּנָה, wohnungen, dwellings. Comp. Job 23:3 and Ezek. 43:11.
[Nahum 2:11.—קּבְּצוּ פָּארוּר, withdraw their ruddiness, or brightness, of countenance, i. e., becomes pale with terror.—C. E.]
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Reichsgedanken. See note Com. on Jonah, p. 20.—C. E.
He that dasheth in pieces is come up before thy face: keep the munition, watch the way, make thy loins strong, fortify thy power mightily.