Nahum 1:10
For while they be folden together as thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry.
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(10) For while.—Better, For they shall be even as bundles of thorn fagots, and even while steeped in their drink they shall be burnt up like stubble fully dry. Dry thorn cuttings were commonly used as fuel. (See Psalm 58:9; Psalm 118:12; Ecclesiastes 7:6.) The verse compares the victims of Jehovah’s wrath, first, to a compact bundle of thorn fagots; secondly, to a material equally combustible, the dry straw and stubble of the threshing-floor. With regard to the words “while steeped in their drink,” it may be remarked that in the final siege of Nineveh a great defeat of its forces was effected by a surprise while the king and his captains were sunk in revelry (Diod. Sic. ii. 26). Benhadad, king of Syria, and Belshazzar, king of Babylon, were overcome under similar circumstances (1Kings 1:16; Daniel 5:1-30). Feasting and revelry may have gone on in Sennacherib’s camp at the moment when the sudden visitation of the “angel of the Lord” was impending; but on this point we have no information. The introduction of this detail adds to the metaphor a certain grim humour. Soaked in wine though the enemy be, he shall surely burn like driest fuel in the day of Jehovah’s fiery wrath. The opening clause of the verse is beset with difficulties, both grammatical and lexical. Kleinert renders “For in thorns they shall be entangled,” &c.; Ewald and Hitzig, “For even though they be compact as a wickerwork of thorns,” &c.

1:9-15 There is a great deal plotted against the Lord by the gates of hell, and against his kingdom in the world; but it will prove in vain. With some sinners God makes quick despatch; and one way or other, he will make an utter end of all his enemies. Though they are quiet, and many very secure, and not in fear, they shall be cut down as grass and corn, when the destroying angel passes through. God would hereby work great deliverance for his own people. But those who make themselves vile by scandalous sins, God will make vile by shameful punishments. The tidings of this great deliverance shall be welcomed with abundant joy. These words are applied to the great redemption wrought out by our Lord Jesus and the everlasting gospel, Ro 10:15. Christ's ministers are messengers of good tidings, that preach peace by Jesus Christ. How welcome to those who see their misery and danger by sin! And the promise they made in the day of trouble must be made good. Let us be thankful for God's ordinances, and gladly attend them. Let us look forward with cheerful hope to a world where the wicked never can enter, and sin and temptation will no more be known.For while they be leiden together as thorns - that is, as confused, intertwined, sharp, piercing, hard to be touched, rending and tearing whosoever would interfere with its tangled ways, and seemingly compact together and strong; "and while they are drunken as their drink" , not "drinkers" only but literally, "drunken," swallowed up, as it were, by their drink which they had swallowed, mastered, overcome, powerless, "they shall be derogated as stubble fully dry" , rapidly, in an instant, with an empty crackling sound, unresisting, as having nothing in them which can resist. Historically, the great defeat of the Assyrians, before the capture of Nineveh, took place while its king, flushed with success, was giving himself to listlessness; and having distributed to his soldiers victims, and abundance of wine, and other necessaries for banqueting, the whole army was negligent and drunken."

In like way Babylon was taken amid the feasting of Belshazzar Daniel 5:1-30; Benhadad was smitten, while "drinking himself drunk in the pavilions, he and the kings, the thirty and two kings that helped him" 1 Kings 20:16. And so it may well be meant here too, that Sennacherib's army, secure of their prey, were sunk in revelry, already swallowed up by wine, before they were swallowed up by the pestilence, on the night when the Angel of the Lord went out to smite them, and, from the sleep of revelry, they slept the sleep from which they shall not awake until the Judgment Day. God chooses the last moment of the triumph of the wicked, when he is flushed by his success, the last of the helplessness of the righteous, when his hope can be in the Lord alone, to exchange their lots. "The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked comes in his stead" Proverbs 11:8. Spiritually , "the false fullness of the rich of this world, is real leanness; the greenness of such grass (for all flesh is grass) is real dryness. Marvelous words, "fully dry." For what is dryness but emptiness?" They are perfected, but in dryness, and so perfectly prepared to be burned up. "The thorns had, as far as in them lay, choked the good seed, and hated the Seed-corn, and now are found, like stubble, void of all seed, fitted only to be burned with fire. For those who feast themselves "without fear is reserved the blackness of darkness forever" Jde 1:12-13.

10. while they are folden together as thorns—literally, "to the same degree as thorns" (compare 1Ch 4:27, Margin). As thorns, so folded together and entangled that they cannot be loosed asunder without trouble, are thrown by the husbandmen all in a mass into the fire, so the Assyrians shall all be given together to destruction. Compare 2Sa 23:6, 7, where also "thorns" are the image of the wicked. As this image represents the speediness of their destruction in a mass, so that of "drunkards," their rushing as it were of their own accord into it; for drunkards fall down without any one pushing them [Kimchi]. Calvin explains, Although ye be dangerous to touch as thorns (that is, full of rage and violence), yet the Lord can easily consume you. But "although" will hardly apply to the next clause. English Version and Kimchi, therefore, are to be preferred. The comparison to drunkards is appropriate. For drunkards, though exulting and bold, are weak and easily thrown down by even a finger touching them. So the insolent self-confidence of the Assyrians shall precipitate their overthrow by God. The Hebrew is "soaked," or "drunken as with their own wine." Their drunken revelries are perhaps alluded to, during which the foe (according to Diodorus Siculus [2]) broke into their city, and Sardanapalus burned his palace; though the main and ultimate destruction of Nineveh referred to by Nahum was long subsequent to that under Sardanapalus. This gives us account how this desolation shall be effected.

While they be folded together as thorns; they should be like thorns easily burnt, and like thorns folden together, which burn together, and help to destroy each other, or are all together cast into the fire.

While they are drunken as drunkards; as men drunken, and unable to help themselves, are easily destroyed, so shall the Assyrians be; or, drunk with pleasures and pride, they shall be surprised, and ruined, and easily overthrown.

They shall be devoured as stubble fully dry: this fully expresseth the speedy, irresistible, and total destruction that the anger of God will bring upon them; as the fire burns up all the dried stubble, so shall the wrath of God destroy the enemies of Israel and of Israel’s God.

For while they be folden together as thorns,.... Like them, useless and unprofitable, harmful and pernicious, fit only for burning, and, being bundled together, are prepared for it; and which is not only expressive of the bad qualities of the Ninevites, and of the danger they were in, and what they deserved; but of the certainty of their ruin, no more being able to save themselves from it, than a bundle of thorns from the devouring fire:

and while they are drunken as drunkards; dead drunk, no more able to help themselves than a drunken man that is fallen; or who were as easily thrown down as a drunken man is with the least touch; though there is no need to have recourse to a figurative sense, since the Ninevites were actually drunk when they were attacked by their enemy, as the historian relates (i); that the king of Assyria being elated with his fortune, and thinking himself secure, feasted his army, and gave them large quantities of wine; and while the whole army were indulging themselves, the enemy, having notice of their negligence and drunkenness by deserters, fell upon them unawares in the night, when disordered and unprepared, and made a great slaughter among them, and forced the rest into the city, and in a little time took it:

they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry; as easily, and as inevitably and irrecoverably.

(i) Diodor. Sicul. l. 2. p. 112.

For while they be folden together as {l} thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry.

(l) Though the Assyrians think themselves like thorns that prick on all sides, yet the Lord will set fire on them, and as drunken men are not able to stand against any force, so they will not be able to resist him at all.

10. Nahum 1:10 can hardly have been handed down in its original state. It may be rendered much as R.V.: for though (they be like) thorns tangled together and drenched as with their drink, they shall be consumed as stubble fully dry. The Ninevites are compared to a tangled thorn hedge soaked with moisture and thus inaccessible to fire, yet the fire of Jehovah shall consume them as suddenly and completely as if they were the driest stubble. For the sense of though, even to prep. ‘ad cf. Numbers 8:4; 1 Samuel 2:5; Haggai 2:19; Job 25:5, and for the sense as with cf. Isaiah 1:25 &c. Of course the words might mean wet or wetted like their drink. It has been usually supposed that in the words “their drink” the prophet refers to the excess and debauchery of the Assyrian court. But a witticism of this sort is altogether improbable. The text is no doubt corrupt. For “drenched as with their drink” Sept. gives “like tangled yew,” or some such plant. The general sense of the text may be conjectured to have been, that though the Ninevites from their strong defences were as unassailable and able to inflict injury as a tangled thorn hedge, they would become the prey of the fire. See a similar comparison to a thorn hedge, Micah 7:4; and on the comparison of enemies or the wicked to thorns, 2 Samuel 23:6-7; Ezekiel 2:6.

Verse 10. - While they be folden together as thorns. The clause is conditional: "Though they be interwined as thorns." Though the Assyrians present an impenetrable front, which seems to defy attack. (For the comparison of a hostile army to briers and thorns, see Isaiah 10:17; Isaiah 27:4; Henderson.) And while they are drunken as drunkards; and though they be drunken with their drink, regarding themselves as invincible, and drenched with wine, and given up to luxury and excess. There may be an allusion to the legend current concerning the destruction of Nineveh. Diodorus (2:26) relates that, after the enemy had been thrice repulsed, the King of Nineveh was so elated that he gave himself up to festivity, and allowed all his army to indulge in the utmost licence, and that it was while they were occupied in drunkenness and feasting they were surprised by the Medes under Cyaxares, and their city taken. An account of such a feast, accompanied with sketehes from the monuments, is given in Bonomi, 'Nineveh and its Discoveries,' p. 187, etc. We may compare the fate of Belshazzar (Daniel 5:1, etc.). They shall be devoured as stubble fully dry; like worthless refuse, fit only for burning (Exodus 15:7; Isaiah 5:24; Joel 2:5; Obadiah 1:18). The LXX. renders this verse differently, "Because to its foundation it shall be dried up (χερσωθήσεται: redigentur in vepres, Jerome), and as bind weed (σμῖλαξ) intertwined it shall be devoured, and as stubble fully dry." Nahum 1:10The reason for all this is assigned in Nahum 1:9. Nahum 1:9. "What think ye of Jehovah? He makes an end; the affliction will not arise twice. Nahum 1:10. For though they be twisted together like thorns, and as if intoxicated with their wine, they shall be devoured like dry stubble. Nahum 1:11. From thee has one come out, who meditated evil against Jehovah, who advised worthlessness." The question in Nahum 1:9 is not addressed to the enemy, viz., the Assyrians, as very many commentators suppose: "What do ye meditate against Jehovah?" For although châshabh 'el is used in Hosea 7:15 for a hostile device with regard to Jehovah, the supposition that 'el is used here for ‛al, according to a later usage of the language, is precluded by the fact that חשׁב על is actually used in this sense in Nahum 1:11. Moreover, the last clause does not suit this view of the question. The word, "the affliction will not stand up, or not rise up a second time," cannot refer to the Assyrians, or mean that the infliction of a second judgment upon Nineveh will be unnecessary, because the city will utterly fall to the ground in the first judgment, and completely vanish from the earth (Hitzig). For צרה points back to בּיום צרה, and therefore must be the calamity which has fallen upon Judah, or upon those who trust in the Lord, on the part of Nineveh or Asshur (Marck, Maurer, and Strauss). This is confirmed by Nahum 1:11 and Nahum 1:15, where this thought is definitely expressed. Consequently the question, "What think ye with regard to Jehovah?" can only be addressed to the Judaeans, and must mean, "Do ye think that Jehovah cannot or will not fulfil His threat upon Nineveh?" (Cyr., Marck, Strauss). The prophet addresses these words to the anxious minds, which were afraid of fresh invasions on the part of the Assyrians. To strengthen their confidence, he answers the question proposed, by repeating the thought expressed in Nahum 1:8. He (Jehovah) is making an end, sc. of the enemy of His people; and he gives a further reason for this in Nahum 1:10. The participial clauses עד סירים to סבוּאים are to be taken conditionally: are (or were) they even twisted like thorns. עד סירים, to thorns equals as thorns (עד is given correctly by J. H. Michaelis: eo usque ut spinas perplexitate aequent; compare Ewald, 219). The comparison of the enemy to thorns expresses "firmatum callidumque nocendi studium" (Marck), and has been well explained by Ewald thus: "crisp, crafty, and cunning; so that one would rather not go near them, or have anything to do with them" (cf. 2 Samuel 23:6 and Micah 7:4). כּסבאם סבוּאים, not "wetted like their wet" (Hitzig), nor "as it were drowned in wine, so that fire can do no more harm to them than to anything else that is wet" (Ewald); for סבא neither means to wet nor to drown, but to drink, to carouse; and סבוּא means drunken, intoxicated. סבא is strong unmixed wine (see Delitzsch on Isaiah 1:22). "Their wine" is the wine which they are accustomed to drink. The simile expresses the audacity and hardiness with which the Assyrians regarded themselves as invincible, and applies very well to the gluttony and revelry which prevailed at the Assyrian court; even if the account given by Diod. Sic. (ii. 26), that when Sardanapalus had three times defeated the enemy besieging Nineveh, in his great confidence in his own good fortune, he ordered a drinking carousal, in the midst of which the enemy, who had been made acquainted with the fact, made a fresh attack, and conquered Nineveh, rests upon a legendary dressing up of the facts. אכּלוּ, devoured by fire, is a figure signifying utter destruction; and the perfect is prophetic, denoting what will certainly take place. Like dry stubble: cf. Isaiah 5:24; Isaiah 47:14, and Joel 2:5. מלא is not to be taken, as Ewald supposes (279, a), as strengthening יבשׁ, "fully dry," but is to be connected with the verb adverbially, and is simply placed at the end of the sentence for the sake of emphasis (Ges., Maurer, and Strauss). This will be the end of the Assyrians, because he who meditates evil against Jehovah has come forth out of Nineveh. In ממּך Nineveh is addressed, the representative of the imperial power of Assyria, which set itself to destroy the Israelitish kingdom of God. It might indeed be objected to this explanation of the verse, that the words in Nahum 1:12 and Nahum 1:13 are addressed to Zion or Judah, whereas Nineveh or Asshur is spoken of both in what precedes (Nahum 1:8 and Nahum 1:10) and in what follows (Nahum 1:12) in the third person. On this ground Hoelem. and Strauss refer ממּך also to Judah, and adopt this explanation: "from thee (Judah) will the enemy who has hitherto oppressed thee have gone away" (taking יצא as fut. exact., and יצא מן as in Isaiah 49:17). But this view does not suit the context. After the utter destruction of the enemy has been predicted in Nahum 1:10, we do not expect to find the statement that it will have gone away from Judah, especially as there is nothing said in what precedes about any invasion of Judah. The meditation of evil against Jehovah refers to the design of the Assyrian conquerors to destroy the kingdom of God in Israel, as the Assyrian himself declares in the blasphemous words which Isaiah puts into the mouth of Rabshakeh (Isaiah 36:14-20), to show the wicked pride of the enemy. This address merely expresses the feeling cherished at all times by the power of the world towards the kingdom of God. It is in the plans devised for carrying this feeling into action that the יעץ בּליּעל, the advising of worthlessness, consists. This is the only meaning that בּליּעל has, not that of destruction.
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