Nahum 1:4
He rebukes the sea, and makes it dry, and dries up all the rivers: Bashan languishes, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languishes.
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Nahum 1:4-6. He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry — The rivers and the sea itself are dried up at his rebuke, as the Red sea and Jordan were of old; and the most pleasant and fruitful countries, such as Bashan, Carmel, and Lebanon, are parched up with drought when he is displeased. The mountains quake at him — See notes on Psalm 114:3-8. And the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world — The brightness of his presence is sufficient to set the whole world on fire, with all that is in it. This is, indeed, a most magnificent description of the omnipotence of God. He walketh, or rideth, amidst the whirlwind, or in the storm; the clouds are but the dust of his feet; the sea is dried up at his word, the mountains are moved, and tremble at his presence; and the whole earth is consumed with the brightness that is before him. Who can stand before his indignation? — Who, or what people, however strong they may think themselves, can withstand the effects of his power when he is angry with them, and is determined to execute his wrath upon them? His fury — Rather, his indignation, or the ardour of his anger; is poured out like fire, &c. — Is as consuming in its effects as fire. And the rocks are thrown down by him — That is, as fire is of sufficient force to dissolve the hardest rocks, so God’s power overthrows all opposition, however strong; and his vengeance, with infinite ease, can humble the most obdurate sinners.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?He rebuketh the sea and maketh it dry - Delivering His people, as He did from Pharaoh Psalm 106:9, the type of all later oppressors, and of antichrist. "His word is with power; to destroy them at once with one rough word (Wisd. 12:9). The restlessness of the barren and troubled sea is an image of the wicked. "And drieth up all the rivers" Isaiah 57:20, as He did Jordan. His coming shall be far more terrible than when all the hearts of the inhabitants of the land did melt. "Bashan languisheth and Carmel; and the flower of Lebanon languisheth" Joshua 2:11. Bashan was richest in pastures; Carmel, according to its name, in gardens and vineyards; Lebanon, in vines also and fragrant flowers Hosea 14:7; Sol 4:11, but chiefly in the cedar and cypress; it had its name from the whiteness of the snow, which rests on its summit. These mountains then together are emblems of richness, lasting beauty, fruitfulness, loftiness; yet all, even that which by nature is not, in the variety of seasons, wont to fade, dries up and withers before the rebuke of God. But if these thing are "done in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" All freshness, beauty, comeliness, show of outward nature, shall fade as grass; all ornament of men's outward graces or gifts, all mere show of goodness, shall fall off like a leaf and perish. If the glory of nature perishes before God, how much more the pride of man! Bashan also was the dwelling-place of the race of giants, and near Libanus was Damascus; yet their inhabitants became as dead men and their power shrank to nothing at the word of God. 4. rebuketh the sea—as Jesus did (Mt 8:26), proving Himself God (compare Isa 50:2).

Bashan languisheth—through drought; ordinarily it was a region famed for its rich pasturage (compare Joe 1:10).

flower of Lebanon—its bloom; all that blooms so luxuriantly on Lebanon (Ho 14:7). As Bashan was famed for its pastures, Carmel for its corn fields and vineyards, so Lebanon for its forests (Isa 33:9). There is nothing in the world so blooming that God cannot change it when He is wroth.

He rebuketh: he once did rebuke, as Exodus 14:21; he still can, as a lord rebuketh his servant, or a general rebukes his soldier, by word or look, Isaiah 1 Isa 2.

The sea; literally understood, or figuratively, it imports still that he can deliver his people, and destroy his adversaries, as of old he did.

And maketh it dry; his word or will doth as speedily do this thing, as it doth proceed from God; he commands, and it is done.

And drieth up all the rivers: so Jordan saw or heard the rebuke of our God, and fled, or was driven back, Joshua 3:15,16 Psa 114:3; and what he once did upon Jordan, that he can do on all other rivers: and so are we to understand the words.

Bashan; it lay eastward of Jordan, was the kingdom of Og; it was famous for oaks, Ezekiel 27:6; for cattle also, as bulls, Psalm 22:12, and rains, Deu 32:14; and was given to the half tribe of Manasseh.

Languisheth; grows barren, as if under a consumptive languishing, is not longer sufficient to feed the cattle that were wont to feed and grow fat upon it.

Carmel; a very fruitful mountain, either in the confines of Zebulun and Asher northward, Joshua 12:22, where Elijah by fire from heaven contended with and convicted the Baalites; or else this Carmel might be that where Nabal dwelt, 1 Samuel 25:2, famous for its rich pastures; this was more southward than the other, and not far from Hebron.

The flower; whatever flourished and was beautiful, trees, their blossoms, and the flowers which were wont to be the glory of it.

Lebanon; a mountain that runs from the coast of the Phoenician Sea westward, for one hundred and twenty-five miles more or less eastward; and verging toward Arabia, it is the north boundary of Judea, and divides it front Syria; famous for its fruitfulness, as for its height.

Languisheth; loseth its strength and virtue; both the product, and the very soil that produceth too, soon fall into a consumption. He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry,.... As he did the Red sea, when the children of Israel passed through it as on dry land; which shows his power and sovereignty over it; that it is at his command, as a servant at his master's; and since the wind and sea obey him, what is it he cannot do? see Isaiah 50:2;

and drieth up all the rivers; that is, he can do it if he will; he divided the waters of Jordan, through the midst of which the Israelites passed on dry ground; and will dry up the river Euphrates, to make way for the kings of the east; and as for Tigris, on the banks of which the city of Nineveh stood, of which the inhabitants boasted, and in which they trusted for their security, he could dry up, and make way for the enemy to enter in; or make that their enemy, and overflow them with it, as he did; see Nahum 1:8. By the "sea" and "rivers" may be meant the whole Assyrian empire, and many nations and people, as Jarchi and Abarbinel interpret it, of whom it consisted; see Jeremiah 51:36;

Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth; when the Lord restrains the heavens from giving rain, then Bashan, famous for its fat pastures and fruitful meadows, and Carmel for its rich grain fields, and Lebanon for its tall shadowy cedars, these, and the glory of all, wither and fade away, being parched and dried up for want of moisture. These were places in the land of Israel, but may be put for like flourishing and fruitful hills and countries in the land of Assyria, which should become desolate; see Psalm 107:33.

He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth.
4. He rebuketh the sea] with His voice of thunder; or perhaps the effect of the tempest on the sea in rolling it back and uncovering its bed may be taken as shewing His rebuke, Psalm 104:7-9. It is possible that the historical instances of His dividing the Red Sea and the Jordan (Psalm 114:3-5) may have led to His “rebuking” the sea and rivers being regarded as a general attribute. Comp. Habakkuk 3:8, “Was the Lord displeased against the rivers … or was thy wrath against the sea?”

and maketh it dry] Psalm 18:15, “Then the bed of the waters appeared, the foundations of the world were laid bare, at thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils.” The spelling of Heb. word, “maketh it dry,” has analogies, Lamentations 3:33; Lamentations 3:53. Cf. Psalm 106:9; Isaiah 50:2.

Bashan languisheth] Bashan, Lebanon and Carmel were the most splendidly wooded parts of Palestine and covered with the most luxuriant vegetation. Before the hot breath of Jehovah’s anger they languish and wither. The description is scarcely on a line with the former “rebuketh the sea,” though “drieth up the rivers” may form the transition. It was the furious tempest that rolled back the sea, it is the hot wind and drought of the desert under which Bashan languishes and withers up. Both are operations of Jehovah. Nature is alive but not with a life of her own, all her forces are but the personal energies of Jehovah. It is His rebuke, spoken though men may not hear it, before which the sea retreats and its bed is made bare; the hot wind which withers Carmel and Lebanon is His fiery breath. Isaiah 40:7; Isaiah 40:24; Amos 1:2.Verse 4. - The great physical changes and convulsions in the world are tokens of God's wrath on sinful nations. He rebuketh the sea, as at the passage of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21; Psalm 106:9). This is a sign of omnipotence (comp. Luke 8:24). All the rivers. A generalization from the miracle at the Jordan (Joshua 3; comp. Psalm evil 33; Isaiah 1:2). Septuagint, ποταμοὺς ἐξερημῶν, "making rivers desolate;" Vulgate, flumina ad desertum deducens. Bashan (see note on Amos 4:1). Carmel (see on Amos 1:2). Flower of Lebanon. This district was famous, not only for its cedars, but also for its vines and flowers (comp. Hosea 14:7; Song of Solomon 4:11). These three regions are mentioned as remarkable for their fertility, and they occur most naturally to the mind of a native of Galilee, as was Nahum. They also geographically are the eastern, western, and northern boundaries of the land. They are used here proverbially to express the truth that God can cause the most luxuriant regions to wither at his word. When the danger was at its height, the upper-steersman, or ship's captain (rabh hachōbhēl, the chief of the ship's governors; chōbhēl with the article is a collective noun, and a denom. from chebhel, a ship's cable, hence the one who manages, steers, or guides the ship), wakes him with the words, "How canst thou sleep soundly? Arise, and call upon thy God; perhaps God (hâ'ĕlōhı̄m with the article, 'the true God') will think of us, that we may not perish." The meaning of יתעשּׁת is disputed. As עשׁת is used in Jeremiah 5:28 in the sense of shining (viz., of fat), Calvin and others (last of all, Hitzig) have maintained that the hithpael has the meaning, shown himself shining, i.e., bright (propitious); whilst others, including Jerome, prefer the meaning think again, which is apparently better supported than the former, not only by the Chaldee, but also by the nouns עשׁתּוּת (Job 12:5) and עשׁתּון (Psalm 146:4). God's thinking of a person involves the idea of active assistance. For the thought itself, compare Psalm 40:18. The fact that Jonah obeyed this awakening call is passed over as self-evident; and in Jonah 1:7 the narrative proceeds to relate, that as the storm had not abated in the meantime, the sailors, firmly believing that some one in the ship had committed a crime which had excited the anger of God that was manifesting itself in the storm, had recourse to the lot to find out the culprit. בּשׁלּמי equals בּאשׁר למי (Jonah 1:8), as שׁ is the vulgar, and in conversation the usual contraction for אשׁר: "on account of whom" (בּאשׁר, in this that equals because, or followed by ל, on account of). הרעה, the misfortune (as in Amos 3:6), - namely, the storm which is threatening destruction. The lot fell upon Jonah. "The fugitive is taken by lot, not from any virtue in lots themselves, least of all the lots of heathen, but by the will of Him who governs uncertain lots" (Jerome).

When Jonah had been singled out by the lot as the culprit, the sailors called upon him to confess his guilt, asking him at the same time about his country, his occupation, and his parentage. The repetition of the question, on whose account this calamity had befallen them, which is omitted in the lxx (Vatic.), the Socin. prophets, and Cod. 195 of Kennicott, is found in the margin in Cod. 384, and is regarded by Grimm and Hitzig as a marginal gloss that has crept into the text. It is not superfluous, however; still less does it occasion any confusion; on the contrary, it is quite in order. The sailors wanted thereby to induce Jonah to confess with his own mouth that he was guilty, now that the lot had fallen upon him, and to disclose his crime (Ros. and others). As an indirect appeal to confess his crime, it prepares the way for the further inquiries as to his occupation, etc. They inquired about this occupation, because it might be a disreputable one, and one which excited the wrath of the gods; also about his parentage, and especially about the land and people from which he sprang, that they might be able to pronounce a safe sentence upon his crime.

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