Nahum 1:5
The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.
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(5) Is burned.—Better, heaves.

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?The mountains quaked at Him, and the hills melted - As of their own accord. The words are a renewal of those of Amos Amo 9:13. Inanimate nature is pictured as endowed with the terror, which guilt feels at the presence of God. All power; whether greater or less, whatsoever lifteth itself up, shall give way in that Day, which shall be "upon all the cedars of Lebanon that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan, and upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up" Isaiah 2:13-14. "And the earth is burned" (rather lifteth itself up; as an an earthquake it seems, as it were, to rise and sink down, lifting itself as if to meet its God or to flee. What is strongest, shaketh; what is hardest, melteth; yea, the whole world trembles and is removed. : "If," said even Jews of old, "when God made Himself known in mercy, to give the law to His people, the world was so moved at His presence, how much more, when He shall reveal Himself in wrath!" The words are so great that they bear the soul on to the time, when the heaven and earth shall flee away from the Face of Him "Who sitteth on the throne, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat" Revelation 20:11; 2 Peter 3:10. And since all judgments are images of the Last, and the awe at tokens of God's presence is a shadow of the terror of that coming, he adds, 5. earth is burned—so Grotius. Rather, "lifts itself," that is, "heaveth" [Maurer]: as the Hebrew is translated in Ps 89:9; Ho 13:1; compare 2Sa 5:21, Margin. The mountains; the more known mountains of that country were mentioned Nahum 1:4, now the prophet doth extend his speech to all mountains, how great soever, and how fast soever their foundations are laid.

Quake; tremble at his rebuke; not only are shaken by earthquakes from natural causes, disposed by God’s power and wisdom, but are shaken and tremble under the effects of his extraordinary presence, Judges 5:4 Job 9:5 Psalm 29:6 Jeremiah 10:10.

At him; by his power, or at his displeasure, or indeed at his presence, Psalm 68:8, and so the Chaldee paraphrast.

The hills; the lesser hills, distinguished from mountains, or else it is a confirming ingemination of what he had said.

Melt: God’s rebuke is as fire; mountains and hills, like wax, melt down before it, Psalm 114:6-8.

The earth, which seems to be secure against the fury of the fire, yet proves combustible under the fire of God’s wrath.

Is burnt; or else, is taken away, withdraws itself, lifts up itself, as sometimes in earthquakes; or, as the Gallic version, mounteth up in fire; the Hebrew imports all these.

The world; the habitable world.

All that dwell therein; whether they be far off or near to Israel; both men, and all the rest of the creatures, whose abode is on earth, are wonderfully shaken, affrighted, and overwhelmed at the tokens of God’s rebuke.

The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt,.... As Sinai of old did, when the Lord descended on it, Exodus 19:18. Mountains figuratively signify kings and princes; and hills large countries, as Jarchi and Abarbinel observe, and the inhabitants of them; particularly the kingdoms and nations belonging to the Assyrian empire, which would tremble and quake, and their hearts melt with fear, when they should hear of the destruction of Nineveh their chief city; and of the devastation made by the enemy there and in other parts, under the direction of the Lord of hosts; his power and providence succeeding him:

and the earth is burnt at his presence; either when he withholds rain from it, and so it be comes parched and burnt up with the heat of the sun; or when he rains fire and brimstone on it, as he did on Sodom and Gomorrah; or consumes any part of it with thunder and lightning, as he sometimes does; nay, if he but touch the mountains, they smoke; see Psalm 104:32;

yea, the world, and all that dwell therein; as in the last day, at the general conflagration, when the world, and all the wicked inhabitants of it, will be burnt up; see 2 Peter 3:10.

The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.
5. Nahum 1:5 returns to describe the Theophany in the tempest, and its effects.

mountains quake at him] lit., from Him, the effect comes from Him. It is not an earthquake that is described but the effect of the thunder and roar of the tempest. This shakes the mountains. It is not out of terror alone that the mountains tremble, it is the goings, the tread of the mighty God by which they are shaken, Micah 1:3-4. Habakkuk 3:6, “He stood (stepped on earth) and the earth rocked”; Jdg 5:4.

the hills melt] What the physical phenomenon is which suggests this figure is not quite clear. Possibly Jdg 5:4-5 explains the meaning: “When thou wentest forth from Seir the earth trembled, the heavens also dropped, the clouds dropped water, the mountains flowed down”—the streams rushing down the mountains on all sides seemed as if the mountains themselves had become fluid. The rendering “flowed down” Jdg 5:5, is the most natural, though others derive the form used from another root which might mean “to quake.” In this case the melting of the mountains might refer to their motion, their undulating as if fluid. Micah 1:3-4, “Behold the Lord cometh forth out of his place, and will tread upon the heights of the earth (the storm cloud trailing over the mountains), and the mountains shall be molten under him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire, as waters that are poured down a steep place.” The figure of melting wax hardly means that the mountains melt under the fiery feet of Jehovah.

the earth is burnt] Rather: riseth up, reference being to the rising and sinking motion of the earth—not its oscillation; cf. R.V. Amos 9:5. R.V. is upheaved. Bickell from a different root, becomes waste. The last clause is a not unusual formula; Psalm 24:1.

Verse 5. - The mountains quake. The mountains, the very emblems of stability, tremble before him (Adios 8:8). The hills melt; Οἱ βουνοὶ ἐσαλεύθησαν, "The hills were shaken" (Septuagint). The hills dissolve like wax or anew at his presence (see Amos 4:13; Micah 1:4). Burned; Septuagint, ἀνεστάλη, "recoils," "is upheaved," as by an earthquake. This rendering has the greatest authority. The world; i.e. the habitable world, and all living creatures therein (Joel 1:18-20). Nature animate and inanimate is represented as actuated by the terror of conscious guilt. Nahum 1:5"He threateneth the sea, and drieth it up, and maketh all the rivers dry up. Bashan and Carmel fade, and the blossom of Lebanon fadeth. Nahum 1:5. Mountains shake before Him, and the hills melt away; the earth heaveth before Him, and the globe, and all the inhabitants thereon. Nahum 1:6. Before His fury who may stand? and who rise up at the burning of His wrath? His burning heat poureth itself out like fire, and the rocks are rent in pieces by Him." In the rebuking of the sea there is an allusion to the drying up of the Red Sea for the Israelites to pass through (cf. Psalm 106:9); but it is generalized here, and extended to every sea and river, which the Almighty can smite in His wrath, and cause to dry up. ויּבּשׁהוּ for וייבּשׁהוּ, the vowelless י of the third pers. being fused into one with the first radical sound, as in ויּדּוּ in Lamentations 3:53 (cf. Ges. 69, Anm. 6, and Ewald 232-3). Bashan, Carmel, and Lebanon are mentioned as very fruitful districts, abounding in a vigorous growth of vegetation and large forests, the productions of which God could suddenly cause to fade and wither in His wrath. Yea more: the mountains tremble and the hills melt away (compare the similar description in Micah 1:4, and the explanation given there). The earth lifts itself, i.e., starts up from its place (cf. Isaiah 13:13), with everything that dwells upon the surface of the globe. תּשּׂא from נשׂא, used intransitively, "to rise," as in Psalm 89:10 and Hosea 13:1; not conclamat s. tollit vocem (J. H. Michaelis, Burk, Strauss). תּבל, lit., the fertile globe, always signifies the whole of the habitable earth, ἡ οἰκουμένη; and יושׁבי בהּ, not merely the men (Ewald), but all living creatures (cf. Joel 1:18, Joel 1:20). No one can stand before such divine wrath, which pours out like consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24), and rends rocks in pieces (1 Kings 19:11; Jeremiah 23:29; cf. Jeremiah 10:10; Malachi 3:2).
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