Nahum 2:4
The chariots shall rage in the streets, they shall jostle one against another in the broad ways: they shall seem like torches, they shall run like the lightning.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
2:1-10 Nineveh shall not put aside this judgment; there is no counsel or strength against the Lord. God looks upon proud cities, and brings them down. Particular account is given of the terrors wherein the invading enemy shall appear against Nineveh. The empire of Assyria is represented as a queen, about to be led captive to Babylon. Guilt in the conscience fills men with terror in an evil day; and what will treasures or glory do for us in times of distress, or in the day of wrath? Yet for such things how many lose their souls!Army is arrayed against army; the armies, thus far, of God against the army of His enemy; all without is order; all within, confusion. The assailing army, from its compactness and unity, is spoken of, both as many and one. The might is of many; the order and singleness of purpose is as of one. The shield, collectively, not shields. "His mighty men;" He, who was last spoken of, was Almighty God, as He says in Isaiah; "I have commanded My consecrated ones; I have also called My mighty ones, them that rejoice in My highness" Isaiah 13:3.

Is reddened - Either with blood of the Assyrians, shed in some previous battle, before the siege began, or (which is the meaning of the word elsewhere ), an artificial color, the color of blood being chosen, as expressive of fiery fierceness. The valiant men are in scarlet, for beauty and terror, as, again being the color of blood . It was especially the color of the dress of their nobles one chief color of the Median dress, from whom the Persians adopted their's . "The chariots shall be with flaming torches," literally, "with the fire of steels , or of sharp incisive instruments. Either way the words seem to indicate that the chariots were in some way armed with steel. For steel was not an ornament, nor do the chariots appear to have been ornamented with metal. Iron would have hindered the primary object of lightness and speed. Steel, as distinct from iron, is made only for incisiveness. In either way, it is probable, that scythed chariots were already in use. Against such generals, as the younger Cyrus and Alexander , they were of no avail; but they must have been terrific instruments against undisciplined armies.

The rush and noise of the British chariots disturbed for a time even Caesar's Roman troops . They were probably in use long before . Their use among the ancient Britons , Gauls and Belgians , as also probably among the Canaanites , evinces that they existed among very rude people.

The objection that the Assyrian chariots are not represented in the monuments as armed with scythes is an oversight, since these spoken of by Nahum may have been Median, certainly were not Assyrian. "In the day of His preparation" , when He musters the hosts for the battle; "and the fir-trees shall be terribly shaken;" i. e., fir-spears (the weapon being often named from the wood of which it is made) shall be made to quiver through the force wherewith they shall be hurled.

The chariots shall rage - (Or madden , as the driving of Jehu is said to be "furiously," literally, in madness) "in the streets." The city is not yet taken; so, since this takes place "in the streets and broad ways," they are the confused preparations of the besieged. "They shall justle one against another," shall run rapidly to and fro, restlessly; "their show (English margin) is like torches," leaving streaks of fire, as they pass rapidly along. "They shall run" vehemently, "like the lightnings," swift; but vanishing.

4. rage—are driven in furious haste (Jer 46:9).

justle one against another—run to and fro [Maurer].

in the broad ways—(2Ch 32:6). Large open spaces in the suburbs of Nineveh.

they shall seem like torches—literally, "their (feminine in Hebrew) appearance (is)": namely, the appearance of the broad places is like that of torches, through the numbers of chariots in them flashing in the sun (Pr 8:26, Margin).

run like the lightnings—with rapid violence (Mt 24:27; Lu 10:18).

The chariots of the Chaldean army, or the riders in the chariots, by their fierceness and carriage, by their cries and calls, heartening one another, and threatening the Assyrians.

Shall rage; shall seem to be more like madmen than well-ordered soldiers, and act as if they avert possessed with fruits, do more than man can do.

In the streets, either of the towns they pass through, or rather of Nineveh when taken.

They shall justle; by reason of their multitude, haste, and fury, they shall hit one against another.

In the broad ways; where is most room, shall be most of these chariots, and yet scarce room for them to move in.

They shall seem like torches; what with sparkling fire, caused by their horses and chariots shod with iron, and what with the glittering of the polished irons about the chariots, and what with the light of flaming torches carried in them, the chariots shall look like so malay great flambeaus, very dangerous and terrible.

They shall run like the lightnings, both for speed, irresistibleness, and terror, against which no defence, from which no flight or hiding. The chariots shall rage in the streets,.... In the streets of Nineveh when taken; where they shall be drove in a furious manner from place to place, the men in them breathing out slaughter and death wherever they came. Kimchi understands this of the chariots of the Ninevites; who shall drive about in them in the streets of the city like madmen; not daring to go out to fight the enemy, being mightier and more numerous than they.

They shall justle one against another in the broad ways; because of their numbers, and the haste they shall make to spoil and plunder the city; or the Ninevites shall justle one against another, in their hurry and confusion to make their escape.

They shall seem like torches; either the chariots of the Medes and Chaldeans, for the reasons given in the preceding verse Nahum 2:3; or they themselves, because of their fierceness and cruelty; or the faces of the Ninevites, being covered with shame, so Kimchi; see Isaiah 13:8.

They shall run like the lightnings; exceeding swiftly, with irresistible force and power; the above writer interprets this of the Ninevites also, running from one end of their city to the other in the utmost confusion, not knowing what to do; but the whole of these two verses Nahum 2:3 seem to be a description of their enemies.

The chariots shall rage in the streets, they shall justle one against another in the broad ways: they shall seem like torches, they shall run like the lightnings.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. Nahum 2:3 referred to the aspect of the assailing army in the day of preparation; Nahum 2:4 appears to describe an actual conflict before the city.

shall rage in the streets] rage in the outplaces. The reference is certainly to what is taking place outside the walls, not within the town. The term “streets” often means fields (Job 5:10), or what lies outside or abroad; it is parallel to “broad places” next clause, i.e. open ground in front of the walled city.

A suburb or outskirt of Nineveh called ribit Nina (broad place of Nineveh) lay probably on the N.E. of the city, or on the east, the side on which the great road to Arbela left the city. In such places there would no doubt be forts here and there and around these the battle would rage, for the defenders would not retreat within the walls without a conflict. Jeremiah 46:9 also uses the word “rage” of the racing of chariots. Chariots were employed in sieges. Lay., Nineveh, II. 349.

They shall seem like torches] the appearance of them is like torches. The glitter of the mailed chariots and their furious racing is compared to torches and lightnings.Verse 4. - The chariots shall rage in the streets. The chariots rave, dash madly (Jeremiah 46:9) about the open ways in the suburbs, or in the plains of the country. The description still appertains to the besiegers, who are so numerous that to the Ninevites, looking from their walls, their chariots seem to dash against one another. They shall seem - their appearance is - like torches. Thus is described the gleaming of the chariots and the armour (see on ver. 3; 1 Macc. 6:39, "Now when the sun shone upon the shields of gold and brass, the mountains glistered therewith, and shined like lamps of fire"). 5 Waters surrounded me even to the soul: the flood encompassed me,

Sea-grass was wound round my head.

6 I went down to the foundations of the mountains;

The earth, its bolts were behind me for ever:

Then raisedst Thou my life out of the pit, O Jehovah my God.

7 When my soul fainted within me, I thought of Jehovah;

And my prayer came to Thee into Thy holy temple.

This strophe opens, like the last, with a description of the peril of death, to set forth still more perfectly the thought of miraculous deliverance which filled the prophet's mind. The first clause of the fifth verse recals to mind Psalm 18:5 and Psalm 69:2; the words "the waters pressed (בּאוּ) even to the soul" (Psalm 69:2) being simply strengthened by אפפוּני after Psalm 18:5. The waters of the sea girt him round about, reaching even to the soul, so that it appeared to be all over with his life. Tehōm, the unfathomable flood of the ocean, surrounded him. Sūph, sedge, i.e., sea-grass, which grows at the bottom of the sea, was bound about his head; so that he had sunk to the very bottom. This thought is expressed still more distinctly in Psalm 18:6. קצבי הרים, "the ends of the mountains" (from qâtsabh, to cut off, that which is cut off, then the place where anything is cut off), are their foundations and roots, which lie in the depths of the earth, reaching even to the foundation of the sea (cf. Psalm 18:16). When he sank into the deep, the earth shut its bolts behind him (הארץ is placed at the head absolutely). The figure of bolts of the earth that were shut behind Jonah, which we only meet with here (בּעד from the phrase סגר הדּלת בּעד, to shut the door behind a person: Genesis 7:16; 2 Kings 4:4-5, 2 Kings 4:33; Isaiah 26:20), has an analogy in the idea which occurs in Job 38:10, of bolts and doors of the ocean. The bolts of the sea are the walls of the sea-basin, which set bounds to the sea, that it cannot pass over. Consequently the bolts of the earth can only be such barriers as restrain the land from spreading over the sea. These barriers are the weight and force of the waves, which prevent the land from encroaching on the sea. This weight of the waves, or of the great masses of water, which pressed upon Jonah when he had sunk to the bottom of the sea, shut or bolted against him the way back to the earth (the land), just as the bolts that are drawn before the door of a house fasten up the entrance into it; so that the reference is neither to "the rocks jutting out above the water, which prevented any one from ascending from the sea to the land," nor "densissima terrae compages, qua abyssus tecta Jonam in hac constitutum occludebat" (Marck). Out of this grave the Lord "brought up his life." Shachath is rendered φθορά, corruptio, by the early translators (lxx, Chald., Syr., Vulg.); and this rendering, which many of the more modern translators entirely reject, is unquestionably the correct one in Job 17:14, where the meaning "pit" is quite unsuitable. But it is by no means warranted in the present instance. The similarity of thought to Psalm 30:4 points rather to the meaning pit equals cavern or grave, as in Psalm 30:10, where shachath is used interchangeably with בּור and שׁאול in Jonah 2:4 as being perfectly synonymous. Jonah 2:7 is formed after Psalm 142:4 or Psalm 143:4, except that נפשׁי is used instead of רוּחי, because Jonah is not speaking of the covering of the spirit with faintness, but of the plunging of the life into night and the darkness of death by drowning in the water. התעטּף, lit., to veil or cover one's self, hence to sink into night and faintness, to pine away. עלי, upon or in me, inasmuch as the I, as a person, embraces the soul or life (cf. Psalm 42:5). When his soul was about to sink into the night of death, he thought of Jehovah in prayer, and his prayer reached to God in His holy temple, where Jehovah is enthroned as God and King of His people (Psalm 18:7; Psalm 88:3).

But when prayer reaches to God, then He helps and also saves. This awakens confidence in the Lord, and impels to praise and thanksgiving. These thoughts form the last strophe, with which the Psalm of thanksgiving is appropriately closed.

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