Nahum 2:5
He shall recount his worthies: they shall stumble in their walk; they shall make haste to the wall thereof, and the defense shall be prepared.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) And the defence shall be prepared.—Better, but [there] the storming-shed has been prepared. Here the surprise and disorder of Nineveh is more plainly portrayed. The Assyrian king bethinks him of his stoutest warriors, but they stumble in their paths in nervous perplexity. Men ran to the city wall, but against it the besiegers have already erected their storming-shed—a proceeding which ought to have been prevented by the discharge of stones and other missiles from the walls. The storming-shed protected the battering-rams. Of the representations of these preserved in the monuments of Nineveh, Professor Rawlinson thus writes: “All of them were covered with a framework, which was of osier wood, felt, or skins, for the better protection of those who worked the implement. . . . Some appear to have been stationary, others provided with wheels. . . . Again, sometimes combined with the ram and its framework was a movable tower containing soldiers, who at once fought the enemy on a level, and protected the engine from their attacks (Ancient Monarchies, i. 470).

Nahum 2:5-6. He — The enemy that attacks Nineveh, namely, the king of Babylon; shall recount his worthies — Shall select some of his choicest troops for the siege of it. They shall stumble in their walk — They shall show such forwardness, and be so eager to begin the attack of the city and mount the walls, that they shall stumble and throw one another down in their haste. The defence shall be prepared — Hebrew, הסכךְ, the covering. So the Vulgate, preparabitur umbraculum: “Testudo qua tecti subruant mœnia.” — Grotius. “The testudo, or fence, with which being covered, they might undermine and throw down the walls.” The gates of the river shall be open — See note on Nahum 1:8. The palace shall be dissolved — Or, molten; shall be consumed with fire.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!He shall recount his worthies - The Assyrian king wakes as out of a sleep, literally, "he remembers his mighty men" (as Nahum 3:18; Judges 5:13; Nehemiah 3:5); "they stumble in their walk," literally, paths , not through haste only and eager fear, but from want of inward might and the aid of God. These whom God leads stumble not Isaiah 63:13. : "Perplexed every way and not knowing what they ought to do, their mind wholly darkened and almost drunken with ills, they reel to and fro, turn from one thing to another, and in all" labor in vain.

They shall make haste to the walls thereof, and the defense - (literally, "the covering") shall be prepared The Assyrian monuments leave no doubt that a Jewish writer is right in the main, in describing this as a covered shelter, under which an enemy approached the city; "a covering of planks with skins upon them; under it those who fight against the city come to the wall and mine the wall underneath, and it is a shield over them from the stones, which are cast from off the wall."

The monuments, however, exhibit this shelter, as connected not with mining but with a battering ram, mostly with a sharp point, by which they loosened the walls . Another covert was employed to protect single miners who picked out single stones with a pick-axe . The Assyrians sculptures show, in the means employed against or in defense of their engines, how central a part of the siege they formed . Seven of them are represented in one siege . The "ram" Ezekiel 4:2 is mentioned in Ezekiel as the well-known and ordinary instrument of a siege.

Thus, Nahum 2:3 describes the attack; and Nahum 2:4 describes the defense; the two first clauses of Nahum 2:5 describes the defense; the two last describe clauses the attack. This quick interchange only makes the whole account more vivid.

: "But what avails it to build the house, unless the Lord build it? What helps it to shut the gates, which the Lord unbarreth?" On both sides is put forth the full strength of man; there seems a stand-still to see, what will be, and God brings to pass His own work in His own way.

5. The Assyrian preparations for defense.

He—the Assyrian king.

shall recount his worthies—(Na 3:18). Review, or count over in his mind, his nobles, choosing out the bravest to hasten to the walls and repel the attack. But in vain; for

they shall stumble in their walk—"they shall stumble in their advance" through fear and hurry.

the defence shall be prepared—rather, the covering machine used by besiegers to protect themselves in advancing to the wall. Such sudden transitions, as here from the besieged to the besiegers, are frequent (compare Eze 4:2), [Maurer]. Or, used by the besieged Assyrians [Calvin].

This verse may indifferently refer either to Nineveh and its king making their defence, or to the Chaldeans and their king maintaining the siege; both act with rigour and diligence. Recount; muster, and give orders.

Worthies; approved officers and commanders.

They shall stumble; show such forwardness, make such haste, that they shall not stand to pick their way; and there shall be so many, that they shall stumble for want of room.

They shall make haste to the wall; the Assyrians to defend, the Chaldeans to assault, the walls of Nineveh.

The defence; what might defend the besieged, and what might defend the besiegers; all shall be ready on both sides, and what men can do, both will do. He shall recount his worthies,.... Either the dasher in pieces, Nahum 2:1, the kings of Babylon and Media, shall call together their general officers, and muster the forces under then, and put them in mind of their duty, and recount the actions of their ancestors in former times, in order to animate and encourage them to the siege and attack of the city of Nineveh; or the king of Assyria shall recount and muster up his nobles, and the troops under them, to sally out against the enemy, and meet him in the field, and give him battle:

they shall stumble in their walk: being many, and in haste to obey the orders of their commander, shall stumble and fall upon one another; or else the Ninevites in their march out against the enemy shall be discomfited and flee before him, or be dispirited and flee back again:

they shall make haste to the wall thereof; of Nineveh; that is, the Medes and Chaldeans shall make haste thither, to break it down or scale it; or the Ninevites, failing in their sally out, shall betake themselves in all haste to their city walls, and defend themselves under the protection of them:

and the defence shall be prepared; or the "covering": the word (h) used has the signification of a booth or tent, to cover and protect; here it signifies something that was prepared, either by the besiegers, to cover them from the darts and stones of the besieged, as they made their approaches to the walls; or which the besieged covered themselves with from the assaults of the besiegers; rather the former.

(h) "operimentum", Pagninus, Montanus; "integumentum", Calvin; "testudo", Vatablus, Grotius, Cocceius, Burkius.

{f} He shall recount his worthies: they shall stumble in their walk; they shall make haste to the wall thereof, and the defence shall be prepared.

(f) Then the Assyrians will seek by all means to gather their power, but all things will fail them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. It is not easy to say whether this verse refers to the besiegers or the besieged. As Nahum 2:3 referred to the preparation, and Nahum 2:4 to conflicts before the walls, Nahum 2:5 might naturally as the next step describe the assault on the wall by the besiegers. The siege actually lasted two years, but the prophet condenses the whole into a few brilliant successive scenes. The term rendered “worthies” is translated “nobles,” Ch. Nahum 3:18, marg. valiant men, viz. those of the king of Assyria. If the meaning were the same here reference would be to the measures of defence taken by the Assyrian king. The expression “they hasten to the wall” might also seem more natural if the defenders were referred to; and the other expression “they stumble in their walk” (or march) is more likely to be said of worn-out defenders than of an eager enemy in the act of delivering an assault. The phrase could hardly describe the pellmell rush of a storming party towards the wall.

recount his worthies] He bethinketh himself of his worthies, or valiant men.

shall stumble in their walk] they stumble in their steps. Their stumbling might be due to the suddenness of their call and weariness from the harassing fatigues of the defence. There is no necessity for supposing that the defenders were sunk in sloth and effeminate from debauchery.

the defence shall be prepared] is prepared. The term “defence” (sokek), lit. coverer, is obscure in two ways: (1) it is uncertain whether it be a thing or a body of men, an engine or a party of troops, called the coverer, as another similar word is the ambush, i.e. the party forming an ambuscade: and (2) it is uncertain whether it belongs to the besiegers or the besieged. If the rest of the verse described the defenders this clause would also most naturally be said of them. In this case it would be either some apparatus of defence against the assault of the enemy or a body of men placed in some position to beat back the storming party. City walls were usually provided with turrets or battlements projecting forward over the walls, from which the besieged could observe the movements of the enemy at the foot, and hurl destructive missiles upon them. A party placed in such a position might be intended. (Figures, Billerb.-Jerem., p. 160.) On the other hand, if the sokek belonged to the besiegers it would probably be some engine for battering the walls, The construction is less natural: they hasten to the wall, but the sokek has been prepared—they find the engines in position and at work. There was great variety of battering machines. Besides the usual ram, a beam with an iron head, suspended by chains and swung against the wall, there were engines run on wheels and generally provided with two wall-breachers armed with lance-shaped heads. These rams were not generally swung horizontally but sloping upwards so as to operate on the foundations of the projecting towers, and bring them down. (Figures in Billerb.-Jerem., p. 180 seq.; Layard, II. 367 seq.) These wheeled breaching engines were of course roofed to protect those who worked the rams. Such an engine has some resemblance to the vinea or mantlet (so R.V. here); the testudo or roof of shields does not seem to have been used in eastern warfare. Moveable towers which put the assailants on a level with the defenders on the wall were also employed, Layard, II. 368 sq.Verse 5. - The prophet turns to the Ninevites and their preparations for defence. He shall recount his worthies; he remembers his nobles. The King of Nineveh calls to mind the mighty captains who have often led his armies to victory, and sends them to defend the walls (comp. Nahum 3:18). The LXX., anticipating the next clause, adds here, καὶ φεύξονται ἡμέρας, "and they shall flee by day." They shall stumble in their walk. In their fear and baste, or half drunken, they totter and stumble as they hasten to the walls of the city. The defence shall be prepared; literally, the covering is prepared. If this refers to the operations of the Ninevites, it means some kind of breastwork or fascine erected between the towers; but it most probably depicts the sight that meets their eyes from the wails. They see the besiegers bringing up their mantelets and towers. As used by the Assyrians, the machine called "the covering" is either a wooden tower or a wicker mantelet in which was suspended a battering ram. It stood on four or six wheels, and the larger sort had archers posted in the various stories, both to annoy the enemy and to defend the engine. The rams were provided with lance headed extremities, and must have rather picked at and loosened the courses of bricks of which the walls were composed than battered them down (see Bonomi, 'Nineveh and its Palaces,' pp. 160, 234, 243, etc. Layard, 'Nineveh,' ch. 5. p. 376, etc., figs. 57, 58). The Septuagint rendering applies rather to the besieged, Ἐτοιμάσουσι τὰς προφυλακὰς αὐτῶν, "They shall prepare their defences." 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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