Nahum 2:8
But Nineveh is of old like a pool of water: yet they shall flee away. Stand, stand, shall they cry; but none shall look back.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) We prefer to adopt the slight change of reading favoured by the LXX. (mêymeyhâ for mîmêy hî, and to render, And Nineveh, like a pool of water are her waters, and they [her inhabitants] are fleeing away. The waters which formerly flowed in river-courses and dykes are now one vast expanse of inundation. A panic thereupon seizes the inhabitants. If the present text be maintained, the rendering of the Authorised Version will stand. We may then suppose the heterogeneous population of Nineveh to be compared to “countless drops, full, untroubled, with no ebb or flow, fenced in from the days that she hath been, yet even therefore stagnant and corrupted; not ‘a fountain of living waters’” (Pusey). But this appears to us a farfetched comparison.

The pregnant terseness of the last part of the verse will give the English reader a good idea of Nahum’s style and the difficulties therewith connected.

Nahum 2:8. But Nineveh is of old like a pool of water — “Id est, supra modum populosa, nam aquæ populi.” That is, above measure populous, for waters signify people. — Grotius. Yet they shall flee away — But they shall all flee for fear of the enemy, and run away like water: compare Psalm 58:7. Stand, stand, shall they cry, but none shall look back — Their commanders shall call out to them to stand, but none shall pay any regard to them, or cease to flee. The Hebrew is peculiarly animated, and highly poetical. It is literally, Nineveh is as a pool of water: waters is she, and they run away: Stand, stand, but none looketh back. As if he had said, Their commanders might as easily stop the flowing waters by bidding them stand, as cause the Ninevites to stand to their arms and resist the enemy. The words allude to what was foretold Nahum 1:8, where see the note.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!But Nineveh is of old like a pool of water - that is, of many peoples Revelation 17:1, gathered from all quarters and settled there, her multitudes being like the countless drops, full, untroubled, with no ebb or flow, fenced in, "from the days that she hath been," yet even therefore stagnant and corrupted (see Jeremiah 48:11), not "a fountain of living waters," during 600 years of unbroken empire; even lately it had been assailed in vain ; now its hour was come, the sluices were broken; the waters poured out. It was full not of citizens only, but of other nations poured into it. An old historian says , "The chief and most powerful of those whom Ninus settled there, were the Assyrians, but also, of other nations, whoever willed." Thus, the pool was filled; but at the rebuke of the Lord they flee. "Stand, stand," the prophet speaks in the name of the widowed city; "shut the gates, go up on the walls, resist the enemy, gather yourselves together, form a band to withstand," "but none shalt look back" to the mother-city which calls them; all is forgotten, except their fear; parents, wives, children, the wealth which is plundered, home, worldly repute. So will men leave all things, for the life of this world. "All that a man hath, will he give for his life" Job 2:4. Why not for the life to come? 8. But—rather, "Though" [G. V. Smith].

of old—rather, "from the days that she hath been"; from the earliest period of her existence. Alluding to Nineveh's antiquity (Ge 10:11). "Though Nineveh has been of old defended by water surrounding her, yet her inhabitants shall flee away." Grotius, less probably (compare Na 3:8-12), interprets, the "waters" of her numerous population (Isa 8:7; Jer 51:13; Re 17:15).

Stand, stand, shall they cry—that is, the few patriotic citizens shall cry to their fleeing countrymen; "but none looketh back," much less stops in flight, so panic-stricken are they.

Nineveh is of old; a very ancient city, of great renown and strength.

Like a pool of water; very populous, like a pool of water which hath been long breeding of fish, and is full of them.

Yet they, yet these multitudes, shall not be a safety or protection to Nineveh, they shall flee away discomfited and terrified.

Stand, stand; as officers call to fleeing soldiers, and it is doubled to show the earnestness of the commanders desiring the soldier to stand and fight.

Shall they cry; the chieftains, and most valiant among the Ninevites. But none shall look back; a panic fear shall so possess them, that none of them shall dare to turn again, nor to look back upon the enemy. But Nineveh is of old like a pool of water,.... This was a very ancient city, built by Nimrod, as some say; or rather by Ashur, as appears from Genesis 10:10 and it was like fish pool, full of people, as it was in the times of Jonah, who for their number may be compared both to water and to fish; and likewise full of wealth and riches, which for their instability may be signified by water also; and moreover, like a pool of standing water, had never been liable to any commotions and disturbances, but had remained from the beginning in a tranquil and prosperous state; besides, some regard may be had in a literal sense to its situation, being watered by the river Tigris, and which was for its profit and defence: so some copies of the Septuagint read the words,

"Nineveh is like a pool of water, the waters are her walls:''

and the Syriac version is,

"Nineveh is as a lake of water, and is among the waters;''

see Nahum 1:6,

yet they shall flee away; the waters out of the pool, the sluices being opened, or the banks broken down; or the people out of the city, breaches being made in its walls, or its gates opened, and the enemy entering; when everyone would flee for his life, and make his escape in the best manner he could:

stand, stand, shall they cry; either the generals and officers of the king of Assyria's army, to the soldiers running away; or the more courageous inhabitants of the city, to those that were timorous and seized with a panic, fleeing in the utmost consternation; or the enemy, as Kimchi, who shall call to them to stop, promising to spare their lives upon a surrender of them to them:

but none shall look back; and stand to hear what is said unto them, but make the best of their way, and flee with all their might and main.

But Nineveh is of {g} old like a pool of water: yet they shall flee away. Stand, stand, shall they cry; but none shall look back.

(g) The Assyrians will flatter themselves and say that Nineveh is so ancient that it can never perish, and is as a fishpool, whose waters cannot be touched by those that walk on the banks. But they will be scattered, and will not look back, even if men call them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. But Nineveh … a pool of water] And Nineveh was like a pool of water from her beginning, lit. from the days she was, during all her history.

shall flee away] but they flee away. The vast population of Nineveh, drawn from all quarters, is compared to a mass of waters; these break asunder and flee away. The figure of waters “fleeing,” Psalm 104:7. The text is not beyond suspicion in the first clause of the verse. The prophet vividly realises the scene. Nothing will arrest the precipitate flight. The cry, Stand! is unheard, none looks back. Cf. Jeremiah 46:21.Verse 8. - The prophet compares the past and present condition of Nineveh. But Nineveh is of old like a pool of water; and (or, though) Nineveh hath been like a pool of water all her days. Others, altering the points in accordance with the Septuagint and Vulgate, translate, "But as for Nineveh, her waters are like a pool of water." This is what she has come to, for "her waters" represent herself. She is compared to a pool or reservoir (Nehemiah 2:15; Nehemiah 3:15) from the multitude of her inhabitants gathered from all parts of the world, and streaming unto her, both as tributary and for commercial purposes (comp. Jeremiah 51:13; Revelation 17:1, 15). Yet they shall flee away. In spite of their numbers, the multitudes represented by "the waters" fly before the enemy. In vain the captains cry, Stand, stand. They pay no attention. None shall look back. No one of the fugitives turns rounder gives a thought to anything but his own safety. "Then Jehovah spake to the fish, and it vomited Jonah upon the dry land."

The nature of God's speaking, or commanding, may be inferred from the words ויּקא וגו. Cyril explains the thought correctly thus: The whale is again impelled by a certain divine and secret power of God, being moved to that which seems good to Him." The land upon which Jonah was vomited was, of course, the coast of Palestine, probably the country near Joppa. According to Jonah 2:1, this took place on the third day after he had been swallowed by the fish.

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