Nahum 3:10
Yet was she carried away, she went into captivity: her young children also were dashed in pieces at the top of all the streets: and they cast lots for her honorable men, and all her great men were bound in chains.
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3:8-19 Strong-holds, even the strongest, are no defence against the judgments of God. They shall be unable to do any thing for themselves. The Chaldeans and Medes would devour the land like canker-worms. The Assyrians also would be eaten up by their own numerous hired troops, which seem to be meant by the word rendered merchants. Those that have done evil to their neighbours, will find it come home to them. Nineveh, and many other cities, states, and empires, have been ruined, and should be a warning to us. Are we better, except as there are some true Christians amongst us, who are a greater security, and a stronger defence, than all the advantages of situation or strength? When the Lord shows himself against a people, every thing they trust in must fail, or prove a disadvantage; but he continues good to Israel. He is a strong-hold for every believer in time of trouble, that cannot be stormed or taken; and he knoweth those that trust in Him.Yet was she - (also ) carried away, literally, "She also became an exile band," her people were carried away, with all the barbarities of pagan war. All, through whom she might recover, were destroyed or scattered abroad; "the young," the hope of another age, cruelly destroyed (see Hosea 14:1-9; Isaiah 13:16; 2 Kings 8:12); "her honorable men" enslaved (see Joel 3:3), "all her great men prisoners." God's judgments are executed step by step. Assyria herself was the author of this captivity, which Isaiah prophesied in the first years of Hezekiah when Judah was leaning upon Egypt (see Isaiah 20:1-6). It was repeated by all of the house of Sargon. Jeremiah and Ezekiel foretold fresh desolation by Nebuchadnezzar Jeremiah 46:25-26; Ezekiel 30:14-16. God foretold to His people, "I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee" Isaiah 43:3; and the Persian monarchs, who fulfilled prophecy in the restoration of Judah, fulfilled it also in the conquest of Egypt and Ethiopia. Both perhaps out of human policy in part.

But Cambyses' wild hatred of Egyptian idolatry fulfilled God's word. Ptolemy Lathyrus carried on the work of Cambyses; the Romans, Ptolemy's. Cambyses burned its temples ; Lathyrus its four-or five-storied private houses ; the Roman Gallus leveled it to the ground . A little after it was said of her , "she is inhabited as so many scattered villages." A little after our Lord's Coming, Germanicus went to visit, not it, but "the vast traces of it." : "It lay overwhelmed with its hundred gates" and utterly impoverished. No was powerful as Nineveh, and less an enemy of the people of God. For though these often suffered from Egypt, yet in those times they even trusted too much to its help (see Isaiah 30). If then the judgments of God came upon No, how much more upon Nineveh! In type, Nineveh is the image of the world as oppressing God's Church; No, rather of those who live for this life, abounding in wealth, ease, power, and forgetful of God. If, then, they were punished, who took no active part against God, fought not against God's truth, yet still were sunk in the cares and riches and pleasures of this life, what shall be the end of those who openly resist God?

10. Notwithstanding all her might, she was overcome.

cast lots for her honourable men—They divided them among themselves by lot, as slaves (Joe 3:3).

She was carried away: it is probable this might be about thirty years before; for about A.M. 3207, as Calvisius, or 3277, as Archbishop Usher, Sabacon king of Ethiopia invaded Egypt, took Bocchoris, and burnt him, which was not likely to be done without slaughter of men and sacking of towns, among which time No might be ruined. Now, as Calvisius and Helvicus account, about A.M. 3238, or as Usher, 3307, Nahum appears and flourisheth. She went into captivity: this ingemination confirms the certainty of the thing, and intends to affect the Ninevites the more.

Her young children; their innocent age was no safeguard to them.

Were dashed in pieces; first barbarously murdered, and then trod under foot in the streets, as was usual with those cruel, bloody soldiers, 2 Kings 8:12 Psalm 137:9 Isaiah 13:16.

They cast lots; either to put a scorn upon them, or else to prevent any contest about them, being taken among many others together, and none could say, This is my prisoner.

Honourable men; citizens of note, or some officers or governors.

Great men; great in place, strength, valour, wisdom, and so likely to do the conqueror a displeasure, should they not be secured.

Were bound in chains of iron, or manacled, used as worst slaves. Yet was she carried away, she went into captivity,.... Not by Nebuchadnezzar; though this city was afterwards taken, and its inhabitants carried captive, by that monarch, as was foretold, Jeremiah 46:25 but the prophet here does not predict an event to be accomplished, and instance in that, and argue from it, which could have no effect on Nineveh and its inhabitants, or be an example or terror to them; but refers to what had been done, a recent fact, and which they were well acquainted with. Aben Ezra says, this city No was a city of the land of Egypt, which the king of the Chaldeans took as he went to Nineveh; but when, and by whom it was taken, is nowhere said. According to Bishop Usher (s) and Dean Prideaux (t), the destruction of the city of Thebes was by Sennacherib, in his expedition against Egypt, which he harassed for three years together, from one end to the other; at which time Sevechus, the son of Sabacon, or So, the Ethiopian, was king of Egypt; and Egypt and Ethiopia were as one country, and helped each other; but could not secure this city from falling into the hands of Sennacherib, about three years before he besieged Jerusalem; and so, according to Mr. Whiston (u), it was destroyed three years before the army of Sennacherib was destroyed at Jerusalem:

her young children also were dashed in pieces at the top of all the streets: against the walls of the houses, or upon the stones and pavements of the streets; which cruelties were often used by conquerors upon innocent babes at the sacking of cities, Psalm 137:9,

and they cast lots for her honourable men; the soldiers did, who should have them, and sell them for slaves; which was done without any regard to their birth and breeding, Joel 3:3,

and all her great men were bound in chains; as nobles may be meant by "honourable men", by "great men" may be designed the gentry, merchants, and others; these were taken, and bound in iron chains, handcuffed, and pinioned, and so led captive into a foreign land; and Nineveh might expect the same treatment.

(s) Annales Vet. Test. A. M. 3292. (t) Connexion, par. 1. B. 1. p. 22, 23. (u) Chronological Tables, cent. 8.

Yet was she carried away, she went into captivity: her young children also were dashed in pieces at the top of all the streets: and they cast lots for her honourable men, and all her great men were bound in chains.
10. children were dashed in pieces] A barbarous practice in ancient warfare; the children were taken hold of and their heads dashed against the wall or stones. The term used appears technical, 2 Kings 8:12; Isaiah 13:16; Hosea 13:16 (14:1 Heb.); cf. however the two passages, Isaiah 13:18; Hosea 10:14. The object of this savage act was to exterminate the whole population with which war was waged; a similar practice was to rip up the women with child, Amos 1:13; Hosea 13:16.

cast lots for her honourable men] Lots were cast for the nobles who were taken as captives. Joel 3:3, Obadiah 1:11.

No Amon was celebrated in antiquity as Thebes of the hundred gates (2:9. 381). It possessed a famous library, and was filled with temples and other buildings of extraordinary magnificence. Its riches were fabulous; compare the statements of Assurbanipal regarding the wealth his armies carried away when they captured it (Schrader, ii. 149 ff.). The splendid ruins of Karnac and Luxor attest the former magnificence of the city.Verse 10. - Yet was she carried away. In spite of her strong position and infinite resources, Thebes was captured and despoiled; and shall Nineveh fare better? Surely not. This capture of Thebes took place B.C. 664, and must have been in men's minds when Nahum wrote his prophecy. The Assyrians twice took Thebes in the days of Assurbanipal. The first time it is merely recorded that the soldiers, under the commander of the satraps, made a slaughter in the city. The second capture is thus described in the monarch's own tablet (Brugsch, 'Egypt,' 1:272-275, Eng. transl.): "Urdamaneh fled alone, and entered Thebes, the city of his kingdom... I directed my march in pursuit of him. I came to Thebes. He saw the strength of my army, and left Thebes, and fled to the city of Kipkip. Of that whole city (Thebes), with thanksgiving to Asur and Istar, my hands took the complete possession. Silver, gold, metals, stones, all the treasures of its palace whatsoever, dyed garments of before and linen, great horses [elephants?] men and women, great and small, works of zakah [basalt?] and marble, their kelal and manzas, the gates of their palace... I tare away and carried to Assyria. I made spoil of the animals of the land without number, and carried them forth in the midst out of Thebes I caused a catalogue to be made of the spoil. I returned in safety to Nineveh" (see a different version in O. Smith, 'Assurbanipal,' p. 52, etc.). Were dashed in pieces. The prophet describes the usual treatment of captured cities (comp. 2 Kings 8:12; Psalm 137:9; Isaiah 13:16). At the top of all the streets. In the most public places, where many streets converge (Lamentations 2:19). Cast lots. The victors divided the nobles among themselves by lot (see note on Obadiah 1:11). Were bound in chains. We find in the Assyrian monuments delineations of captives with their arms bound together by a rope held by a soldier, sometimes men, sometimes women and children; the women are tearing their hair in despair (see Bonomi, 'Nineveh and its Palaces,' pp. 226, 277). In a bas-relief at Khorsabad captives were led by a rope fastened to a ring in the lip (comp. 2 Kings 19:28; see Rawlinson, 'Ant. Men.,' 1:904; Layard, 'Nineveh,' fig. 60, and col. 1. p. 376). Jonah, provoked at the sparing of Nineveh, prayed in his displeasure to Jehovah to take his soul from him, as his proclamation had not been fulfilled (Jonah 4:1-3). ויּרע אל י, it was evil for Jonah, i.e., it vexed, irritated him, not merely it displeased him, for which ירע בּעיניו is generally used. The construction with אל resembles that with ל in Nehemiah 2:10; Nehemiah 13:8. רעה גדולה, "a great evil," serves simply to strengthen the idea of ירע. The great vexation grew even to anger (יחר לו; cf. Genesis 30:2, etc.). The fact that the predicted destruction of Nineveh had not taken place excited his discontent and wrath. And he tried to quarrel with God, by praying to Jehovah.

(Note: Calvin observes upon this: "He prayed in a tumult, as if reproving God. We must necessarily recognise a certain amount of piety in this prayer of Jonah, and at the same time many faults. There was so far piety in it, that he directed his complaints to God. For hypocrites, even when they address God, are nevertheless hostile to Him. But Jonah, when he complains, although he does not keep within proper bounds, but is carried away by a blind and vicious impulse, is nevertheless prepared to submit himself to God, as we shall presently see. This is the reason why he is said to have prayed.")

"Alas (אנּא as in Jonah 1:14), Jehovah, was not this my word (i.e., did I not say so to myself) when I was still in my land (in Palestine)?" What his word or his thought then was, he does not say; but it is evident from what follows: viz., that Jehovah would not destroy Nineveh, if its inhabitants repented. ‛Al-kēn, therefore, sc. because this was my saying. קדּמתּי, προέφθασα, I prevented to flee to Tarshish, i.e., I endeavoured, by a flight to Tarshish, to prevent, sc. what has now taken place, namely, that Thou dost not fulfil Thy word concerning Nineveh, because I know that thou art a God gracious and merciful, etc. (compare Exodus 34:6 and Exodus 32:14, as in Joel 2:13). The prayer which follows, "Take my life from me," calls to mind the similar prayer of Elijah in 1 Kings 19:4; but the motive assigned is a different one. Whilst Elijah adds, "for I am not better than my fathers," Jonah adds, "for death is better to me than life." This difference must be distinctly noticed, as it brings out the difference in the state of mind of the two prophets. In the inward conflict that had come upon Elijah he wished for death, because he did not see the expected result of his zeal for the Lord of Sabaoth; in other words, it was from spiritual despair, caused by the apparent failure of his labours. Jonah, on the other hand, did not wish to live any longer, because God had not carried out His threat against Nineveh. His weariness of life arose, not like Elijah's from stormy zeal for the honour of God and His kingdom, but from vexation at the non-fulfilment of his prophecy. This vexation was not occasioned, however, by offended dignity, or by anxiety or fear lest men should regard him as a liar or babbler (ψευδοεπής τε καὶ βωμολόχος, Cyr. Al.; ψεύστης, Theodoret; vanus et mendax, Calvin and others); nor was he angry, as Calvin supposes, because he associated his office with the honour of God, and was unwilling that the name of God should be exposed to the scoffing of the heathen, quasi de nihilo terreret, or "because he saw that it would furnish material for impious blasphemies if God changed His purpose, or if He did not abide by His word;" but, as Luther observes (in his remarks on Jonah's flight), "he was hostile to the city of Nineveh, and still held a Jewish and carnal view of God" (for the further development of this view, see the remarks above, at p. 265). That this was really Jonah's view, is proved by Luther from the fact that God reproves his displeasure and anger in these words, "Should I not spare Nineveh?" etc. (Jonah 4:11). "He hereby implies that Jonah was displeased at the fact that God had spared the city, and was angry because He had not destroyed it as he had preached, and would gladly have seen." Offended vanity or unintelligent zeal for the honour of God would have been reproved by God in different terms from those in which Jonah was actually reproved, according to the next verse (Jonah 4:4), where Jehovah asks the prophet, "Is thine anger justly kindled?" היטב is adverbial, as in Deuteronomy 9:21; Deuteronomy 13:15, etc., bene, probe, recte, δικαίως (Symm.).

Then Jonah went out of Nineveh, sat down on the east of the city, where Nineveh was bounded by the mountains, from which he could overlook the city, made himself a hut there, and sat under it in the shade, till he saw what would become of the city, i.e., what fate would befal it (Jonah 4:5). This verse is regarded by many commentators as a supplementary remark, ויּצא, with the verbs which follow, being rendered in the pluperfect: "Jonah had gone out of the city," etc. We grant that this is grammatically admissible, but it cannot be shown to be necessary, and is indeed highly improbable. If, for instance, Jonah went out of Nineveh before the expiration of the forty days, to wait for the fulfilment of his prophecy, in a hut to the east of the city, he could not have been angry at its non-fulfilment before the time arrived, nor could God have reproved him for his anger before that time. The divine correction of the dissatisfied prophet, which is related in Jonah 4:6-11, cannot have taken place till the forty days had expired. But this correction is so closely connected with Jonah's departure from the city and settlement to the east of it, to wait for the final decision as to its fate (Jonah 4:5), that we cannot possibly separate it, so as to take the verbs in Jonah 4:5 as pluperfects, or those in Jonah 4:6-11 as historical imperfects. There is no valid ground for so forced an assumption as this. As the expression ויּרע אל יונה in Jonah 4:1, which is appended to ולא עשׁה in Jonah 3:10, shows that Jonah did not become irritated and angry till after God had failed to carry out His threat concerning Nineveh, and that it was then that he poured out his discontent in a reproachful prayer to God (Jonah 4:2), there is nothing whatever to force us to the assumption that Jonah had left Nineveh before the fortieth day.

(Note: There is no hold in the narrative for Marck's conjecture, that God had already communicated to him His resolution not to destroy Nineveh, because of the repentance of the people, and that this was the reason for his anger.)

Jonah had no reason to be afraid of perishing with the city. If he had faith, which we cannot deny, he could rely upon it that God would not order him, His own servant, to perish with the ungodly, but when the proper time arrived, would direct him to leave the city. But when forty days elapsed, and nothing occurred to indicate the immediate or speedy fall of the city, and he was reproved by God for his anger on that account in these words, "Art thou rightly or justly angry?" the answer from God determined him to leave the city and wait outside, in front of it, to see what fate would befal it. For since this answer still left it open, as a possible thing, that the judgment might burst upon the city, Jonah interpreted it in harmony with his own inclination, as signifying that the judgment was only postponed, not removed, and therefore resolved to wait in a hut outside the city, and watch for the issue of the whole affair.

(Note: Theod. Mops. correctly observes, that "when he reflected upon the greatness of the threat, he imagined that something might possibly occur after all." And Calvin better still, that "although forty days had passed, Jonah stood as if fastened to the spot, because he could not yet believe that what he had proclaimed according to the command of God would fail to be effected .... This was the cause, therefore, of his still remaining, viz., because he thought, that although the punishment from God had been suspended, yet his preaching had surely not been in vain, but the destruction of the city would take place. This was the reason for his waiting on after the time fixed, as though the result were still doubtful.")

But his hope was disappointed, and his remaining there became, quite contrary to his intention, an occasion for completing his correction.

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