Nahum 3:12
All your strong holds shall be like fig trees with the first ripe figs: if they be shaken, they shall even fall into the mouth of the eater.
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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.All thy strong-holds shall be like fig trees, with the first ripe figs - Hanging from them; eagerly sought after , to be consumed. Being ripe, they are ready to fall at once; "if they be shaken;" it needs but the tremulous motion, as when trees wave in the wind, "they shall even fall into the mouth of the eater," not costing even the slight pains of picking them from the ground . So easy is their destruction on the part of God, though it cost more pains to the Babylonians. At the end of the world it shall be yet more fulfilled Revelation 6:13, for then God will use no human instrument, but put forth only His own Almightiness; and all strong-holds of man's pride, moral or spiritual, shall, of themselves, melt away. 12. thy strongholds—on the borders of Assyria, protecting the approaches to Nineveh: "the gates of thy land" (Na 3:13).

fig trees with the first ripe figs—expressing the rapidity and ease of the capture of Nineveh (compare Isa 28:4; Re 6:13).

All thy strong holds, castles and fortified places, not one or two, but all of them,

shall be like fig trees, easily shaken,

with the first-ripe figs, whose weight and ripeness will bring them quickly to the ground.

If they be shaken, if but very lightly touched. they shall even fall into the mouth of the eater; into the hand of devouring and hungry ones. All thy strong holds shall be like fig trees with the first ripe figs,.... Upon them, or like them: "and the first ripe figs"; which are easily shook and gathered; and so easily should the fortresses and towers of Nineveh, in which they trusted for safety, be taken by the enemy, not only one, but all of them:

if they be shaken, they shall even fall into the mouth of the eater; as such ripe fruit is very desirable, and the mouth of a man is open and ready for them; so if he gives the tree but the least shake, they will fall into his mouth, or about him in great plenty: in like manner, as the fortresses of Nineveh, being of importance, were desirable by the Chaldeans and Medes, and for which they were gaping; so upon the least assault they would fall into their hands; see Revelation 6:13.

All thy strong holds shall be like fig trees with the firstripe figs: if they be shaken, they shall even fall into the mouth of the eater.
12–15. Her outer defences fallen, Nineveh must prepare for the siege

12. thy strong holds shall be] are. The strongholds here are the fortresses in the country, meant to guard the frontier or block the enemy’s progress towards the capital. They are like ripe figs, if the tree be shaken they fall into the mouth. Habakkuk 1:10; 2 Kings 3:25; Micah 5:5. On Nineveh’s preliminary defences, cf. Billerb.-Jer., pp. 127 seq.Verse 12. - Shall be like (are) fig trees with the first ripe figs. The Assyrians' fortresses are as ready for destruction and as easy to destroy as ripe figs are ready to fall from the tree at the least shake of the eater (Isaiah 28. S). Jehovah-God appointed a Qiqayon, which grew up over Jonah, to give him shade over his head, "to deliver him from his evil." The Qiqayon, which Luther renders gourd (Krbiss) after the lxx, but describes in his commentary on the book of Jonah as the vitis alba, is, according to Jerome, the shrub called Elkeroa in Syriac, a very common shrub in Palestine, which grows in sandy places, having broad leaves that throw a pleasant shadow, and which shoots up to a considerable height in a very few days.

(Note: Jerome describes it thus: "A kind of bush or shrub, having broad leaves like vine leaves, casting a very dense shadow, and sustaining itself by its trunk, which grows very abundantly in Palestine, and chiefly in sandy places. If placed in sowing land, being quickly nourished, it grows up into a tree, and in a very few days what you saw as nothing but a herb you now look upon as a small tree.")

The Elkeroa, however, which Niebuhr also saw at Basra (Beschrieb. v. Arab. p. 148) and describes in a similar manner, is the ricinus or palma Christi, the miraculous tree; and, according to Kimchi and the Talmudists, it was the Kik or Kiki of the Egyptians, from which an oil was obtained according to Herodotus (ii. 94) and Pliny (Hits. n. xv. 7), as was the case according to Niebuhr with the Elkeroa. Its rapid growth is also mentioned by Pliny, who calls it ricinus (see Ges. thes. p. 1214). God caused this shrub to grow up with miraculous rapidity, to such a height that it cast a shade upon Jonah's head, to procure him deliverance (להצּיל לו) "from his evil," i.e., not from the burning heat of the sun (ab aestu solis), from which he suffered in the hut which he had run up so hastily with twigs, but from his displeasure or vexation, the evil from which he suffered according to Jonah 4:3 (Rosenmller, Hitzig). The variation in the names of the Deity in Jonah 4:6-9 is worthy of notice. The creation of the miraculous tree to give shade to Jonah is ascribed to Jehovah-Elohim in Jonah 4:6. This composite name, which occurs very rarely except in Genesis 2 and 3((see comm. on Genesis 2:4), is chosen here to help the transition from Jehovah in Jonah 4:4 to Elohim in Jonah 4:7, Jonah 4:8. Jehovah, who replies to the prophet concerning his discontented complaint (Jonah 4:4) as Elohim, i.e., as the divine creative power, causes the miraculous tree to spring up, to heal Jonah of his chagrin. And to the same end h-Elohim, i.e., the personal God, prepares the worm which punctures the miraculous tree and causes it to wither away (Jonah 4:7); and this is also helped by the east wind appointed by Elohim, i.e., the Deity ruling over nature (Jonah 4:8), to bring about the correction of the prophet, who was murmuring against God. Hence the different names of God are employed with thoughtful deliberation. Jonah rejoiced exceedingly at the miraculous growth of the shrub which provided for him, because he probably saw therein a sign of the goodness of God and of the divine approval of his intention to wait for the destruction of Nineveh. But this joy was not to last long.

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