Nahum 3:17
Thy crowned are as the locusts, and thy captains as the great grasshoppers, which camp in the hedges in the cold day, but when the sun ariseth they flee away, and their place is not known where they are.
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(17) Thy crowned.—The subordinate kings who represent the Assyrian empire in her tributary provinces.

Captains.Taphsrîm, an Assyrian term denoting some high military office. The sudden disappearance of the Assyrian locust-pest is here enlarged upon. A sudden outburst of sunshine will sometimes induce a swarm of locusts to take flight; cold, on the other hand, makes these insects settle, and soon deprives them of the power of flying. Dr. Pusey well observes, “The heathen conqueror rehearsed his victory, ‘I came, I saw, conquered.’ The prophet goes further, as the issue of all human conquest, ‘I disappeared.’” The insect designations, rendered in Authorised Version, “cankerworm,” “locust,” “great grasshopper,” all represent varieties of the locust species.

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.Thy crowned are as the locust, and thy captains as the great locusts - What he had said summarily under metaphor, the prophet expands in a likeness. "The crowned" are probably the subordinate princes, of whom Sennacherib said, "Are not my princes altogether kings?" Isaiah 10:8. It has been observed that the headdress of the Assyrian Vizier has the ornament which "throughout the whole series of sculptures is the distinctive mark of royal or quasi-royal authority." : "All high officers of state, 'the crowned captains,' were adorned with diadems, closely resembling the lower band of the royal mitre, separated from the cap itself. Such was that of the vizier, which was broader in front than behind, was adorned with rosettes and compartments, and terminated in two ribbons with embroidered and fringed ends, which hung down his back." "Captain" is apparently the title of some military ounce of princely rank.

One such Jeremiah Jer 51:27, in a prophecy in which he probably alludes to this, bids place over the armies of Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz, to marshall them against Babylon, against which he summons the cavalry like the rough locust. The "captains" are likened to the "great caterpillars," either as chief in devastation, or as including under them the armies antler their command, who moved at their will. These and their armies now subsided into stillness for a time under the chill of calamity, like the locust "whose nature it is, that, torpid in the cold, they fly in the heat." The stiffness of the locusts through the cold, when they lie motionless, heaps upon heaps, hidden out of sight, is a striking image of the helplessness of Nineveh's mightiest in the day of her calamity; then, by a different part of their history, he pictures their entire disappearance. : "The locusts, are commonly taken in the morning when they are agglomerated one on another, in the places where they passed the night. As soon as the sun warms them, they fly away." "When the sun ariseth, they flee away," literally, "it is chased away."

One and all; all as one. As at God's command the plague of locusts, which He had sent on Egypt, was removed; "there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt" Exodus 10:19; so the mighty of Nineveh were driven north, with no trace where they had been, where they were. "The wind carried them away Isaiah 41:16; the wind passes over him and he is not, and his place knows him no more Psalm 103:16. The triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the ungodly for a moment: though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds, yet he shall perish for ever; they which have seen him shall say, where is he? He shall fly away, as a dream, and shall not be formal; neither shall his place any were bebold him Job 20:5-9.

Where they are - So Zechariah asks, "Your fathers, where are they?" Zechariah 1. History, experience, human knowledge can answer nothing. They can only say, where they are not. God alone can answer that much-containing word, "Where-they." They had disappeared from human sight, from their greatness, their visible being, their place on earth.

17. Thy crowned—Thy princes (Re 9:7). The king's nobles and officers wore the tiara, as well as the king; hence they are called here "thy crowned ones."

as the locusts—as many as the swarming locusts.

thy captains—Tiphsar, an Assyrian word; found also in Jer 51:27, meaning satraps [Michaelis]; or rather, "military leaders" [Maurer]. The last syllable, sar means a "prince," and is found in Belshaz-zar, Nabopolas-sar, Nebuchadnez-zar.

as the great grasshoppers—literally, "as the locust of locusts," that is, the largest locust. Maurer translates, "as many as locusts upon locusts," that is, swarms of locusts. Hebrew idiom favors English Version.

in the hedges in the cold—Cold deprives the locust of the power of flight; so they alight in cold weather and at night, but when warmed by the sun soon "flee away." So shall the Assyrian multitudes suddenly disappear, not leaving a trace behind (compare Pliny, Natural History, 11.29).

Thy crowned; thy rich and wealthy citizens, or thy confederate kings and princes, or thy tributary princes;

thy captains; hired, or homeborn, rather the former, commanders and officers; for number and briskness, are like locusts and great grasshoppers, but it is all for show, nothing for help to thee.

Which camp, as if they would guard the grounds about which they settle.

In the cold day; this lasts while the season suits them.

But when the sun ariseth, when trouble, war, and danger, like the parching sun, scalds them, they flee away; they shift from the hedge they eat up.

Their place is not known; thou shalt never know where to find them when thou needest, and they should help thee.

Thy crowned men are as the locusts,.... Tributary kings, and hired officers, as some think, who might be distinguished by what they wore on their heads; or their own princes and nobles, who wore coronets or diadems; unless their religious persons are meant, their Nazarites and devotees, their priests; these were like locusts for their number, fear, and flight in time of danger, and for their spoil of the poor; and some locusts have been seen with little crowns on their heads, as those in Revelation 9:7 "which had on their heads as it were crowns like gold". In the year 1542 came locusts out of Turkish Satmatia into Austria, Silesia, Lusatia, and Misnia, which had on their heads little crowns (e). In the year 1572 a vehement wind brought large troops of locusts out of Turkey into Poland, which did great mischief, and were of a golden colour (f); and Aelianus (g) speaks of locusts in Arabia, marked with golden coloured figures; and mention is made in the Targum on Jeremiah 51:27, of the shining locust, shining like gold:

and thy captains as the great grasshoppers; or "locusts of locusts" (h); those of the largest size. The Vulgate Latin renders the word for captains "thy little ones", junior princes, or officers of less dignity and authority; these were, as the Targum paraphrases it, as the worms of locusts; but rather as the locusts themselves, many and harmful:

which camp in the hedges in the cold day; in the cold part of the day, the night; when they get into the hedges of fields, gardens, and vineyards, in great numbers, like an army, and therefore said to encamp like one:

but when the sun ariseth they flee away, and their place is not known where they are; whither they are fled, as the Targum; so these captains, or half pay officers, swarmed in great numbers about the city, and in the provinces, while it was a time of peace, and they were indulged in sloth, and enjoyed much ease and prosperity; but when war broke out, and the heat of it began to be felt, these disappeared, and went into their own countries, from whence they came, with the auxiliaries and hired troops; nor could they be found where they were, or be called upon to do their duty: this is true of locusts in a literal sense, who flee away when the sun rises; hence the Arabs, as Bochart says (i) elegantly express this by the word "ascaara"; signifying, that when the sun comes to the locust it goes away, According to Macrobius (k), both Apollo and Hercules are names for the sun; and both these are surnamed from their power in driving away locusts: Hercules was called Cornopion by the Oeteans, because he delivered them from the locusts (l): and Apollo was called Parnopius by the Grecians, because, when the country was hurt by locusts, he drove them out of it, at Pausanias (m) relates; who observes, that they were drove out they knew, but in what manner they say not; for his own part, he says, he knew them thrice destroyed at Mount Sipylus, but not in the same way; one time a violent wind drove them out; another time a prodigious heat killed them; and a third time they perished by sudden cold; and so, according to the text here, the cold sends them to the hedges, and the heat of the sun obliges them to abandon their station.

(e) Vid. Frantzii Hist. Animal. Sacr. par. 5. c. 4. p. 799. (f) Ibid. p. 798. (g) Hist. Animal. l. 10. c. 13. (h) "ut locustae locustarum", Vatablus, Pagninus, Montanus; "sicut locusta locustarum", Burkius. (i) Hierozoic. par. 2. c. 2. col. 458. (k) Saturnal l. 1. c. 17. p. 335. & c. 20. p. 362. (l) Strabo. Geograph. l. 13. p. 422. (m) Attica, sive l. 1. p. 44.

Thy crowned are as the locusts, and thy captains as the great grasshoppers, which camp in the hedges in the cold day, but when the sun ariseth they flee away, and their place is not known where they are.
17. The idea at the end of Nahum 3:16 is amplified.

Thy crowned] The word is unknown. It is probably an Assyrian term, and is conjectured to mean nobles, or something similar.

and thy captains] The word employed is taphsar (tiphsar, Jeremiah 51:27), which appears to be the Assyr. dupsar, i.e. tablet writer, scribe, a term most likely used in a wider sense to denote high officials. Cf. Isaiah 47:13. See Schrader, i. 141, ii. 118, Del., Paradies, p. 142. The identification of the word with the Assyr. title is due to Lenormant.

the great grasshoppers]. The term means locusts, Amos 7:1. So in Arab. e.g. Carmina Hudhail. 139. 7. The word appears to be here written twice (possibly by mistake), which A.V. has sought to express by “great” and R.V. by “swarms.”

when the sun ariseth they flee away] Locusts become torpid with the cold; under the warmth of the sun they revive and take flight.

Verse 17. - Thy crowned. The word minnezar is found only here, and, as its derivation is uncertain, it has received various interpretations. The Anglican Version derives the word from nezer, "a diadem," and "the crowned" are the officials of upper rank. "High officers of state in Assyria were adorned with diadems, closely resembling the lower baud of the royal mitre, separated from the cap itself. Very commonly the head was encircled with a simple fillet or hoop, probably of gold, without any adornment" (Gosse, 'Assyria,' p. 463, quoted by Strauss; see the figures in Bonomi, p. 319). Others derive it from nazar. "to separate," in the signification of "those separated or selected for war." Septuagint, ὁ συμμικτός: i.e. the band of mixed mercenary troops - a rendering in which Wordsworth acquiesces. Knabenbauer (referring to Strassmaier's Assyrian vocabulary) considers the word to be a transliteration (ss being resolved into ne) of the Assyrian ma-as-sa-ru, which means "guardian," or some inferior officer. With this agrees the Vulgate custodes. As the locusts; i.e. in multitude. That the number of captains and superior officers would be very great may be conjectured from the inscriptions which sometimes enumerate the captives carried off from conquered countries. Thus in the account of the capture of some insignificant nation, the then king boasts that he took away 13,000 fighting men, 1121 captains, and 460 superior officers (Strauss, in loc.). The prophet's meaning is that if the officers, etc., are so numerous, the multitude of soldiers and civilians must be truly immense. Thy captains. Taphsar is an Assyrian word, occurring only in Jeremiah 51:27. It is probably the same as dupsarru or dipsarru of the inscriptions, and is taken to signify "a scribe" (see Sehrader, p. 424) Such officials are often represented on the monuments (see Layard, 2:184), and seem sometimes to have been of high or priestly rank. Jerome translates, parvuli tui, though in Jeremiah, loc. cit., he retains the Assyrian word. The Septuagint omits it. Great grasshoppers; swarms of locusts (Amos 7:1). Which camp in the hedges in the cold day. Locusts become torpid in cold weather; so the captains and princes of Nineveh are paralyzed and useless in the day of calamity. They flee away. Thus the Assyrian army perishes and leaves no trace behind. The LXX. adds, "Woe unto them!" Nahum 3:17In conclusion, the prophet takes away from the city so heavily laden with guilt the last prop to its hope, - namely, reliance upon its fortifications, and the numerical strength of its population. - Nahum 3:14. "Draw thyself water for the siege! Make thy castles strong! tread in the mire, and stamp in the clay! prepare the brick-kiln! Nahum 3:15. There will the fire devour thee, the sword destroy thee, devour thee like the lickers. Be in great multitude like the lickers, be in great multitude like the locusts? Nahum 3:16. Thou hast made thy merchants more than the star so heaven; the licker enters to plunder, and flies away. Nahum 3:17. Thy levied ones are like the locusts, and thy men like an army of grasshoppers which encamp in the hedges in the day of frost; if the sun rises, they are off, and men know not their place: where are they?" Water of the siege is the drinking water necessary for a long-continued siege. Nineveh is to provide itself with this, because the siege will last a long while. It is also to improve the fortifications (chizzēq as in 2 Kings 12:8, 2 Kings 12:13). This is then depicted still more fully. Tı̄t and chōmer are used synonymously here, as in Isaiah 41:25. Tı̄t, lit., dirt, slime, then clay and potter's clay (Isaiah l.c.). Chōmer, clay or mortar (Genesis 11:3), also dirt of the streets (Isaiah 10:6, compared with Micah 7:10). החזיק, to make firm, or strong, applied to the restoration of buildings in Nehemiah 5:16 and Ezekiel 27:9, Ezekiel 27:27; here to restore, or to put in order, the brick-kiln (malbēn, a denom. from lebhēnâh, a brick), for the purpose of burning bricks. The Assyrians built with bricks sometimes burnt, sometimes unburnt, and merely dried in the sun. Both kinds are met with on the Assyrian monuments (see Layard, vol. ii. p. 36ff.). This appeal, however, is simply a rhetorical turn for the thought that a severe and tedious siege is awaiting Nineveh. This siege will end in the destruction of the great and populous city. שׁם, there, sc. in these fortifications of thine, will fire consume thee; fire will destroy the city with its buildings, and the sword destroy the inhabitants. The destruction of Nineveh by fire is related by ancient writers (Herod. 1:106, 185; Diod. Sic. 2:25-28; Athen. xii. p. 529), and also confirmed by the ruins (cf. Str. ad h. l.). It devours thee like the locust. The subject is not fire or sword, either one or the other, but rather both embraced in one. כּיּלק, like the licker; yeleq, a poetical epithet applied to the locust (see at Joel 1:4), is the nominative, no the accusative, as Calvin, Grotius, Ewald, and Hitzig suppose. For the locusts are not devoured by the fire or the sword, but it is they who devour the vegetables and green of the fields, so that they are everywhere used as a symbol of devastation and destruction. It is true that in the following sentences the locusts are used figuratively for the Assyrians, or the inhabitants of Nineveh; but it is also by no means a rare thing for prophets to give a new turn and application to a figure or simile. The thought is this: fire and sword will devour Nineveh and its inhabitants like the all-consuming locusts, even though the city itself, with its mass of houses and people, should resemble an enormous swarm of locusts. התכּבּד may be either an inf. abs. used instead of the imperative, or the imperative itself. The latter seems the more simple; and the use of the masculine may be explained on the assumption that the prophet had the people floating before his mind, whereas in התכּבּדי he was thinking of the city. Hithkahbbēd, to show itself heavy by virtue of the large multitude; similar to כּבד in Nahum 2:10 (cf. כּבד in Genesis 13:2; Exodus 8:20, etc.).

The comparison to a swarm of locusts is carried still further in Nahum 3:16 and Nahum 3:17, and that so that Nahum 3:16 explains the תּאכלך כּיּלק in Nahum 3:15. Nineveh has multiplied its traders or merchants, even more than the stars of heaven, i.e., to an innumerable multitude. The yeleq, i.e., the army of the enemy, bursts in and plunders. That Nineveh was a very rich commercial city may be inferred from its position, - namely, just at the point where, according to oriental notions, the east and west meet together, and where the Tigris becomes navigable, so that it was very easy to sail from thence into the Persian Gulf; just as afterwards Mosul, which was situated opposite, became great and powerful through its widely-extended trade (see Tuch, l.c. p. 31ff., and Strauss, in loc.).

(Note: "The point," says O. Strauss (Nineveh and the Word of God, Berl 1855, p. 19), "at which Nineveh was situated was certainly the culminating point of the three quarters of the globe - Europe, Asia, and Africa; and from the very earliest times it was just at the crossing of the Tigris by Nineveh that the great military and commercial roads met, which led into the heart of all the leading known lands.")

The meaning of this verse has been differently interpreted, according to the explanation given to the verb pâshat. Many, following the ὥρμησε and expansus est of the lxx and Jerome, give it the meaning, to spread out the wing; whilst Credner (on Joel, p. 295), Maurer, Ewald, and Hitzig take it in the sense of undressing one's self, and understand it as relating to the shedding of the horny wing-sheaths of the young locusts. But neither the one nor the other of these explanations can be grammatically sustained. Pâshat never means anything else then to plunder, or to invade with plundering; not even in such passages as Hosea 7:1; 1 Chronicles 14:9 and 1 Chronicles 14:13, which Gesenius and Dietrich quote in support of the meaning, to spread; and the meaning forced upon it by Credner, of the shedding of the wing-sheaths by locusts, is perfectly visionary, and has merely been invented by him for the purpose of establishing his false interpretation of the different names given to the locusts in Joel 1:4. In the passage before us we cannot understand by the yeleq, which "plunders and flies away" (pâshat vayyâ‛ōph), the innumerable multitude of the merchants of Nineveh, because they were not able to fly away in crowds out of the besieged city. Moreover, the flying away of the merchants would be quite contrary to the meaning of the whole description, which does not promise deliverance from danger by flight, but threatens destruction. The yeleq is rather the innumerable army of the enemy, which plunders everything, and hurries away with its booty. In Nahum 3:17 the last two clauses of Nahum 3:15 are explained, and the warriors of Nineveh compared to an army of locusts. There is some difficulty caused by the two words מנּזריך and טפסריך, the first of which only occurs here, and the second only once more, viz., in Jeremiah 51:27, where we meet with it in the singular. That they both denote warlike companies appears to be tolerably certain; but the real meaning cannot be exactly determined. מנּזרים with dagesh dir., as for example in מקּדשׁ in Exodus 15:17, is probably derived from nâzar, to separate, and not directly from nezer, a diadem, or nâzı̄r, the crowned person, from which the lexicons, following Kimchi's example, have derived the meaning princes, or persons ornamented with crowns; whereas the true meaning is those levied, selected (for war), analogous to bâchūr, the picked or selected one, applied to the soldiery. The meaning princes or captains is at variance with the comparison to 'arbeh, the multitude of locusts, since the number of the commanders in an army, or of the war-staff, is always a comparatively small one. And the same objection may be offered to the rendering war-chiefs or captains, which has been given to taphsar, and which derives only an extremely weak support from the Neo-Persian tâwsr, although the word might be applied to a commander-in-chief in Jeremiah 51:27, and does signify an angel in the Targum-Jonathan on Deuteronomy 28:12. The different derivations are all untenable (see Ges. Thes. p. 554); and the attempt of Bttcher (N. Krit. Aehrenl. ii. pp. 209-10) to trace it to the Aramaean verb טפס, obedivit, with the inflection ־ר for ־ן, in the sense of clientes, vassals, is precluded by the fact that ar does not occur as a syllable of inflection. The word is probably Assyrian, and a technical term for soldiers of a special kind, though hitherto it has not been explained. גּוב גּובי, locusts upon locusts, i.e., an innumerable swarm of locusts. On גּובי, see at Amos 7:1; and on the repetition of the same word to express the idea of the superlative, see the comm. on 2 Kings 19:23 (and Ges. 108, 4). Yōm qârâh, day (or time) of cold, is either the night, which is generally very cold in the East, or the winter-time. To the latter explanation it may be objected, that locusts do not take refuge in walls or hedges during the winter; whilst the expression yōm, day, for night, may be pleaded against the former. We must therefore take the word as relating to certain cold days, on which the sky is covered with clouds, so that the sun cannot break through, and zârach as denoting not the rising of the sun, but its shining or breaking through. The wings of locusts become stiffened in the cold; but as soon as the warm rays of the sun break through the clouds, they recover their animation and fly away. Nōdad, (poal), has flown away, viz., the Assyrian army, which is compared to a swarm of locusts, so that its place is known no more (cf. Psalm 103:16), i.e., has perished without leaving a trace behind. איּם contracted from איּה הם. These words depict in the most striking manner the complete annihilation of the army on which Nineveh relied.

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