Nahum 3:18
Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria: thy nobles shall dwell in the dust: thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth them.
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(18) Shepherdsi.e., chief officers, as in Micah 5:2 and passim. Their sheep are “scattered upon the mountains and none attempts to gather them.” So Micaiah announces to Ahab, “I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills as sheep that have not a shepherd” (1Kings 22:17).

Thy nobles shall dwell.—Better, thy mighty men are lying still.

Nahum 3:18-19. Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria — Thy rulers and counsellors are remiss, heartless, or dead. Thy nobles — Or valiant ones, shall dwell in the dust — These words are not in the Hebrew, but are supplied by our translators. The strict rendering of the Hebrew would rather be, Have lain down, as Grotius renders it; that is, have indulged themselves in ease, and not concerned themselves about the public affairs. The Vulgate, however, renders this former part of the verse, Thy shepherds have slept, thy princes shall be buried: understanding it, probably, of their being slain in battle, or having died through famine or pestilence during the siege. Thy people is scattered upon the mountains — Thy people, or common soldiers, for want of commanders, are scattered about, and there is no chief officer, or head commander, to collect them together. There is no healing of thy bruise — Or binding up of thy wound. Thy destruction is inevitable. The state of thy affairs is so bad, that there is no hope of recovering them. All that hear the bruit of thee — That is, the report of thee; (as the obsolete word bruit signifies;) all to whom the account of thy fall shall come; shall clap the hands over thee — Namely, for joy. For upon whom hath not thy wickedness, &c. — To whom hast thou not been injurious?

Thus it is evident, upon the whole of this prophecy of Nahum, that the entire desolation and complete destruction of Nineveh were most expressly and particularly foretold therein: yet one can hardly imagine any event more improbable than this was, at the time when Nahum predicted it. Surely there was no probability that the capital of a great kingdom, a city which was sixty miles in compass, a city which contained so many myriads of inhabitants, which had walls one hundred feet high, and so thick that three chariots could go abreast upon them, and which had one thousand five hundred towers of two hundred feet in height; surely there was no probability that such a city should ever be totally destroyed; and yet so totally was it destroyed, that authors are not agreed about its situation. From the general suffrage, indeed, of ancient historians and geographers, it seems to have been situated upon the Tigris; but yet no less authors than Ctesias and Diodorus Siculus represent it as situated upon the river Euphrates. Nay, authors differ, not only from one another, but also from themselves. For the learned Bochart hath shown, that Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, and Ammianus Marcellinus, all three speak differently of it, sometimes as if it was situated upon the river Tigris, and sometimes as if upon the river Euphrates. So that, to reconcile these authors with themselves and with others, it is supposed by Bochart that there were two Ninevehs, and by Sir John Marshman that there were three; the Syrian, upon the river Euphrates; the Assyrian, upon the river Tigris; and a third, built afterward upon the Tigris by the Persians, who succeeded the Parthians in the empire of the East in the third century, and were subdued by the Saracens in the seventh century after Christ: but whether this latter Nineveh was built in the same place as old Nineveh is a question that cannot be decided. Lucian, who flourished in the second century after Christ, affirms, that Nineveh was utterly perished, and there was no footstep of it remaining, nor could one tell where once it was situated. And the greater regard is to be paid to his testimony, as he was a native of Samosata, a city upon the river Euphrates; and, coming from a neighbouring country, he must have known whether there had been any remains of Nineveh or not. “Even the ruins,” says Bishop Newton, “of old Nineveh have been, as I may say, ruined and destroyed; such an utter end hath been made of it, and such is the truth of the divine predictions! This, perhaps, may strike us the more strongly, by supposing only a parallel instance: let us, then, suppose that a person should come in the name of a prophet preaching repentance to the people of this kingdom, or otherwise denouncing the destruction of the capital city within a few years. I presume we should look upon such a prophet as a madman, and show no further attention to his message than to deride and despise it: and yet such an event would not be more strange and incredible than the destruction and devastation of Nineveh. For Nineveh was much the larger, and much the stronger and older city of the two; and the Assyrian empire had subsisted and flourished more ages than any form of government in this country; so that we cannot object the instability of the eastern monarchies in this case. Let us, then, since this event would not be more improbable and extraordinary than the other, suppose again, that things should succeed according to the prediction, the floods should arise, and the enemy should come, the city should be overflowed and broken down, be taken and pillaged, and destroyed so totally, that even the learned could not agree about the place where it was situated. What would be said or thought in such a case? Whoever of posterity should read and compare the prophecy and event together, must they not, by such an illustrious instance, be thoroughly convinced of the providence of God, and of the truth of this prophet, and be ready to acknowledge, Verily this is the word that the Lord hath spoken! Verily there is a God who judgeth in the earth!”

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 shepherds - that is, they who should counsel for the people's good and feed it, and "keep watch over their flocks by night," but are now like their master, the "King of Assyria," are his shepherds not the shepherds of the people whom they care not for; these slumber, at once through listlessness and excess, and now have fallen asleep in death, as the Psalmist says, "They have slept their sleep" Psalm 76:6. The prophet speaks of the future, as already past in effect, as it was in the will of God. All "the shepherds of the people" , all who could shepherd them, or hold them to together, themselves sleep "the sleep of death;" their mighty men dwelt in that abiding-place, where they shall not move or rise, the grave; and so as Micaiah, in the vision predictive of Ahab's death, "saw all Israel scattered on the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd" 1 Kings 22:17, so the people of the Assyrian monarch shall be "scattered on the mountains," shepherdless, and that irretrievably; no man gathers them. 18. Thy shepherds—that is, Thy leaders.

slumber—are carelessly secure [Maurer]. Rather, "lie in death's sleep, having been slain" [Jerome] (Ex 15:16; Ps 76:6).

shall dwell in the dust—(Ps 7:5; 94:17).

thy people is scattered—the necessary consequence of their leaders being laid low (1Ki 22:17).

Thy shepherds, subordinate magistrates, rulers, and counsellors, or officers set over the kingdom, slumber; are remiss, or mistake, or are heartless or dead, they cannot or will not mind the public concerns.

O king of Assyria; his name I meet not with; Asaradinus, or, as the Scripture calls him, Esarhaddon, may possibly be the name and man intended.

Thy nobles, the brave, valiant, and famous men,

shall dwell in the dust; either be buried as dead, or lie in the dust as faint and weary, or be trampled on as worthless and useless.

Thy people, thy citizens and subjects in their great numbers, is scattered, partly through fear, shame, and astonishment, partly by violence of the invading enemy, upon the mountains, where is neither safety, nor provision against danger and want.

No man gathereth them; no one that will concern himself to preserve thy dispersed ones; so thou and they are left hopeless and ruined, for the shepherds are some dead and cannot, the rest slumber and will not, lay to heart their condition.

Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria,.... Who this king of Assyria was is not easy to say; some think Esarhaddon, who is the last of the kings of Assyria the Scriptures speak of; according to Diodorus Siculus (n), Sardanapalus was the last of these kings, and in him the Assyrian monarchy ended; though, according to Alexander Polyhistor (o), Saracus, perhaps the Chyniladanus of Ptolemy, was king when Nineveh was destroyed: it is very likely that Sardanapalus and Saracus design the same person, though set at a great distance by historians; since the same things are said of the one as of the other; particularly that, when they saw their danger, they burnt themselves and theirs in the royal palace at Nineveh; nor is it probable that the same city with the empire should be destroyed and subverted twice by the same people, the Medes and Babylonians, uniting together; and it is remarkable that the double destruction of this city and empire is related by different historians; and those that speak of the one say nothing of the other: but this king, be he who he will, his case was very bad, his "shepherds slumbered"; his ministers of state, his counsellors, subordinate magistrates in provinces and cities, and particularly in Nineveh; his generals and officers in his army were careless and negligent of their duty, and gave themselves up to sloth and ease; and which also was his own character, as historians agree in; or they were dead, slumbering in their graves, and so could be of no service to him:

thy nobles shall dwell in the dust; be brought very low, into a very mean and abject condition; their honour shall be laid in the dust, and they be trampled upon by everyone: or, "they shall sleep" (p); that is, die, and be buried, as the Vulgate Latin renders it: or, "shall dwell in silence", as others (q); have their habitation in the silent grave, being cut off by the enemy; so that this prince would have none of his mighty men to trust in, but see himself stripped of all his vain confidences:

thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth them; like sheep without a shepherd, which being frightened by beasts of prey, run here and there, and there is none to get them together, and bring them back again; so the subjects of this king, being terrified at the approach of the Medes and Babylonians, forsook their cities, and fled to the mountains; where they were scattered about, having no leader and commander to gather them together, and put them in regular order to face and oppose the enemy. So the Targum interprets it

"the people of thine armies.''

(n) Bibliothec. l. 2. p. 109, 115. (o) Apud Syncell. p. 210. (p) "dormiunt", Piscator; so Ben Melech interprets it, "the rest of death." (q) "Habitarunt in silentio", Buxtorf, Drusius.

Thy {f} shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria: thy nobles shall dwell in the dust: thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth them.

(f) Your princes and counsellors.

18. Thy shepherds slumber] i.e. the leaders and rulers. It is most suitable to the connexion to take slumber (which is the ordinary word for sleep) to mean, are sunk in death—Psalm 13:3, “Lest I sleep the sleep of death.” Psalm 76:5; Jeremiah 51:39; Jeremiah 51:57.

shall dwell in the dust] dwell, R.V. are at rest. The text reads dwell, but change of one letter gives lie down, i.e. sleep; 1 Kings 1:21; Isaiah 14:18. So Sept., followed by Wellhausen. The leaders are fallen, and the people scattered upon the mountains. This is more natural than to suppose that “slumber” and “sleep” refer to slothful inactivity on the part of the Assyrian leaders. Nineveh was defended for two years against the Medes.

Verse 18. - Thy shepherds. The princes and counsellors, on whom the safety of the state depends. Slumber. Sleep the sleep of death - slain in the war (Psalm 76:6). O King of Assyria. The power and evil of Nineveh personified, not any particular king. Shall dwell in the dust; are lying, or are at rest, in death; Septuagint, Ἐκοίμισε τοὺς δυνάστας σου, "Put to sleep thy mighty men" (comp. Euripides, 'Hec.,' 473, where κοιμίζειν is used in the sense of "to slay"): Vulgate, sepelientur. Is scattered upon the mountains. Their shepherds being dead, the flock, the herd of common people, is scattered abroad and perishes, because no man gathereth them - there is no one to collect them. "The mountains" referred to are those which shut in Assyria on the north. Nahum 3:18Such an end will come to the Assyrian kingdom on the overthrow of Nineveh. Nahum 3:18. "The shepherds have fallen asleep, king Asshur: thy glorious ones are lying there: thy people have scattered themselves upon the mountains, and no one gathers them. Nahum 3:19. No alleviation to thy fracture, thy stroke is grievous: all who hear tidings of thee clap the hand over thee: for over whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?" The king of Asshur addressed in Nahum 3:18 is not the last historical king of that kingdom, but a rhetorical personification of the holder of the imperial power of Assyria. His shepherds and glorious ones ('addı̄rı̄m, as in Nahum 2:6) are the princes and great men, upon whom the government and defence of the kingdom devolved, the royal counsellors, deputies, and generals. Mâmū, from nūm, to slumber, to sleep, is not a figurative expression for carelessness and inactivity here; for the thought that the people would be scattered, and the kingdom perish, through the carelessness of the rulers (Hitzig), neither suits the context, where the destruction of the army and the laying of the capital in ashes are predicted, nor the object of the whole prophecy, which does not threaten the fall of the kingdom through the carelessness of its rulers, but the destruction of the kingdom by a hostile army. Nūm denotes here, as in Psalm 76:6, the sleep of death (cf. Psalm 13:4; Jeremiah 51:39, Jeremiah 51:57 : Theodoret, Hesselb., Str., and others). Shâkhan, a synonym of shâkhabh, to have lain down, to lie quietly (Judges 5:17), used here of the rest of death. As the shepherds have fallen asleep, the flock (i.e., the Assyrian people) is scattered upon the mountains and perishes, because no one gathers it together. Being scattered upon the mountains, is easily explained from the figure of the flock (cf. Numbers 27:17; 1 Kings 22:17; Zechariah 13:7), and implies destruction. The mountains are mentioned with evident reference to the fact that Nineveh is shut in towards the north by impassable mountains. Kēhâh, a noun formed from the adjective, the extinction of the wound (cf. Leviticus 13:6), i.e., the softening or anointing of it. Shebher, the fracture of a limb, is frequently applied to the collapse or destruction of a state or kingdom (e.g., Psalm 60:4; Lamentations 2:11). נחלה מכּתך, i.e., dangerously bad, incurable is the stroke which has fallen upon thee (cf. Jeremiah 10:19; Jeremiah 14:17; Jeremiah 30:12). Over thy destruction will all rejoice who hear thereof. שׁמעך, the tidings of thee, i.e., of that which has befallen thee. Clapping the hands is a gesture expressive of joy (cf. Psalm 47:2; Isaiah 55:12). All: because they all had to suffer from the malice of Asshur. רעה, malice, is the tyranny and cruelty which Assyria displayed towards the subjugated lands and nations.

Thus was Nineveh to perish. If we inquire now how the prophecy was fulfilled, the view already expressed by Josephus (Ant. x. 2), that the fall of the Assyrian empire commenced with the overthrow of Sennacherib in Judah, is not confirmed by the results of the more recent examinations of the Assyrian monuments. For according to the inscriptions, so far as they have been correctly deciphered, Sennacherib carried out several more campaigns in Susiana and Babylonia after that disaster, whilst ancient writers also speak of an expedition of his to Cilicia. His successor, Esarhaddon, also carried on wars against the cities of Phoenicia, against Armenia and Cilicia, attacked the Edomites, and transported some of them to Assyria, and is said to have brought a small and otherwise unknown people, the Bikni, into subjection; whilst we also know from the Old Testament (2 Chronicles 33:11) that his generals led king Manasseh in chains to Babylon. Like many of his predecessors, he built himself a palace at Kalah or Nimrud; but before the internal decorations were completely finished, it was destroyed by so fierce a fire, that the few monuments preserved have suffered very considerably. His successor is the last king of whom we have any inscriptions, with his name still legible upon them (viz., Assur-bani-pal). He carried on wars not only in Susiana, but also in Egypt, viz., against Tirhaka, who had conquered Memphis, Thebes, and other Egyptian cities, during the illness of Esarhaddon; also on the coast of Syria, and in Cilicia and Arabia; and completed different buildings which bear his name, including a palace in Kouyunjik, in which a room has been found with a library in it, consisting of clay tablets. Assur-bani-pal had a son, whose name was written Asur-emid-ilin, and who is regarded as the Sarakos of the ancients, under whom the Assyrian empire perished, with the conquest and destruction of Nineveh (see Spiegel in Herzog's Cycl.). But if, according to these testimonies, the might of the Assyrian empire was not so weakened by Sennacherib's overthrow in Judah, that any hope could be drawn from that, according to human conjecture, of the speedy destruction of that empire; the prophecy of Nahum concerning Nineveh, which was uttered in consequence of that catastrophe, cannot be taken as the production of any human combination: still less can it be taken, as Ewald supposes, as referring to "the first important siege of Nineveh, under the Median king Phraortes (Herod. i. 102)." For Herodotus says nothing about any siege of Nineveh, but simply speaks of a war between Phraortes and the Assyrians, in which the former lost his life. Nineveh was not really besieged till the time of Cyaxares (Uwakhshatra), who carried on the war with an increased army, to avenge the death of his father, and forced his way to Nineveh, to destroy that city, but was compelled, by the invasion of his own land by the Scythians, to relinquish the siege, and hasten to meet that foe (Her. i. 103). On the extension of his sway, the same Cyaxares commenced a war with the Lydian king Alyattes, which was carried on for five years with alternating success and failure on both sides, and was terminated in the sixth year by the fact, that when the two armies were standing opposite to one another, drawn up in battle array, the day suddenly darkened into night, which alarmed the armies, and rendered the kings disposed for peace. This was brought about by the mediation of the Cilician viceroy Syennesis and the Babylonian viceroy Labynetus, and sealed by the establishment of a marriage relationship between the royal families of Lydia and Media (Her. i. 74). And if this Labynetus was the same person as the Babylonian king Nabopolassar, which there is no reason to doubt, it was not till after the conclusion of this peace that Cyaxares formed an alliance with Nabopolassar to make war upon Nineveh; and this alliance was strengthened by his giving his daughter Amuhea in marriage to Nabopolassar's son Nebuchadnezzar (Nabukudrossor). The combined forces of these two kings now advanced to the attack upon Nineveh, and conquered it, after a siege of three years, the Assyrian king Saracus burning himself in his palace as the besiegers were entering the city. This is the historical kernel of the capture and destruction of Nineveh, which may be taken as undoubted fact from the accounts of Herodotus (i. 106) and Diod. Sic. (ii.-24-28), as compared with the extract from Abydenus in Euseb. Chron. Armen. i. p. 54; whereas it is impossible to separate the historical portions from the legendary and in part mythical decorations contained in the elaborate account given by Diodorus (vid., M. v. Niebuhr, Geschichte Assurs, p. 200ff.; Duncker, Geschichte des Alterthums. i. p. 793ff.; and Bumller, Gesch. d. Alterth. i. p. 316ff.).

The year of the conquest and destruction of Nineveh has been greatly disputed, and cannot be exactly determined. As it is certain that Nabopolassar took part in the war against Nineveh, and this is indirectly intimated even by Herodotus, who attributes the conquest of it to Cyaxares and the Medes (vid., i. 106), Nineveh must have fallen between the years 625 and 606 b.c. For according to the canon of Ptolemy, Nabopolassar was king of Babylon from 625 to 606; and this date is astronomically established by an eclipse of the moon, which took place in the fifth year of his reign, and which actually occurred in the year 621 b.c. (vid., Niebuhr, p. 47). Attempts have been made to determine the year of the taking of Nineveh, partly with reference to the termination of the Lydio-Median war, and partly from the account given by Herodotus of the twenty-eight years' duration of the Scythian rule in Asia. Starting from the fact, that the eclipse of the sun, which put an end to the war between Cyaxares and Alyattes, took place, according to the calculation of Altmann, on the 30th September b.c. 610 (see Ideler, Handbuch der Chronologie, i. p. 209ff.), M. v. Niebuhr (pp. 197-8) has assumed that, at the same time as the mediation of peace between the Lydians and Medes, an alliance was formed between Cyaxares and Nabopolassar for the destruction of Nineveh; and as this treaty could not possibly be kept secret, the war against Assyria was commenced at once, according to agreement, with their united forces. But as it was impossible to carry out extensive operations in winter, the siege of Nineveh may not have commenced till the spring of 609; and as it lasted three years according to Ctesias, the capture may not have been effected before the spring of 606 b.c. It is true that this combination is apparently confirmed by the fact, that during that time the Egyptian king Necho forced his way into Palestine and Syria, and after subduing all Syria, advanced to the Euphrates; since this advance of the Egyptian is most easily explained on the supposition that Nabopolassar was so occupied with the war against Nineveh, that he could not offer any resistance to the enterprise of Necho. And the statement in 2 Kings 23:29, that Necho had come up to fight against the king of Asshur on the Euphrates, appears to favour the conclusion, that at that time (i.e., in the year of Josiah's death, 610 b.c.) the Assyrian empire was not yet destroyed. Nevertheless there are serious objections to this combination. In the first place, there is the double difficulty, that Cyaxares would hardly have been in condition to undertake the war against Nineveh in alliance with Nabopolassar, directly after the conclusion of peace with Alyattes, especially after he had carried on a war for five years, without being able to defeat his enemy; and secondly, that even Nabopolassar, after a fierce three years' conflict with Nineveh, the conquest of which was only effected in consequence of the wall of the city having been thrown down for the length of twenty stadia, would hardly possess the power to take the field at once against Pharoah Necho, who had advanced as far as the Euphrates, and not only defeat him at Carchemish, but pursue him to the frontier of Egypt, and wrest from him all the conquests that he had effected, as would necessarily be the case, since the battle at Carchemish was fought in the year 606; and the pursuit of the defeated foe by Nebuchadnezzar, to whom his father had transferred the command of the army because of his own age an infirmity, even to the very border of Egypt, is so distinctly attested by the biblical accounts (2 Kings 24:1 and 2 Kings 24:7; Jeremiah 46:2), and by the testimony of Berosus in Josephus (Ant. x. 11, 1, and c. Ap. i. 19), that these occurrences are placed beyond the reach of doubt (see comm. on 2 Kings 24:1). These difficulties would not indeed be sufficient in themselves to overthrow the combination mentioned, provided that the year 610 could be fixed upon with certainty as the time when the Lydio-Median war was brought to a close. But that is not the case; and this circumstance is decisive. The eclipse of the sun, which alarmed Cyaxares and Alyattes, and made them disposed for peace, must have been total, or nearly total, in Central Asia and Cappadocia, to produce the effect described. But it has been proved by exact astronomical calculations, that on the 30th September 610 b.c., the shadow of the moon did not fall upon those portions of Asia Minor, whereas it did so on the 18th May 622, after eight o'clock in the morning, and on the 28th May 585 (vid., Bumll. p. 315, and M. v. Niebuhr, pp. 48, 49). Of these two dates the latter cannot come into consideration at all, because Cyaxares only reigned till the year 594; and therefore, provided that peace had not been concluded with Alyattes before 595, he would not have been able to carry on the war with Nineveh and conquer that city. On the other hand, there is no valid objection that can be offered to our transferring the conclusion of peace with the Lydian king to the year 622 b.c. Since, for example, Cyaxares became king as early as the year 634, he might commence the war with the Lydians as early as the year 627 or 628; and inasmuch as Nabopolassar was king of Babylon from 625 to 605, he might very well help to bring about the peace between Cyaxares and Alyattes in the year 622. In this way we obtain the whole space between 622 and 605 b.c. for the war with Nineveh; so that the city may have been taken and destroyed as early as the years 615-610.

Even the twenty-eight years' duration of the Scythian supremacy in Asia, which is recorded by Herodotus (i. 104, 106, cf. iv. 1), cannot be adduced as a well-founded objection. For if the Scythians invaded Media in the year 633, so as to compel Cyaxares to relinquish the siege of Nineveh, and if their rule in Upper Asia lasted for twenty-eight years, the expedition against Nineveh, which led to the fall of that city, cannot have taken place after the expulsion of the Scythians in the year 605, because the Assyrian empire had passed into the hands of the Chaldaeans before that time, and Nebuchadnezzar had already defeated Necho on the Euphrates, and was standing at the frontier of Egypt, when he received the intelligence of his father's death, which led him to return with all speed to Babylon. There is no other alternative left, therefore, than either to assume, as M. v. Niebuhr does (pp. 119, 120), that the war of Cyaxares with the Lydians, and also the last war against Nineveh, and probably also the capture of Nineveh, and the greatest portion of the Median conquests between Ararat and Halys, fell within the period of the Scythian sway, so that Cyaxares extended his power as a vassal of the Scythian Great Khan as soon as he had recovered from the first blow received from these wild hordes, inasmuch as that sovereign allowed his dependent to do just as he liked, provided that he paid the tribute, and did not disturb the hordes in their pasture grounds; or else to suppose that Cyaxares drove out the Scythian hordes from Media at a much earlier period, and liberated his own country from their sway; in which case the twenty-eight years of Herodotus would not indicate the period of their sway over Media and Upper Asia, but simply the length of time that they remained in Hither Asia generally, or the period that intervened between their first invasion and the complete disappearance of their hordes. If Cyaxares had driven the Scythians out of his own land at a much earlier period, he might extend his dominion even while they still kept their position in Hither Asia, and might commence the war with the Lydians as early as the year 628 or 627, especially as his wrath is said to have been kindled because Alyattes refused to deliver up to him a Scythian horde, which had first of all submitted to Cyaxares, and then fled into Lydia to Alyattes (Herod. i. 73). Now, whichever of these two combinations be the correct one, they both show that the period of the war commenced by Cyaxares against Nineveh, in alliance with Nabopolassar, cannot be determined by the statement made by Herodotus with regard to the twenty-eight years of the Scythian rule in Asia; and this Scythian rule, generally, does not compel us to place the taking and destruction of Nineveh, and the dissolution of the Assyrian empire, as late as the year 605 b.c., or even later.

At this conquest Nineveh was so utterly destroyed, that, as Strabo (xvi. 1, 3) attests, the city entirely disappeared immediately after the dissolution of the Assyrian kingdom (ἡ μὲν οὖν Νῖνος πόλις ἠφανίσθη παραχρῆμα μετὰ τὴν τῶν Σύρων κατάλυσιν). When Xenophon entered the plain of Nineveh, in the year 401, on the retreat of the ten thousand Greeks, he found the ruins of two large cities, which he calls Larissa and Mespila, and by the side of the first a stone pyramid of 200 feet in height and 100 feet in breadth, upon which many of the inhabitants of the nearest villages had taken refuge, and heard from the inhabitants that it was only by a miracle that it had been possible for the Persians to conquer those cities with their strong walls (Xenoph. Anab. iii. 4, 7ff.). These ruined cities had been portions of the ancient Nineveh: Larissa was Calah; and Mespila, Kouyunjik. Thus Xenophon passed by the walls of Nineveh without even learning its name. Four hundred years after (according to Tacitus, Annal. xii. 13), a small fortress stood on this very spot, to guard the crossing of the Tigris; and the same fortress is mentioned by Abul-Pharaj in the thirteenth century (Hist. Dynast. pp. 266, 289, 353). Opposite to this, on the western side of the Tigris, Mosul had risen into one of the first cities of Asia, and the ruins of Nineveh served as quarries for the building of the new city, so that nothing remained but heaps of rubbish, which even Niebuhr took to be natural heights in the year 1766, when he was told, as he stood by the Tigris bridge, that he was in the neighbourhood of ancient Nineveh. So completely had this mighty city vanished from the face of the earth; until, in the most recent times, viz., from 1842 onwards, Botta the French consul, and the two Englishmen Layard and Rawlinson, instituted excavations in the heaps, and brought to light numerous remains of the palaces and state-buildings of the Assyrian rulers of the world. Compare the general survey of these researches, and their results, in Herm. J. C. Weissenborn's Ninive u. sein Gebiet., Erfurt 1851, and 56, 4.

But if Nahum's prophecy was thus fulfilled in the destruction of Nineveh, even to the disappearance of every trace of its existence, we must not restrict it to this one historical event, but must bear in mind that, as the prophet simply saw in Nineveh the representative for the time of the power of the world in its hostility to God, so the destruction predicted to Nineveh applied to all the kingdoms of the world which have risen up against God since the destruction of Asshur, and which will still continue to do so to the end of the world.

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