Nahum 3:2
The noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, and of the prancing horses, and of the jumping chariots.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) The noise of . . .—Better, Hark to the whip, and hark to the rattling of the wheel, and the horse galloping, and the chariot bounding. The entry of the victorious besiegers is here described.

Nahum 3:2-3. The noise of a whip, &c. — These verses are highly poetical; the prophet tells them, that he already hears the sound of the whips driving on the horses, and the rattling of the chariot wheels, &c., of their enemies coming against them. The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword, &c. — In the Hebrew it is, The horseman lifteth up the flame of the sword, and the lightning of the spear, which is more poetical than our rendering. The style of the whole passage is extremely fine; scarce any thing can be more picturesque, or strongly descriptive of a victorious army.3:1-7 When proud sinners are brought down, others should learn not to lift themselves up. The fall of this great city should be a lesson to private persons, who increase wealth by fraud and oppression. They are preparing enemies for themselves; and if the Lord sees good to punish them in this world, they will have none to pity them. Every man who seeks his own prosperity, safety, and peace, should not only act in an upright, honourable manner, but with kindness to all.The noise (literally, "voice") of the whip - There is cry against cry; the voice of the enemy, brought upon them through the voice of the oppressed. Blood hath a voice which crieth Genesis 4:10 to heaven; its echo or counterpart, as it were, is the cry of the destroyer. All is urged on with terrific speed. The chariot-wheels quiver in the rapid onset; the chariots bound, like living things; the earth echoes with the whirling swiftness of the speed of the cavalry. The prophet within, with the inward ear and eye which hears "the mysteries of the Kingdom of God" Matthew 13:11, Matthew 13:16 and sees things to come, as they shall come upon the wicked, sees and hears the scourge coming, with The words in Hebrew are purposely chosen with rough "r" sounds: רעשׁ ra‛ash, דהר dâhar, מרקדה meraqēdâh, a great noise, impetuously; and so describes it as present. Wars and rumors of wars are among the signs of the Day of Judgment. The "scourge," though literally relating to the vehement onset of the enemy, suggests to the thoughts, the scourges of Almighty God, wherewith He chastens the penitent, punishes the impenitent; the wheel, the swift changes of man's condition in the rolling-on of time. "O God, make them like a rolling thing" Psalm 83:14. 2. The reader is transported into the midst of the fight (compare Jer 47:3). The "noise of the whips" urging on the horses (in the chariots) is heard, and of "the rattling of the wheels" of war chariots, and the "horses" are seen "prancing," and the "chariots jumping," &c. The French reads this verse with a negative distributive, and so links this and the next verse with the former negative, Nahum 3:1; thus, The prey departeth not, nor the noise of the whip, nor, &c., intimating the long continuance of the Chaldeans insulting over the Ninevites.

The noise of a whip, with which the charioteer roused and animated the horses which drew the warlike chariots.

The noise of the rattling of the wheels, by the swift motion of the horses,

and of the pransing horses, in the chariots proudly and stately trampling, and of the jumping chariots, made to jump by the swiftness and strength of the horses which drew them.

The French reads this verse with a negative distributive, and so links this and the next verse with the former negative, Nahum 3:1; thus, The prey departeth not, nor the noise of the whip, nor, &c., intimating the long continuance of the Chaldeans insulting over the Ninevites.

The noise of a whip, with which the charioteer roused and animated the horses which drew the warlike chariots.

The noise of the rattling of the wheels, by the swift motion of the horses,

and of the pransing horses, in the chariots proudly and stately trampling, and of the jumping chariots, made to jump by the swiftness and strength of the horses which drew them. The noise of a whip,.... Of a horseman or chariot driver whipping his horses to make speed to Nineveh, and enter into it, so near as to be heard by the inhabitants of it; and is thus represented in order to strike terror into them:

and the noise of the rattling of the wheels; that is, of the chariots upon the stones, whose drivers drove Jehu like, making the utmost haste they could to get in first, and seize the prey:

and of the pransing horses; or bounding steeds, upon a full gallop; either with horsemen on them riding full speed to partake of the booty; or in chariots, in which they caper and prance, and shake the ground as they go; hence it follows:

and of the jumping chariots; which, through the swiftness of the motion, seem to leap and dance as they run along.

The noise of a whip, {b} and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, and of the pransing horses, and of the jumping chariots.

(b) He shows how the Chaldeans will hasten, and how courageous their horses will be in beating the ground when they come against the Assyrians.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2, 3. Graphic description of the attack on Nineveh. Nahum 3:2 describes rather what is heard when the onset commences: cracking whips and prancing horsemen and rattling wheels; and Nahum 3:3 what is seen: charging horsemen, and flashing swords and glittering spears. On the whip, Layard, II. 356.

jumping chariots] i.e. bounding either from their excessive speed, or from the obstacles which they meet in the uneven ground before the city.Verse 2. - The noise of a whip. The prophet describes the advance of the investing army. He hears the cracking of the whips of the charioteers, and the rattling of the wheels of the chariots, and the galloping horses, and the chariots bounding over the plain. Probably all the expressions in this verso refer to chariots and to horses yoked to them, which varied in number from one to three. The whip was a simple thong attached to a short handle. Comp. Virg., 'Georg.,' 3:106, etc. -

"... illi instant verbere torto
Et proni dant lora, volat vi fervidus axis;
Jamque humiles, jamque elati sublime videntur
Aera per vacuum ferri, atque adsurgere in auras."
The Ninevites believed in God, since they hearkened to the preaching of the prophet sent to them by God, and humbled themselves before God with repentance. They proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth (penitential garments: see at Joel 1:13-14; 1 Kings 21:27, etc.), "from their great one even to their small one," i.e., both old and young, all without exception. Even the king, when the matter (had-dâbhâr) came to his knowledge, i.e., when he was informed of Jonah's coming, and of his threatening prediction, descended from his throne, laid aside his royal robe ('addereth, see at Joshua 7:21), wrapt himself in a sackcloth, and sat down in ashes, as a sign of the deepest mourning (compare Job 2:8), and by a royal edict appointed a general fast for man and beast. ויּזעק, he caused to be proclaimed. ויּאמר, and said, viz., through his heralds. מפּעם הם, ex decreto, by command of the king and his great men, i.e., his ministers (פעם equals פעם, Daniel 3:10, Daniel 3:29, a technical term for the edicts of the Assyrian and Babylonian kings). "Man and beast (viz., oxen and sheep) are to taste nothing; they are not to pasture (the cattle are not to be driven to the pasture), and are to drink no water." אל, for which we should expect לא, may be explained from the fact that the command is communicated directly. Moreover, man and beast are to be covered with mourning clothes, and cry to God bechozqâh, i.e., strongly, mightily, and to turn every one from his evil ways: so "will God perhaps (מי יודע) turn and repent (yâshūbh venicham, as in Joel 2:14), and desist from the fierceness of His anger (cf. Exodus 32:12), that we perish not." This verse (Jonah 3:9) also belongs to the king's edict. The powerful impression made upon the Ninevites by Jonah's preaching, so that the whole city repented in sackcloth and ashes, is quite intelligible, if we simply bear in mind the great susceptibility of Oriental races to emotion, the awe of one Supreme Being which is peculiar to all the heathen religions of Asia, and the great esteem in which soothsaying and oracles were held in Assyria from the very earliest times (vid., Cicero, de divinat. i. 1); and if we also take into calculation the circumstance that the appearance of a foreigner, who, without any conceivable personal interest, and with the most fearless boldness, disclosed to the great royal city its godless ways, and announced its destruction within a very short period with the confidence so characteristic of the God-sent prophets, could not fail to make a powerful impression upon the minds of the people, which would be all the stronger if the report of the miraculous working of the prophets of Israel had penetrated to Nineveh. There is just as little to surprise us in the circumstance that the signs of mourning among the Ninevites resemble in most respects the forms of penitential mourning current among the Israelites, since these outward signs of mourning are for the most part the common human expressions of deep sorrow of heart, and are found in the same or similar forms among all the nations of antiquity (see the numerous proofs of this which are collected in Winer's Real-wrterbuch, art. Trauer; and in Herzog's Cyclopaedia). Ezekiel (Ezekiel 26:16) depicts the mourning of the Tyrian princes over the ruin of their capital in just the same manner in which that of the king of Nineveh is described here in Jonah 3:6, except that, instead of sackcloth, he mentions trembling as that with which they wrap themselves round. The garment of haircloth (saq) worn as mourning costume reaches as far back as the patriarchal age (cf. Genesis 37:34; Job 16:15). Even the one feature which is peculiar to the mourning of Nineveh - namely, that the cattle also have to take part in the mourning - is attested by Herodotus (9:24) as an Asiatic custom.

(Note: Herodotus relates that the Persians, when mourning for their general, Masistios, who had fallen in the battle at Platea, shaved off the hair from their horses, and adds, "Thus did the barbarians, in their way, mourn for the deceased Masistios." Plutarch relates the same thing (Aristid. 14 fin. Compare Brissonius, de regno Pers. princip. ii. p. 206; and Periz. ad Aeliani Var. hist. vii. 8). The objection made to this by Hitzig - namely, that the mourning of the cattle in our book is not analogous to the case recorded by Herodotus, because the former was an expression of repentance - has no force whatever, for the simple reason that in all nations the outward signs of penitential mourning are the same as those of mourning for the dead.)

This custom originated in the idea that there is a biotic rapport between man and the larger domestic animals, such as oxen, sheep, and goats, which are his living property. It is only to these animals that there is any reference here, and not to "horses, asses, and camels, which were decorated at other times with costly coverings," as Marck, Rosenmller, and others erroneously assume. Moreover, this was not done "with the intention of impelling the men to shed hotter tears through the lowing and groaning of the cattle" (Theodoret); or "to set before them as in a mirror, through the sufferings of the innocent brutes, their own great guilt" (Chald.); but it was a manifestation of the thought, that just as the animals which live with man are drawn into fellowship with his sin, so their sufferings might also help to appease the wrath of God. And although this thought might not be free from superstition, there lay at the foundation of it this deep truth, that the irrational creature is made subject to vanity on account of man's sins, and sighs along with man for liberation from the bondage of corruption (Romans 8:19.). We cannot therefore take the words "cry mightily unto God" as referring only to the men, as many commentators have done, in opposition to the context; but must regard "man and beast" as the subject of this clause also, since the thought that even the beasts cry to or call upon God in distress has its scriptural warrant in Joel 1:20.

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