Nahum 3:3
The horseman lifts up both the bright sword and the glittering spear: and there is a multitude of slain, and a great number of carcasses; and there is none end of their corpses; they stumble on their corpses:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) The horseman lifteth up.—Better, There is the rearing horseman and the flaming sword, and the glittering lance, and a multitude of wounded, and a mass of corpses . . .

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 horseman lifteth up - Rather, "leading up : the flash of the sword, and the lightning of the spear." Thus, there are, in all, seven inroads, seven signs, before the complete destruction of Nineveh or the world; as, in the Revelations, all the forerunners of the Judgment of the Great Day are summed up under the voice of seven trumpets and seven vials. Rup.: "God shall not use homes and chariots and other instruments of war, such as are here spoken of, to judge the world, yet, as is just, His terrors are foretold under the name of those things, wherewith this proud and bloody world hath sinned. For so all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." Matthew 26:52. They who, abusing their power, have used all these weapons of war, especially against the servants of God, shall themselves perish by them, and there shall be none end of their corpses, for they shall be corpses forever: for, dying by an everlasting death, they shall, without end, be without the true life, which is God." "And there is a multitude of slain." Death follows on death. The prophet views the vast field of carnage, and everywhere there meets him only some new form of death, slain, carcasses, corpses, and these in multitudes, an oppressive heavy number, without end, so that the yet living stumble and fall upon the carcasses of the slain. So great the multitude of those who perish, and such their foulness; but what foulness is like sin? 3. horseman—distinct from "the horses" (in the chariots, Na 3:2).

lifteth up—denoting readiness for fight [Ewald]. Gesenius translates, "lifteth up (literally, 'makes to ascend') his horse." Similarly Maurer, "makes his horse to rise up on his hind feet." Vulgate translates, "ascending," that is, making his horse to advance up to the assault. This last is perhaps better than English Version.

the bright sword and the glittering spear—literally, "the glitter of the sword and the flash of the spear!" This, as well as the translation, "the horseman advancing up," more graphically presents the battle scene to the eye.

they stumble upon their corpses—The Medo-Babylonian enemy stumble upon the Assyrian corpses.

The horseman; the Chaldean and Mede, or their confederates in the war.

Lifteth up; hath his sword not only drawn, but in a posture ever ready to smite, wound, or kill. The bright sword: these warriors kept their weapons in such manner, that they were fit both to cut and kill, and also to dazzle rite eye and affright.

And there, in Nineveh, and the streets of it,

is a multitude of slain, by the sword of the prevailing besiegers.

A great number of carcasses; the slain lay in the streets unburied.

There is no end of their corpses; none knew the numbers of the slain.

They, both invaders and invaded, all within the city, stumble upon their corpses, are ready to fall at them, not able to avoid them. The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the glittering spear,.... Or, "the flame of the sword and the glittering spear" (w); he rides with a drawn sword, which, being brandished to and fro, looks like a flame of fire; or with a spear made of polished iron, or steel, which, when vibrated and moved to and fro, glitters like lightning; a large number of which entering the city must be terrible to the inhabitants of it:

and there is a multitude of slain, and a great number of carcasses; of dead men lying in the streets, pierced and slain with the bright sword and glittering spear of the Medes and Chaldeans:

and there is none end of their corpses; the number of them could not be told; they lay so thick in all parts of the city, that there was no telling them:

they stumble upon their corpses; the Ninevites in fleeing, and endeavouring to make their escape, and the Medes and Chaldeans pursuing them.

(w) "flammam gladii et fulgorem hastae", Piscator; "flammam gladii et fulgur hastae", Cocceius; "flamma gladii et fulgur lanceae", Burkius.

The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the glittering spear: and there is a multitude of slain, and a great number of carcases; and there is none end of their corpses; they stumble upon their corpses:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. The horseman lifteth up] Rather, in a series of exclamations: charging horsemen, and flashing swords, and glittering spears! and a multitude of slain! In Jeremiah 46:9 the simple verb is used of the horse (come up); and the causative is here used of the horseman, as in Jeremiah 51:27.

stumble upon their corpses] The multitude of slain and the endless corpses are those of the Ninevites, over which the victorious assailants stumble. The first half of the verse describes the charge, the second half the field when the mêlée is over. Jeremiah 46:12.Verse 3. - The horseman lifteth up. The Hebrew is more vivid, the words standing in pairs, as if describing the successive onsets of the enemy. So Pusey. It is best to render, "horsemen making to rear;" or as Septuagint. ἱππέως ἀναβαίνοντος, "horseman mounting;" so the Vulgate; Henderson. Horsemen are seen in the most ancient sculptures of Nimroud, and in the bas-reliefs of Kouyunjik (comp. Judith 2:15; Ezekiel 23:6; Layard, ' Nineveh,' 2:356). Both the bright sword; better, and the flaming sword (Genesis 3:24); literally, the flame of the sword. And the glittering spear; literally, the lightning flash of the spear (Habakkuk 3:11). These are the arms of the foot soldiers. A multitude of slain. The effect of the assault is described. So numerous are the corpses that one cannot help stumbling over them; the invaders themselves are impeded by the heaps of dead bodies which they have to mount. The LXX. connects this verse with the following, thus. "They shall grow weak in their bodies by reason of the multitude of their fornications." 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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