And it shall come to pass, that all they that look on you shall flee from you, and say, Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her? from where shall I seek comforters for you?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Shall flee from thee.—As in the case of the destruction of Korah, men flee from the stricken city lest they share her punishment. Nor is she an object of compassion whose cruelties have been as extensive as her empire. Hers is the fate of the fallen tyrant—left to
With pangs unfelt before, unpitied and alone.”Revelation 18:15. She was set as a thing to be "gazed at." He tells the effect on the gazers. "Each one who so gazed" at her should flee; one by one, they should gaze, be scared, flee (compare Psalm 31:11; Psalm 64:8). Not one should remain. "Who will bemoan her?" Not one should pay her the passing tribute of sympathy at human calamity, the shaking of the head at her woe (compare Job 16:4-5). Whoever had no compassion shall find none.
shall flee from thee—as a thing horrible to look upon. Compare "standing afar off," Re 18:10.
whence shall I seek comforters for thee?—Compare Isa 51:19, which Nahum had before his mind.It shall come to pass; it will most certainly be. All they that look upon thee, so soon as ever thou art seen and discovered, O Nineveh, in thy vileness,
shall flee from thee, with hatred, loathing, and abhorrence for thy former pride and wickedness. and for thy present miseries.
And say, with wonder, scorn, rejoicing, and spreading the news,
Nineveh is laid waste; taken, sacked, emptied of inhabitant, yea, utterly subverted, that it may be no more a rival with Babylon: it is certain that it is not now where it once stood.
Who will bemoan her? whose bowels will be moved for her that had no bowels for any one; who will move foot or, hand toward her relief?
Whence? from what place? She hath wronged all her neighbours, and ruined, some of them; from amidst these surely not one may be fetched to speak comfortably to her; these do with reason upbraid her former cruelty and pride, and rejoice in her present calamity and ruin, and strangers will not be concerned for her.
and say, Nineveh is laid waste; utterly destroyed; its walls broke down, its houses demolished, its substance plundered, and its inhabitants killed, or carried captive; who could have thought it, when it was once so stately, rich, and powerful? but so it is indeed!
who will bemoan her? there are none left in her to do it; and as for others, her neighbours, whom she has oppressed and cruelly used, these will laugh and rejoice, instead of lamenting her case:
whence shall I seek comforters for thee? none from among her inhabitants, being destroyed, or carried into a foreign land; and none from among the nations round about, who will rather deride and insult than pity and comfort; so wretched and miserable would her case be!And it shall come to pass, that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her? whence shall I seek comforters for thee?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)7. flee from thee] In terror at her judgment.
Whence shall I seek comforters] The words imply that none will be found to pity her, as Jeremiah 15:5; Isaiah 51:19.Verse 7. - Shall flee from thee. As an object of disgust, or fearing to be involved in thy ruin (Revelation 18:10, 15). Who will bemoan her? No one will pity her for her well deserved chastisement (Jeremiah 15:5). Whence shall I seek, etc.? Truly, nowhere in all the world (comp. Isaiah 51:19). Jonah 4:1-3). ויּרע אל י, it was evil for Jonah, i.e., it vexed, irritated him, not merely it displeased him, for which ירע בּעיניו is generally used. The construction with אל resembles that with ל in Nehemiah 2:10; Nehemiah 13:8. רעה גדולה, "a great evil," serves simply to strengthen the idea of ירע. The great vexation grew even to anger (יחר לו; cf. Genesis 30:2, etc.). The fact that the predicted destruction of Nineveh had not taken place excited his discontent and wrath. And he tried to quarrel with God, by praying to Jehovah.
(Note: Calvin observes upon this: "He prayed in a tumult, as if reproving God. We must necessarily recognise a certain amount of piety in this prayer of Jonah, and at the same time many faults. There was so far piety in it, that he directed his complaints to God. For hypocrites, even when they address God, are nevertheless hostile to Him. But Jonah, when he complains, although he does not keep within proper bounds, but is carried away by a blind and vicious impulse, is nevertheless prepared to submit himself to God, as we shall presently see. This is the reason why he is said to have prayed.")
"Alas (אנּא as in Jonah 1:14), Jehovah, was not this my word (i.e., did I not say so to myself) when I was still in my land (in Palestine)?" What his word or his thought then was, he does not say; but it is evident from what follows: viz., that Jehovah would not destroy Nineveh, if its inhabitants repented. ‛Al-kēn, therefore, sc. because this was my saying. קדּמתּי, προέφθασα, I prevented to flee to Tarshish, i.e., I endeavoured, by a flight to Tarshish, to prevent, sc. what has now taken place, namely, that Thou dost not fulfil Thy word concerning Nineveh, because I know that thou art a God gracious and merciful, etc. (compare Exodus 34:6 and Exodus 32:14, as in Joel 2:13). The prayer which follows, "Take my life from me," calls to mind the similar prayer of Elijah in 1 Kings 19:4; but the motive assigned is a different one. Whilst Elijah adds, "for I am not better than my fathers," Jonah adds, "for death is better to me than life." This difference must be distinctly noticed, as it brings out the difference in the state of mind of the two prophets. In the inward conflict that had come upon Elijah he wished for death, because he did not see the expected result of his zeal for the Lord of Sabaoth; in other words, it was from spiritual despair, caused by the apparent failure of his labours. Jonah, on the other hand, did not wish to live any longer, because God had not carried out His threat against Nineveh. His weariness of life arose, not like Elijah's from stormy zeal for the honour of God and His kingdom, but from vexation at the non-fulfilment of his prophecy. This vexation was not occasioned, however, by offended dignity, or by anxiety or fear lest men should regard him as a liar or babbler (ψευδοεπής τε καὶ βωμολόχος, Cyr. Al.; ψεύστης, Theodoret; vanus et mendax, Calvin and others); nor was he angry, as Calvin supposes, because he associated his office with the honour of God, and was unwilling that the name of God should be exposed to the scoffing of the heathen, quasi de nihilo terreret, or "because he saw that it would furnish material for impious blasphemies if God changed His purpose, or if He did not abide by His word;" but, as Luther observes (in his remarks on Jonah's flight), "he was hostile to the city of Nineveh, and still held a Jewish and carnal view of God" (for the further development of this view, see the remarks above, at p. 265). That this was really Jonah's view, is proved by Luther from the fact that God reproves his displeasure and anger in these words, "Should I not spare Nineveh?" etc. (Jonah 4:11). "He hereby implies that Jonah was displeased at the fact that God had spared the city, and was angry because He had not destroyed it as he had preached, and would gladly have seen." Offended vanity or unintelligent zeal for the honour of God would have been reproved by God in different terms from those in which Jonah was actually reproved, according to the next verse (Jonah 4:4), where Jehovah asks the prophet, "Is thine anger justly kindled?" היטב is adverbial, as in Deuteronomy 9:21; Deuteronomy 13:15, etc., bene, probe, recte, δικαίως (Symm.).
Then Jonah went out of Nineveh, sat down on the east of the city, where Nineveh was bounded by the mountains, from which he could overlook the city, made himself a hut there, and sat under it in the shade, till he saw what would become of the city, i.e., what fate would befal it (Jonah 4:5). This verse is regarded by many commentators as a supplementary remark, ויּצא, with the verbs which follow, being rendered in the pluperfect: "Jonah had gone out of the city," etc. We grant that this is grammatically admissible, but it cannot be shown to be necessary, and is indeed highly improbable. If, for instance, Jonah went out of Nineveh before the expiration of the forty days, to wait for the fulfilment of his prophecy, in a hut to the east of the city, he could not have been angry at its non-fulfilment before the time arrived, nor could God have reproved him for his anger before that time. The divine correction of the dissatisfied prophet, which is related in Jonah 4:6-11, cannot have taken place till the forty days had expired. But this correction is so closely connected with Jonah's departure from the city and settlement to the east of it, to wait for the final decision as to its fate (Jonah 4:5), that we cannot possibly separate it, so as to take the verbs in Jonah 4:5 as pluperfects, or those in Jonah 4:6-11 as historical imperfects. There is no valid ground for so forced an assumption as this. As the expression ויּרע אל יונה in Jonah 4:1, which is appended to ולא עשׁה in Jonah 3:10, shows that Jonah did not become irritated and angry till after God had failed to carry out His threat concerning Nineveh, and that it was then that he poured out his discontent in a reproachful prayer to God (Jonah 4:2), there is nothing whatever to force us to the assumption that Jonah had left Nineveh before the fortieth day.
(Note: There is no hold in the narrative for Marck's conjecture, that God had already communicated to him His resolution not to destroy Nineveh, because of the repentance of the people, and that this was the reason for his anger.)
Jonah had no reason to be afraid of perishing with the city. If he had faith, which we cannot deny, he could rely upon it that God would not order him, His own servant, to perish with the ungodly, but when the proper time arrived, would direct him to leave the city. But when forty days elapsed, and nothing occurred to indicate the immediate or speedy fall of the city, and he was reproved by God for his anger on that account in these words, "Art thou rightly or justly angry?" the answer from God determined him to leave the city and wait outside, in front of it, to see what fate would befal it. For since this answer still left it open, as a possible thing, that the judgment might burst upon the city, Jonah interpreted it in harmony with his own inclination, as signifying that the judgment was only postponed, not removed, and therefore resolved to wait in a hut outside the city, and watch for the issue of the whole affair.
(Note: Theod. Mops. correctly observes, that "when he reflected upon the greatness of the threat, he imagined that something might possibly occur after all." And Calvin better still, that "although forty days had passed, Jonah stood as if fastened to the spot, because he could not yet believe that what he had proclaimed according to the command of God would fail to be effected .... This was the cause, therefore, of his still remaining, viz., because he thought, that although the punishment from God had been suspended, yet his preaching had surely not been in vain, but the destruction of the city would take place. This was the reason for his waiting on after the time fixed, as though the result were still doubtful.")
But his hope was disappointed, and his remaining there became, quite contrary to his intention, an occasion for completing his correction.
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