Nahum 3:9
Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was infinite; Put and Lubim were your helpers.
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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.Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength - Literally, "Egypt was strength , and Ethiopia, and boundless." He sets forth first the imperial might of No; then her strength from foreign, subdued power. The capital is a sort of impersonation of the might of the state; No, of Egypt, as Nineveh, of Assyria. When the head was cut off or the heart ceased to beat, all was lost. The might of Egypt and Ethiopia was the might of No, concentrated in her. They were strength, and that strength unmeasured by any human standard. Boundless was the strength, which Nineveh had subdued: boundless, the store Nahum 2:10 which she had accumulated for the spoiler; boundless Nahum 3:3 the carcasses of her slain. "And it was infinite." "The people that came up with the king out of Egypt, were without number" 2 Chronicles 12:3. The Egyptians connected with Thebes are counted by a pagan author at seven million. Put or Phut is mentioned third among the sons of Ham, after Cash and Mizraim Genesis 10:6. They are mentioned with the Ethiopians in Pharaoh's army at the Euphrates , as joined with them in the visitation of Egypt Ezekiel 30:5; with Cush in the army of Gog Ezekiel 38:15; with Lud in that of Tyre Ezekiel 29:10; a country and river of that name were, Josephus tells us , "frequently mentioned by Greek historians." They dwelt in the Libya, conterminous to the Canopic mouth of the Nile .

And Lubim - These came up against Judah in the army of Shishak 2 Chronicles 12:3 against Rehoboam, and with the Ethiopians, "a huge host" under Zerah the Ethiopian against Asa . The Ribou or Libou appear on the monuments as a people conquered by Menephthes and Rameses III . They were still to be united with Egypt and the Ethiopians in the times of Antiochus Epiphanes Daniel 11:43; so their connection with Egypt was not broken by its fall. Those unwearied enemies had become incorporated with her; and were now her help. These were (English Margin) in thy help; set upon it, given up to it. The prophet appeals to No herself, as it were, "Thou hadst strength." Then he turns away, to speak of her, unwilling to look on the miseries which he has to portray to Nineveh, as the preludes of her own. Without God, vain is the help of man.

9. Ethiopia—Hebrew, Cush. Ethiopia is thought at this time to have been mistress of Upper Egypt.

Egypt—Lower Egypt.

her strength—her safeguard as an ally.

it was infinite—The resources of these, her allies, were endless.

Put—or Phut (Ge 10:6); descended from Ham (Eze 27:10). From a root meaning a bow; as they were famed as archers [Gesenius]. Probably west of Lower Egypt. Josephus [Antiquities, 1:6.2] identifies it with Mauritania (compare Jer 46:9, Margin; Eze 38:5).

Lubim—the Libyans, whose capital was Cyrene; extending along the Mediterranean west of Egypt (2Ch 12:3; 16:8; Ac 2:10). As, however, the Lubim are always connected with the Egyptians and Ethiopians, they are perhaps distinct from the Libyans. The Lubim were probably at first wandering tribes, who afterwards were settled under Carthage in the region of Cyrene, under the name Libyans.


helpers—literally, "in thy help," that is, among thy auxiliaries.

It is not very probable that this Ethiopia should be that remote country that lay south of Egypt, though in truth it is possible, and while Egypt was in friendship with No Amon, or Alexandria, the aids might in length of time come from Ethiopia, or Abyssinia. But there was a Cush, an Ethiopia, in Arabia, near to Egypt and Alexandria, whose people were likest to undertake the assistance of Alexandria their neighbour. See 2 Chronicles 14:9 Ezekiel 30:4,5 Hab 3:7. This No, or Alexandria, was either a city subject to, and was part of Egypt, or if (as some conjecture) it was a free city, it was in league with Egypt.

Were her strength; furnishing soldiers and warlike assistance on all occasions to Alexandria, which relied on these confederates.

It was infinite; they never made an end of their confederacies and warlike provisions. It is reported, that when Amasis reigned Egypt reckoned twenty thousand cities, and when Zerah king of Ethiopia came against Asa it was with an army of ten hundred thousand men, and three hundred (thousand) chariots; these were the associates of Alexandria.

Put, or Phuteans, or the Moors, who lie along westward of Alexandria.

Lubim; the people that inhabited the parts of Africa, and thought to be that which is now called Cyrene: see Ezekiel 30.

Were thy helpers, O Alexandria. Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength,.... That is, the strength, support, protection, and defence of No, whether Alexandria, or Thebes, or Memphis: Egypt was, for these cities were in it, and subject to it; or, if this was a free city, as some think, yet in alliance with Egypt, and under its protection; and in like connection it was with Ethiopia, that is, Arabia, a country that lay near to it; and yet, though it was strengthened by such powerful neighbours and allies, it was not secure from the devastation of the enemy:

and it was infinite; or there was "no end" (o); of its strength, or of the number of its allies, or the forces they were able to bring in its defence. The Ethiopians were very numerous, as may be learnt from 2 Chronicles 14:9 and so were the Egyptians, to whom some interpreters strictly connect this sentence. In the times of Amasis, as Mela (p) relates, there were twenty thousand cities inhabited in it; and Josephus (q) says there were in it seven hundred and fifty myriads of men; as Sethon, king of Egypt, and Tirhakah, king of Ethiopia, were about this time the allies of the Jews, in whom they trusted, no doubt they were confederate together, and so both the strength of this city; see Isaiah 36:6,

Put and Lubim, were thy helpers; Put, or the Putim, were the people of the Moors, that dwelt in Mauritania; and Lubim were the Lybians that bordered on Egypt, and whose country is sometimes reckoned a part of it. The Jews (r) say Lybia is Egypt; see Acts 2:10 these several people were the confederates of No; and helped them, not only by their commerce with them, but in time of war assisted them against their enemies; and yet, though so strengthened by alliances, were not safe and secure; and therefore Nineveh could not depend upon such helps and helpers.

(o) "non est finis", Pagninus, Montanus, Munster, Cocceius. (p) De Orbis Situ. l. 1. c. 9. (q) De Bello Jud. l. 2. c. 16. sect. 4. (r) T. Hieros. Celaim, c. 8. fol. 31. 3.

Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was infinite; Put and Lubim were thy helpers.
9. Ethiopia and Egypt] Heb. Cush and Egypt. At this time Egypt and Cush, the country south of Upper Egypt, were virtually one, as the 25th or Ethiopian dynasty were on the throne (from 728–662), with No or Thebes as their capital. Jeremiah 46:9.

and it was infinite] A favourite phrase of the prophet, Nahum 2:9, Nahum 3:3; Nahum 3:9; cf. Isaiah 2:7.

Put and Lubim] Genesis 10:6 Phut is one of the four sons of Ham. Ezekiel 30:5, Phut appears in the armies of Egypt (Jeremiah 46:9), Ezekiel 38:5 among the followers of Gog, and Ezekiel 27:10 among the mercenaries of Tyre. Sept. sometimes renders Lybians, here Phut and Lybians seem distinguished. The place of Phut is usually sought on the N. coast of Africa, west of Egypt, though the views of scholars are divergent. In Isaiah 66:19 Phut is perhaps to be read for Phul.

thy helpers] The versions render her helpers.Verse 9. - Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength. Urdamaneh, or Rudammon, in whose time this capture of No-Amon took place, was son and successor of Tirhalrah, who is called expressly King of Ethiopia (2 Kings 19:9; Isaiah 37:9). Egypt. The Egyptians proper, combined with the Ethiopians, formed the kingdom of Egypt under the twenty-fifth, the Ethiopian, dynasty. And it was infinite. The power of Egypt was boundless, its forces in numerable (see 2 Chronicles 12:3). Pusey notes a remark of Cato (in Steph. Byzant. ap. Boch., 4:27) that the Egyptians connected with Thebes amounted to seven millions. In Isaiah 18-20. Ethiopia and Egypt are represented as combined against Assyria, and conquered by it (Wordsworth). Septuagint, Οὐκ ἔστῃ τέρας τῆς φυγῆς, There was no limit of the flight. This is thought by Jerome to be connected with the previous verses, and to refer to Nineveh. Put and Lubim were thy helpers. No- Amon is here suddenly addressed. Put, or Punt, designates either a part of Arabia or that part of the coast of Egypt opposite to it (see Ebers, 'AEgypt. und die Buch. Mos.,' p. 64, etc.). Luhim are the Lybians, dwelling on the west of the Canopic mouth of the Nile. Thus the enumeration of the forces of Thebes is regularly arranged, beginning with the south, Ethiopia, then through Egypt proper to the north, and then to the provinces on the east and west (Knabenbauer). The Vulgate translates the two terms, Africa et Libya. The LXX. combines them in one, Λίβυες. These peoples are named together elsewhere: e.g. Jeremiah 46:9; Ezekiel 27:10; Ezekiel 30:5; Ezekiel 38:5. Jonah, provoked at the sparing of Nineveh, prayed in his displeasure to Jehovah to take his soul from him, as his proclamation had not been fulfilled (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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