Nahum 3:9
Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was infinite; Put and Lubim were thy helpers.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.

thy—No's.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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. Nahum 3:9Nineveh will share the fate of No-Ammon. - Nahum 3:8. "Art thou better than No-amon, that sat by rivers, waters round about her, whose bulwark was the sea, her wall of sea? Nahum 3:9. Ethiopians and Egyptians were (her) strong men, there is no end; Phut and Libyans were for thy help. Nahum 3:10. She also has gone to transportation, into captivity; her children were also dashed in pieces at the corners of all roads; upon her nobles they cast the lot, and all her great men were bound in chains." התיטבי for התיטבי, for the sake of euphony, the imperfect kal of יטב, to be good, used to denote prosperity in Genesis 12:13 and Genesis 40:14, is applied here to the prosperous condition of the city, which was rendered strong both by its situation and its resources. נא אמון, i.e., probably "dwelling (נא contracted from נוא, cf. נאות) of Amon," the sacred name of the celebrated city of Thebes in Upper Egypt, called in Egyptian P-amen, i.e., house of the god Amun, who had a celebrated temple there (Herod. i. 182, ii. 42; see Brugsch, Geogr. Inschr. i. p. 177). The Greeks called it Διὸς πόλις, generally with the predicate ἡ μεγάλη (Diod. Sic. i. 45), or from the profane name of the city, which was Apet according to Brugsch (possibly a throne, seat, or bank), and with the feminine article prefixed, Tapet, or Tape, or Tepe, Θήβη, generally used in the plural Θῆβαι. This strong royal city, which was described even by Homer (Il. ix. 383) as ἑκατόμπυλος, and in which the Pharaohs of the 18th to the 20th dynasties, from Amosis to the last Rameses, resided, and created those works of architecture which were admired by Greeks and Romans, and the remains of which still fill the visitor with astonishment, was situated on both banks of the river Nile, which was 1500 feet in breadth at that point, and was built upon a broad plain formed by the falling back of the Libyan and Arabian mountain wall, over which there are now scattered nine larger or smaller fellah-villages, including upon the eastern bank Karnak and Luxor, and upon the western Gurnah and Medinet Abu, with their plantations of date-palms, sugar-canes, corn, etc. היּשׁבה בּיארים, who sits there, i.e., dwells quietly and securely, on the streams of the Nile. The plural יארים refers to the Nile with its canals, which surrounded the city, as we may see from what follows: "water round about her." אשׁר־חיל, not which is a fortress of the sea (Hitzig), but whose bulwark is sea. חיל (for חילהּ) does not mean the fortified place (Hitzig), but the fortification, bulwark, applied primarily to the moats of a fortification, with the wall belonging to it; then, in the broader sense, the defence of a city in distinction from the actual wall (cf. Isaiah 26:1; Lamentations 2:8). מיּם, consisting of sea is its wall, i.e., its wall is formed of sea. Great rivers are frequently called yâm, sea, in rhetorical and poetical diction: for example, the Euphrates in Isaiah 27:1; Jeremiah 51:36; and the Nile in Isaiah 18:2; Isaiah 19:5; Job 41:23. The Nile is still called by the Beduins bahr, i.e., sea, and when it overflows it really resembles a sea.

To the natural strength of Thebes there was also added the strength of the warlike nations at her command. Cush, i.e., Ethiopians in the stricter sense, and Mitsraim, Egyptians, the two tribes descended from Ham, according to Genesis 10:6, who formed the Egyptian kingdom before the fall of Thebes, and under the 25th (Ethiopian) dynasty. עצמה, as in Isaiah 40:29; Isaiah 47:9, for עצם, strength; it is written without any suffix, which may easily be supplied from the context. The corresponding words to עצמה in the parallel clause are ואין קצה (with Vav cop.): Egyptians, as for them there is no number; equivalent to an innumerable multitude. To these there were to be added the auxiliary tribes: Put, i.e., the Libyans in the broader sense, who had spread themselves out over the northern part of Africa as far as Mauritania (see at Genesis 10:6); and Lubim equals Lehâbhı̄m, the Libyans in the narrower sense, probably the Libyaegyptii of the ancients (see at Genesis 10:13). בּעזרתך (cf. Psalm 35:2) Nahum addresses No-amon itself, to give greater life to the description. Notwithstanding all this might, No-amon had to wander into captivity. Laggōlâh and basshebhı̄ are not tautological. Laggōlâh, for emigration, is strengthened by basshebhı̄ into captivity. The perfect הלכה is obviously not to be taken prophetically. The very antithesis of גּם־היא הלכה and גּם־אתּ תּשׁכּרי (Nahum 3:11) shows to itself that הלכה refers to the past, as תּשׁכּרי does to the future; yea, the facts themselves require that Nahum should be understood as pointing to the fate which the powerful city of Thebes had already experienced. For it must be an event that has already occurred, and not something still in the future, which he holds up before Nineveh as a mirror of the fate that is awaiting it. The clauses which follow depict the cruelties that were generally associated with the taking of an enemy's cities. For עלליה וגו roF .se, see Hosea 14:1; Isaiah 13:16, and 2 Kings 8:12; and for ידּוּ גורל, Joel 3:3 and Obadiah 1:11. Nikhbaddı̄m, nobiles; cf. Isaiah 23:8-9. Gedōlı̄m, magnates; cf. Jonah 3:7. It must be borne in mind, however, that the words only refer to cruelties connected with the conquest and carrying away of the inhabitants, and not to the destruction of No-amon.

We have no express historical account of this occurrence; but there is hardly any doubt that, after the conquest of Ashdod, Sargon the king of Assyria organized an expedition against Egypt and Ethiopia, conquered No-amon, the residence of the Pharaohs at that time, and, as Isaiah prophesied (Isaiah 20:3-4), carried the prisoners of Egypt and Ethiopia into exile. According to the Assyrian researches and their most recent results (vid., Spiegel's Nineveh and Assyria in Herzog's Cyclopaedia), the king Sargon mentioned in Isaiah 20:1 is not the same person as Shalmaneser, as I assumed in my commentary on 2 Kings 17:3, but his successor, and the predecessor of Sennacherib, who ascended the throne during the siege of Samaria, and conquered that city in the first year of his reign, leading 27,280 persons into captivity, and appointing a vicegerent over the country of the ten tribes. In Assyrian Sargon is called Sar Kin, i.e., essentially a king. He was the builder of the palace at Khorsabad, which is so rich in monuments; and, according to the inscriptions, he carried on wars in Susiana, Babylon, the borders of Egypt, Melitene, Southern Armenia, Kurdistan, and Media; and in all his expeditions he resorted to the removal of the people in great numbers, as one means of securing the lasting subjugation of the lands (see Spiegel, l.c. p. 224). In the great inscription in the palace-halls of Khorsabad, Sargon boasts immediately after the conquest of Samaria of a victorious conflict with Pharaoh Sebech at Raphia, in consequence of which the latter became tributary, and also of the dethroning of the rebellious king of Ashdod; and still further, that after another king of Ashdod, who had been chosen by the people, had fled to Egypt, he besieged Ashdod with all his army, and took it. Then follows a difficult and mutilated passage, in which Rawlinson (Five Great Monarchies, ii. 416) and Oppert (Les Sargonides, pp. 22, 26, 27) find an account of the complete subjugation of Sebech (see Delitzsch on Isaiah, at Isaiah 20:5-6). There is apparently a confirmation of this in the monuments recording the deeds of Esarhaddon's successor, whose name is read Assur-bani-pal, according to which that king carried on tedious wars in Egypt against Tirhaka, who had conquered Memphis, Thebes, and sundry other Egyptian cities during the illness of Esarhaddon, and according to his own account, succeeded at length in completely overcoming him, and returned home with rich booty, having first of all taken hostages for future good behaviour (see Spiegel, p. 225). If these inscriptions have been read correctly, it follows from them that from the reign of Sargon the Assyrians made attempts to subjugate Egypt, and were partially successful, though they could not maintain their conquests. The struggle between Assyria and Egypt for supremacy in Hither Asia may also be inferred from the brief notices in the Old Testament (2 Kings 17:4) concerning the help which the Israelitish king Hosea expected from So the king of Egypt, and also concerning the advance of Tirhaka against Sennacherib.

(Note: From the modern researches concerning ancient Egypt, not the smallest light can be obtained as to any of these things. "The Egyptologists (as J. Bumller observes, p. 245) have hitherto failed to fill up the gaps in the history of Egypt, and have been still less successful in restoring the chronology; for hitherto we have not met with a single well-established date, which we have obtained from a monumental inscription; nor have the monuments enabled us to assign to a single Pharaoh, from the 1st to the 21st, his proper place in the years or centuries of the historical chronology.")

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