New American Standard Bible
You have increased your traders more than the stars of heaven-- The creeping locust strips and flies away.
King James Bible
Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven: the cankerworm spoileth, and flieth away.
Darby Bible Translation
Thou hast multiplied thy merchants more than the stars of the heavens; the cankerworm spreadeth himself out and flieth away.
World English Bible
You have increased your merchants more than the stars of the skies. The grasshopper strips, and flees away.
Young's Literal Translation
Multiply thy merchants above the stars of the heavens, The cankerworm hath stripped off, and doth flee away.
Nahum 3:16 Parallel
CommentaryBarnes' Notes on the Bible
Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven - Not numerous only but glorious in the eyes of the world, and, as thou deemest, safe and inaccessible; yet in an instant all is gone.
The commerce of Nineveh was carried back to prehistoric times, since its rivers bound together the mountains of Armenia with the Persian gulf, and marked out the line, by which the distant members of the human family should supply each others' needs. "Semiramis" they say , "built other cities on the Euphrates and the Tigris, where she placed emporia for those who convey their goods from Media and Paraetacene. Being mighty rivers and passing through a populous country, they yield many advantages to those employed in commerce; so that the places by the river are full of wealthy emporia." The Phoenicians traced back their Assyrian commerce (and as it seems, truly) to those same prehistoric times, in which they alleged, that they themselves migrated from the Persian gulf. They commenced at once, they said , the long voyages, in which they transported the wares of Egypt and Assyria. The building of "Tadmor in the wilderness" 1 Kings 9:18 on the way to Tiphsach (Thapsacus) the utmost bound of Solomon's dominions (1 Kings 5:4 1 Kings 4:24), connected Palestine with that commerce.
The great route for couriers and for traffic, extending for 1,500 or 1,600 miles in later times, must have lain through Nineveh, since, although no mention is made of the city which had perished, the route lay across the two rivers , the greater and lesser Zab, of which the greater formed the Southern limit of Nineveh. Those two rivers led up to two mountain-passes which opened a way to Media and Agbatana; and pillars at the summit of the N. pass attest the use of this route over the Zagros chain about 700 b.c. . Yet a third and easier pass was used by Nineveh, as is evidenced by another monument, of a date as yet undetermined . Two other lines connected Nineveh with Syria and the West. Northern lines led doubtless to Lake Wan and the Black Sea . The lists of plunder or of tribute, carried off during the world-empire of Egypt, before it was displaced by Assyria, attest the extensive imports or manufactures of Nineveh ; the titles of "Assyrian nard, Assyrian amomum, Assyrian odors, myrrh, frankincense , involve its trade with the spice countries: domestic manufactures of hers apparently were purple or dark-blue cloaks, embroidery, brocades, and these conveyed in chests of cedar; her metallurgy was on principles recognized now; in one practical point of combining beauty with strength, she has even been copied .
A line of commerce, so marked out by nature in the history of nations, is not changed, unless some preferable line be discovered. Empires passed away, but, at the end of the 13th century a.d., trade and manufacture continued their accustomed course and habitation. The faith in Jesus had converted the ancient paganism; the heresy of Mohammedanism disputed with the faith for the souls of men; but the old material prosperity of the world held its way. Mankind still wanted the productions of each others' lands. The merchants of Nineveh were to be dispersed and were gone: itself and its remembrance were to be effaced from the earth, and it was so; in vain was a new Nineveh built by the Romans; that also disappeared; but so essential was its possession for the necessities of commerce, that Mosul, a large and populous town, arose over against its mounds, a city of the living over-against its buried glories; and, as our goods are known in China by the name of our great manufacturing capital, so a delicate manufacture imposed on the languages of Europe (Italian, Spanish, French, English, German) the name of Mosul .
Even early in this century, under a mild governor, an important commerce passed through Mosul, from India, Persia, Kurdistan, Syria, Natolia, Europe . And when European traffic took the line of the Isthmus ef Suez, the communication with Kurdistan still secured to it an important and exclusive commerce. The merchants of Nineveh were dispersed and gone. The commerce continued over-against its grave.
The cankerworm spoileth and fleeth away - Better, "the locust hath spread itself abroad (marauded) and is flown." The prophet gives, in three words, the whole history of Nineveh, its beginning and its end. He had before foretold its destruction, though it should be oppressive as the locust; he had spoken of its commercial wealth; he adds to this, that other source of its wealth, its despoiling warfares and their issue. The pagan conqueror rehearsed his victory, "I came, saw, conquered." The prophet goes further, as the issue of all human conquest, "I disappeared." The locust (Nineveh) spread itself abroad (the word is always used of an inroad for plunder , destroying and wasting, everywhere: it left the world a desert, and was gone. Ill-gotten wealth makes one poor, not rich. Truly they who traffic in this world, are more in number than they who, seeking treasure in heaven, shall shine as the stars forever and ever. "For many are called, but few, are chosen." And when all the stars of light "shall abide and praise God Psalm 148:3, these men, though multiplied like the locust, shall, like the locust, pass away, destroying and destroyed. They abide for a while in the chillness of this world; when the Sun of righteousness ariseth, they vanish. This is the very order of God's Providence. As truly as locusts, which in the cold and dew are chilled and stiffened, and cannot spread their wings, fly away when the sun is hot and are found no longer, so shalt thou be dispersed and thy place not anymore be known . It was an earnest of this, when the Assyrians, like locusts, had spread themselves around Jerusalem in a dark day of trouble and of rebuke and of blasphemy Isaiah 37:3, God was entreated and they were not. Midian came up like the grasshopper for multitude Judges 6:4-5; Judges 7:12. In the morning they had fled Judges 7:21. What is the height of the sons of hen? or how do they spread themselves abroad?" At the longest, after a few years it is but as the locust spreads himself and flees away, no more to return.
Poetically the little book of Nahum is one of the finest in the Old Testament. Its descriptions are vivid and impetuous: they set us before the walls of the beleaguered Nineveh, and show us the war-chariots of her enemies darting to and fro like lightning, ii. 4, the prancing steeds, the flashing swords, the glittering spears, iii. 2,3. The poetry glows with passionate joy as it contemplates the ruin of cruel and victorious Assyria. In the opening chapter, i., ii. 2, Jehovah is represented as coming …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
He spoke, and locusts came, And young locusts, even without number,
Who has planned this against Tyre, the bestower of crowns, Whose merchants were princes, whose traders were the honored of the earth?
What the gnawing locust has left, the swarming locust has eaten; And what the swarming locust has left, the creeping locust has eaten; And what the creeping locust has left, the stripping locust has eaten.
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