Nahum 2


Nineveh is now called upon to prepare for the approach of her

enemies, the instruments of Jehovah's vengeance, 1;

and the military array and muster, the very arms and dress, of

the Medes and Babylonians in the reigns of Cyaxares and

Nabopolassar; their rapid approach to the city; the process of

the siege, and the inundation of the river; the capture of the

place; the captivity, lamentation, and flight of the

inhabitants; the sacking of this immense, wealthy, and

exceedingly populous city; and the consequent desolation and

terror, are all described in the pathetic, vivid, and sublime

imagery of Hebrew poetry, 2-10.

This description is succeeded by a very beautiful and

expressive allegory, 11-12;

which is immediately explained, and applied to the city of

Nineveh, 13.

It is thought by some commentators that the metropolitan city

of the Assyrian empire is also intended by the tender and

beautiful simile, in the seventh verse, of a great princess

led captive, with her maids of honour attending her, bewailing

her and their own condition, by beating their breasts, and by

other expressions of sorrow.


Verse 1. He that dasheth in pieces] Or scattereth. The Chaldeans

and Medes.

Keep the munition] Guard the fenced places. From this to the end

of the fifth verse, the preparations made at Nineveh to repel

their enemies are described. The description is exceedingly


Watch the way] By which the enemy is most likely to approach.

Make thy loins strong] Take courage.

Fortify thy power] Muster thy troops; call in all thy allies.

Verse 2. For the Lord hath turned away] Bishop Newcome reads,

for the Lord restoreth, by a slight alteration in the text. I do

not see that we gain much by this. The Lord has been opposed to

Jacob, and the enemy has prevailed against him.

Emptied them out] Brought them from their own land into

captivity. This was the emptying!

Verse 3. The shield of his mighty men is made red] These things

may refer to the war-like preparations made by the Ninevites: they

had red shields, and scarlet or purple clothing; their chariots

were finely decorated, and proceeded with amazing rapidity.

The fir trees shall be terribly shaken.] This may refer to the

darts, arrows, and javelins, flung with destructive power.

Verse 4. The chariots shall rage] Those of the besiegers and the

besieged, meeting in the streets, producing universal confusion

and carnage.

Verse 5. He shall recount his worthies] Muster up his most

renowned warriors and heroes.

Shall make haste to the wall] Where they see the enemies making

their most powerful attacks, in order to get possession of the


Verse 6. The gates of the rivers shall be opened] I have already

referred to this, See Clarke on Na 1:8; but it will be

necessary to be more particular. The account given by Diodorus

Siculus, lib. ii., is very surprising. He begins thus: ηνδαυτω

λογιονπαραδεδομενονεκπρογονωνκτλ-"There was a prophecy

received from their forefathers, that Nineveh should not be taken

till the river first became an enemy to the city. It happened in

the third year of the siege, that the Euphrates [query, Tigris]

being swollen with continued rains, overflowed part of the city,

and threw down twenty stadia of the wall. The king then imagining

that the oracle was accomplished, and that the river was now

manifestly become an enemy to the city, casting aside all hope of

safety, and lest he should fall into the hands of the enemy, built

a large funeral pyre in the palace, (εντοιςβασιλειοις,) and

having collected all his gold and silver and royal vestments,

together with his concubines and eunuchs, placed himself with them

in a little apartment built in the pyre; burnt them, himself, and

the palace together. When the death of the king (Sardanapalus) was

announced by certain deserters, the enemy entered in by the breach

which the waters had made, and took the city."

Thus the prophecy of Nahum was literally fulfilled: "the gates

of the river were opened, and the palace dissolved," i.e., burnt.

Verse 7. And Huzzab shall be led away captive] Perhaps Huzzab

means the queen of Nineveh, who had escaped the burning mentioned

above by Diodorus. As there is no account of the queen being

burnt, but only of the king, the concubines, and the eunuchs, we

may, therefore, naturally conclude that the queen escaped; and is

represented here as brought up and delivered to the conqueror; her

maids at the same time bewailing her lot. Some think Huzzab

signifies Nineveh itself.

Verse 8. But Nineveh is of old like a pool of water]

mimey, from days. Bp. Newcome translates the line thus: "And the

waters of Nineveh are a pool of waters." There may be reference

here to the fact given in the preceding note, the overflowing of

the river by which the city was primarily destroyed.

Stand, stand] Consternation shall be at its utmost height, the

people shall flee in all directions; and though quarter is

offered, and they are assured of safety it they remain, yet not

one looketh back.

Verse 9. Take ye the spoil] Though the king burnt his treasures,

vestments, &c., he could not totally destroy the silver and the

gold. Nor did he burn the riches of the city; these fell a prey

to the conquerors; and there was no end of the store of glorious

garments, and the most costly vessels and furniture.

Verse 10. She is empty, and void, and waste] The original is

strongly emphatic; the words are of the same sound; and increase

in their length as they point out great, greater, and greatest


Bukah, umebukah, umebullakah.

She is void, empty, and desolate.

The faces of them all gather blackness.] This marks the diseased

state into which the people had been brought by reason of famine,

&c.; for, as Mr. Ward justly remarks, "sickness makes a great

change in the countenance of the Hindoos; so that a person who was

rather fair when in health, becomes nearly black by

sickness." This was a general case with the Asiatics.

Verse 11. Where is the dwelling of the lions] Nineveh, the

habitation of bold, strong, and ferocious men.

The feeding place of the young lions] Whither her victorious and

rapacious generals frequently returned to consume the produce of

their success. Here they walked at large, and none made them

afraid. Wheresoever they turned their arms they were victors; and

all nations were afraid of them.

Verse 12. The lion did tear] This verse gives us a striking

picture of the manner in which the Assyrian conquests and

depredations were carried on. How many people were spoiled to

enrich his whelps-his sons, princes, and nobles! How many women

were stripped and slain, whose spoils went to decorate his

lionesses-his queen, concubines, and mistresses. And they had

even more than they could assume; their holes and

dens-treasure-houses, palaces, and wardrobes-were filled with

ravin, the riches which they got by the plunder of towns,

families, and individuals. This is a very fine allegory, and

admirably well supported.

Verse 13. Behold, I am against thee] Assyria, and Nineveh its

capital. I will deal with you as you have dealt with others.

The voice of thy messengers] Announcing thy splendid victories,

and the vast spoils taken-shall no more be heard-thou and thy

riches, and ill-got spoils, shall perish together.

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