Page images
PDF
EPUB

the LORD our God, and shall fear because of 19 He will turn again, he will have comthee.

passion upon us; he will subdue our ini18 | Who is a God like unto thee, that quities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into "Spardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the trans- the depths of the sea. gression of the remnant of his heritage? he 20 Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, retaineth not his anger for ever, because he and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast delighteth in mercy.

sworn unto our fathers from the days of old. 15 Exod. 34. 6, 7.

Verse 1. My soul desired the firstripe fruit.Harmer MPIDO, chedek mesukah, occur in juxtaposition, but are thinks that the expression here used by the prophet may

separated in the passage before us. They intimate to us probably be understood by the assistance of a remark

that it was sometimes the practice to make fences of some which Sir John Chardin has made upon this passage.

thorny shrub, to check the progress of aggressors. As He informs us, that the Persians and Turks are not only

little can with certainty be said of this as of the other fond of almonds, plums, and melons in a mature state,

thorny plants mentioned in Scripture. The correspond. bnt that they are remarkable for eating them before they

ing Arabic word chadak or hadak is however applied iu are ripe. As soon as ever they approach to that state,

the East to a species of Solanum; and although Rosenthey make use of them, the great dryness and temperature

müller, who was aware of this, supposes it not to be suitof the air preventing flatulence.

able to the texts, Dr. Royle is of a different opinion, and 4. * Brier.'—The original word (p?n chedek) is trans

states that some species of solanum grow to a considerable

size, while others are among the most prickly plants of lated thorn' in Prov. xv. 19, where the words DIO

the East, and are very common in dry and arid situations, 674

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

This prophet is described in the first verse as the · Elkoshite,' but it has been disputed whether this description is derived from his parentage or the place of his birth. The latter seems the most probable conclusion. Jerome says that there was in his days a village called Helkesi. It was so much fallen to ruin that the traces of the old buildings could scarcely be distinguished; but it was known to the Jews, and was shewn to him by one who went about the country with him. This was in Galilee ; and if this was the birth-place of Nahum, another instance is offered, in addition to that of Jonah, that the Jews were in the wrong in alleging that “Out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.' It has been thought by some, however, that Nahum was of the captivity of Israel, and that the Elkosh of Nahum was a place of that name in Kurdistan (the ancient Assyria), on the east side of the Tigris, about three hours' journey to the north of Mosul, which lies on the same side of the river, opposite to Nunia, supposed to be the site of the ancient Nineveh. This place is now inhabited by Nestorian Christians, and is a place of great resort to Jewish pilgrims, who certainly believe it to be the birthplace and burial-place of Nahum, to whose tomb they pay especial respect. There is no intrinsic improbability in this ; but it is now generally thought that the tradition which connects the name of Nahum with this place is of later date, and originated with the Jews or Nestorians, who imagined that he must have lived near the principal scene of his prophecy, and supposed that the name had been transferred by the Hebrew colonists to this place from the town so called in Palestine, just as our colonists gave the names of English towns to places in their settlements. Although Nahum was a native of Elkosh, it does not necessarily follow that he abode there at the time his prophecy was delivered. On this point we see no evidence. Familiar references to Lebanon, Carmel, and Bashan, do not, in the mouth of a Jew, prove actual residence in Palestine; and it would unnecessarily limit the distinctness of prophetic vision to assume that he was in or near Jerusalem from the graphic manner in which he describes the advance of Sennacherib's army (i. 9-12).

The prophecy is generally held to have been uttered in the latter half of the reign of Hezekiah, not long after the irruption of the Assyrians under Sennacherib into Judæa, and before its fatal termination, which he prophesies, and then stretches forth his prophetic vision into times then remote, when the Assyrian power should be utterly broken and proud Nineveh destroyed events which occurred about a hundred years after the utterance of the predictions.

The style of Nahum is thus characterized by Bishop Lowth :— None of the minor prophets seem to equal Nahum in boldness, ardour, and sublimity. His prophecy, too, forms a regular and perfect poem; the exordium is not merely magnificent, it is truly majestic; the preparation for the destruction of Nineveh, and the description of its downfal and desolation, are expressed in the most lively colours, and are bold and luminous in the highest degree.' The testimony of De Wette is to the same effect in other words. Henderson characterizes Nahum as 'inferior to none of the minor prophets, and scarcely to Isaiah himself.'

The number of separate commentaries upon Nahum is considerable. Bibliandri Propheta Nahum juxta veritatem Ebraicam Latine redditus, cum exegesi, etc., Tiguri, 1534; Luther, Enarratio in Prophetam Nahum, Viteb., 1555—also in German ; De la Heurga, Comm. in Prophetam Nahum, Lugd., 1538; Chytræi Explicatio P. Nahumi, Viteb., 1565; Pintí Comm. in Danielem, Nahum, et Lamentt. Jeremie, Conimbriæ, 1582; Gesneri Paraphrasis et Expositio in Nahum, Viteb., 1604; Crocii Comm. in Nahum, Bremæ, 1620; De Quiros, Comm. in Prophetas Nahum et Malachiam, Hispali, 1622; Ursini Hypomnemata in Obadiam et Nahum, Francof., 1652; Abarbanelis Commentarius Latino donatus a J. D. Sprechero, Helmstd., 1703 ; Van Holke, Explicatio Analytica Prophetarum sex posteriorum ex Minoribus, Lugd., 1709; Wildii Meditationes Sacræ in P. Nahum, etc., Francof., 1712; Wahl, Neu übersetzung des Gesanges, der uns vom P. Nahum übrig ist, Halle, 1790; Grimm, Nahum, neu übersetzt mit erklärenden Anmerkungen, Düsseldorf, 1790 : Greve, Vaticinia Nahumi et Habacuci, Amstelod., 1793 ; Bodin Nahum Latine versus et Notis philologicis illustratus, Upsal, 1806; Fraehn, Curarum exegetico-criticarum in Nahumum P. specimen, Rostock, 1806; Neumann, Nahum, neu übersetzt und mit Anmerkungen, Breslau, 1808; Middledorpf, Nahum, aus dem Hebraischen übersetzt, 1808 ; Pareau, Nahumi Vaticinium philologice et critice Expositum, 1808 ; Justi, Nahum, neu übersetzt und erläutert, Leipz., 1820. [Otto Štrauss, Nahumi De Nino Vaticinium explicavit ex Assyriis monumentis illustravit, 1853.]

CHAPTER I.

anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and

the rocks are thrown down by him. The majesty of God in goodness to his people, and

7 The LORD is good, a 'strong hold in the severity against his enemies.

day of trouble; and he knoweth them that HE burden trust in him. of Nineveh. 8 But with an overrunning flood he will The book of make an utter end of the place thereof, and the vision of darkness shall pursue his enemies. the 9 What do ye imagine against ?

the Lord? Elkoshite. he will make an utter end : affliction shall not

rise up . jealous, and 10"For while they be folden together as the LORD thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkrevengeth ; ards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully the

LORD dry. revengeth, 11 There is one come out of thee, that and "is fu- imagineth evil against the LORD, 'a wicked rious; the counsellor. LORD will 12 Thus saith the LORD ; ®Though they

be quiet, and likewise many, yet thus shall ance on his adversaries, and he reserveth they be cut down, when he shall pass through. wrath for his enemies.

Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee 3 The LORD is 'slow to anger, and great no more. in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked : 13 For now will I break his yoke from off the LORD sath his way in the whirlwind and thee, and will burst thy bonds in sunder. in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of 14 And the Lord hath given a commandhis feet.

ment concerning thee, that no more of thy 4 He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, name be sown: out of the house of thy gods and drieth up all the rivers : Bashan lan- will I cut off the graven image and the guisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of molten image: I will make thy grave; for Lebanon languisheth.

thou art vile. 5 The mountains quake at him, and the 15 Behold upon the '°mountains the feet hills melt, and the earth is burned at his of him that bringeth good tidings, that pubpresence, yea, the world, and all that dwell lisheth peace ! O Judah, "keep thy solemn therein.

feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked 6 Who can stand before his indignation ? shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly and who can 'abide in the fierceness of his cut off. 1 Or, the LORD is a jealous God, and a revenger, &c.

3 Heb. that hath fury.

+ Exod, 34. 6, 7. 6 Or, strength. 7 Heb. a counsellor of Belial. 8 Or, If they would have been at peace, so should they have been many, and so should they have been shorn, and he should have passed away.

1 Heb. feast.

12 Heb. Belial.

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

take venge

2 Exod. 20. 5.

5 Heb. stand up.

9 Heb. shorn,

10 Isa, 52. 1. Rom. 10. 15.

Verse 10.— While they are drunken .... they shall be a condition of drunkenness. Accordingly, Diodorus indevoured as stubble fully dry.'—In the ancient writers forms us, that on the advance of the allied forces of the there is considerable discrepancy with respect to the Medes and Babylonians, the king of Assyria marched names of the persons who acted the more prominent parts against them, and obtained signal victories over them in in that last scene of Assyrian history which is the subject three successive battles. The revolted tributaries began of the present prophecy. They however substantially to think of abandoning their enterprise in despair, when agree, in the circumstances of that great event, with one they received news of the advance of a powerful army another, and with the inspired prophets. And as the cir- out of Bactria to the king's assistance. This force, after cumstances are alone mentioned by the latter, without some parleying, they succeeded in persuading to make any names being given, and as circumstantial corrobora- common cause with themselves against the king whom tions are of the most interest and importance, we shall they came to assist. Meanwhile the Assyrian monarch, limit our notices to them, without opening any discussion ignorant of the revolt of the Bactrians, and elated by for. about the names of the principal persons. We shall follow mer successes, abandoned himself to his revelry and sloth, the account of Diodorus, which is not only the most com- and was chiefly intent on preparing wine and victuals in plete and connected which remains to us, but is proved to abundance to feast his army." The allied revolters being be generally accurate, by the remarkable illustration which apprised by deserters of the intemperance and security of it affords to, and receives from, the prophecies of Scripture. the adverse army, attacked their camp suddenly, in the

In the present verse the prophet intimates that a great night, in the midst of their revelry and drunkenness; and destruction should befal the Assyrians while they were in being in excellent order, while the camp was in the most

676

disordered and helpless coudition imaginable, and alto- traasactions, which the Assyrians receivedand was ingether unprovided for defence, they easily broke into the deed the severest of all that preceded the final overthrow camp, and made a prodigious slaughter of the Assyrians. we may reasonably conclude it to be the same event to The survivors were glad to escape with their king into which the prophet refers. the city. As this was the first great blow, in those closing [V. 14. · House of thy gods.'-APPENDIX, No. 77.]

CHAPTER II.

shall lead her as with the voice of doves, The fearful and victorious armies of God against tabering upon their breasts.

8 But Nineveh is "of old like a pool of Nineveh. water : yet they shall flee away.

Stand, He that dasheth in pieces is come up be- stand, shall they cry; but none shall 'look fore thy face: keep the munition, watch the way, make thy loins strong, fortify thy power spoil of gold : '*for there is none end of the

er 9 Take ye the spoil of silver, take the mightily.

Ž For the LORD hath turned away "the store and glory out of all the "Spleasant furexcellency of Jacob, as the excellency of niture. Israel : for the emptiers have emptied them 10 She is empty, and void, and waste : and out, and marred their vine branches.

the ''heart melteth, and the knees smite to. 3 The shield of his mighty men is made gether, and much pain is in all loins, and the red, the valiant men are in scarlet : the faces of them all gather blackness. chariots shall be with 'faming torches in the 11 Where is the dwelling of the lions, and day of his preparation, and the fir trees shall the feedingplace of the young lions, where be terribly shaken.

the lion, even the old lion, walked, and the 4 The chariots shall rage in the streets, lion's whelp, and none made them afraid ? they shall justle one against another in the 12 The lion did tear in pieces enough for broad ways: 'they shall seem like torches, his whelps, and strangled for his lionesses, they shall run like the lightnings.

and filled his holes with prey, and his dens 5. He shall recount his 'worthies : they with ravin. shall stumble in their walk; they shall make 13 Behold, I am against thee, saith the haste to the wall thereof, and the defence Lord of hosts, and I will burn her chariots shall be prepared.

in the smoke, and the sword shall devour thy 6 The gates of the rivers shall be opened, young

lions : and I will cut off thy prey from and the palace shall be dissolved.

the earth, and the voice of thy messengers 7 And Huzzab shall be "led away cap

shall no more be heard. tive, she shall be brought up, and her maids | Or, The disperser, or, hammer.

3 Or, the pride of Jacob as the pride of Israel. • Or, dyed scarlet. 5 Or, fiery torches.

7 Or, gallants. 8 Heb. covering, or, coverer.
11 Or, discovered. 12 Or, from the days that she hath been.

15 Heb. vessels of desire.

2 Isa. 10. 12.

6 Heb. their show. 10 Or, That which was established, or, there was a stand made.

13 Or, cause them to turn. 14 Or, and their infinite store, &c.

9 Or, molten.

16 Isa. 13. 7, 8.

Verse 5. The defence shall be prepared!'-In this and the two preceding verses we have a very animated description of the preparations for defence. In like manner, we find the defensive preparations particularly mentioned by Diodorus. When the king found himself shut up within the walls of the town, he was by no means discouraged, but took the most active and well-advised measures for the defence. The town was well stored with necessaries, and the lofty and strong walls seemed to defy any force the besiegers could bring to bear against them. Yet not feeling too confident or secure, the king sent off a great part of his treasures, together with his children, to the care of his intimate friend Cotta, the governor of Paphlagonia ; and dispatched posts into all the provinces of the kingdom to raise soldiers and to procure every possible assistance. Having thus made every arrangement for the defence which prudence or courage could suggest, the king resolved to abide the siege till the expected aid from the provinces should arrive. So well were his measures taken, and such the strength and resources of the place, that nothing of any consequence was effected for two years hy the besiegers, beyond the keeping the besieged confined

to the city, and making some abortive assaults upon the walls. But the end came at last, and in the manner which the prophet repeatedly declares.

6. The gates of the rivers shall be opened.'-Compare this with ch. i. 8. Both passages mark very distinctly the agency of an inundation in opening the way to the besiegers of Nineveh. And most remarkably was this accomplished. We are told by Diodorus that in his plans for the defence of the city, the king of Assyria was greatly encouraged by an ancient prophecy, Thai Nineveh should never be taken until the river became its enemy. But that after the allied revolters had besieged the city for two years without effect, there occurred a prodigious inundation of the Tigris, when the stream overflowed its banks, and rose up to the city, and swept away about twenty furlongs of its great wall. When the king heard this unexpected fulfilment of the old prediction, he was filled with consternation and despair; he gave up all for lost; and that he might not fall into the hands of his enemies, he caused a large pile of wood to be raised in his palace, and heaping thereon all his gold, silver, and apparel, and collecting his eunuchs and concubines, cansed the pile to

be set on fire, whereby all these persons, with himself, his persuaded that verse 7 describes Nineveh as a captive treasures, and his palace were utterly consumed. It queen brought before the conqueror, we do not object to claims to be noticed that the prophet mentions fire, as the interpretation we have quoted, since it disposes of the well as water, among the agents employed in the destruc- doubtful word in verse 6, and leaves this conclusion open tion of Nineveh (ch. iii. 13, 15).

for verse 7, where we suppose a new circumstance to be As Diodorus does not specify the time of the year in taken up, only connected generally with the preceding which the inundation of the Tigris took place, we are verse. The present description may then be understood left in doubt by which of the causes which still periodi- to represent Nineveh as a queen (or, if we will, the queen cally operate in swelling its stream, and which sometimes of Nineveh), led before the conqueror, attended by her occasion it to overflow its bank in particular places, it was maidens, who are described as mourving like doves and produced. In autumn it is swollen by rains, and in spring smiting upon their breasts. The act of smiting is strongly by the melting of the snows in the mountains of Armenia. expressed, as in our version by 'tabering,' from the action As the latter cause, more abundantly than the former, of a performer on the tabret. This remarkable expression replenishes the channel of the river, and more frequently has been duly noticed by various expositors, who have occasions inundations, it was probably by this that the however overlooked two circumstances which add to the proud walls of Nineveh were thrown down. A similar force of the allusion,-one is, that tambourines are used circumstance occurred a few years since to the greatest exclusively by females in the East; and the other, that city, Baghdad, that now exists on the same river. While such are the instrumeuts employed by the women who the inhabitants were expecting a siege, the river over- wail for the dead. [The word Huzzab means here simply, flowed its banks, producing one of the most extensive and it is determined. It is determined—that is, that the destructive river-inundations that history records. In one following things shall happen to Nineveh.] night a large part of the city wall, with a great number -'Her maids shall lead her as with the voice of doces, of the houses, were overthrown by the irruption of the

tabering upon her breasts.'—The tabor, one of the few waters, thousands of the sleeping inhabitants being over- musical instruments of ancient times, was employed both in whelmed in the ruins. In this case, however, the extent

rejoicing and mourning. The latter use of it is referred to of the inundation around the city, and the length of time by the figurative phrases here employed, and appears to us which it took to subside, allowed opportunity for the re- to be strikingly illustrated by the following, from an old pair of the wall before the hostile army could approach. traveller (Biddulph), who writes, 'While we were at Sapheta

7. Huzzab.—This word (DYP) has been very differ- (Saphet, in Palestine), many Turks departed thence towards ently understood. Of the numerous alternatives which

Mecca in Arabia; and the same morning they went, we saw have been suggested, the following are the principal :- many women playing with timbrels as they went along the The queen of Nineveh ; Nineveh itself represented as a

street, and made a yelling or shrieking noise as though queen; a female idol; the warriors; the host; the foun- they cried. We asked what they meant in so doing. It dation; the fortress, etc. These diversities are obtained was answered us, that they mourned for the departure of by alterations in, or additions to, the present reading; by

their husbands, who were gone that morning on pilgrimage derivations from different roots; and by reading in a dif

to Mecca, and they feared that they should never see them ferent connection; as well as by different apprehensions again, because it was a long way and dangerous, and many of the word as it stands. The interpretation 'fortress,'

died there every year.' which Newcome and Boothroyd prefer, requires the word 9. 'Take ye the spoil of silver .... of gold.'_Diodorus to end verse 6 rather than to begin verse 7; and the last describes the conquerors of Nineveh as greatly enriched clause of the former and the first of the latter will then by the spoils of gold and silver, collected from the ashes read thus: “The palace shall be dissolved and the fortress.

of the funeral pile and the rubbish of the burnt palace of She shall be led away captive,' etc. As we are strongly

the Assyrian king.

CHAPTER III.

nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy

shame. The miserable ruin of Nineveh.

6 And I will cast abominable filth upon WoE to the bloody city! it is all full of lies thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as and robbery ; the prey departeth not ; a gazingstock.

2 The noise of a whip, and the noise of the 7 And it shall come to pass, that all they rattling of the wheels, and of the pransing that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and horses, and of the jumping chariots.

say, Nineveh is laid waste : who will bemoan 3 The horseman lifteth up both the bright her? whence shall I seek comforters for thee? sword and the glittering spear: and there is 8 Art thou better than 5populous No, a multitude of slain, and a great number of that was situate among the rivers, that had carcases ; and there is none end of their the waters round about it, whose rampart was corpses ; they stumble upon their corpses : the sea, and her wall was from the sea ?

4 Because of the multitude of the whore- 9 Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, doms of the wellfavoured harlot, the mistress and it was infinite ; Put and Lubim were thy of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through helpers. her whoredoms, and families through her 10 Yet was she carried away, she went witchcrafts.

into captivity: her young children also were 5 Behold, I am against thee, saith the dashed in pieces at the top of all the streets : LORD of hosts; and I will discover thy and they cast lots for her honourable men, skirts upon thy face, and I will shew the and all her great men were bound in chains. 1 Heb. city of bloods.

8 Heb. the flame of the sword, and the lightning of the spear.

7 Heb. in thy help.

2 Ezek. 24. 9. Hab, 2. 12. 4 Isa. 47. 3. Ezek. 16. 37.

• Or, nourishing.

* Heb. No Amon.

« PreviousContinue »