Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
ADVANCE OF THE
ROD FOR A
ACCORDING TO THE
1. He that dasheth in pieces--God's "battle axe," wherewith He "breaks
in pieces" His enemies.
applies the same Hebrew term to Nebuchadnezzar (compare
"the hammer of the whole earth"). Here the Medo-Babylonian army under
Cyaxares and Nabopolassar, that destroyed Nineveh, is prophetically
before thy face--before Nineveh. Openly, so that the work of God
may be manifest.
watch the way--by which the foe will attack, so as to be ready to meet
him. Ironical advice; equivalent to a prophecy, Thou shalt have need to
use all possible means of defense; but use what thou wilt, all will be
make thy loins strong--The loins are the seat of strength; to
gird them up is to prepare all one's strength for conflict
Also gird on thy sword
2. For the Lord hath turned away the excellency of Jacob--that is, the
time for Nineveh's overthrow is ripe, because Jacob (Judah) and Israel
(the ten tribes) have been sufficiently chastised. The Assyrian rod of
chastisement, having done its work, is to be thrown into the fire. If
God chastised Jacob and Israel with all their "excellency" (Jerusalem
and the temple, which was their pre-eminent excellency above all nations
in God's eyes,
Ps 47:4; 87:2;
how much more will He punish fatally Nineveh, an alien to Him, and
idolatrous? MAURER, not so well, translates,
"restores," or "will restore the excellency of Jacob."
emptiers--the Assyrian spoilers.
have emptied them out--have spoiled the Israelites and Jews
on "vine branches," as applied to Israel.
3. his mighty men--the Medo-Babylonian general's mighty
men attacking Nineveh.
made red--The ancients dyed their bull's-hide shields red, partly
to strike terror into the enemy, chiefly lest the blood from wounds
which they might receive should be perceived and give confidence to the
G. V. SMITH conjectures that the reference is to the red
reflection of the sun's rays from shields of bronze or copper, such as
are found among the Assyrian remains.
in scarlet--or crimson military tunics (compare
XENOPHON mentions that the Medes were fond of this
color. The Lydians and Tyrians extracted the dye from a particular
chariots . . . with flaming torches--that is, the
chariots shall be like flaming torches, their wheels in lightning-like
rapidity of rotation flashing light and striking sparks from the stones
over which they pass (compare
English Version supposes a transposition of the Hebrew
letters. It is better to translate the Hebrew as it is, "the
chariots (shall be furnished) with fire-flashing scythes"
(literally, "with the fire," or glitter, of iron weapons). Iron
scythes were fixed at right angles to the axles and turned down, or
parallel to it, inserted into the felly of the wheel. The Medes,
perhaps, had such chariots, though no traces of them are found in
Assyrian remains. On account of the latter fact, it may be better to
translate, "the chariots (shall come) with the glitter of steel
weapons" [MAURER and G. V. SMITH].
in the day of his preparation--JEHOVAH'S
Or, "Medo-Babylonian commander's day of preparation for the
"He" confirms this, and "his" in this verse.
the fir trees--their fir-tree lances.
terribly shaken--branded so as to strike terror. Or, "shall be
tremulous with being brandished" [MAURER].
4. rage--are driven in furious haste
justle one against another--run to and fro [MAURER].
in the broad ways--
Large open spaces in the suburbs of Nineveh.
they shall seem like torches--literally, "their (feminine in
Hebrew) appearance (is)": namely, the appearance of the broad
places is like that of torches, through the numbers of chariots in
them flashing in the sun
run like the lightnings--with rapid violence
5. The Assyrian preparations for defense.
He--the Assyrian king.
shall recount his worthies--
Review, or count over in his mind, his nobles, choosing
out the bravest to hasten to the walls and repel the attack. But in
they shall stumble in their walk--"they shall stumble in their
advance" through fear and hurry.
the defence shall be prepared--rather, the covering machine used
by besiegers to protect themselves in advancing to the wall. Such
sudden transitions, as here from the besieged to the besiegers, are
[MAURER]. Or, used by the besieged
6. The gates of the rivers . . . opened--The river
wall on the Tigris (the west defense of Nineveh) was 4,530 yards long.
On the north, south, and east sides, there were large moats, capable of
being easily filled with water from the Khosru. Traces of dams
("gates," or sluices) for regulating the supply are still visible, so
that the whole city could be surrounded with a water barrier
Besides, on the east, the weakest side, it was further protected by a
lofty double rampart with a moat two hundred feet wide between its two
parts, cut in the rocky ground. The moats or canals, flooded by the
Ninevites before the siege to repel the foe, were made a dry bed to
march into the city, by the foe turning the waters into a different
channel: as Cyrus did in the siege of Babylon [MAURER]. In the earlier capture of Nineveh by Arbaces the
Mede, and Belesis the Babylonian, DIODORUS SICULUS, [1.2.80], states that there was an old prophecy
that it should not be taken till the river became its enemy; so in the
third year of the siege, the river by a flood broke down the walls
twenty furlongs, and the king thereupon burnt himself and his palace
and all his concubines and wealth together, and the enemy entered by
the breach in the wall. Fire and water were doubtless the means of the
second destruction here foretold, as of the first.
dissolved--by the inundation [HENDERSON]. Or, those in the palace
shall melt with fear, namely, the king and his nobles
7. Huzzab--the name of the queen of Nineveh, from a Hebrew root
implying that she stood by the king
[VATABLUS]. Rather, Nineveh personified as a
queen. She who had long stood in the most supreme prosperity.
Similarly CALVIN. MAURER
makes it not a proper name, and translates, "It is established," or
English Version is more supported by the parallelism.
led away captive--The Hebrew requires rather, "she is
laid bare"; brought forth from the apartments where Eastern women
remained secluded, and is stripped of her ornamental attire. Compare
Isa 47:2, 3,
where the same image of a woman with face and legs exposed is used of a
city captive and dismantled (compare
brought up--Her people shall be made to go up to Babylon. Compare
the use of "go up" for moving from a place in
her maids . . . as . . . doves--As Nineveh is compared to a queen
dethroned and dishonored, so she has here assigned to her in the image
handmaids attending her with dove-like plaints
(Isa 38:14; 59:11.
The image implies helplessness and grief suppressed, but at times
breaking out). The minor cities and dependencies of Nineveh may be
meant, or her captive women [JEROME]. GROTIUS and MAURER translate, for
"lead her," "moan," or "sigh."
tabering--beating on their breasts as on a tambourine.
8. But--rather, "Though" [G. V. SMITH].
of old--rather, "from the days that she hath been"; from the earliest
period of her existence. Alluding to Nineveh's antiquity
"Though Nineveh has been of old defended by water surrounding her, yet
her inhabitants shall flee away."
GROTIUS, less probably (compare
interprets, the "waters" of her numerous population
Stand, stand, shall they cry--that is, the few patriotic citizens
shall cry to their fleeing countrymen; "but none looketh back,"
much less stops in flight, so panic-stricken are they.
9. silver . . . gold--The conquerors are summoned to plunder the city.
Nineveh's riches arose from the annual tribute paid by so many subject
states, as well as from its extensive merchandise
Eze 27:23, 24).
store--accumulated by the plunder of subject nations. It is remarkable,
that while small articles of value (bronze inlaid with gold, gems,
seals, and alabaster vases) are found in the ruins of Nineveh, there
are is none of gold and silver. These, as here foretold, were
"taken for spoil" before the palaces were set on fire.
glory out of all the pleasant furniture--or, "there is abundance of
precious vessels of every kind" [MAURER].
10. Literally, "emptiness, and emptiedness, and devastation." The
accumulation of substantives without a verb (as in
the two first of the three being derivatives of the same root, and like
in sound, and the number of syllables in them increasing in a kind of
climax, intensify the gloomy effectiveness of the expression.
Hebrew, Bukah, Mebukah, Mebullakah (compare
Isa 24:1, 3, 4;
faces of all gather blackness--(See on
CALVIN translates, "withdraw (literally, 'gather
up') their glow," or flush, that is, grow pale. This is probably the
better rendering. So MAURER.
11. dwelling of . . . lions--Nineveh, the seat of
empire of the rapacious and destructive warriors of various ranks,
typified by the "lions," "young lions," "old lion" (or lioness
[MAURER]), "the lion's whelp." The image is
peculiarly appropriate, as lions of every form, winged, and sometimes
with the head of a man, are frequent in the Assyrian sepulchres. It was
as full of spoils of all nations as a lion's den is of remains of its
prey. The question, "Where," &c., implies that Jehovah "would make an
utter end of the place," so that its very site could not be
It is a question expressing wonder, so incredible did it then seem.
12. prey . . . ravin--different kinds of prey. Compare
"the stay and the staff."
13. burn . . . in the smoke--or (so as to pass) "into smoke,"
that is, "entirely" [MAURER],
(Ps 37:20; 46:9).
CALVIN, like English Version, explains, As
soon as the flame catches, and the fire smokes, by the mere smoke I
will burn her chariots.
cut off thy prey from the earth--Thou shalt no more carry off prey
from the nations of the earth.
the voice of thy messengers . . . no more . . . heard--No more shall
thy emissaries be heard throughout thy provinces conveying thy king's
commands, and exacting tribute of subject nations.