Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
ATTRIBUTES AS A
1. burden of Nineveh--the prophetic doom of Nineveh. Nahum
prophesied against that city a hundred fifty years after Jonah.
2. jealous--In this there is sternness, yet tender affection. We
are jealous only of those we love: a husband, of a wife; a king, of his
subjects' loyalty. God is jealous of men because He loves them. God
will not bear a rival in His claims on them. His burning jealousy for
His own wounded honor and their love, as much as His justice, accounts
for all His fearful judgments: the flood, the destruction of Jerusalem,
that of Nineveh. His jealousy will not admit of His friends being
oppressed, and their enemies flourishing (compare
Burning zeal enters into the idea in "jealous" here (compare
Nu 25:11, 13;
the Lord revengeth . . . Lord revengeth--The repetition of the
JEHOVAH, and of His revenging, gives an awful
solemnity to the introduction.
furious--literally, "a master of fury." So a master of the
tongue, that is, "eloquent." "One who, if He pleases, can most
readily give effect to His fury" [GROTIUS]. Nahum
has in view the provocation to fury given to God by the Assyrians,
after having carried away the ten tribes, now proceeding to invade
Judea under Hezekiah.
reserveth wrath for his enemies--reserves it against His own
After long waiting for their repentance in vain, at length punishing
them. A wrong estimate of Jehovah is formed from His suspending
punishment: it is not that He is insensible or dilatory, but He
reserves wrath for His own fit time. In the case of the penitent, He
does not reserve or retain His anger
Jer 3:5, 12;
3. slow to anger, and great in power--that is, but great
in power, so as to be able in a moment, if He pleases, to destroy the
wicked. His long-suffering is not from want of power to punish
(Ex 34:6, 7).
not at all acquit--literally, "will not acquitting acquit," or treat
Lord hath his way in the whirlwind--From this to
inclusive, is a description of His power exhibited in the phenomena of
nature, especially when He is wroth. His vengeance shall sweep away the
Assyrian foe like a whirlwind
clouds are the dust of his feet--Large as they are, He treads on them,
as a man would on the small dust; He is Lord of the clouds, and uses
them as He pleases.
4. rebuketh the sea--as Jesus did
proving Himself God (compare
Bashan languisheth--through drought; ordinarily it was a region famed
for its rich pasturage (compare
flower of Lebanon--its bloom; all that blooms so
luxuriantly on Lebanon
As Bashan was famed for its pastures, Carmel for its corn fields and
vineyards, so Lebanon for its forests
There is nothing in the world so blooming that God cannot change it
when He is wroth.
5. earth is burned--so GROTIUS. Rather, "lifts itself," that is,
"heaveth" [MAURER]: as the Hebrew is translated in
6. fury is poured out like fire--like the liquid fire poured out of
volcanoes in all directions (see
rocks are thrown down--or, "are burnt asunder"; the usual effect of
(Jer 51:25, 56).
As Hannibal burst asunder the Alpine rocks by fire to make a passage
for his army [GROTIUS].
7. Here Nahum enters on his special subject, for which the previous
verses have prepared the way, namely, to assure his people of safety in
Jehovah under the impending attack of Sennacherib
and to announce the doom of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian foe
The contrast of
Na 1:7, 8
heightens the force.
he knoweth--recognizes as His own
and so, cares for and guards
8. with an overrunning flood--that is, with irresistible might which
overruns every barrier like a flood. This image is often applied to
overwhelming armies of invaders. Also of calamity in general
(Ps 32:6; 42:7; 90:5).
There is, perhaps, a special allusion to the mode of Nineveh's capture
by the Medo-Babylonian army; namely, through a flood in the
river which broke down the wall twenty furlongs (see on
Da 9:26; 11:10, 22, 40).
end of the place thereof--Nineveh is personified as a queen; and
"her place" of residence (the Hebrew for "thereof" is feminine)
is the city itself
[MAURER]. Or, He shall so utterly destroy Nineveh
that its place cannot be found;
confirms this (compare
Re 12:8; 20:11).
darkness--the severest calamities.
9. What do ye imagine against the Lord?--abrupt address to the
Assyrians. How mad is your attempt, O Assyrians, to resist so powerful
a God! What can ye do against such an adversary, successful though ye
have been against all other adversaries? Ye imagine ye have to
do merely with mortals and with a weak people, and that so you will
gain an easy victory; but you have to encounter God, the protector of
His people. Parallel to
he will make an utter end--The utter overthrow of Sennacherib's host,
soon about to take place, is an earnest of the "utter end" of Nineveh
affliction shall not rise up the second time--Judah's "affliction"
caused by the invasion shall never rise again. So
But CALVIN takes the "affliction" to be that of
Assyria: "There will be no need of His inflicting on you a second
blow: He will make an utter end of you once for all"
(1Sa 3:12; 26:8;
If so, this verse, in contrast to
will express, Affliction shall visit the Assyrian no more, in a sense
very different from that in which God will afflict Judah no more. In
the Assyrian's case, because the blow will be fatally final; the
latter, because God will make lasting blessedness in Judah's case
succeed temporary chastisement. But it seems simpler to refer
"affliction" here, as in
to Judah; indeed destruction, rather than affliction,
applies to the Assyrian.
10. while they are folden together as thorns--literally,
"to the same degree as thorns" (compare
Margin). As thorns, so folded together and entangled that they
cannot be loosed asunder without trouble, are thrown by the husbandmen
all in a mass into the fire, so the Assyrians shall all be given
together to destruction. Compare
2Sa 23:6, 7,
where also "thorns" are the image of the wicked. As this image
represents the speediness of their destruction in a mass, so
that of "drunkards," their rushing as it were of their own
accord into it; for drunkards fall down without any one pushing
them [KIMCHI]. CALVIN
explains, Although ye be dangerous to touch as thorns
(that is, full of rage and violence), yet the Lord can easily consume
you. But "although" will hardly apply to the next clause. English
Version and KIMCHI, therefore, are to be
preferred. The comparison to drunkards is appropriate. For drunkards,
though exulting and bold, are weak and easily thrown down by even a
finger touching them. So the insolent self-confidence of the Assyrians
shall precipitate their overthrow by God. The Hebrew is
"soaked," or "drunken as with their own wine." Their drunken
revelries are perhaps alluded to, during which the foe
(according to DIODORUS SICULUS ) broke into their city, and Sardanapalus
burned his palace; though the main and ultimate destruction of
Nineveh referred to by Nahum was long subsequent to that under
11. The cause of Nineveh's overthrow: Sennacherib's plots against
come out of thee--O Nineveh. From thyself shall arise the source of
thy own ruin. Thou shalt have only thyself to blame for it.
imagineth evil--Sennacherib carried out the imaginations of his
against the Lord and His people
(2Ki 19:22, 23).
a wicked counsellor--literally, "a counsellor of Belial." Belial means
"without profit," worthless, and so bad
12-14. The same truths repeated as in
Jehovah here being the speaker. He addresses Judah, prophesying good to
it, and evil to the Assyrian.
Though they be quiet--that is, without fear, and tranquilly
secure. So Chaldee and CALVIN. Or,
"entire," "complete"; "Though their power be unbroken [MAURER], and though they be so many, yet even so
they shall be cut down" (literally, "shorn"; as hair shaved off
closely by a razor,
As the Assyrian was a razor shaving others, so shall he be shaven
himself. Retribution in kind. In the height of their pride and power,
they shall be clean cut off. The same Hebrew stands for
"likewise" and "yet thus." So many as they are, so many
shall they perish.
when he shall pass through--or, "and he shall pass away," namely, "the
Sennacherib. The change of number to the singular distinguishes
him from his host. They shall be cut down, he
shall pass away home
(2Ki 19:35, 36)
[HENDERSON]. English Version is better,
"they shall be cut down, "when" He (Jehovah) shall pass through,"
destroying by one stroke the Assyrian host. This gives the reason why
they with all their numbers and power are to be so utterly cut off.
Compare "pass through," that is, in destroying power
(Eze 12:12, 23;
Though I have afflicted thee--Judah, "I will afflict thee no more"
(Isa 40:1, 2; 52:1, 2).
The contrast is between "they," the Assyrians, and "thee," Judah.
Their punishment is fatal and final. Judah's was temporary and
13. will I break his yoke--the Assyrian's yoke, namely, the tribute
imposed by Sennacherib on Hezekiah
from off thee--O Judah
14. that no more of thy name be sown--that no more of thy seed, bearing
thy name, as kings of Nineveh, be propagated; that thy dynasty become
extinct, namely, on the destruction of Nineveh here foretold; "thee"
means the king of Assyria.
will I cut off . . . graven image--The Medes under
Cyaxares, the joint destroyers of Nineveh with the Babylonians, hated
idolatry, and would delight in destroying its idols. As the Assyrians
had treated the gods of other nations, so their own should be treated
The Assyrian palaces partook of a sacred character [LAYARD]; so that "house of thy gods" may refer to
the palace. At Khorsabad there is remaining a representation of
a man cutting an idol to pieces.
I will make thy grave--rather, "I will make it (namely, 'the house
of thy gods,' that is, 'Nisroch') thy grave"
Thus, by Sennacherib's being slain in it, Nisroch's house should be
defiled. Neither thy gods, nor thy temple, shall save thee; but the
latter shall be thy sepulchre.
thou art vile--or, thou art lighter than due weight
15. This verse is joined in the Hebrew text to the second
chapter. It is nearly the same as
referring to the similar deliverance from Babylon.
him that bringeth good tidings--announcing the overthrow of
Sennacherib and deliverance of Jerusalem. The "mountains" are those
round Jerusalem, on which Sennacherib's host had so lately encamped,
preventing Judah from keeping her "feasts," but on which messengers now
speed to Jerusalem, publishing his overthrow with a loud voice where
lately they durst not have opened their mouths. A type of the far more
glorious spiritual deliverance of God's people from Satan by Messiah,
heralded by ministers of the Gospel
perform thy vows--which thou didst promise if God would deliver thee
from the Assyrian.
the wicked--literally, "Belial"; the same as the "counsellor of Belial"
Margin); namely, Sennacherib.