This chapter goes on with the burden of Nineveh, and concludes it.
I. The sins of that great city are charged upon it, murder
whoredom and witchcraft
and a general extent of wickedness,
II. Judgments are here threatened against it, blood for blood
and shame for shameful sins,
III. Instances are given of the like desolations brought upon other
places for the like sins,
IV. The overthrow of all those things which they depended upon, and
put confidence in, is foretold,
|The Judgment of Nineveh.
||B. C. 710.|
1 Woe to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and
robbery; the prey departeth not;
2 The noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the
wheels, and of the pransing horses, and of the jumping chariots.
3 The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the
glittering spear: and there is a multitude of slain, and a
great number of carcases; and there is none end of their
corpses; they stumble upon their corpses:
4 Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the well-favoured
harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through
her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts.
5 Behold, I am against thee, saith the LORD of hosts; and I
will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will shew the
nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame.
6 And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee
vile, and will set thee as a gazing-stock.
7 And it shall come to pass, that all they that look upon
thee shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste: who
will bemoan her? whence shall I seek comforters for thee?
I. Nineveh arraigned and indicted. It is a high charge that is here
drawn up against that great city, and neither her numbers nor her
grandeur shall secure her from prosecution.
1. It is a city of blood, in which a great deal of innocent
blood is shed by unrighteous war, or under colour and pretence of
public justice, or by suffering barbarous murders to go unpunished; for
this the righteous God will make inquisition.
2. It is all full of lies; truth is banished from among them;
there is no such thing as honesty; one knows not whom to believe nor
whom to trust.
3. It is all full of robbery and rapine; no man cares what
mischief he does, nor to whom he does it: The prey departs not,
that is, they never know when they have got enough by spoil and
oppression. They shed blood, and told lies, in pursuit of the prey,
that they might enrich themselves.
4. There is a multitude of whoredoms in it, that is, idolatries,
spiritual whoredoms, by which she defiled herself, and to which she
seduced the neighbouring nations, as a well-favoured harlot, and sold
and ruined nations through her whoredoms.
5. She is a mistress of witchcrafts, and by them she sells
That which Nineveh aimed at was a universal monarchy, to be the
metropolis of the world, and to have all her neighbours under her feet;
to compass this, she used not only arms, but arts, compelling some,
deluding others, into subjection to her, and wheedling them as a harlot
by her charms to lay their necks under her yoke, suggesting to them
that it would be for their advantage. She courted them to join with her
in her idolatrous rites, to tie them the faster to her interests, and
made use of her wealth, power, and greatness, to draw people into
alliances with her, by which she gained advantages over them, and made
a hand of them. These were her whoredoms, like those of Tyre,
These were her witchcrafts, with which she unaccountably gained
dominion. And for this that God has a quarrel with her who, having
made of one blood all nations of men, never designed one to be a
nation of tyrants and another of slaves, and who claims it as his own
prerogative to be universal Monarch.
II. Nineveh condemned to ruin upon this indictment. Woe to this bloody
See what this woe is.
1. Nineveh had with her cruelties been a terror and destruction to
others, and therefore destruction and terror shall be brought upon her.
Those that are for overthrowing all that come in their way will, sooner
or later, meet with their match.
(1.) Hear the alarm with which Nineveh shall be terrified,
It is a formidable army that advances against it; you may hear them at
a distance, the noise of the whip, driving the chariot-horses
with fury; you may hear the noise of the rattling of the wheels, the
prancing horses, and the jumping chariots; the very noise is
frightful, but much more so when they know that all this force is
coming with all this speed against them, and they are not able to make
head against it.
(2.) See the slaughter with which Nineveh shall be laid waste
the sword drawn with which execution shall be done, the bright sword
lifted up and the glittering spear, the dazzling brightness of
which is very terrible to those whom they are lifted up against. See
what havoc these make when they are commissioned to slay: There is a
great number of carcases, for the slain of the land shall be many;
there is no end of their corpses; there is such a multitude
of slain that it is in vain to go about to take the number of them;
they lie so thick that passengers are ready to stumble upon their
corpses at every step. The destruction of Sennacherib's army,
which, in the morning, were all dead corpses, is perhaps looked
upon here as a figure of the like destruction that should afterwards be
in Nineveh; for those that will not take warning by judgments at a
distance shall have them come nearer.
2. Nineveh had with her whoredoms and witchcrafts drawn others to
shameful wickedness, and therefore God will load her with shame and
The Lord of hosts is against her, and then she shall be
exposed to the highest degree of disgrace and ignominy, shall not only
lose all her charms, but shall be made to appear very odious. When it
shall be seen that while she courted her neighbours it was with design
to ruin their liberty and property, when all her wicked artifices shall
be brought to light, then her shame is discovered to the
nations. When her proud pretensions are baffled, and her vain
towering hopes of an absolute and universal dominion brought to nought,
and she appears not to have been so strong and considerable as she
would have been thought to be, then to see the nakedness of the land
do they come, and it appears ridiculous. Then do they cast
abominable filth upon her, as upon a carted strumpet, and make
her vile as the offscouring of all things; that great city, which
all nations had made court to and coveted an alliance with, has become
a gazing-stock, a laughing stock. Those that formerly looked upon her,
and fled to her, in hopes of protection from her, now look upon her
and flee from her, for fear of being ruined with her. Note, Those
that abuse their honour and interest will justly be disgraced and
abandoned, and, because miserable, will be made contemptible, and
thereby be made more miserable. When Nineveh is laid waste who will
bemoan her? Her trouble will be so great, and her sense of it so
deep, as not to admit relief from sympathy, or any comforting
considerations; or, if it would, none shall do any such good office:
When shall I seek comforters for thee? Note, Those that showed
no pity in the day of their power can expect to find no pity in the day
of their fall. When those about Nineveh, that had been deceived by her
wiles, come to be undeceived in her ruin, every one shall insult over
her, and none bemoan her. This was Nineveh's fate, when she was made a
spectacle, or gazing-stock. Note, The greater men's show was in the day
of their abused prosperity the greater will their shame be in the day
of their deserved destruction. I will make thee an example; so
Drusus reads it. Note, When proud sinners are humbled and brought down
it is designed that others should take example by them not to lift up
themselves in security and insolence when they prosper in the
|The Judgment of Nineveh.
||B. C. 710.|
8 Art thou better than populous No, that was situate among the
rivers, that had the waters round about it, whose rampart was
the sea, and her wall was from the sea?
9 Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was
infinite; Put and Lubim were thy helpers.
10 Yet was she carried away, she went into captivity: her
young children also were dashed in pieces at the top of all the
streets: and they cast lots for her honourable men, and all her
great men were bound in chains.
11 Thou also shalt be drunken: thou shalt be hid, thou also
shalt seek strength because of the enemy.
12 All thy strong holds shall be like fig trees with the
first-ripe figs: if they be shaken, they shall even fall into the
mouth of the eater.
13 Behold, thy people in the midst of thee are women: the
gates of thy land shall be set wide open unto thine enemies: the
fire shall devour thy bars.
14 Draw thee waters for the siege, fortify thy strong holds: go
into clay, and tread the mortar, make strong the brick-kiln.
15 There shall the fire devour thee; the sword shall cut thee
off, it shall eat thee up like the cankerworm: make thyself many
as the cankerworm, make thyself many as the locusts.
16 Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of
heaven: the cankerworm spoileth, and flieth away.
17 Thy crowned are as the locusts, and thy captains as the
great grasshoppers, which camp in the hedges in the cold day,
but when the sun ariseth they flee away, and their place is not
known where they are.
18 Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria: thy nobles shall
dwell in the dust: thy people is scattered upon the mountains,
and no man gathereth them.
19 There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous:
all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee:
for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?
Nineveh has been told that God is against her, and then none can be for
her, to stand her in any stead; yet she sets God himself at defiance,
and his power and justice, and says, I shall have peace.
Threatened folks live long; therefore here the prophet largely shows
how vain her confidences would prove and insufficient to ward off the
judgment of God. To convince them of this,
I. He shows them that other places, which had been as strong and as
secure as they, could not keep their ground against the judgments of
God. Nineveh shall fall unpitied and uncomforted (for miserable
comforters will those prove who speak peace to those on whom God will
fasten trouble), and she shall not be able to help herself: Art thou
better than populous No?
He takes them off from their vain confidences by quoting precedents.
The city mentioned is No, a great city in the land of Egypt
No-Ammon, so some read it both there and here. We read of it,
Some think it was Diospolis, others Alexandria. As God
said to Jerusalem, Go, see what I did to Shiloh
so to Nineveh that great city, Go, see what I did to populous
No. Note, It will help to keep us in a holy fear of the judgments
of God to consider that we are not better than those that have fallen
under those judgments before us. We deserve them as much, and are as
little able to grapple with them. This also should help to reconcile us
to afflictions. Are we better than such and such, who were in like
manner exercised? Nay, were not they better than we, and less likely to
be afflicted? Now, concerning No, observe,
1. How firm her standing seemed to be,
She was fortified both by nature and art, was situate among the
rivers. Nile, in several branches, not only watered her fields, but
guarded her wall. Her rampart was the sea, the lake of
Mareotis, an Egyptian sea, like the sea of Tiberias. Her wall
was from the sea; it was fenced with a wall which was thought to
make the place impregnable. It was also supported by its interests and
Ethiopia, or Arabia, was her strength, either by the
wealth brought to her in a way of trade or by the auxiliary forces
furnished for military service. The whole country of Egypt also
contributed to the strength of this populous city; so that it was
infinite, and there was no end of it (so it might be rendered);
She set no bounds to her ambition and knew no end of her wealth and
strength; people flocked to her endlessly, and she thought there never
would be any end of it; but it is God's prerogative to be infinite.
Put and Lubim were thy helpers, two neighbouring countries of
Africa, Mauritania and Libya, that is, Libya Cyrenica, a country that
Egypt had much dependence upon. No, thus helped, seemed to sit as a
queen, and was not likely to see any sorrow. But,
2. See how fatal her fall proved to be
Yet was she carried away, and her strength failed her; even she
that was so strong, so secure, yet went into captivity. This
refers to some destruction of that city which was then well-known, and
probably fresh in memory, though not recorded in history; for the
destruction of it by Nebuchadnezzar (if we should understand this
prophetically) could not be made an example to Nineveh; for the
reducing of Nineveh was one of the first of his victories and that of
Egypt one of the last. The strength and grandeur of that great city
could not be its protection from military execution.
(1.) Not from that which was most barbarous; for her young
children had no compassion shown them, but were dashed in pieces
at the top of all the streets by the merciless conquerors.
(2.) Not from that which was most inglorious and disgraceful: They
cast lots for her honourable men that were made prisoners of war,
who should have them for their slaves. So many had they of them that
they knew not what to do with them, but they made sport with throwing
dice for them; all her great men, that used to be adorned on
state-days with chains of gold, were now bound in chains of
iron; they were pinioned or handcuffed (so the word
properly signifies), not only as slaves, but as condemned malefactors.
What a mortification was this to populous No, to have her
honourable men and great men, that were her pride and confidence, thus
abused! Now hence he infers against Nineveh
"Thou also shalt be intoxicated, infatuated; thou also shalt reel and
stagger, as drunk with the cup of the Lord's fury, that shall be put
into thy hand" (see
"Thou shalt fall and rise no more. The cup shall go round, and
come to thy turn, O Nineveh! to drink off at last, and shall be to thee
as the waters of jealousy."
II. He shows them that all those things which they reposed a confidence
in should fail them.
1. Did the men of Nineveh trust to their own magnanimity and bravery?
Their hearts should sink and fail them. They shall be hid,
shall abscond for shame, being in disgrace, abscond for fear, being in
distress and danger, and not able to face the enemies, because of whose
strength and terror, having no strength of their own, they shall
seek strength, shall come sneaking to their neighbours to beg
their assistance in a time of need. Thus God can cut off the
spirit of princes, and take away their heart.
2. Did they depend upon their barrier, the garrisons and strongholds
they had, which were regularly fortified and bravely manned? Those
shall prove but paper-walls, and like the first-ripe figs,
which, if you give the tree but a little shake, will fall into the
mouth of the eater that gapes for them; so easily will all their
strongholds be made to surrender to the advancing enemy, upon the first
Note, Strongholds, even the strongest, are no fence against the
judgments of God, when they come with commission. The rich man's
wealth is his strong city, and a high wall, but only in his own
They are supposed to make their strongholds as strong as possible, and
are challenged to do their utmost to make them tenable, and serviceable
to them against the invader
Draw thee water for the siege; lay in great quantities of water,
that that which is so necessary to the support of human life may not be
wanting; it is put here for all manner of provision, with which Nineveh
is ironically told to furnish herself, in expectation of a siege. "Take
ever so much care that thou mayest not be starved out, and forced by
famine to surrender, yet that shall not avail. Fortify the
strongholds, by adding out-works to them, or putting men and arms
into them," as with us by planting cannon upon them. "Go into clay,
and tread the mortar, and make strong the brick-kiln; take
all the pains thou canst in erecting new fortifications; but it shall
be all in vain, for
there shall even the fire devour thee if it be taken by storm."
It is by fire and sword that in time of war the great devastations are
3. Did they put confidence in the multitude of their inhabitants? Were
they, from their number and valour, reckoned their strongest walls and
fortifications? Alas! these shall stand them in no stead; they shall
but sink the sooner under the weight of their own numbers
Thy people in the midst of thee are women; they have no wisdom,
no courage; they shall be fickle, feeble, and faint-hearted, as women
commonly are in such times of danger and distress; they shall be at
their wits' end, adding to their griefs and fears by the power of their
own imagination, and utterly unable to do any thing for themselves; the
valiant men shall become cowards. O verè Phrygiæ, neque
enim Phryges--Phrygian dames, not Phrygian men. Though they
make themselves many
as the canker-worm and as the locust, that come in vast
swarms, though thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of
heaven, though thy exchange be thronged with wealthy traders, who,
having so much money to stand up in defence of and so much to lay out
in the means of their defence, should, one would think, give the enemy
a warm reception, yet their hearts shall fail them too; though they be
numerous as caterpillars, yet the fire and sword shall eat them up
easily and irresistibly as the canker-worm,
They are as numerous as those wasting insects, but their enemies shall
be mischievous like them. He adds
The canker-worm spoils, or spreads herself, and flies
away. Both the merchants and the enemies were compared to
canker-worms. The enemies shall spoil Nineveh, and carry away the
spoil, without opposition, or any hope of recovering it. Or the rich
merchants, who have come from abroad to settle in Nineveh, and have
raised vast estates there, out of which it was hoped they would
contribute largely for the defence of the city, when they see the
country invaded and the city likely to be besieged, will send away
their effects, and remove to some other place, will spread their
wings and fly away where they may be safe, and Nineveh shall
be never the better for them. Note, It is rare to find even those that
have shared with us in our joys willing to share with us in our griefs
too. The canker-worms will continue upon the field while there is any
thing to be had, but they are gone when all is gone. Those that men
have got by they do not care to lose by. Nineveh's merchants bid her
farewell in her distress. Riches themselves are as the canker-worms,
which on a sudden fly away as the eagle towards heaven,
4. Did they put a confidence in the strength of their gates and bars?
What fence will those be against the force of the judgments of God?
The gates of thy land shall be set wide open unto thy enemies,
the gates of thy rivers
the flood-gates, or the passes and avenues, by which the enemy would
make his entrance into the country, or the gates of the cities; these,
though ever so strong and well-guarded, shall not answer their end:
The fire shall devour thy bars, the bars of thy gates, and then
they shall fly open.
5. Did they put a confidence in their king and princes? They should do
them no service
Thy crowned heads are as the locusts; those that had pomp and
power, as crowned heads, were enfeebled, and had no power to make
resistance, when the enemy came in like a flood. "Thy captains,
that should lead thy forces into the field, are great indeed, and look
great, but they are as the great grasshoppers, the maximum
quod sic--the largest specimens of that species; still they
are but grasshoppers, worthless things, that can do no service. They
encamp in the hedges, in the cold day, the cold weather, but,
when the sun arises, they flee away, and are gone, nobody knows
whither. So these mercenary soldiers that lay slumbering about Nineveh,
when any trouble arises, flee away, and shift for their own safety.
The hireling flees, because he is a hireling." The king of
Assyria is told, and it is a shame he needs to be told it (who
might observe it himself), that his shepherds slumber; they have
no life or spirit to appear for the flock, and are very remiss in the
discharge of the duty of their place and the trust reposed in them: Thy
nobles shall dwell in the dust, and be buried in silence.
6. Did they hope that they should yet recover themselves and rally
again? In this also they should be disappointed; for, when the
shepherds are smitten, the sheep are scattered; the people are
dispersed upon the mountains and no man gathers them, nor
will they ever come together of themselves, but will wander endlessly,
as scattered sheep do. The judgment they are under is as a wound, and
it is incurable; there is no relief for it, "no healing of thy
bruise, no possibility that the wound, which is so grievous and
painful to thee, should be so much as skinned over; thy case is
and thy neighbours, instead of lending a hand to help thee, shall
clap their hands over thee, and triumph in thy fall; and the
reason is, because thou hast been one way or other injurious to them
all: Upon whom has not thy wickedness passed continually? Thou
hast been always doing mischief to those about thee; there is none of
them but what thou hast abused and insulted; and therefore they shall
be so far from pitying thee that they shall be glad to see thee
reckoned with." Note, Those that have been abusive to their neighbours
will, one time or another, find it come home to them; they are but
preparing enemies to themselves against their day comes to fall: and
those that dare not lay hands on them themselves will clap their
hands over them, and upbraid them with their former wickedness, for
which they are now well enough served and paid in their own coin.
The troublers shall be troubled will be the burden of many, as
it is here the burden of Nineveh.