NAHUM CHAPTER 3.
The Miserable Ruin of Nineveh.
Jehovah now shows that the cause of Nineveh's destruction is its wickedness, and that for this reason the city is bound to submit to the sentence which has been pronounced upon her. V. 1. Woe to the bloody city, or, "O city of blood, of blood-guiltiness!" It is all full of lies and robbery, so that deceit, violence, and extortion were the order of the day; the prey departeth not, robbery goes on without ceasing; v. 2. the noise of a whip, its sharp crack heard as the horses are urged forward in battle, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels and of the prancing horses and of the jumping chariots, bounding along over the ground, as the horses broke into a gallop. V. 3. The horseman lifteth up, rather, "horsemen rearing," as they directed their mounts to charge, both the bright sword and the glittering spear, or, "the name of the sword and the lightning of the lance"; and there is a multitude of slain, or of wounded, and a great number of carcasses, a wall of corpses heaped up; and there is none end of their corpses; they, the invading enemies, stumble upon their corpses, unable to pick their way forward because the entire battlefield is strewn with dead; v. 4. because of the multitude of the whoredoms, the acts of idolatry and wickedness, of the well-favored harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, idolatry and witchcraft being the special marks of the heathen character, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, with her hypocritical friendship and feigned interest, and families, smaller tribes, through her witchcrafts, namely, by her political schemes and intrigues. For this reason the Lord will plunge Nineveh into a shameful destruction. V. 5. Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, uncover them and throw them up so high that they would reach over her face, and I will show the nations thy nakedness, as that of a lewd woman, and the kingdoms thy shame, in bringing the utmost disgrace upon Nineveh. V. 6. And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, as an expression of the utmost disgust and loathing, and make thee vile, an object of disgrace, and will set thee as a gazing-stock, upon which men would look with contempt and derision. V. 7. And it shall come to pass that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, with a feeling of deepest revulsion, and say, Nineveh is laid waste; who will bemoan her? Whence shall I seek comforters for thee? so the prophet interjects his question. No one would have the slightest sympathy with the stricken city, because she had so thoroughly deserved her punishment. V. 8. Art thou better than populous No, that is, No-Amon, Thebes, the capital of Upper Egypt, that was situate among the rivers, that had the waters round about it, namely, in the great irrigation canals, whose rampart was the sea, and her wall was from the sea? the great expanse of the Nile. V. 9. Ethiopia and Egypt, the countries along the Nile, were her strength, and it was infinite; Put and Lubim, the countries to the west, along the Mediterranean Sea, were thy helpers, Thebes itself being addressed in the excitement of the orator. V. 10. Yet, in spite of all her own power and the strength of her allies, was she carried away, she went into captivity, after a conquest by Sargon, Esar-haddon, or Tir-haqua; her young children also were dashed in pieces at the top, that is, at the corners, of all the streets; and they cast lots for her honorable men, the conquerors dividing them among themselves by lot, as slaves, and all her great men were bound in chains. V. 11. Thou also, namely, Nineveh, shalt be drunken, upon receiving the cup of God's fury in judgment; thou shall be hid, covered over, as though she had never existed; thou also shalt seek strength because of the enemy, protection or refuge before the advancing enemy, without being able to find it. V. 12. All thy strongholds, the fortresses and castles of the Assyrian country, shall be like fig-trees with the first-ripe figs, considered a special delicacy; if they be shaken, they shall even fall into the mouth of the eater, they would readily be taken by the invading enemy. V. 13. Behold, thy people in the midst of thee are women, without strength and courage for the battle; the gates of thy land shall be set wide open, the Lord making the land easy of access to the invaders, unto thine enemies; the fire shall devour thy bars, those which held the great gates of the city shut. V. 14. Draw thee waters for the siege, that needed for a long period of siege of the enemies; fortify thy strongholds, strengthening the forts; go into clay, for making bricks, and tread the mortar, in order to fashion bricks for the bulwarks; make strong the brick-kiln, in order to burn the bricks. V. 15. There shall the fire devour thee, in the very midst of these preparations; the sword shall cut thee off, it shall eat thee up like the canker-worm, as locusts destroy; make thyself many as the canker-worm, like devouring insects; make thyself many as the locusts. The thought is this: The fire and the sword, like locusts devouring everything before them, would consume Nineveh, even though the city with its masses of houses and inhabitants would resemble a swarm of locusts. V. 16. Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven, the number of its people engaged in commercial pursuits of every kind being very great; the canker-worm spoileth, literally, "the licking locusts enter to plunder," and fleeth away, the military might of Assyria being powerless before the armies of the invaders. V. 17. Thy crowned, the vassal princes, are as the locusts, and thy captains, the commanders of her armies, as the great grasshoppers, which camp in the hedges in the cold day, too chilled to use their wings; but when the sun ariseth, they flee away, and their place is not known where they are. In a similar way the Assyrian army would vanish from sight; it would not be in evidence to withstand the invaders. V. 18. Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria, that is, the mighty ones, the leaders of the people, were resting in a false security; thy nobles shall dwell in the dust, rather, "thy powerful ones are lying still," not making a move to defend their country; thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth them, no one assumes the leadership over them, and so their identity as an Assyrian nation is lost. V. 19. There is no healing of thy bruise, of the fracture which the Lord had inflicted; thy wound is grievous, the stroke or ruin being deadly; all that hear the bruit, the report, of thee shall clap the hands over thee, in a gesture of joy over the downfall of the oppressor; for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually? The Lord indeed used Assyria as His scourge, but He, at the same time, wanted Assyria to acknowledge His sovereignty. When Nineveh and the entire country, therefore, persisted in its wickedness, His punishment came upon the land with crushing force.