Jehovah's Attributes as a Jealous Judge of Sin,
Yet Merciful to His Trusting People, Should Inspire Them with
Confidence. He Will Not Allow the
Assyrians Again to Assail Them, but Will Destroy the Foe.
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
Ex 20:5; 1Co 16:22; 2Co 11:2). Burning zeal enters into the
idea in "jealous" here (compare Nu 25:11, 13; 1Ki 19:10).
the Lord revengeth … Lord
revengeth—The repetition of the incommunicable name 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 appointed time
2:9). 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 (Ps 103:9; Jer 3:5, 12; Mic 7:18).
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 as innocent.
Lord hath his way in the
whirlwind—From this to Na 1:5, 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 (Mt 8:26), proving Himself God (compare
Bashan languisheth—through drought;
ordinarily it was a region famed for its rich pasturage (compare Joe 1:10).
flower of Lebanon—its bloom;
all that blooms so luxuriantly on Lebanon (Ho 14:7). As Bashan was famed for its pastures,
Carmel for its corn fields and vineyards, so Lebanon for its forests
33:9). 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 Ps 89:9; Ho 13:1; compare 2Sa 5:21, Margin.
6. fury is poured out like fire—like the
liquid fire poured out of volcanoes in all directions (see Jer 7:20).
rocks are thrown down—or, "are burnt
asunder"; the usual effect of volcanic fire (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 (Na 1:7), and
to announce the doom of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian foe (Na 1:8). The contrast of Na 1:7, 8 heightens the force.
he knoweth—recognizes as His own
13:5; Am 3:2); and so, cares
for and guards (Ps 1:6; 2Ti 2:19).
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 Na
2:6; Isa 8:8; 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
(Na 2:8), [Maurer]. Or, He shall so utterly destroy Nineveh
that its place cannot be found; Na 3:17 confirms this (compare Ps 37:36; Da 2:35; 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 Isa 37:23-29; compare Ps 1:1.
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 itself.
affliction shall not rise up the second
time—Judah's "affliction" caused by the invasion shall never
rise again. So Na 1:12. 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; 2Sa 20:10). If so, this verse, in contrast to
Na 1:12, 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 Na 1:12, 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 1Ch 4:27,
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 Sardanapalus.
11. The cause of Nineveh's overthrow:
Sennacherib's plots against Judah.
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 countrymen (Na 1:9) against the Lord and His people (2Ki 19:22,
a wicked counsellor—literally, "a
counsellor of Belial." Belial means "without profit," worthless, and so
bad (1Sa 25:25; 2Co 6:15).
12-14. The same truths repeated as in Na 1:9-11, Jehovah here being the speaker.
He addresses Judah, prophesying good to it, and evil to the
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,
7:20). 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 wicked counsellor" (Na 1:11), 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; Isa
8:8; Da 11:10).
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 corrective.
13. will I break his yoke—the Assyrian's
yoke, namely, the tribute imposed by Sennacherib on Hezekiah (2Ki 18:14).
from off thee—O Judah (Isa 10:27).
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
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 (2Ki 19:18). 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
I will make thy grave—rather, "I will
make it (namely, 'the house of thy gods,' that is, 'Nisroch') thy
grave" (2Ki 19:37; Isa 37:38). 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 (Da 5:27;
15. This verse is joined in the Hebrew
text to the second chapter. It is nearly the same as Isa 52:7, referring to the similar deliverance
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 (Ro 10:15).
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" (Na 1:11, Margin); namely,