The Advance of the Destroying Forces against
Nineveh, after It Was Used as God's Rod for a Time to Chastise His
People: The Capture of That Lion's
Dwelling, According to the Sure Word of Jehovah.
1. He that dasheth in pieces—God's
"battle axe," wherewith He "breaks in pieces" His enemies. Jer 51:20 applies the same Hebrew term to
Nebuchadnezzar (compare Pr 25:18; Jer 50:23, "the hammer of the whole earth"). Here
the Medo-Babylonian army under Cyaxares and Nabopolassar, that
destroyed Nineveh, is prophetically meant.
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 in vain.
make thy loins strong—The loins are
the seat of strength; to gird them up is to prepare all one's strength
for conflict (Job 40:7).
Also gird on thy sword (2Sa 20:8; 2Ki 4:29).
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; Eze 24:21; see on
Am 6:8), 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 (Ho 10:1).
Compare Ps 80:8-16, on "vine branches," as applied to
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 foe [Calvin]. 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
in scarlet—or crimson military
tunics (compare Mt 27:28).
Xenophon mentions that the Medes were
fond of this color. The Lydians and Tyrians extracted the dye from a
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 Isa 5:28). 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 (Isa 13:3). Or, "Medo-Babylonian
commander's day of preparation for the attack" (Na 2:1). "He" confirms this, and "his" in this
the fir trees—their fir-tree
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
in the broad ways—(2Ch 32:6). Large open spaces in the suburbs of
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 (Pr 8:26,
run like the lightnings—with rapid
violence (Mt 24:27; Lu 10:18).
5. The Assyrian preparations for defense.
He—the Assyrian king.
shall recount his worthies—(Na 3:18). Review, or count over
in his mind, his nobles, choosing out the bravest to hasten to the
walls and repel the attack. But in vain; for
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 frequent (compare Eze 4:2), [Maurer]. Or, used by the besieged Assyrians
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 (Na 2:8).
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 [Grotius].
7. Huzzab—the name of the queen of
Nineveh, from a Hebrew root implying that she stood by
the king (Ps
45:9), [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 "determined" (compare Ge 41:32). 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
Na 3:5), [Maurer].
brought up—Her people shall be made
to go up to Babylon. Compare the use of "go up" for moving
from a place in Jer 21:2.
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 (Ge 10:11).
"Though Nineveh has been of old defended by water surrounding her, yet
her inhabitants shall flee away." Grotius, less probably (compare Na 3:8-12), interprets, the "waters" of her
numerous population (Isa 8:7; Jer 51:13; Re 17:15).
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 (Na 3:16; 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
3:2), 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; Zep 1:15).
faces of all gather blackness—(See on
Joe 2:6). 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 found (Na 1:8). It is a question expressing wonder, so
incredible did it then seem.
12. prey … ravin—different kinds
of prey. Compare Isa 3:1, "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.