Repetition of Nineveh's Doom, with New
Features; the Cause Is Her Tyranny, Rapine, and Cruelty: No-ammon's
Fortifications Did Not Save Her; It Is
Vain, Therefore, for Nineveh to Think Her Defenses Will Secure Her
against God's Sentence.
1. the bloody city!—literally, "city of
blood," namely, shed by Nineveh; just so now her own blood is to be
robbery—violence [Maurer]. Extortion [Grotius].
the prey departeth not—Nineveh never
ceases to live by rapine. Or, the Hebrew verb is transitive,
"she (Nineveh) does not make the prey depart"; she ceases not to
2. The reader is transported into the midst of
the fight (compare Jer 47:3).
The "noise of the whips" urging on the horses (in the chariots) is
heard, and of "the rattling of the wheels" of war chariots, and the
"horses" are seen "prancing," and the "chariots jumping," &c.
3. horseman—distinct from "the horses"
(in the chariots, Na 3:2).
lifteth up—denoting readiness for
fight [Ewald]. Gesenius translates, "lifteth up (literally, 'makes
to ascend') his horse." Similarly Maurer, "makes his horse to rise up on his hind
feet." Vulgate translates, "ascending," that is, making his
horse to advance up to the assault. This last is perhaps better than
the bright sword and the glittering
spear—literally, "the glitter of the sword and the flash of
the spear!" This, as well as the translation, "the horseman advancing
up," more graphically presents the battle scene to the eye.
they stumble upon their corpses—The
Medo-Babylonian enemy stumble upon the Assyrian
4. Because of the multitude of the
whoredoms—This assigns the reason for Nineveh's
of the well-favoured harlot—As Assyria
was not a worshipper of the true God, "whoredoms" cannot mean, as in
the case of Israel, apostasy to the worship of false gods; but, her
harlot-like artifices whereby she allured neighboring states so
as to subject them to herself. As the unwary are allured by the
"well-favored harlot's" looks, so Israel, Judah (for example, under
Ahaz, who, calling to his aid Tiglath-pileser, was made tributary by
16:7-10), and other nations,
were tempted by the plausible professions of Assyria, and by the lure
of commerce (Re 18:2, 3), to trust her.
witchcrafts—(Isa 47:9, 12). Alluding to the love
incantations whereby harlots tried to dement and ensnare youths;
answering to the subtle machinations whereby Assyria attracted nations
selleth—deprives of their liberty; as
slaves used to be sold: and in other property also sale
was a usual mode of transfer. Maurer
understands it of depriving nations of their freedom, and literally
selling them as slaves to distant peoples (Joe 3:2, 3,
6-8). But elsewhere there is
no evidence that the Assyrians did this.
5. I will discover thy skirts upon thy
face—that is, discover thy nakedness by throwing up thy
skirts upon thy face (the greatest possible insult), pulling them
up as as high as thy head (Jer 13:22; Eze 16:37-41). I will treat thee not as a matron, but
as a harlot whose shame is exposed; her gaudy finery being lifted up
off her (Isa 47:2, 3). So Nineveh shall be stripped of all
her glory and defenses on which she prides herself.
6. cast abominable filth upon thee—as
infamous harlots used to be treated.
gazing stock—exposed to public
ignominy as a warning to others (Eze 28:17).
7. all … that look upon thee—when
thou hast been made "a gazing stock" (Na 3:6).
shall flee from thee—as a thing
horrible to look upon. Compare "standing afar off," Re 18:10.
whence shall I seek comforters for
thee?—Compare Isa 51:19,
which Nahum had before his mind.
8. populous No—rather, as Hebrew,
"No-ammon," the Egyptian name for Thebes in Upper Egypt; meaning the
portion or possession of Ammon, the Egyptian Jupiter
(whence the Greeks called the city Diospolis), who was especially
worshipped there. The Egyptian inscriptions call the god
Amon-re, that is, Amon the Sun; he is represented as a
human figure with a ram's head, seated on a chair (Jer
46:25; Eze 30:14-16). The
blow inflicted on No-ammon, described in Na 3:10, was probably by the Assyrian Sargon
(see on Isa 18:1; Isa
20:1). As Thebes, with all her resources, was overcome by Assyria,
so Assyrian Nineveh, notwithstanding all her might, in her turn, shall
be overcome by Babylon. English Version, "populous," if correct,
implies that No's large population did not save her from
situate among the rivers—probably the
channels into which the Nile here divides (compare Isa 19:6-8). Thebes lay on both sides of the
river. It was famed in Homer's time for
its hundred gates [Iliad, 9.381]. Its ruins still describe a
circumference of twenty-seven miles. Of them the temples of Luxor and
Karnak, east of the river, are most famous. The colonnade of the
former, and the grand hall of the latter, are of stupendous dimensions.
One wall still represents the expedition of Shishak against Jerusalem
under Rehoboam (1Ki 14:25; 2Ch 12:2-9).
whose … wall was from the
sea—that is, rose up "from the sea." Maurer translates, "whose wall consisted of the
sea." But this would be a mere repetition of the former clause. The
Nile is called a sea, from its appearance in the annual flood
9. Ethiopia—Hebrew, Cush.
Ethiopia is thought at this time to have been mistress of Upper
her strength—her safeguard as an
it was infinite—The resources of
these, her allies, were endless.
Put—or Phut (Ge 10:6); descended from Ham (Eze 27:10). From a root meaning a bow; as
they were famed as archers [Gesenius].
Probably west of Lower Egypt. Josephus
[Antiquities, 1:6.2] identifies it with Mauritania (compare
46:9, Margin; Eze 38:5).
Lubim—the Libyans, whose capital was
Cyrene; extending along the Mediterranean west of Egypt (2Ch 12:3;
16:8; Ac 2:10). As, however,
the Lubim are always connected with the Egyptians and
Ethiopians, they are perhaps distinct from the Libyans. The
Lubim were probably at first wandering tribes, who afterwards were
settled under Carthage in the region of Cyrene, under the name
helpers—literally, "in thy help," that
is, among thy auxiliaries.
10. Notwithstanding all her might, she was
cast lots for her honourable men—They
divided them among themselves by lot, as slaves (Joe 3:3).
11. drunken—made to drink of the cup of
Jehovah's wrath (Isa 51:17, 21; Jer 25:15).
hid—covered out of sight: a prediction
remarkably verified in the state in which the ruins of Nineveh have
been found [G. V. Smith]. But as "hid"
precedes "seek strength," &c., it rather refers to Nineveh's state
when attacked by her foe: "Thou who now so vauntest thyself, shalt be
compelled to seek a hiding-place from the foe" [Calvin]; or, shalt be neglected and slighted by all
seek strength because of the
enemy—Thou too, like Thebes (Na 3:9), shalt have recourse to other nations
for help against thy Medo-Babylonian enemy.
12. thy strongholds—on the borders of
Assyria, protecting the approaches to Nineveh: "the gates of thy land"
fig trees with the first ripe
figs—expressing the rapidity and ease of the capture of
Nineveh (compare Isa 28:4; Re 6:13).
13. thy people—thy soldiers.
women—unable to fight for thee (Isa 19:16; Jer 50:37; 51:30).
gates on thy land—the fortified passes
or entrances to the region of Nineveh (compare Jer 15:7). Northeast of Nineveh there were hills
affording a natural barrier against an invader; the guarded passes
through these are probably "the gates of the land" meant.
fire shall devour thy bars—the "bars"
of the fortresses at the passes into Assyria. So in Assyrian remains
the Assyrians themselves are represented as setting fire to the gates
of a city [Bonomi, Nineveh, pp.
14. Ironical exhortation to Nineveh to defend
Draw … waters—so as not to be
without water for drinking, in the event of being cut off by the
besiegers from the fountains.
make strong the brick-kiln—or "repair"
[Maurer]; so as to have a supply of
bricks formed of kiln-burnt clay, to repair breaches in the ramparts,
or to build new fortifications inside when the outer ones are taken by
15. There—in the very scene of thy great
preparations for defense; and where thou now art so secure.
fire—even as at the former
destruction; Sardanapalus (Pul?) perished with all his household in the
conflagration of his palace, having in despair set it on fire, the
traces of which are still remaining.
cankerworm—"the licking locust" [Henderson].
make thyself many as the locusts—"the
swarming locusts" [Henderson]; that is,
however "many" be thy forces, like those of "the swarming locusts," or
the "licking locusts," yet the foe shall consume thee as the "licking
locust" licks up all before it.
16. multiplied thy merchants—(Eze 27:23,
24). Nineveh, by large
canals, had easy access to Babylon; and it was one of the great routes
for the people of the west and northwest to that city; lying on the
Tigris it had access to the sea. The Phœnicians carried its wares
everywhere. Hence its merchandise is so much spoken of.
the cankerworm spoileth, and fleeth
away—that is, spoiled thy merchants. The "cankerworm,"
or licking locust, answers to the Medo-Babylonian invaders of Nineveh
[G. V. Smith]. Calvin explains less probably, "Thy merchants
spoiled many regions; but the same shall befall them as befalls
locusts, they in a moment shall be scattered and flee away." Maurer, somewhat similarly, "The licking
locust puts off (the envelope in which his wings had been folded), and
teeth away" (Na 2:9;
1:4). The Hebrew has
ten different names for the locust, so destructive was it.
17. Thy crowned—Thy princes (Re 9:7). The king's nobles and officers wore
the tiara, as well as the king; hence they are called here "thy crowned
as the locusts—as many as the
thy captains—Tiphsar, an
Assyrian word; found also in Jer 51:27, meaning satraps [Michaelis]; or rather, "military leaders" [Maurer]. The last syllable, sar means a
"prince," and is found in Belshaz-zar, Nabopolas-sar,
as the great grasshoppers—literally,
"as the locust of locusts," that is, the largest locust. Maurer translates, "as many as locusts upon
locusts," that is, swarms of locusts. Hebrew idiom favors
in the hedges in the cold—Cold
deprives the locust of the power of flight; so they alight in cold
weather and at night, but when warmed by the sun soon "flee away." So
shall the Assyrian multitudes suddenly disappear, not leaving a trace
behind (compare Pliny, Natural
18. Thy shepherds—that is, Thy
slumber—are carelessly secure [Maurer]. Rather, "lie in death's sleep, having
been slain" [Jerome] (Ex 15:16; Ps
shall dwell in the dust—(Ps 7:5;
thy people is scattered—the necessary
consequence of their leaders being laid low (1Ki 22:17).
19. bruit—the report.
clap the hands—with joy at thy fall.
The sole descendants of the ancient Assyrians and Babylonians in the
whole country are the Nestorian Christians, who speak a Chaldean
upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed
continually?—implying God's long forbearance, and the
consequent enormity of Assyria's guilt, rendering her case one that
admitted no hope of restoration.