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Ruin Imminent and Inevitable


Ah! City of bloodshed,

utterly deceitful, full of booty—

no end to the plunder!


The crack of whip and rumble of wheel,

galloping horse and bounding chariot!


Horsemen charging,

flashing sword and glittering spear,

piles of dead,

heaps of corpses,

dead bodies without end—

they stumble over the bodies!


Because of the countless debaucheries of the prostitute,

gracefully alluring, mistress of sorcery,

who enslaves nations through her debaucheries,

and peoples through her sorcery,


I am against you,

says the L ord of hosts,

and will lift up your skirts over your face;

and I will let nations look on your nakedness

and kingdoms on your shame.


I will throw filth at you

and treat you with contempt,

and make you a spectacle.


Then all who see you will shrink from you and say,

“Nineveh is devastated; who will bemoan her?”

Where shall I seek comforters for you?



Are you better than Thebes

that sat by the Nile,

with water around her,

her rampart a sea,

water her wall?


Ethiopia was her strength,

Egypt too, and that without limit;

Put and the Libyans were her helpers.



Yet she became an exile,

she went into captivity;

even her infants were dashed in pieces

at the head of every street;

lots were cast for her nobles,

all her dignitaries were bound in fetters.


You also will be drunken,

you will go into hiding;

you will seek

a refuge from the enemy.


All your fortresses are like fig trees

with first-ripe figs—

if shaken they fall

into the mouth of the eater.


Look at your troops:

they are women in your midst.

The gates of your land

are wide open to your foes;

fire has devoured the bars of your gates.



Draw water for the siege,

strengthen your forts;

trample the clay,

tread the mortar,

take hold of the brick mold!


There the fire will devour you,

the sword will cut you off.

It will devour you like the locust.


Multiply yourselves like the locust,

multiply like the grasshopper!


You increased your merchants

more than the stars of the heavens.

The locust sheds its skin and flies away.


Your guards are like grasshoppers,

your scribes like swarms of locusts

settling on the fences

on a cold day—

when the sun rises, they fly away;

no one knows where they have gone.



Your shepherds are asleep,

O king of Assyria;

your nobles slumber.

Your people are scattered on the mountains

with no one to gather them.


There is no assuaging your hurt,

your wound is mortal.

All who hear the news about you

clap their hands over you.

For who has ever escaped

your endless cruelty?

The Prophet, in order to gain credit to his prophecy, produces here the ensample of Alexandria. It is indeed certain, from many testimonies of Scripture, that Alexandria is called No, which was a very ancient city, situated on the confines of Africa, and yet in Egypt. It might, at the same time, be, that the Alexandrians formerly had their own government, at least their own kings: and this is probable; for the Prophet says here, that Egypt and Ethiopia, as well as Africa and the Libyan nations, were the confederates of this city. It may hence then be concluded, that Alexandria was not then a part of Egypt, but had its own government, and was in alliance with the Egyptians, as with the other nations. But as Egypt, after the death of our Prophet, was in part overthrown by the Assyrians, and in part by the Chaldeans, some interpreters think, that the Prophet speaks of a ruin which had not yet taken place. 243243     So does Newcome, but with no countenance from the passage. The verb in the 10th verse which refers to the captivity of No, is in the past tense. Most commentators regard the event as having passed. — Ed. But this would not harmonize with his design; for the Prophet shows here, as in a mirror, that the chief empires fall according to the will of God, and that cities, the richest and the best fortified, come to nothing, whenever it pleases God. Unless, then, the destruction of Alexandria was notorious and everywhere known, the Prophet could not have suitably adduced this example: I therefore doubt not but that Alexandria had been then demolished. It is no matter of wonder that it afterwards returned to its former state and became rich; for the situation of the city was most commodious, not so much on account of the fertility of the land, as on account of its traffic; for ships from the Mediterranean sailed up near to it. It had, indeed, on one side, the lake Marcotis, which is not very healthy; and then the sea fortified it; and Pharos was a neighboring island: but yet the city was inhabited by many, and adorned with splendid buildings; for the advantage of traffic drew together inhabitants from all quarters. It was afterwards built again by Alexander of Macedon. But it is evident enough that it had been already an opulent city: for Alexander did not build a new city but enlarged it. 244244     Opinions differ as to No. Bochart supposed it to be Diospolis, near Mendes, in Lower Egypt. Henderson says, that later commentators are in favor of Thebes, the ancient capital of Upper Egypt. It is of no consequence to the present purpose which it was. It was some celebrated city in Egypt, whose ruin was well known in the Prophet’s time. Both the Rabbins and early Fathers thought that it was what was afterwards called Alexandria. But most probably it was a city which had lost its name and existence from the catastrophe that is here mentioned. — Ed. Let us now come to the words of the Prophet.

Shall it be better to thee than to Alexandria? The word אמון, amun, some render populous; and I am inclined to adopt this meaning, which has been received nearly by the consent of all. Others have supposed it to be the name of a king; but as proof fails them, I leave to themselves their own conjecture. Shall it then be better to thee than to Alexandria? For it stood, he says, between the rivers Alexandria had the Nile, as it were, under its own power; for it was then divided into many parts, so that it intersected the city in various places. So then he says, that Alexandria dwelt between the rivers; for it divided the Nile, as it suited its convenience, into several streams.

Then he says, The sea was around her: for it was surrounded on one side by the sea, and protected by the island Pharos, which had a tower, not only for the sake of defense, but that ships coming in from the Mediterranean, might have a signal, by which they might direct their course straight to the harbor. The sea then was around her; for the sea encircled more than half of the city; and then the lake Mareotis was on the other side to the south. He afterwards adds, And its wall or moat was the sea The word is written with י, iod, חיל, chil; but it means a wall or a moat, though Latins render antemurale — a front-work: for they were wont formerly to fortify their cities with a double wall, as old buildings still show. According to these interpreters חיל, chil, is the inner wall, and so they render its front-work: and there was also an outer wall towards the sea. But we may take חיל, chil, for a moat or a trench; and it is easy to find from other passages that it was a trench rather than a front-work. It is said that the body of Jezebel was torn by dogs in the trench, and the word there is חיל, chil. As to the object of the Prophet, he evidently intended to show, that Alexandria was so well fortified, that Nineveh had no reason to think herself to be in a safer state; for its fortress was from the sea, and also from Ethiopia, on account of the munitions which he has mentioned. Then he speaks of Africa and Egypt, and the Libyan nations, 245245     The original names in this verse are כוש, supposed to be Ethiopia, — מצרים, Egypt, here, either Upper or Lower, — פוט, Put, a country to the west of Lower Egypt, its inhabitants the descendants of Ham, Genesis 10:6, — לובים, Lybians, who occupied the region between Put and Numidia. — Ed. and says in short, that there was no end of her strength; that is, that she could seek the help of many friends and confederates: many were ready to bring aid, even Africa, Ethiopia, and the Lybians.

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