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The prophecy of the destruction in Nineveh is resumed in a dirge over her; yet still as future. It pronounces a woe, yet to come .
Woe to the bloody city - Literally, “city of bloods” , i. e., of manifold bloodshedding, built and founded in blood Habakkuk 2:12; Jeremiah 22:13, as the prosperity of the world ever is. Murder, oppression, wresting of judgment, war out of covetousness, grinding or neglect of the poor, make it “a city of bloods.” Nineveh, or the world, is a city of the devil, as opposed to the “city of God.” : “Two sorts of love have made two sorts of cities; the earthly, love of self even to contempt of God; the heavenly, love of God even to contempt of self. The one glorieth in itself, the other in the Lord.” : “Amid the manifold differences of the human race, in languages, habits, rites, arms, dress, there are but two kinds of human society, which, according to our Scriptures, we may call two cities. One is of such as wish to live according to the flesh; the other of such as will according to the Spirit.” “Of these, one is predestined to live forever with God; the other, to undergo everlasting torment with the devil.” Of this city, or evil world, Nineveh, the city of bloods, is the type.
It is all full of lies and robbery - Better, “it is all lie; it is full of robbery” (rapine). “Lie” includes all falsehood, in word or act, denial of God, hypocrisy; toward man, it speaks of treachery, treacherous dealing, in contrast with open violence or rapine . The whole being of the wicked is one lie, toward God and man; deceiving and deceived; leaving no place for God who is the Truth; seeking through falsehood things which fail. Man “loveth vanity and seeketh after leasing” Psalms 4:2. All were gone out of the way. Alb.: “There were none in so great a multitude, for whose sake the mercy of God might spare so great a city.” It is full, not so much of booty as of rapine and violence. The sin remains, when the profit is gone. Yet it ceases not, but perseveres to the end; “the prey departs not;” they will neither leave the sin, nor the sin them; they neither repent, nor are weary of sinning. Avarice especially gains vigor in old age, and grows by being fed. “The prey departeth not,” but continues as a witness against it, as a lion’s lair is defiled by the fragments of his prey.
The noise (literally, “voice”) of the whip - There is cry against cry; the voice of the enemy, brought upon them through the voice of the oppressed. Blood hath a voice which crieth Genesis 4:10 to heaven; its echo or counterpart, as it were, is the cry of the destroyer. All is urged on with terrific speed. The chariot-wheels quiver in the rapid onset; the chariots bound, like living things; the earth echoes with the whirling swiftness of the speed of the cavalry. The prophet within, with the inward ear and eye which hears “the mysteries of the Kingdom of God” Matthew 13:11, Matthew 13:16 and sees things to come, as they shall come upon the wicked, sees and hears the scourge coming, with The words in Hebrew are purposely chosen with rough “r” sounds: רעשׁ ra‛ash, דהר dâhar, מרקדה meraqēdâh, a great noise, impetuously; and so describes it as present. Wars and rumors of wars are among the signs of the Day of Judgment. The “scourge,” though literally relating to the vehement onset of the enemy, suggests to the thoughts, the scourges of Almighty God, wherewith He chastens the penitent, punishes the impenitent; the wheel, the swift changes of man’s condition in the rolling-on of time. “O God, make them like a rolling thing” Psalms 83:14.
The horseman lifteth up - Rather, “leading up : the flash of the sword, and the lightning of the spear.” Thus, there are, in all, seven inroads, seven signs, before the complete destruction of Nineveh or the world; as, in the Revelations, all the forerunners of the Judgment of the Great Day are summed up under the voice of seven trumpets and seven vials. Rup.: “God shall not use homes and chariots and other instruments of war, such as are here spoken of, to judge the world, yet, as is just, His terrors are foretold under the name of those things, wherewith this proud and bloody world hath sinned. For so all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Matthew 26:52. They who, abusing their power, have used all these weapons of war, especially against the servants of God, shall themselves perish by them, and there shall be none end of their corpses, for they shall be corpses forever: for, dying by an everlasting death, they shall, without end, be without the true life, which is God.” “And there is a multitude of slain.” Death follows on death. The prophet views the vast field of carnage, and everywhere there meets him only some new form of death, slain, carcasses, corpses, and these in multitudes, an oppressive heavy number, without end, so that the yet living stumble and fall upon the carcasses of the slain. So great the multitude of those who perish, and such their foulness; but what foulness is like sin?
Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the well-favored harlot - There are “multitudes of slain” because of the “multitude of whoredoms” and love of the creature instead of the Creator. So to Babylon Isaiah saith, “they (loss of children and widowhood) shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, for the great abundance of thine enchantments” Isaiah 47:9. The actual use of “enchantments,” for which Babylon was so infamous, is not elsewhere attributed to the Assyrians. But neither is the word elsewhere used figuratively; nor is Assyria, in its intimate relation to Babylon, likely to have been free from the longing, universal in pagandom, to obtain knowledge as to the issue of events which would affect her. She is, by a rare idiom, entitled “mistress of enchantments,” having them at her command, as instruments of power. Mostly, idolatries and estrangement from God are spoken of as “whoredoms,” only in respect of those who, having been taken by God as His own, forsook Him for false gods.
But Jezebel too, of whose offences Jehu speaks under the same two titles 2 Kings 9:22, was a pagan. And such sins were but part of that larger all-comprehending sin, that man, being made by God for Himself, when he loves the creature instead of the Creator, divorces himself from God. Of this sin world empires, such as Nineveh, were the concentration. Their being was one vast idolatry of self and of “the god of this world.” All, art, fraud, deceit, protection of the weak against the strong 2Ki 16:7-9; 2 Chronicles 28:20-21, promises of good Isaiah 36:16-17, were employed, together with open violence, to absorb all nations into it. The one end of all was to form one great idol-temple, of which the center and end was man, a rival worship to God, which should enslave all to itself and the things of this world. Nineveh and all conquering nations used fraud as well as force, enticed and entangled others, and so sold and deprived them of freedom. (see Joel 3:3).
Nor are people less sold and enslaved, because they have no visible master. False freedom is the deepest and most abject slavery. All sinful nations or persons extend to others the infection of their own sins. But, chiefly, the “wicked world,” manifoldly arrayed with fair forms, and “beautiful in the eyes of those who will not think or weigh how much more beautiful the Lord and Creator of all,” spreads her enticements on all sides “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the pride of life,” “her pomps and vanities,” worldly happiness and glory and majesty, and ease and abundance, deceives and sells mankind into the power of Satan. It is called well-favored (literally, good of grace), because the world has a real beauty, nor , “unless there were a grace and beauty in the things we love, could they draw us to them.” They have their beauty, because from God; then are they deformed, when “things hold us back from God, which, unless they were in God, were not at all.”
We deform them, if we love them for our own sakes, not in Him; or for the intimations they give of Him. : “Praise as to things foul has an intensity of blame. As if one would speak of a skilled thief, or a courageous robber, or a clever cheat. So though he calls Nineveh a well-favored harlot, this will not be for her praise, (far from it!) but conveys the heavier condenmation. As they, when they would attract, use dainty babblings, so was Nineveh a skilled artificer of ill-doing, well provided with means to capture cities and lands and to persuade them what pleased herself.” She selleth not nations only but families, drawing mankind both as a mass, and one by one after her, so that scarce any escape.
The adultery of the soul from God is the more grieveus, the nearer God has brought any to Himself, in priests worse than in the people, in Christians than in Jews, in Jews than in pagan; yet God espoused mankind to Him when He made him. His dowry were gifts of nature. If this be adultery, how much sorer, when betrothed by the Blood of Christ, and endowed with the gift of the Spirit!
Behold I am against thee, saith the Lord of Hosts - Jerome: “I will not send an Angel, nor give thy destruction to others; I Myself will come to destroy thee.” Cyril: “She has not to do with man, or war with man: He who is angered with her is the Lord of hosts. But who would meet God Almighty, who hath power over all, if He would war against him?” In the Medes and Persians it was God who was against them. “Behold I am against thee,” literally, “toward thee.” It is a new thing which God was about to do. “Behold!” God in His long-suffering had seemed to overlook her. Now, He says, I am toward thee, looking at her with His all-searching eye, as her Judge. Violence is punished by suffering; deeds of shame by shame. All sin is a whited sepulchre, fair without, foul within. God will strip off the outward fairness, and lay bare the inward foulness. The deepest shame is to lay bare, what the sinner or the world veiled within. “I will discover thy skirts,” i. e., the long-flowing robes which were part of her pomp and dignity, but which were only the veil of her misdeeds. “Through the greatness of thine iniquity have thy skirts been discovered,” says Jeremiah in answer to the heart’s question, “why have these things come upon me?” Upon thy face, where shame is felt. The conscience of thy foulness shall be laid bare before thy face, thy eyes, thy memory continually, so that thou shalt be forced to read therein, whatsoever thou hast done, said, thought. “I will show the nations thy nakedness,” that all may despise, avoid, take example by thee, and praise God for His righteous judgments upon thee. The Evangelist heard “much people in heaven saying Alleluia” to God that “He hath judged the whore which did corrupt the earth with her fornication” Revelation 19:1-2. And Isaiah saith, “They shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that hath trangsressed against Me” Isaiah 66:24.
And I will cast abominable filth upon thee - Alb.: “like a weight, that what thou wouldest not take heed to as sin, thou mayest feel in punishment.” “Abominable things had God seen” Jeremiah 13:27 in her doings; with abominable things would he punish her. Man would fain sin, and forget it as a thing past. “God maketh him to possess the iniquities of his youth” Job 13:26, and binds them around him, so that they make him to appear what they are, “vile” (compare Wisd. 4:18), “These things hast thou done and I kept silence; - I will reprove thee and set them in order before thine eyes. And will set thee as a gazing-stock” Psalms 50:21, that all, while they gaze at thee, take warning from thee (compare 2 Chronicles 7:20). “I will cast thee to the ground; before kings will I give thee, for them to gaze upon thee” Ezekiel 28:17. : “Whoever does not amend on occasion of others, others shall be amended on occasion of him.”
All they that look upon thee shall flee from thee - through terror, lest they should share her plagues, as Israel did, when the earth swallowed up Korah, Dathan and Abiram; and they who “had been made rich by Babylon, stand ajar off, for the fear of her torment. All they who look on thee” Revelation 18:15. She was set as a thing to be “gazed at.” He tells the effect on the gazers. “Each one who so gazed” at her should flee; one by one, they should gaze, be scared, flee (compare Psalms 31:11; Psalms 64:8). Not one should remain. “Who will bemoan her?” Not one should pay her the passing tribute of sympathy at human calamity, the shaking of the head at her woe (compare Job 16:4-5). Whoever had no compassion shall find none.
Art thou better - More populous or more powerful, “than the populous No?” rather than No-Ammon, so called from the idol Ammon, worshiped there. No-Ammon, (or, as it is deciphered in the Cuneiform Inscriptions, Nia), meaning probably “the portion of Ammon” , was the sacred name of the capital of Upper Egypt, which, under its common name, Thebes, was far-famed, even in the time of Homer, for its continually accruing wealth, its military power, its 20,000 chariots, its vast dimensions attested by its 100 gates .
Existing earlier, as the capital of Upper Egypt, its grandeur began in the 18th dynasty, alter the expulsion of the Hyksos, or Semitic conquerors of Egypt. Its Pharaohs were conquerors, during the 18th to 20th dynasties, 1706-1110 b.c. - about six centuries. It was then the center of a world empire. Under a disguised name , its rulers were celebrated in Geek story also, for their worldwide conquests. The Greek statements have in some main points been verified by the decipherment of the hieroglyphics. The monuments relate their victories in far Asia, and mention Nineveh itself among the people who paid tribute to them. They warred and conquered from the Soudan to Mesopotamia. A monument of Tothmosis I (1066 b.c.) still exists at Kerman, between the 20th and 19th degrees latitude, boasting, in language like that of the Assyrian conquerors; “All lands are subdued, and bring their tributes for the first time to the gracious god” . “The frontier of Egypt,” they say , “extends Southward to the mountain of Apta (in Abyssinia) and Northward to the furthest dwellings of the Asiatics.” The hyperbolic statements are too undefined for history , but widely-conquering monarchs could alone have used them. : “At all periods of history, the possession of the country which we call Soudan (the Black country) comprising Nubia, and which the ancients called by the collective name of Kous (Cush) or Aethiopia, has been an exhaustless source of wealth to Egypt. Whether by way of war or of commerce, barks laden with flocks, corn, hides, ivory, precious woods, stones and metals, and many other products of those regions, descended the Nile into Egypt, to fill the treasures of the temples and of the court of the Pharaohs: and of metals, especially gold, mines whereof were worked by captives and slaves, whose Egyptian name noub seems to have been the origin of the name Nubia, the first province S. of Egypt.” “The conquered country of Soudan, called Kous in the hieroglyphic inscriptions, was governed by Egyptian princes of the royal family, who bore the name of ‘prince royal of Kous.’“
But the prophet’s appeal to Nineveh is the more striking, because No, in its situation, its commerce, the sources of its wealth, its relation to the country which lay between them, had been another and earlier Nineveh. Only, as No had formerly conquered and exacted tribute from all those nations, even to Nineveh itself, so now, under Sargon and Sennacherib, Nineveh had reversed all those successes, and displaced the Empire of Egypt by its own, and taken No itself. No had, under its Tothmoses, Amenophes, Sethos, the Ousertesens, sent its messengers Nahum 2:13, the leviers of its tribute, had brought off from Asia that countless mass of human strength, the captives, who (as Israel, before its deliverance, accomplished its hard labors) completed those gigantic works, which, even after 2000 years of decay, are still the marvel of the civilized world. Tothmosis I, after subduing the Sasou, brought back countless captives from Naharina (Mesopotamia); Tothmosis III, in 19 years of conquests, (1603-1585 b.c.) “raised the Egyptian empire to the height of its greatness. Tothmosis repeatedly attacked the most powerful people of Asia, as the Routen (Assyrians?) with a number of subordinate kingdoms, such as Asshur, Babel, Nineveh, Singar; such as the Remenen or Armenians, the Zahi or Phoenicians, the Cheta or Hittites, and manymore. We learn, by the description of the objects of the booty, sent to Egypt by land and sea, counted by number and weight, many curious details as to the industry of the conquered peoples of central Asia, which do honor to the civilization of that time, and verify the tradition that the Egyptian kings set up stelae in conquered countries, in memory of their victories. Tothmosis III. set up his stele in Mesopotamia, ‘for having enlarged the frontiers of Egypt.’” Amenophis too is related to have “taken the fortress of Nenii (Nineveh).” : “He returned from the country of the higher Routen, where he had beaten all his enemies to enlarge the frontiers of the land of Egypt” : “he took possession of the people of the South, and chastised the people of the North:” “at Abd-el-Kournah” he was represented as “having for his footstool the heads and backs of five peoples of the S. and four peoples of the North (Asiatics).” : “Among the names of the peoples, who submitted to Egypt, are the Nubians, the Asiatic shepherds, the inhabitants of Cyprus and Mesopotamia.” : “The world in its length and its breadth” is promised by the sphinx to Tothmosis IV. He is represented as “subduer of the negroes.”
Under Amenophis III, the Memnon of the Greeks , “the Egyptian empire extended Northward to Mesopotamia, Southward to the land of Karou.” He enlarged and beautified No, which had from him the temple of Louksor, and his vocal statue , “all people bringing their tributes, their children, their horses, a mass of silver, of iron and ivory from countries, the roads whereto we know not.” The king Horus is saluted as “the sun of the nine people; great is thy name to the country of Ethiopia” ; “the gracious god returns, having subdued the great of all people.” Seti I (or Sethos) is exhibited , as reverenced by the Armenians, conquering the Sasou, the “Hittites, Naharina (Mesopotamia), the Routen (Assyrians?) the Pount, or Arabs in the South of Arabia, the Amari or Amorites, and Kedes, perhaps Edessa.” Rameses II, or the great (identified with the Pharaoh of the Exodus ), conquered the Hittites in the North; in the South it is recorded , “the gracious god, who defeated the nine people, who massacred myriads in a moment, annihilated the people overthrown in their blood, yet was there no other with him.”
The 20th Dynasty (1288-1110 b.c.) began again with conquests. : “Rameses III. triumphed over great confederations of Libyans and Syrians and the Isles of the Mediterranean. He is the only king who, as the monuments shew, carried on war at once by land and sea.” Beside many names unknown to us, the Hittites, Amorites, Circesium, Aratus, Philistines, Phoenicia, Sasou, Pount, are again recognized. North, South East and West are declared to be tributary to him, and of the North it is said , “The people, who knew not Egypt, come to thee, bringing gold and silver, lapis-lazuli, all precious stones.” He adorned Thebes with the great temple of Medinet-Abou and the Ramesseum . The brief notices of following Rameses’ speak of internal prosperity and wealth: a fuller account of Rameses XII speaks of his “being in Mesopotamia to exact the annual tribute,” how “the kings of all countries prostrated themselves before him, and the king of the country of Bouchten (it has been conjectured, Bagistan, or Ecbatana) presented to him tribute and his daughter.” : “He is the last Pharaoh who goes to Mesopotamia, to collect the annual tributes of the petty kingdoms of that country.”
On this side of the Euphrates, Egypt still retained some possessions to the time of Necho, for it is said, “the king of Babylon had taken from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates all that pertained to the king of Egypt” 2 Kings 24:7. Thebes continued to be embellished alike by “the high priests of Ammon,” who displaced the ancient line , and kings of the Bubastite Dynasty, Sesonchis I or Sisak , Takelothis II , and Sesonchis III . The Ethiopian dynasty of Sabakos and Tearko or Tirhaka in another way illustrates the importance of No. The Ethiopian conquerors chose it as their royal city. There, in the time of Sabakos, Syria brought it tribute ; there Tirhaka set up the records of his victories ; and great must have been the conqueror, whom Strabo put on a line with Sesostris .
Its site marked it out for a great capital; and as such the Ethiopian conqueror seized it. The hills on either side retired, encircling the plain, through the center of which the Nile brought down its wealth, connecting it with the untold riches of the south. : “They formed a vast circus, where the ancient metropolis expaneled itself On the West, the Lybian chain presents abrupt declivities which command this side of the plain, and which bend away above Bab-el-molouk, to end near Kournah at the very bank of the river. On the East, heights, softer and nearer, descend in long declivities toward Louksor and Karnak, and their crests do not approach the Nile until after Medamout, an hour or more below Karnak.” The breadth of the valley, being about 10 miles , the city (of which, Strabo says , “traces are now seen of its magnitude, 80 stadia in length”) must have occupied the whole. : “The city embraced the great space, which is now commonly called the plain of Thebes and which is divided by the Nile into two halves, an Eastern and a Western, the first bounded by the edge of the Arabian wilderness, the latter by the hills of the dead of the steep Libyan chain.”
The capital of Egypt, which was identified of old with Egypt itself , thus lay under the natural guardianship of the encircling hills which expanded to receive it, divided into two by the river which was a wall to both. The chains of hills, on either side were themselves fenced in on East and West by the great sand-deserts unapproachable by an army. The long valley of the Nile was the only access to an enemy. It occupied apparently the victorious army of Asshurbanipal “a month and ten days” to march from Memphis to Thebes. : “At Thebes itself there are still remains of walls and fortifications, strong, skillfully constructed, and in good preservation, as there are also in other Egyptian towns above and below it. The crescent-shaped ridge of hills approaches so close to the river at each end as to admit of troops defiling past, but not spreading out or maneuvering. At each of these ends is a small old fort of the purely Egyptian, i. e., the ante-Hellenic period. Both above and below there are several similar crescent sweeps in the same chain of hills, and at each angle a similar fort.”
All successive monarchs, during more centuries than have passed since our Lord came, successively beautified it. Everything is gigantic, bearing witness to the enormous mass of human strength, which its victorious kings had gathered from all nations to toil for its and their glorification. Wonderful is it now in its decay, desolation, death; one great idol-temple of its gods and an apotheosis of its kings, as sons of its gods. : “What spires are to a modern city, what the towers of a cathedral are to the nave and choir, that the statues of the Pharaohs were to the streets and temples of Thebes. The ground is strewn with their fragments; the avenues of them towered high above plain and houses. Three of gigantic size still remain. One was the granite statue of Rameses himself, who sat on the rightside of the entrance to his palace. - The only part of the temple or palace, at all in proportion to him, must have been the gateway, which rose in pyramidal towers, now broken down and rolling in a wild ruin down to the plain.”
It was that self-deifying, against which Ezekiel is commanded to prophesy; “Speak and say; thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself” Ezekiel 29:3. : “Everywhere the same colossal proportions are preserved. Everywhere the king is conquering, ruling, worshiping, worshiped. The palace is the temple. The king is priest. He and his horses are ten times the size of the rest of the army. Alike in battle and in worship, he is of the same stature as the gods themselves. Most striking is the familiar gentleness, with which, one on each side, they take him by each hand, as one of their own order, and then, in the next compartment, introduce him to Ammon, and the lion-headed goddess. Every distinction, except of degree, between divinity and royalty is entirely leveled.”
Gigantic dimensions picture to the eye the ideal greatness, which is the key to the architecture of No. : “Two other statues alone remain of an avenue of eighteen similar or nearly similar statues, some of whose remnants lie in the field behind them, which led to the palace of Amenophis III, every one of the statues being Amenophis himself, thus giving in multiplication what Rameses gained in solitary elevation.” : “Their statues were all of one piece.” Science still cannot explain, how a mass of nearly 890 tons of granite was excavated at Syene, transported and set up at Thebes, or how destroyed .
Nozrani, In Egypt and Syria, p. 278: “The temper of the tools, which cut adamantine stone as sharply and closely as an ordinary scoop cuts an ordinary cheese, is still a mystery.” Everything is in proportion. The two sitting colossi, whose “breadth across the shoulders is eighteen feet, their height forty-seven feet, fifty-three above the plain, or, with the half-buried pedestal, sixty feet, were once connected by an avenue of sphinxes of eleven hundred feet with what is now ‘Kom-el-Hettan,’ or ‘the mound of sand-stone,’ which marks the site of another palace and temple of Amenophis III.; and, to judge from the little that remains, it must have held a conspicuous rank among the finest monuments of Thebes. All that now exists of the interior are the bases of its columns, some broken statues, and Syenite sphinxes of the king, with several lionheaded figures of black granite” .
The four villages, where are the chief remaining temples, Karnak, Luksor, Medinet-Abou, Kournah, form a great quadrilateral , each of whose sides is about one and a half mile, and the whole compass accordingly six miles. The avenue of six hundred sphinxes, which joined the temple of Luksor with Karnak must have been one and a half mile long : one of its obelisks is a remarkable ornament of Paris. Mostly massiveness is the characteristic, since strength and might were their ideal. Yet the massive columns still preserved, as in the temple of Rameses II , are even of piercing beauty . And for the temple of Karnak! Its enclosure, which was some two miles in circumference , bears the names of Monarchs removed from one another, according to the Chronology, by above two thousand years . : “A stupendous colonnade, of which one pillar only remains erect, once extended across its great court, connecting the W. gate of entrance with that at its extremity. The towers of the Eastern gate are mere heaps of stones, poured down into the court on one side and the great hall on the other; giant columns have been swept away like reeds before the mighty avalanche, and one hardly misses them. And in that hall, of 170 feet by 329 feet, 134 columns of colossal proportions supported its roof; twelve of them, 62 feet high and about 35 in circumference, and on each side a forest of 66 columns, 42 feet 5 in. in height. Beyond the center avenue are seen obelisks, gateways and masses of masonry; every portion of these gigantic ruins is covered with sculpture most admirably executed, and every column has been richly painted.”
Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, p. xli.: “Imagine a long vista of courts and doorways and colonnades and halls; here and there an obelisk shooting up out of the ruins, and interrupting the opening view of the forest of columns. - This mass of ruins, some rolled down in avalanches of stone, others perfect and painted, as when they were first built, is approached on every side by avenues of gateways. East and West, North and South, these vast approaches are found. Some are shattered, but in every approach some remain; and in some can be traced, beside, the further avenues, still in parts remaining by hundreds together, avenues of ram-headed sphinxes. Every Egyptian temple has, or ought to have, one of those grand gateways, formed of two sloping towers, with the high perpendicular front between.” Then, over and above, is “their multiplied concentration. - Close before almost every gateway in this vast array were the colossal figures, usually in granite, of the great Rameses, sometimes in white and red marble, of Amenophis and of Thothmes. Close by them, were pairs of towering obelisks, which can generally be traced by pedestals on either side. - You have only to set up again the fallen obelisks which lie at your feet; to conceive the columns, as they are still seen in parts, overspreading the whole; to reproduce all the statues, like those which still remain in their august niches, to gaze on the painted wails and pillars of the immense ball, which even now can never be seen without a thrill of awe, and you have ancient Thebes before you.”
And most of these paintings were records of their past might. : “There remained on the massive buildings Egyptian letters, recording their former wealthiness; and one of the elder priests, bidden to interpret his native language, related that of old 700,000 of military age dwelt there; and with that army king Rhamses gained possession of Libya, Ethiopia, the Medes and Persians, the Bactrian and Scythian; and held in his empire the countries which the Syrians and Armenians and neighboring Cappadocians inhabit, the Bithynian also and Lycian to the sea. There were read tee the tributes imposed on the natives, the weight of silver amid gold; the number of arms and horses, and the gifts to the temples, ivory and frankincense, and what supplies of corn and utensils each nation should pay, not less magnificent than are now enjoined by Parthian violence or by Roman power.”
That was situate among the rivers - Literally, “the dweller, she that dwelleth.” Perhaps the prophet wished to express the security and ease, in which she dwelt “among the rivers.” They encircled, folded round her, as it were, so that she was a little world in herself, secluded from all who would approach to hurt her. The prophet’s word, “rivers” , is especially used of the branches or canals of the Nile, which is also called the “sea” . The Nile passed through No, and doubtless its canals encircled it. Egypt is said by a pagan to be “walled by the Nile as an everlasting wall,” “Whose rampart was (rampart is) the sea.” Wall and rampart are, properly, the outer and inner wall of a city, the wall and forewall, so to speak. For all walls and all defenses, her enfolding walls of sea would suffice. Strong she was in herself; strong also in her helpers.
Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength - Literally, “Egypt was strength , and Ethiopia, and boundless.” He sets forth first the imperial might of No; then her strength from foreign, subdued power. The capital is a sort of impersonation of the might of the state; No, of Egypt, as Nineveh, of Assyria. When the head was cut off or the heart ceased to beat, all was lost. The might of Egypt and Ethiopia was the might of No, concentrated in her. They were strength, and that strength unmeasured by any human standard. Boundless was the strength, which Nineveh had subdued: boundless, the store Nahum 2:10 which she had accumulated for the spoiler; boundless Nahum 3:3 the carcasses of her slain. “And it was infinite.” “The people that came up with the king out of Egypt, were without number” 2 Chronicles 12:3. The Egyptians connected with Thebes are counted by a pagan author at seven million. Put or Phut is mentioned third among the sons of Ham, after Cash anal Mizraim Genesis 10:6. They are mentioned with the Ethiopians in Pharaoh’s army at the Euphrates , as joined with them in the visitation of Egypt Ezekiel 30:5; with Cush in the army of Gog Ezekiel 38:15; with Lud in that of Tyre Ezekiel 29:10; a country and river of that name were, Josephus tells us , “frequently mentioned by Greek historians.” They dwelt in the Libya, conterminous to the Canopic mouth of the Nile .
And Lubim - These came up against Judah in the army of Shishak 2 Chronicles 12:3 against Rehoboam, and with the Ethiopians, “a huge host” under Zerah the Ethiopian against Asa . The Ribou or Libou appear on the monuments as a people conquered by Menephthes and Rameses III . They were still to be united with Egypt and the Ethiopians in the times of Antiochus Epiphanes Daniel 11:43; so their connection with Egypt was not broken by its fall. Those unwearied enemies had become incorporated with her; and were now her help. These were (English Margin) in thy help; set upon it, given up to it. The prophet appeals to No herself, as it were, “Thou hadst strength.” Then he turns away, to speak of her, unwilling to look on the miseries which he has to portray to Nineveh, as the preludes of her own. Without God, vain is the help of man.
Yet was she - (also ) carried away, literally, “She also became an exile band,” her people were carried away, with all the barbarities of pagan war. All, through whom she might recover, were destroyed or scattered abroad; “the young,” the hope of another age, cruelly destroyed (see Hosea 14:1-9; Isaiah 13:16; 2 Kings 8:12); “her honorable men” enslaved (see Joel 3:3), “all her great men prisoners.” God’s judgments are executed step by step. Assyria herself was the author of this captivity, which Isaiah prophesied in the first years of Hezekiah when Judah was leaning upon Egypt (see Isaiah 20:1-6). It was repeated by all of the house of Sargon. Jeremiah and Ezekiel foretold fresh desolation by Nebuchadnezzar Jeremiah 46:25-26; Ezekiel 30:14-16. God foretold to His people, “I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee” Isaiah 43:3; and the Persian monarchs, who fulfilled prophecy in the restoration of Judah, fulfilled it also in the conquest of Egypt and Ethiopia. Both perhaps out of human policy in part.
But Cambyses’ wild hatred of Egyptian idolatry fulfilled God’s word. Ptolemy Lathyrus carried on the work of Cambyses; the Romans, Ptolemy’s. Cambyses burned its temples ; Lathyrus its four-or five-storied private houses ; the Roman Gallus leveled it to the ground . A little after it was said of her , “she is inhabited as so many scattered villages.” A little after our Lord’s Coming, Germanicus went to visit, not it, but “the vast traces of it.” : “It lay overwhelmed with its hundred gates” and utterly impoverished. No was powerful as Nineveh, and less an enemy of the people of God. For though these often suffered from Egypt, yet in those times they even trusted too much to its help (see Isaiah 30:0). If then the judgments of God came upon No, how much more upon Nineveh! In type, Nineveh is the image of the world as oppressing God’s Church; No, rather of those who live for this life, abounding in wealth, ease, power, and forgetful of God. If, then, they were punished, who took no active part against God, fought not against God’s truth, yet still were sunk in the cares and riches and pleasures of this life, what shall be the end of those who openly resist God?
Thou also - As thou hast done, so shall it be done unto thee. The cruelties on No, in the cycle of God’s judgments, draw on the like upon Nineveh who inflicted them. “Thou also shalt be drunken” with the same cup of God’s anger, entering within thee as wine doth, bereaving thee of reason and of counsel through the greatness of thy anguish, and bringing shame on thee , and a stupefaction like death. “Thou shalt be hid, a thing hidden” from the eyes of men, “as though thou hadst never been.” Nahum had foretold her complete desolation: he had asked, where is she? Here he describes an abiding condition; strangely fulfilled, as perhaps never to that extent besides; her palaces, her monuments, her records of her glorious triumphs existed still in their place, but hidden out of sight, as in a tomb, under the hill-like mounds along the Tigris. “Thou also shalt seek strength, or a stronghold from the enemy,” out of thyself, since thine own shall be weakness. Yet in vain, since God, is not such to thee Nahum 1:7. “They shall seek, but not find.” “For then shall it be too late to cry for mercy, when it is the time of justice.” “He shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy” James 2:13.
All thy strong-holds shall be like fig trees, with the first ripe figs - Hanging from them; eagerly sought after , to be consumed. Being ripe, they are ready to fall at once; “if they be shaken;” it needs but the tremulous motion, as when trees wave in the wind, “they shall even fall into the mouth of the eater,” not costing even the slight pains of picking them from the ground . So easy is their destruction on the part of God, though it cost more pains to the Babylonians. At the end of the world it shall be yet more fulfilled Revelation 6:13, for then God will use no human instrument, but put forth only His own Almightiness; and all strong-holds of man’s pride, moral or spiritual, shall, of themselves, melt away.
Behold, thy people in the midst of thee are women - Fierce, fearless, hard, iron men, such as their warriors still are portrayed by themselves on their monuments, they whom no toll wearied, no peril daunted, shall be, one and all, their whole “people, women.” So Jeremiah to Babylon, “they shall become, became, women” Jeremiah 50:37; Jeremiah 51:30. He sets it before the eyes. “Behold, thy people are women;” against nature they are such, not in tenderness but in weakness and fear. Among the signs of the Day of Judgment, it stands, “men’s hearts failing them for fear” Luke 21:26. Where sin reigns, there is no strength left, no manliness or nobleness of soul, no power to resist. “In the midst of thee,” where thou seemest most secure, and, if anywhere, there were hope of safety. The very inmost self of the sinner gives way.
To thine enemies - (This is, for emphasis, prefixed) not for any good to thee, but “to thine enemies shall be set wide open the gates of thy land,” not, “thy gates,” i. e., the gates of their cities, (which is a distinct idiom), but “the gates of the land” itself, every avenue, which might have been closed against the invader, but which was “laid open.” The Easterns, as well as the Greeks and Latins . See further Liddell and Scott, loc. cit.) the πύλαι τῆς Κιλικίας καὶ τῆς Συρίας pulai tēs Kilikias kai tēs Surias, Xen. Anab. i. 4. 14, the “Amsnicae Pylae” (Q. Curt. iii. 20). Pliny speaks of the “portae Caucasiae” (H. N. vi. 11) or “Iberiae” (Albaniae Ptol. v. 12.) Ibid. 15), used the word “gate” or “doors” of the mountain passes, which gave an access to a land, but which might be held against an enemy. In the pass called “the Caucasian gates,” there were, over and above, doors fastened with iron bars . At Thermopylae or, as the inhabitants called them, Pylae , “gates,” the narrow pass was further guarded by a wall . Its name recalls the brilliant history, how such approaches might be held by a devoted handful of men against almost countless multitudes. Of Assyria, Pliny says , “The Tigris and pathless mountains encircle Adiabene.” When those “gates of the land” gave way, the whole land was laid open to its enemies.
The fire shall devour thy bars - Probably, as elsewhere, the bars of the gates, which were mostly of wood, since it is added expressly of some, that they were of the iron Psalms 107:16; Isaiah 14:2 or brass 1 Kings 4:13. : “Occasionally the efforts of the besiegers were directed against the gate, which they endeavored to break open with axes, or to set on fire by application of a torch - In the hot climate of S. Asia wood becomes so dry by exposture to the sun, that the most solid doors may readily be ignited and consumed.” It is even remarked in one instance that the Assyrians “have not set fire to the gates of this city, as appeared to be their usual practice in attacking a fortified place.”
So were her palaces buried as they stood, that the traces of prolonged fire are still visible, calcining the one part and leaving others which were not exposed to it, uncalcined. : “It is incontestable that, during the excavations, a considerable quantity of charcoal, and even pieces of wood, either half-burnt or in a perfect state of preservation, were found in many places. The lining of the chambers also bears certain marks of the action of fire. All these things can be explained only by supposing the fall of a burning roof, which calcined the slabs of gypsum and converted them into dust. It would be absurd to imagine that the burning of a small quantity of furniture could have left on the walls marks like these which are to be seen through all the chambers, with the exception of one, which was only an open passage. It must have been a violent and prolonged fire, to be able to calcine not only a few places, but every part of these slabs, which were ten feet high and several inches thick. So complete a decomposition can be attributed but to intense heat, such as would be occasioned by the fall of a burning roof.
“Botta found on the engraved flag-stones scoria and half-melted nails, so that there is no doubt that these appearances had been produced by the action of intense and long-sustained beat. He remembers, beside, at Khorsabad, that when he detached some bas-reliefs from the earthy substance which covered them, in order to copy the inscriptions that were behind, he found there coals and cinders, which could have entered only by the top, between the wall and the back of the bas-relief. This can be easily understood to have been caused by the burning of the roof, but is inexplicable in any other manner. What tends most positively to prove that the traces of fire must be attributed to the burning of a wooden roof is, that these traces are perceptible only in the interior of the building. The gypsum also that covers the wall inside is completely calcined, while the outside of the building is nearly everywhere untouched. But wherever the fronting appears to have at all suffered from fire, it is at the bottom; thus giving reason to suppose that the damage has been done by some burning matter falling outside. In fact, not a single bas-relief in a state to be removed was found in any of the chambers, they were all pulverized.”
The soul which does not rightly close its senses against the enticements of the world, does, in fact, open them, and death is come up into our windows Jeremiah 9:21, and then “whatever natural good there yet be, which, as bars, would hinder the enemy from bursting in, is consumed by the fire,” once kindled, of its evil passions.
Draw thee waters for the siege, fortify thy strongholds - This is not mere mockery at man’s weakness, when he would resist God. It foretells that they shall toil, and that, heavily. Toil is added upon toil. Nineveh did undergo a two years’ siege. Water stands for all provisions within. He bids them, as before Nahum 2:1, strengthen what was already strong; strongholds, which seemed to “cut off” all approach. These he bids them strengthen, not repairing decays only but making them exceeding strong 2 Chronicles 11:12. Go into clay. We seem to see all the inhabitants, like ants on their nest, all poured out, every one busy, every one making preparation for the defense. Why had there been no need of it? What needed she of towers and fortifications, whose armies were carrying war into distant lands, before whom all which was near was hushed? Now, all had to be renewed. As Isaiah in his mockery of the idol-makers begins with the forging of the axe, the planting and rearing of the trees, which were at length to become the idol (Isaiah 44:12, following), Nahum goes back to the beginning. The neglected brick-kiln, useless in their prosperity, was to be repaired; the clay, which abounded in the valley of the Tigris , was to be collected, mixed and kneaded by treading, as still represented in the Egyptian monuments. The conquering nation was to do the work of slaves, as Asiatic captives are represented, under their taskmasters , on the monuments of Egypt, a prelude of their future. Xenophon still saw the massive brick wall, on the stone foundation .
Yet, though stored within and fenced without, it shall not stand (see Isaiah 27:10-11).
There - where thou didst fence thyself, and madest such manifold and toilsome preparation,
Shall the fire devour thee. - All is toil within. The fire of God’s wrath falls and consumes at once. Mankind still, with mire and clay, build themselves Babels. “They go into clay,” and become themselves earthly like the mire they steep themselves in. They make themselves strong, as though they thought “that their houses shall continue forever” Psalms 49:11, and say, “So, take thine ease eat, drink and be merry” Luke 12:19-20. God’s wrath descends. “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee. It shall eat thee up like the canker-worm.” What in thee is strongest, shall be devoured with as much ease as the locust devours the tender grass. The judgments of God, not only overwhelm as a whole, but find cut each tender part, as the locust devours each single blade.
Make thyself many as the cankerworm - As though thou wouldest equal thyself in oppressive number to those instruments of the vengeance of God, gathering from all quarters armies to help thee; yea, though thou make thy whole self one oppressive multitude, yet it shall not avail thee. Nay, He saith, thou hast essayed to do it.
Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven - Not numerous only but glorious in the eyes of the world, and, as thou deemest, safe and inaccessible; yet in an instant all is gone.
The commerce of Nineveh was carried back to prehistoric times, since its rivers bound together the mountains of Armenia with the Persian gulf, and marked out the line, by which the distant members of the human family should supply each others’ needs. “Semiramis” they say , “built other cities on the Euphrates and the Tigris, where she placed emporia for those who convey their goods from Media and Paraetacene. Being mighty rivers and passing through a populous country, they yield many advantages to those employed in commerce; so that the places by the river are full of wealthy emporia.” The Phoenicians traced back their Assyrian commerce (and as it seems, truly) to those same prehistoric times, in which they alleged, that they themselves migrated from the Persian gulf. They commenced at once, they said , the long voyages, in which they transported the wares of Egypt and Assyria. The building of “Tadmor in the wilderness” 1 Kings 9:18 on the way to Tiphsach (Thapsacus) the utmost bound of Solomon’s dominions (1 Kings 5:4 1 Kings 4:24), connected Palestine with that commerce.
The great route for couriers and for traffic, extending for 1,500 or 1,600 miles in later times, must have lain through Nineveh, since, although no mention is made of the city which had perished, the route lay across the two rivers , the greater and lesser Zab, of which the greater formed the Southern limit of Nineveh. Those two rivers led up to two mountain-passes which opened a way to Media and Agbatana; and pillars at the summit of the N. pass attest the use of this route over the Zagros chain about 700 b.c. . Yet a third and easier pass was used by Nineveh, as is evidenced by another monument, of a date as yet undetermined . Two other lines connected Nineveh with Syria and the West. Northern lines led doubtless to Lake Wan and the Black Sea . The lists of plunder or of tribute, carried off during the world-empire of Egypt, before it was displaced by Assyria, attest the extensive imports or manufactures of Nineveh ; the titles of “Assyrian nard, Assyrian amomum, Assyrian odors, myrrh, frankincense , involve its trade with the spice countries: domestic manufactures of hers apparently were purple or dark-blue cloaks, embroidery, brocades, and these conveyed in chests of cedar; her metallurgy was on principles recognized now; in one practical point of combining beauty with strength, she has even been copied .
A line of commerce, so marked out by nature in the history of nations, is not changed, unless some preferable line be discovered. Empires passed away, but, at the end of the 13th century a.d., trade and manufacture continued their accustomed course and habitation. The faith in Jesus had converted the ancient paganism; the heresy of Mohammedanism disputed with the faith for the souls of men; but the old material prosperity of the world held its way. Mankind still wanted the productions of each others’ lands. The merchants of Nineveh were to be dispersed and were gone: itself and its remembrance were to be effaced from the earth, and it was so; in vain was a new Nineveh built by the Romans; that also disappeared; but so essential was its possession for the necessities of commerce, that Mosul, a large and populous town, arose over against its mounds, a city of the living over-against its buried glories; and, as our goods are known in China by the name of our great manufacturing capital, so a delicate manufacture imposed on the languages of Europe (Italian, Spanish, French, English, German) the name of Mosul .
Even early in this century, under a mild governor, an important commerce passed through Mosul, from India, Persia, Kurdistan, Syria, Natolia, Europe . And when European traffic took the line of the Isthmus ef Suez, the communication with Kurdistan still secured to it an important and exclusive commerce. The merchants of Nineveh were dispersed and gone. The commerce continued over-against its grave.
The cankerworm spoileth and fleeth away - Better, “the locust hath spread itself abroad (marauded) and is flown.” The prophet gives, in three words, the whole history of Nineveh, its beginning and its end. He had before foretold its destruction, though it should be oppressive as the locust; he had spoken of its commercial wealth; he adds to this, that other source of its wealth, its despoiling warfares and their issue. The pagan conqueror rehearsed his victory, “I came, saw, conquered.” The prophet goes further, as the issue of all human conquest, “I disappeared.” The locust (Nineveh) spread itself abroad (the word is always used of an inroad for plunder , destroying and wasting, everywhere: it left the world a desert, and was gone. Ill-gotten wealth makes one poor, not rich. Truly they who traffic in this world, are more in number than they who, seeking treasure in heaven, shall shine as the stars forever and ever. “For many are called, but few, are chosen.” And when all the stars of light “shall abide and praise God Psalms 148:3, these men, though multiplied like the locust, shall, like the locust, pass away, destroying and destroyed. They abide for a while in the chillness of this world; when the Sun of righteousness ariseth, they vanish. This is the very order of God’s Providence. As truly as locusts, which in the cold and dew are chilled and stiffened, and cannot spread their wings, fly away when the sun is hot and are found no longer, so shalt thou be dispersed and thy place not anymore be known . It was an earnest of this, when the Assyrians, like locusts, had spread themselves around Jerusalem in a dark day of trouble and of rebuke and of blasphemy Isaiah 37:3, God was entreated and they were not. Midian came up like the grasshopper for multitude Judges 6:4-5; Judges 7:12. In the morning they had fled Judges 7:21. What is the height of the sons of hen? or how do they spread themselves abroad?” At the longest, after a few years it is but as the locust spreads himself and flees away, no more to return.
Thy crowned are as the locust, and thy captains as the great locusts - What he had said summarily under metaphor, the prophet expands in a likeness. “The crowned” are probably the subordinate princes, of whom Sennacherib said, “Are not my princes altogether kings?” Isaiah 10:8. It has been observed that the headdress of the Assyrian Vizier has the ornament which “throughout the whole series of sculptures is the distinctive mark of royal or quasi-royal authority.” : “All high officers of state, ‘the crowned captains,’ were adorned with diadems, closely resembling the lower band of the royal mitre, separated from the cap itself. Such was that of the vizier, which was broader in front than behind, was adorned with rosettes and compartments, and terminated in two ribbons with embroidered and fringed ends, which hung down his back.” “Captain” is apparently the title of some military ounce of princely rank.
One such Jeremiah Jeremiah 51:27, in a prophecy in which he probably alludes to this, bids place over the armies of Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz, to marshall them against Babylon, against which he summons the cavalry like the rough locust. The “captains” are likened to the “great caterpillars,” either as chief in devastation, or as including under them the armies antler their command, who moved at their will. These and their armies now subsided into stillness for a time under the chill of calamity, like the locust “whose nature it is, that, torpid in the cold, they fly in the heat.” The stiffness of the locusts through the cold, when they lie motionless, heaps upon heaps, hidden out of sight, is a striking image of the helplessness of Nineveh’s mightiest in the day of her calamity; then, by a different part of their history, he pictures their entire disappearance. : “The locusts, are commonly taken in the morning when they are agglomerated one on another, in the places where they passed the night. As soon as the sun warms them, they fly away.” “When the sun ariseth, they flee away,” literally, “it is chased away.”
One and all; all as one. As at God’s command the plague of locusts, which He had sent on Egypt, was removed; “there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt” Exodus 10:19; so the mighty of Nineveh were driven north, with no trace where they had been, where they were. “The wind carried them away Isaiah 41:16; the wind passes over him and he is not, and his place knows him no more Psalms 103:16. The triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the ungodly for a moment: though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds, yet he shall perish for ever; they which have seen him shall say, where is he? He shall fly away, as a dream, and shall not be formal; neither shall his place any were bebold him Job 20:5-9.
Where they are - So Zechariah asks, “Your fathers, where are they?” Zechariah 1:0. History, experience, human knowledge can answer nothing. They can only say, where they are not. God alone can answer that much-containing word, “Where-they.” They had disappeared from human sight, from their greatness, their visible being, their place on earth.
Thy shepherds - that is, they who should counsel for the people’s good and feed it, and “keep watch over their flocks by night,” but are now like their master, the “King of Assyria,” are his shepherds not the shepherds of the people whom they care not for; these slumber, at once through listlessness and excess, and now have fallen asleep in death, as the Psalmist says, “They have slept their sleep” Psalms 76:6. The prophet speaks of the future, as already past in effect, as it was in the will of God. All “the shepherds of the people” , all who could shepherd them, or hold them to together, themselves sleep “the sleep of death;” their mighty men dwelt in that abiding-place, where they shall not move or rise, the grave; and so as Micaiah, in the vision predictive of Ahab’s death, “saw all Israel scattered on the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd” 1 Kings 22:17, so the people of the Assyrian monarch shall be “scattered on the mountains,” shepherdless, and that irretrievably; no man gathers them.
There is no healing - (literally, “dulling”) of thy bruise It cannot be softened or mitigated; and so thy wound is grievous (literally, sick), incurable, for when the wound ever anew inflames, it cannot be healed. The word, bruise, is the more expressive, because it denotes alike the abiding wound in the body Leviticus 21:19, and the shattering of a state, which God can heal Psalms 60:4; Isaiah 30:26, or which may be great, incurable Jeremiah 30:12. When the passions are ever anew aroused, they are at last without remedy; when the soul is ever swollen with pride, it cannot be healed; since only by submitting itself to Christ, “broken and contrite” by humility, can it be healed. Nineveh sank, and never rose; nothing soothed its fall. In the end there shall be nothing to mitigate the destruction of the world, or to soften the sufferings of the damned. The “rich man, being in torments,” asked in vain that Lazarus might “dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue.”
All that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee - For none can grieve at thy fall.
Nineveh sinks out of sight amid one universal, exulting, exceeding joy of all who heard the report of her. “For upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?” “In that he asketh, upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually? He affirms most strongly that his evil did pass upon all continually.” His wickedness, like one continual flood. which knew no ebb or bound, had passed upon the whole world and each one in it; now at length it had passed away, and “the whole earth is at rest, is quiet; they break forth into singing” Isaiah 14:7.
It is not without meaning, that having throughout the prophecy addressed Nineveh (in the feminine), now, in the close Nahum 3:18-19, the prophet turns to him in whom all its wickedness is, as it were, gathered into one, the soul of all its evil, and the director of it, its king. As Nineveh is the image of the world, its pomps, wealth, luxury, vanity, wickedness, oppression, destruction, so its king is the image of a worse king, the Prince of this world. : “And this is the song of triumph of those, over whom ‘his wickedness has passed,’ not rested, but they have escaped out of his hands. Nahum, ‘the comforter,’ had ‘rebuked the world of sin;’ now he pronounces that ‘the prince of this world is judged.’ ‘His shepherds’ are they who serve him, who ‘feed the flock of the slaughter,’ who guide them to evil, not to good. These, when they sleep, as all mankind, dwell there; it is their abiding-place; their sheep are ‘scattered on the mountains,’ in the heights of their pride, because they are not of the sheep of Christ; and since they would not be gathered of Him, they are ‘scattered, where none gathereth.’” “The king of Assyria (Satan) knows that he cannot deceive the sheep, unless he have first laid the shepherds asleep. It is always the aim of the devil to lay asleep souls that watch. In the Passion of the Lord, he weighed down the eves of the Apostles with heavy sleep, whom Christ arouseth, ‘Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation’ Matthew 26:41; and again, ‘What I say unto you, I say unto all, watch!’ ‘And no man gathers them,’ for their shepherds themselves cannot protect themselves. In the Day of God’s anger, ‘the kings of the earth and the great men, and the rich men and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains’ Revelation 6:15. Such are his shepherds, and his sheep; but what of himself?
Truly his bruise or breaking can not he healed; his wound or smiting is incurable; that namely whereby, when he came to Him in whom he found nothing John 14:30, yet bruised His heel, and exacted of Him a sinner’s death, his own head was bruised.” And hence, “all who have ears to hear,” who hear not with the outward only, but with the inner ears of the heart, “clap the hands over thee,” that is, give to God all their souls’ thanks and praise, raise up their eyes and hands to God in heaven, praising Him who had “bruised Satan under their feet.” Ever since, through the serpent, the evil and malicious one has lied, saying, “ye shall not surely die, eat and ye shall be as gods,” hath his evil, continually and unceasingly, from one and through one, passed upon all men. As the apostle saith, “As by one man, sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” Romans 5:12.
Upon whom then hath not his sin paased? Who hath not been shapen in iniquity? and whom did not his mother conceive in sin? Yet, it passes only, for “the world itself also passeth away,” and we pass away from it, and all the evil it can do us, unless we share in its evil, is not abiding, but passing. This then is the cause, and a great cause, why “all that hear the bruit of thee” should “clap the hands over thee;” because thee, whose wickedness passed through one upon all, One Man, who alone was without sin, contemned and bruised, while He riced and justified from wickedness them who “hearing” rejoiced, and rejoicing and believing, “clapped the hands over thee.” Yet they only shall be glad, upon whom his “wickedness,” although it passed, yet abode not, but in prayer and good deeds, by the grace of God, they lifted up their hands to Him Who overcame, and Who, in His own, overcomes still, to whom be praise and thanksgiving forever and ever. Amen.
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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Nahum 3". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Seventh Sunday after Easter