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He: some by mistake refer this to Sennacherib; it is more rightly referred to the Medes of Scythians or to the Chalthians, all which did somewhat against the Assyrians.
That dasheth in pieces; that as a heavy and strong hammer breaks into pieces. and then with his arm scattereth the broken pieces; so shall the destroyer of Nineveh do, as a maul, (so the word Proverbs 25:18) or as the wind scatters smoke, so the word Psalms 68:2.
Is come up before thy face, against thee, and is within sight, from thy watch-towers on thy frontiers thou mayst descry his avant-guards.
Keep the munition: the prophet derides Nineveh, and foretells all will be to no purpose; she shall never be able to withstand, so as to conquer; re-enforce thy garrisons, yet they shall fall.
Watch the way; know which way he comes, that thou mayst barricade the way, or set ambushes.
Make thy loins strong; encourage thy soldiers, and make them valiant as thou canst, choose out the ablest and most undaunted. Fortify thy power mightily; gather up all thou canst for the war, increase thy armies, fill up thy companies, engage assistance from abroad; nothing shall avail thee.
This confirms the prophet’s threat, either declaring that now, since God had sufficiently punished Jacob and Israel, he would next punish the proud Assyrian, as Isaiah 10:12; or else it is a confirmation by argument from the greater to the less; Israel and Jacob were more to God, yet he did punish them, much more will he punish Nineveh. Turned away; laid low, or captivated, as no doubt Sennacherib did when he took so many fenced cities, he did not slay all, he sent many into captivity, and threatened Jerusalem’s citizens with the like, Isaiah 36:17.
The excellency; the wealth, the valiant men, the wise men, all that Jacob could, (with any colour of reason,) and had (with sin more than enough) gloried in.
Of Jacob; the two tribes.
As the excellency of Israel; the ten tribes spoiled, conquered and captivated by Shalmaneser.
The emptiers; Assyrians, who invaded, plundered, and robbed them, both Israel and Jacob. Have emptied them out; quite exhausted them.
Marred; either corrupted them in religion and manners, as 2 Kings 17:24, &c.; or destroyed and cut up the race of Israel, to destroy them utterly.
Their vine branches: it may literally be meant that the Assyrians did cut up the vines to impoverish the vine-dressers, or else figuratively for the nation, which is often compared to a vine, so the branches are men and women.
The shield; one part for the whole of the armour and furniture, or harness.
Of his, Medes or Chaldeans’, mighty men; soldiers, more particularly the brave and stout ones, who were the choice men of the army.
Is made red; either coloured red by the dyer, or else dyed red with the blood of the slain.
The valiant men are in scarlet: this explains the former; they used this colour much, either to terrify the enemy, or to conceal their own wounds widen the blood on other colour would have disclosed them.
The chariots; much used in the wars of those countries, and the great men usually fought in them in those days.
Shall be with flaming torches; either because they did force fire out of the stones by their swift motion over them, or rather because there were torches always carried in them, to light them that rode in them by night, and to be in readiness to fire the houses of cities or tents in the camp they did break into.
In the day of his preparation; when he shall muster his armies, and bring together his magazines, and prepare his engines.
The fir trees shall be terribly shaken; by axes cutting them down for several uses in the war, for torches, for lances, for building forts, and many other uses. This is parallel with Isaiah 14:8. Whole forests were sometimes destroyed by great armies, which cut them down for their service.
The chariots of the Chaldean army, or the riders in the chariots, by their fierceness and carriage, by their cries and calls, heartening one another, and threatening the Assyrians.
Shall rage; shall seem to be more like madmen than well-ordered soldiers, and act as if they avert possessed with fruits, do more than man can do.
In the streets, either of the towns they pass through, or rather of Nineveh when taken.
They shall justle; by reason of their multitude, haste, and fury, they shall hit one against another.
In the broad ways; where is most room, shall be most of these chariots, and yet scarce room for them to move in.
They shall seem like torches; what with sparkling fire, caused by their horses and chariots shod with iron, and what with the glittering of the polished irons about the chariots, and what with the light of flaming torches carried in them, the chariots shall look like so malay great flambeaus, very dangerous and terrible.
They shall run like the lightnings, both for speed, irresistibleness, and terror, against which no defence, from which no flight or hiding.
This verse may indifferently refer either to Nineveh and its king making their defence, or to the Chaldeans and their king maintaining the siege; both act with rigour and diligence. Recount; muster, and give orders.
Worthies; approved officers and commanders.
They shall stumble; show such forwardness, make such haste, that they shall not stand to pick their way; and there shall be so many, that they shall stumble for want of room.
They shall make haste to the wall; the Assyrians to defend, the Chaldeans to assault, the walls of Nineveh.
The defence; what might defend the besieged, and what might defend the besiegers; all shall be ready on both sides, and what men can do, both will do.
The gates of the rivers; of the city toward the river. Rivers, for river, or because of the greatness of Tigris, upon which Nineveh stood.
Shall be opened: it is reported by Diodorus Siculus, Biblioth. 1. 3. c. 7, that when the Chaldeans besieged Nineveh, a mighty deluge of waters overthrew the walls of Nineveh, by the space of twenty furlongs, or two miles and half, through which breach the besiegers made their entrance, so Nahum 1:8. Usher Annal. ad A.M. 3257. The overrunning flood may be literally understood: here the prophet expressly declares how Nineveh shall be ruined.
The palace; either the royal stately palace of the Assyrian monarch; or the more stately temple of Nisroch, or Jupiter Belus, or some mighty bulwark raised there for defence.
Shall be dissolved, as if melted; it shall drop to pieces, and they that were in, whether servants of the court, or votaries to the idol, or soldiers for defence of the fort, shall in haste, with fear of the danger, flee away.
Huzzab: this is variously taken, but the most probable guess is, that it is meant of the queen, who kept close in the palace, or temple, as where she might be most safe in the strength and supposed sacredness of the place.
Shall be led away captive; without due respect to her royal dignity, shall be hurried into a strange land with other captives, and (as they) be exposed to danger and insolence.
Her maids, ladies that waited on her in her royal state, now shall be her companions in captivity.
Shall lead her; support their sorrowful, weary, and fainting queen, spent with such travel as she had not been used unto.
As with the voice of doves; sighing out the complaints they durst not speak out.
Tabering upon their breasts; these maids of honour should now in captivity strike on their breasts, but with such caution and fear of being discovered in their lamenting their state, as should be but like the noise of a taber lightly struck; or else, instead of musical instruments on which they were used to play, and to which they were used to sing, now they strike their own breasts, and sigh out their sorrows.
Nineveh is of old; a very ancient city, of great renown and strength.
Like a pool of water; very populous, like a pool of water which hath been long breeding of fish, and is full of them.
Yet they, yet these multitudes, shall not be a safety or protection to Nineveh, they shall flee away discomfited and terrified.
Stand, stand; as officers call to fleeing soldiers, and it is doubled to show the earnestness of the commanders desiring the soldier to stand and fight.
Shall they cry; the chieftains, and most valiant among the Ninevites. But none shall look back; a panic fear shall so possess them, that none of them shall dare to turn again, nor to look back upon the enemy.
Take: God speaks by his prophet, commanding that it be done, and foretelling that it certainly shall be done; and Scythians, Medes, and Chaldeans, or whoever else did associate in the war, and sacking of Nineveh, may be supposed to encourage one another in the plundering of the city.
Ye, conquering soldiers, you that come together in hope of this booty.
For here is enough for you all; Nineveh hath been long gathering, and hath gathered much treasure, it is uncountable; therefore take all you can lay hands on: possibly it may be the foretelling of the chief commander, his giving his soldiers leave to take what they could, forasmuch as after all they would leave enough, a great treasure for him.
Store of all sorts, both for use and luxury, both for necessity and superfluity.
Glory; splendid and rich furniture in their temples, palaces, public edifices, and private houses; their rich vessels, costly hangings, and gaudy apparel in their wardrobes, in their closets, and in their shops; all delightful to the eye, and rich in the real value.
She, Nineveh, taken, and under the proud insultings of the barbarous soldiers,
is empty though once full of all store, yet now she is empty enough, many hands have been employed to spoil her, and void, citizens are either slipped away, or carried captives, and waste, desolate, and shall continue so. Here is a threefold expression, to ascertain the thing, and to intimate the greatness of Nineveh’s desolation.
The heart melteth; this devastation hath broken the hearts of the Ninevites.
The knees smite together; not able to go steadily, ready to fall through weakness and faintness of spirits.
Much pain, acute pains and griefs, caused by their troubles, losses, dangers, and frights,
is in all loins; which, in those that are well, are their strength, and which, to diseased and broken bodies, are the seat of pains and griefs.
The faces, which were wont to be haughty and scornful, and as it were sparkle with briskness of spirit,
all gather blackness; now are clouded, sorrowful, and dejected, every one may see their desperate state in this symptom.
This is the insulting or deriding speech of all that see and note it.
The dwelling of the lions; Nineveh, compared to a lion’s den.
Lions; tyrants and bloody warriors, as Pul, Tiglath-pileser, and Shalmaneser.
The feeding-place of the young lions; Nineveh.
Young lions; princes, the children of those tyrannical kings.
The old lion, the king of Assyria, walked in his pride, in safety, and his princes with his rapines about him, which none durst disturb.
The prophet continues the metaphor; this lion is the king of Assyria.
Did tear in pieces; formerly did fall upon his neighbour nations, broke their strength, and robbed their treasuries and store-houses, and broke them in pieces.
For his whelps; the young brood of the Assyrian royal family.
Lionesses; queens, concubines, or ladies in the Assyrian court.
Filled his holes; his treasuries, magazines, and royal seats, called dens in a decorum to the speech he had used.
And his dens; ingeminating what was before spoken.
With ravin; spoils which his ravenous mind and hand could lay hold on; all was prey that he could take.
Behold: this calls for our attention.
I, the God of Israel, whom thou hast despised and blasphemed, am against thee, Assyrian kingdom, and Nineveh,
saith the Lord of hosts, whose command all must obey.
I will burn her, Nineveh’s,
chariots in the smoke; in wrath, or suddenly; or what if, when the city, first plundered, then burnt, these chariots were burnt in that smoke.
The sword, of the conquering enemy,
shall devour thy young lions; young princes, that either are found in arms, or else are cut off in the places of their retirements for safety.
I will cut off thy prey; cause thee to cease from making a prey any more, or destroy all thou hast gotten by thy prey.
Thy messengers; either ambassadors sent forth, or tribute-gatherers, or muster-masters to enlist soldiers, or heralds to proclaim edicts.
Shall no more be heard; none shall concern themselves with one or other of them. None obey or fear thee.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Nahum 2". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19