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Woe! a comprehensive threat of many and great calamities coming.
To the bloody city; Nineveh, the chief city of the Assyrian kingdom: see Nahum 1:1.
It is all; every part, officers and rulers, traders, both buyers and sellers, shops, houses, judicatories, all filled with falsehood and lies.
Lies; cheating in their trades, and false witnesses before the judges.
Robbery; their gain, though they count it honest, is no better in God’s account than robbery or rapine, as is that the lion taketh, teareth, and devoureth, as the word in the Hebrew implies.
The prey; unjust acquists by fraud and force; extortions and violent taking away what was not theirs.
Departeth not; as they did so long since, they continue still so to do, no change from injustice to justice.
The French reads this verse with a negative distributive, and so links this and the next verse with the former negative, Nahum 3:1; thus, The prey departeth not, nor the noise of the whip, nor, &c., intimating the long continuance of the Chaldeans insulting over the Ninevites.
The noise of a whip, with which the charioteer roused and animated the horses which drew the warlike chariots.
The noise of the rattling of the wheels, by the swift motion of the horses,
and of the pransing horses, in the chariots proudly and stately trampling, and of the jumping chariots, made to jump by the swiftness and strength of the horses which drew them.
The horseman; the Chaldean and Mede, or their confederates in the war.
Lifteth up; hath his sword not only drawn, but in a posture ever ready to smite, wound, or kill. The bright sword: these warriors kept their weapons in such manner, that they were fit both to cut and kill, and also to dazzle rite eye and affright.
And there, in Nineveh, and the streets of it,
is a multitude of slain, by the sword of the prevailing besiegers.
A great number of carcasses; the slain lay in the streets unburied.
There is no end of their corpses; none knew the numbers of the slain.
They, both invaders and invaded, all within the city, stumble upon their corpses, are ready to fall at them, not able to avoid them.
Because, & c.; God is just, Nineveh hath deserved all this.
The multitude of the whoredoms; her crafts and her policies, in which she resembled those lewd women; as they by their wiles abuse and deceive men, so did Nineveh, or the Assyrian kingdom, deceive, impoverish, and enslave nations by state policies: so Isaiah 23:17; Revelation 17:2. Or else, by whoredoms here may be meant idolatries, which were multiplied by the many people that served the Assyrian idols, or by their multiplying of idols, which probably they did by taking into the muster-roll of their gods those idols which the conquered nations worshipped: or whoredoms literally understood; for this sin undoubtedly did abound where wealth, luxury, ease, and long continuance of these, were to be found.
Well-favoured; the glory of their state and government, or the splendour of their idols, temples, and sacrifices, or the comeliness and beauty of the lewd and whorish women among them.
Witchcrafts; bewitching policies, and enchanting counsels, confederacies, and promised favours; or it may be literally taken for witchcrafts or necromancies, which sin abounded no doubt among the Assyrians.
Selleth; disposeth of them as imperiously and absolutely as men do slaves which they buy; or else, drawing them into the wars for pay, exposed them to slaughter by the enemies’ sword, as if they had bought their persons to sell their lives, that thereby their own countrymen and citizens might be spared and escape. Or
selleth, i.e. occasioneth them to abound in sin, for which God in his just judgment selleth them into the enemies’ hand.
Nations; whole kingdoms.
Whoredoms: see above.
And families through her witchcrafts: either it is an elegant illustration of the former passage, or perhaps it may intimate the seducing of some particular and eminent families to engage themselves in a hereditary and perpetual service to the Assyrian idols, or to witchcrafts, in which the devil imitated God’s institution, in taking a family to his service; so the chief families had the authority of ruling, and the burden of all idolatrous priesthood. Gr. Tholosun. de Rep. lib. 4. sect. 9, and lib. 8. c. 2. sect. 6,8.
Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts: see Nahum 2:13.
I will discover: Nineveh as a harlot had been proud, and appeared beautiful and gay in the gifts of her lovers; but now God will deal with her according to her ways, and (as men provoked use to do with harlots) strip her naked, and expose her to greatest infamy, or deal with her as inhuman soldiers do deal with captive women: see Annot. in Ezekiel 16:37.
The nations, which once did reverence thy greatness, shall now abhor thy nakedness which they behold. Thy nakedness; thy vileness and thy shame, as in the next words.
I will cast, by the Chaldean and Medish army, which God will stir up against the Assyrian monarchy,
abominable filth upon thee; as is done to lewd women.
Make thee vile: Nineveh had made herself morally evil and vile by sinning; now she shall be made penally rite.
And will set thee, O Nineveh, as a gazingstock; at which they shall wonder and be astonished, some shall take warning too: so Sennacherib’s tomb was a standing monument to put men in mind that God is to be feared, and that men looking on it may reflect on their insolence, and decline it. So Sennacherib’s tomb-stone with his statue, of which Nahum 1:14.
It shall come to pass; it will most certainly be. All they that look upon thee, so soon as ever thou art seen and discovered, O Nineveh, in thy vileness,
shall flee from thee, with hatred, loathing, and abhorrence for thy former pride and wickedness. and for thy present miseries.
And say, with wonder, scorn, rejoicing, and spreading the news,
Nineveh is laid waste; taken, sacked, emptied of inhabitant, yea, utterly subverted, that it may be no more a rival with Babylon: it is certain that it is not now where it once stood.
Who will bemoan her? whose bowels will be moved for her that had no bowels for any one; who will move foot or, hand toward her relief?
Whence? from what place? She hath wronged all her neighbours, and ruined, some of them; from amidst these surely not one may be fetched to speak comfortably to her; these do with reason upbraid her former cruelty and pride, and rejoice in her present calamity and ruin, and strangers will not be concerned for her.
Art thou, O Nineveh,
better than populous No? it is generally supposed that this was what we now call Alexandria, a city full of people, and as full of luxury and uncleanness, the sins whereof had brought it to ruin, though the history of it do not specify time, person, or means, &c. Art thou greater, stronger, and wiser, more able to resist, an enemy, and preserve thyself? Yet all her power was broken, her riches spoiled, and her glory buried in ruins. This, known in those days, was a fit example to be set before the Ninevites; and though some conjecture the prophet foretells what should befall populous No, to awaken the Ninevites, yet it seems incredible that the prophet should take an instance to terrify secure Ninevites from somewhat to come to pass in after-ages.
Situate among the rivers; in a place where the seven streams of Nilus very fairly might be accounted so many rivers, and near to one of these streams, toward the sea, was this mighty and rich city seated.
The waters round about it; though at some distance, yet at no great distance.
Whose rampart, or defence of its walls on one side,
was the sea; that part of the Midland Sea which was Mare Egyptiacum, and was northward from the city.
Her wall was from the sea; a mighty strong wall built from the sea, on the parts landward, where need was.
It is not very probable that this Ethiopia should be that remote country that lay south of Egypt, though in truth it is possible, and while Egypt was in friendship with No Amon, or Alexandria, the aids might in length of time come from Ethiopia, or Abyssinia. But there was a Cush, an Ethiopia, in Arabia, near to Egypt and Alexandria, whose people were likest to undertake the assistance of Alexandria their neighbour. See 2 Chronicles 14:9; Ezekiel 30:4,Ezekiel 30:5; Habakkuk 3:7. This No, or Alexandria, was either a city subject to, and was part of Egypt, or if (as some conjecture) it was a free city, it was in league with Egypt.
Were her strength; furnishing soldiers and warlike assistance on all occasions to Alexandria, which relied on these confederates.
It was infinite; they never made an end of their confederacies and warlike provisions. It is reported, that when Amasis reigned Egypt reckoned twenty thousand cities, and when Zerah king of Ethiopia came against Asa it was with an army of ten hundred thousand men, and three hundred (thousand) chariots; these were the associates of Alexandria.
Put, or Phuteans, or the Moors, who lie along westward of Alexandria.
Lubim; the people that inhabited the parts of Africa, and thought to be that which is now called Cyrene: see Ezekiel 30:0.
Were thy helpers, O Alexandria.
She was carried away: it is probable this might be about thirty years before; for about A.M. 3207, as Calvisius, or 3277, as Archbishop Usher, Sabacon king of Ethiopia invaded Egypt, took Bocchoris, and burnt him, which was not likely to be done without slaughter of men and sacking of towns, among which time No might be ruined. Now, as Calvisius and Helvicus account, about A.M. 3238, or as Usher, 3307, Nahum appears and flourisheth. She went into captivity: this ingemination confirms the certainty of the thing, and intends to affect the Ninevites the more.
Her young children; their innocent age was no safeguard to them.
Were dashed in pieces; first barbarously murdered, and then trod under foot in the streets, as was usual with those cruel, bloody soldiers, 2 Kings 8:12; Psalms 137:9; Isaiah 13:16.
They cast lots; either to put a scorn upon them, or else to prevent any contest about them, being taken among many others together, and none could say, This is my prisoner.
Honourable men; citizens of note, or some officers or governors.
Great men; great in place, strength, valour, wisdom, and so likely to do the conqueror a displeasure, should they not be secured.
Were bound in chains of iron, or manacled, used as worst slaves.
Thou, O Nineveh,
shalt be drunken; not only taste, but drink deep, yea, be drunk with the bitter cup of God’s displeasure and thine enemies’ rage, Isaiah 29:9; Obadiah 1:16.
Thou shalt be hid; either hide thyself, or be so weakened and diminished, that thou shalt no more appear; or else be as contemptible, laid by in some obscure place; fear and shame shall cover thee.
Thou also, O Nineveh, as well as Alexandria,
shalt seek strength, shalt sue for and entreat assistance,
because of the enemy, or from the enemy; i.e. either thus, in thy distress thou shalt seek for strength from such as are really thine enemies, though they make a league with thee; or thus, thou shalt beg protection from thy enemy that hath captivated thee, and rely on the mercy of him against the rage of others.
All thy strong holds, castles and fortified places, not one or two, but all of them,
shall be like fig trees, easily shaken,
with the first-ripe figs, whose weight and ripeness will bring them quickly to the ground.
If they be shaken, if but very lightly touched. they shall even fall into the mouth of the eater; into the hand of devouring and hungry ones.
Behold; this may seem strange, but attend diligently, thou shalt see how this will be.
Thy people; those thou hirest, and are thine for pay; those that are born thine, all thy warriors.
In the midst of thee; where very cowards use to be valiant, or where necessity makes cowards valiant, where they should show most valour.
Are women; weak, afraid, flee away, and hide themselves, Jeremiah 48:41; Jeremiah 51:30. God would fill them with terror, and they shall not dare to keep their gates shut against the enemy.
The gates of thy land, the cities, but especially the strong fortified frontiers which should keep out the enemy,
shall be set wide open; shall either through fear or treachery be opened, wide opened to admit the enemy.
Thine enemies; Chaldeans, and their confederates.
The fire shall devour; when the enemy is thus admitted, he shall burn either the city or the gates and bars, he will never trust nor spare thee.
Bars; with which the gates were both shut and strengthened, 1 Samuel 23:7; Psalms 147:13.
Draw thee waters, fill all thy cisterns, and make more that thou want not for drink, yea, draw the waters into the ditches about every fort,
for the siege, which thine enemies will lay against thee.
Fortify; repair all decays, and strengthen all that is weak.
Go into clay, and tread the mortar; set thy brick-makers on work to prepare store of strongest bricks.
Make strong the brick-kiln, that the materials for thy fortifications may be firm and good. All this is spoken with an irony, or derision of their fruitless labour.
There; in the very fortresses.
The fire; either literally, or figuratively, the wrath of the enemy hot as fire, or the pestilence, or all together.
The sword of the Chaldeans, their wars, (after all that the Scythians have done against thee,) these shall utterly destroy thee.
It shall eat thee up: this tells us the manner how the Ninevites shall be destroyed, they shall be eaten up.
Like the canker-worm; either the enemy shall as easily eat thee up as the cankerworm eats the green herb, or thou shalt as soon be devoured as canker-worms are destroyed by storms, rain, fire, or change of weather.
Make thyself many as the cankerworm; they are innumerable, be thou so if thou canst be, all will be to no purpose.
Make thyself many as the locusts: the same irony repeated: when Ninevites have done all they can, they shall as fully and suddenly be destroyed as these vermin are.
Thou hast multiplied for number; and, as the word may import, thou hast greatened them, thou reliest on their purse and interest.
Thy merchants; either literally, or figuratively, thy great men, princes, and rulers, which sold and bought, Nahum 3:4; or thy confederates, who by virtue of such leagues have free commerce with thee; and this is most likely to be the meaning.
Above the stars; proverbially taken for a very great number.
The canker-worm spoileth, and fleeth away: this seems an abrupt speech, and may be thus made up: Whatever thou thinkest of these, which thou both multipliedst and magnifiest, I tell thee, O Nineveh, they are like the canker-worm and locust, which spoil wherever they come, and do the greater mischief where they are greater in number, for they come for spoil; while they get by thee they continue with thee, and when no more is to be gotten, they take wing and fly away, leaving waste and stench behind them: so will these serve thee, O Nineveh.
Thy crowned; thy rich and wealthy citizens, or thy confederate kings and princes, or thy tributary princes;
thy captains; hired, or homeborn, rather the former, commanders and officers; for number and briskness, are like locusts and great grasshoppers, but it is all for show, nothing for help to thee.
Which camp, as if they would guard the grounds about which they settle.
In the cold day; this lasts while the season suits them.
But when the sun ariseth, when trouble, war, and danger, like the parching sun, scalds them, they flee away; they shift from the hedge they eat up.
Their place is not known; thou shalt never know where to find them when thou needest, and they should help thee.
Thy shepherds, subordinate magistrates, rulers, and counsellors, or officers set over the kingdom, slumber; are remiss, or mistake, or are heartless or dead, they cannot or will not mind the public concerns.
O king of Assyria; his name I meet not with; Asaradinus, or, as the Scripture calls him, Esarhaddon, may possibly be the name and man intended.
Thy nobles, the brave, valiant, and famous men,
shall dwell in the dust; either be buried as dead, or lie in the dust as faint and weary, or be trampled on as worthless and useless.
Thy people, thy citizens and subjects in their great numbers, is scattered, partly through fear, shame, and astonishment, partly by violence of the invading enemy, upon the mountains, where is neither safety, nor provision against danger and want.
No man gathereth them; no one that will concern himself to preserve thy dispersed ones; so thou and they are left hopeless and ruined, for the shepherds are some dead and cannot, the rest slumber and will not, lay to heart their condition.
There is no healing of thy bruise; in a word, thou, Nineveh, must die, thy bruise he will not heal. who gave it, and others cannot. God by the Chaldeans hath wounded thee, and thy friends cannot bind up the wound.
Thy bruise; shivered and broken state.
Thy wound is grievous; hath brought a weakness on thee, thou art sick with thy wound, and faintest, not able to bear a cure.
All that hear the bruit of thee, of thy former carriage and present calamities,
shall clap the hands; insulting and rejoicing over thee.
Upon whom hath not; no kingdom, state, city, or family almost round about thee; not one can be named.
Thy wickedness; thy sins, thy idolatry, luxury, &c.; thy tyranny, pride, oppression, and cruelty; thy illegal, unprecedented violence.
Passed, without any bounds, and in most vehement and fierce manner.
Continually; either always treading down and trampling upon those whom thou hadst subdued, or else having conquered and spoiled one state, didst forthwith fall upon some other. Thus all suffered by thee, and all rejoice at thy utter downfall; and as none have cause to befriend thee, so none will find hearts to pity thee, or hands to help thee, but every one is ready to wish, that all who are, as thou wert, enemy to mankind and justice, may, as thou, perish without help or pity.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Nahum 3". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13