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Bible Commentaries
Nahum 1

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 3284. B.C. 720.

We have here,

(1,) The inscription of the book, Nahum 1:1 .

(2,) A magnificent description of the glory of God, in his just wrath against his enemies, and merciful kindness to his people, and of his majesty and power in both, Nahum 1:2-8 .

(3,) A particular application of this to the destruction of Sennacherib’s army, Nahum 1:9-15 .

Verse 1

Nahum 1:1. The burden of Nineveh Of Nineveh, see note on Jonah 3:3. When the prophets were sent to denounce judgments against a nation, or city, their message, or prophecy, was usually called the burden of that people, or place: see note on Isaiah 13:1. The book of the vision As prophets were of old called seers, so their prophecies were called visions: of Nahum Nahum, according to St. Jerome, signifies a comforter: for the ten tribes being carried away by the king of Assyria, this vision was to comfort them in their captivity: nor was it less a consolation to the other two tribes, who remained in the land, and had been besieged by the same enemies, to hear that these conquerors would in time be conquered themselves, their city taken, and their empire overthrown. Bishop Newton.

Verses 2-3

Nahum 1:2-3. God is jealous For his own glory; and the Lord revengeth Or rather, avengeth, namely, the cause, or ill treatment, of his people, as being the Supreme Governor, who, by office, is bound to deliver the oppressed, and punish the oppressor: he also vindicates his own insulted honour. And is furious Or rather, is angry. In the Hebrew it is literally, And is the Lord of anger, or wrath; that is, can easily give effect to his anger, or execute what it prompts him to. It would be well if the epithet furious were for ever banished from the sacred writings; and, indeed, from all others, when speaking of God. He reserveth wrath for his enemies There is nothing in the Hebrew to answer the word wrath; it is only, He reserveth for his enemies. Some supply the word punishment; He has punishment in store to execute upon his enemies, when he pleaseth. The Lord is slow to anger, and great [rather, although he be great] in power, and [or, but] will not at all acquit the wicked The sense of the clause seems to be, that although God defers punishment, yet he has it in his power to inflict it at all times; and though it be long delayed, yet it will, in the end, overtake the wicked, unless the long-suffering of God lead them to repentance. The Lord hath his way The method of his providence; in the whirlwind Which often riseth suddenly, and beareth before it all things that stand in its way. Thus God’s judgments often come unexpectedly, and are irresistible, and most terribly destructive. And the clouds are the dust of his feet He makes the clouds his chariot, and employs them to whatever purpose he pleases. This and the two following verses are a very noble and majestic description of the power of the Almighty.

Verses 4-6

Nahum 1:4-6. He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry The rivers and the sea itself are dried up at his rebuke, as the Red sea and Jordan were of old; and the most pleasant and fruitful countries, such as Bashan, Carmel, and Lebanon, are parched up with drought when he is displeased. The mountains quake at him See notes on Psalms 114:3-8. And the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world The brightness of his presence is sufficient to set the whole world on fire, with all that is in it. This is, indeed, a most magnificent description of the omnipotence of God. He walketh, or rideth, amidst the whirlwind, or in the storm; the clouds are but the dust of his feet; the sea is dried up at his word, the mountains are moved, and tremble at his presence; and the whole earth is consumed with the brightness that is before him. Who can stand before his indignation? Who, or what people, however strong they may think themselves, can withstand the effects of his power when he is angry with them, and is determined to execute his wrath upon them? His fury Rather, his indignation, or the ardour of his anger; is poured out like fire, &c. Is as consuming in its effects as fire. And the rocks are thrown down by him That is, as fire is of sufficient force to dissolve the hardest rocks, so God’s power overthrows all opposition, however strong; and his vengeance, with infinite ease, can humble the most obdurate sinners.

Verse 7

Nahum 1:7. The Lord is good But though God is thus terrible in his power, yet he is merciful, gracious, and beneficent in his nature, and is a sure refuge and protection to those who worship and serve him sincerely, and put their trust in him; and he knows and pays a particular regard to all such, so that they are never overlooked or neglected by him; he approves, owns, and preserves them.

Verse 8

Nahum 1:8. With an overrunning flood he will make an utter end This seems to be spoken of Nineveh, and Bishop Newton is of opinion that the words allude to the manner in which it was taken. “Diodorus informs us,” says he, “that there was an old prophecy, that Nineveh should not be taken till the river became an enemy to the city; and in the third year of the siege, the river, being swollen with continual rains, overflowed part of the city, and broke down the wall for twenty furlongs; then the king, thinking that the oracle was fulfilled, and the river become an enemy to the city, built a large funeral pile in the palace, and, collecting together all his wealth, and his concubines and eunuchs, burned himself and the palace with them all; and the enemy entered the breach that the waters had made, and took the city.” Or, as a great destruction, or an army overrunning a country, is often compared to an inundation, the meaning of the passage may only be, that God’s judgments, like a mighty flood, which overflows all banks, should overwhelm and swallow up both Nineveh and the whole Assyrian empire. And darkness shall pursue his enemies That is, troubles and destructive calamities.

Verses 9-10

Nahum 1:9-10. What do ye imagine against the Lord? Having declared the dreadfulness of God’s power and anger against the wicked, his goodness toward his people, and denounced future destruction against the Ninevites; he now expostulates with them, inquiring what it is they design against God, and on what ground they flatter themselves into such an attempt: as if he had said, What a foolish and wicked thing it is for you to plot against Jehovah, as if you could outwit infinite wisdom, and overcome almighty power. He will make an utter end He will cause your utter desolation to be the issue of your projects, and the punishment of your sins. Affliction shall not rise up the second time God will at once, and for ever, destroy your city and empire. He will lay you low at one stroke, so that there will be no occasion to repeat it. For while they be folden together as thorns Or, For as thorns golden or entangled together are thrown into the fire all at once, and easily burned, yea, help to destroy each other; so shall the Ninevites be easily and surely destroyed. And while they are drunken as drunkards As men drunken and unable to help themselves; who, when any sudden danger arises, are all involved in the same fate. They shall be devoured as stubble fully dry Which soon catches fire, and breaks out into a flame. The meaning of the whole verse is, that on a sudden they should be involved in a general destruction. Diodorus relates, it was while all the Assyrian army were feasting for their former victories, that their enemies, being informed by some deserters of the negligence and drunkenness in their camp, “assaulted them unexpectedly by night, and falling orderly on them disorderly, and prepared on them unprepared, became masters of the camp, slew many of the soldiers, and drove the rest into the city.”

Verses 11-13

Nahum 1:11-13. There is one come out of thee Or, one hath gone forth of thee. This is probably meant of Sennacherib, who uttered so many reproaches and blasphemies against the true God, one of whose royal seats was Nineveh, and who probably went forth from thence to invade Judea. But the term, a wicked counsellor, seems to be intended of Rabshakeh, whom Sennacherib sent against Jerusalem, while he himself warred against Lachish, and who uttered those blasphemous speeches against God, of which we have an account 2 Kings 18:19. Though they be quiet Though the Assyrians be secure, and fear no danger. And likewise many An immense host; yet shall they be cut down Irresistibly, suddenly, and universally; when he shall pass through When the angel of the Lord shall pass through their camp, in which he slew in one night 185,000 men: see Isaiah 37:36. Though I have afflicted thee O Israel, I will afflict thee no more I will no more chastise thee by the Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, by Sennacherib or his forces. For now I will break his yoke from off thee Hezekiah and his people shall no longer be tributaries to the king of Assyria, as they have been for a considerable time: see 2 Kings 18:14. The words may also be considered as promising relief to the Israelites of the ten tribes, who were in a state of actual captivity among them at this time.

Verse 14

Nahum 1:14. And the Lord hath given a commandment God hath determined, concerning thee, that no more of thy name be sown The meaning of this seems to be, God had decreed that Sennacherib’s family should not long preserve their royal dignity. His son and successor, Esar- haddon, was now probably at man’s estate, for he succeeded his father in a little time after his defeat, (2 Kings 19:37,) and reigned with great prosperity for many years. But his next successor, or the next but one, was dispossessed of his kingdom by Nabopolassar, father to Nebuchadnezzar, whose family enjoyed the empire of Assyria, or Babylon, as it came then to be called, till the conquest of it by Cyrus. Out of the house of thy gods will I cut off the graven image, &c. All the images which thou worshippest will I destroy. The army of the enemy shall lay all waste, and not spare even the images of thy gods. I will make thy grave, &c. The sense must be supplied from the former sentence: as if he had said, The house of thine idol shall become thy grave. There Sennacherib was dishonourably slain by his own sons, and there, some suppose, he was buried. For thou art vile Held in no esteem, not even by thine own offspring, but disgracefully murdered by them, as having lost all interest even in their natural affection. Or the words may be interpreted of the ignominious fall of the Assyrian monarchy itself, upon the ruins of which that of Babylon was raised. Observe, reader, those that make themselves vile by scandalous sins, God will make vile by shameful punishments.

Verse 15

Nahum 1:15. Behold upon the mountains Which surrounded Jerusalem; the feet of him Of the messenger; that bringeth good tidings Tidings that Nineveh is destroyed; that publisheth peace Deliverance from the tyranny and oppression of the Assyrians, through the destruction of their capital city, and the overthrow of their empire; or safety and prosperity to the Jews, which the word peace often signifies. Compare Isaiah 52:7, where the same expressions are used with relation to the destruction of Babylon, the overthrow of the Chaldean empire, and the release of the Jews, and their restoration to their own land. These deliverances being typical of the great redemption wrought out for us by the Messiah, the words are applied by the apostle ( Rom 10:15 ) to the gospel, which brings us glad tidings of that redemption, and of all the spiritual and eternal blessings consequent upon it. O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts As thou now hast liberty to do, and mayest do with joy and gladness, being freed from thy fears; and to do which thou art now under peculiar obligations, having been so wonderfully delivered from the oppressive power of thy enemies; and having solemnly vowed to God, when thou wast in distress, that thou wouldest worship and serve him according to the precepts of his law, if thou shouldest be delivered from any further fear of thy oppressors. For the wicked shall no more pass through thee The impious Assyrians, who set at naught and blasphemed Jehovah, thy God, shall no more come against thee. He is utterly cut off The oppressor is taken away, and the Assyrian empire utterly and for ever ruined.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Nahum 1". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/nahum-1.html. 1857.
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