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Bible Commentaries

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Nahum 2

A.M. 3294. B.C. 710.

Here is foretold,

(1,) The approach of the enemy that should destroy Nineveh, and the terror of his military preparations 1-5.

(2,) The taking of the city, the captivity of the queen, the flight of the inhabitants, the seizing of all the wealth of it, and the mighty consternation it should be in, Nahum 2:6-10 .

(3,) The true cause of all this, their sinning against God, and God’s appearing against them, Nahum 2:11-13 .

Verse 1

Nahum 2:1. He that dasheth in pieces is come up before thy face This is addressed to the city of Nineveh, and explains more fully how the change, described in the foregoing chapter, should be brought about. It begins with telling Nineveh, that he who should break down her walls, and discomfit her inhabitants, was coming against her, and was, as it were, already in sight. Keep the munition, watch the way Use thy utmost industry to defend thyself, by strengthening thy garrisons, and guarding the passes. Make thy loins strong Stir up all thy strength and courage. Fortify thy power mightily Increase thy forces as much as thou canst. The meaning of this is, that let the Ninevites take all the precautions they could, and strengthen themselves to the utmost, yet it would be all in vain.

Verses 2-4

Nahum 2:2-4. For the Lord hath turned away the excellency of Jacob Jacob and Israel stood in a nearer relation to God than Nineveh; yet God hath punished them: much more will he punish Nineveh. By the excellency of Jacob, the wealth, the strength, the valiant men, all that Jacob gloried in is here meant. For the emptiers have emptied them out This is spoken of the Assyrians having spoiled the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And marred their vine-branches Ruined their towns and villages. Judah, or Israel, sometimes, is represented in the prophetic writings under the emblem of a vine, or vineyard; of consequence her towns and villages are her vine- branches. Some think, however, that the expression signifies here, their being bereaved of their children by the Assyrian conquerors. The shield of his mighty men is made red Is stained with blood: this appears to be a description of the Chaldeans, or Medes, assaulting Nineveh. The valiant men are in scarlet The eastern people were very fond of dressing themselves in scarlet, as we learn from Herodotus. Or, “As the preparation for battle is described, we may suppose,” says Bishop Newcome, that “it was customary among those who fought against Nineveh to carry red shields and to wear scarlet.” The chariots shall be with flaming torches Rather, the chariots shall shine like the fire of torches, in the day that they prepare themselves Namely, by the wheels continually striking fire against the stones and pavement by the quickness of the motion. And the fir-trees shall be terribly shaken Namely, by the rattling of the chariot wheels, in running up and down. Or this may be interpreted of the pikes and lances used by the Chaldeans, and made of fir, and here called fir-trees on account of their length and largeness. The chariots shall rage in the streets They shall drive furiously one against another. They shall seem like torches, &c. See on the preceding verse. They run like the lightnings Or, with the swiftness of lightning.

Verses 5-6

Nahum 2:5-6. He The enemy that attacks Nineveh, namely, the king of Babylon; shall recount his worthies Shall select some of his choicest troops for the siege of it. They shall stumble in their walk They shall show such forwardness, and be so eager to begin the attack of the city and mount the walls, that they shall stumble and throw one another down in their haste. The defence shall be prepared Hebrew, הסכךְ , the covering. So the Vulgate, preparabitur umbraculum: “Testudo qua tecti subruant mœnia.” Grotius. “The testudo, or fence, with which being covered, they might undermine and throw down the walls.” The gates of the river shall be open See note on Nahum 1:8. The palace shall be dissolved Or, molten; shall be consumed with fire.

Verse 7

Nahum 2:7. And Huzzab shall be led away captive By Huzzab the Chaldee understands the queen, who, without due respect to her royal dignity, should be hurried away, among other captives, into a strange land; and exposed, as they, to danger and insolence. And her maids The ladies that waited on her in her state of royalty, shall now be her companions in her captivity; shall lead her Shall support their sorrowful, weary, and fainting queen, spent with such travel as she had not been used to; with the voice of doves, tabering, &c. Mourning like doves, and beating their breasts, instead of musical instruments. But, as the word Huzzab signifies a strong, or impregnable fortress, some understand thereby Nineveh itself. If this be the meaning of the term, Nineveh is here figuratively represented as a great princess carried captive, with her maids of honour attending her, and bewailing hers and their own condition, with every sign and expression of lamentation: whereby was denoted, that the lesser cities under her jurisdiction should be sharers with her in her calamity. Thus Babylon is represented by Isaiah as a tender and delicate lady, undergoing the hardships of a captivity, Isaiah 47:1-8.

Verse 8

Nahum 2:8. But Nineveh is of old like a pool of water “Id est, supra modum populosa, nam aquæ populi.” That is, above measure populous, for waters signify people. Grotius. Yet they shall flee away But they shall all flee for fear of the enemy, and run away like water: compare Psalms 58:7. Stand, stand, shall they cry, but none shall look back Their commanders shall call out to them to stand, but none shall pay any regard to them, or cease to flee. The Hebrew is peculiarly animated, and highly poetical. It is literally, Nineveh is as a pool of water: waters is she, and they run away: Stand, stand, but none looketh back. As if he had said, Their commanders might as easily stop the flowing waters by bidding them stand, as cause the Ninevites to stand to their arms and resist the enemy. The words allude to what was foretold Nahum 1:8, where see the note.

Verses 9-10

Nahum 2:9-10. Take ye the spoil of silver, of gold Here the Babylonians are addressed as if they had just entered the city; and are bid to take the spoil of it, there being none to make any resistance. We read in Diodorus, that Arbaces carried many talents of gold and silver to Ecbatana, the royal city of the Medes. For there is none end of the store, &c. The Vulgate reads, There is no end of the riches, from all the desirable vessels. The sense of the Hebrew, however, is, The glory (namely, of their riches) is above all precious vessels; that is, beyond all that is generally esteemed precious; and greatly coveted. She is empty, and void, and waste She is spoiled of every thing. And the heart melteth The inhabitants have no heart, or courage, to defend themselves, but leave the city to be plundered and laid waste by the enemy. The knees smite together They are quite overcome with fear.

Verses 11-13

Nahum 2:11-13. Where is the dwelling of the lions Where is the lion-like courage and strength, which formerly characterized the king of Nineveh and his people? What is become of the stately palaces of the king and princes of Nineveh? who, like so many lions, cruel, violent, and irresistible, knew no other law than their pride and ambition; preying upon their own people, and the neighbouring countries, and filling their houses with the spoils they took from them, as the lions fill their dens with their prey. I will burn her chariots in the smoke Or, even unto smoke. The LXX. read, και εκκαυσω εν καπνω πληθος σου , I will burn thy multitude in the smoke. Some again render the clause, I will burn thy seat, or thy habitation, observing, that the simile taken from lions is continued; and therefore that the word chariots is quite improper here; the expression referring to the den or habitation of lions, which he threatens to suffocate with fire and smoke in their subterraneous caverns. The sword shall devour thy young lions Shall destroy thy young people, and the most vigorous of thy soldiers. I will cut off thy prey from the earth I will prevent thy spoiling any country any more. And the voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard Thou shalt no more send ambassadors with thy orders to distant countries, either to encourage thine allies or to terrify thine enemies.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Nahum 2". Benson's Commentary. 1857.