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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

Nahum 2

CHAP. II.

The fearful and victorious armies of God against Nineveh.

Before Christ about 713.

Verse 1

Nahum 2:1. Before thy face There can be no doubt that this should be read before his face; namely, of that Belial spoken of in the last verse, and whose mighty men are mentioned in the third verse. It is plain from Nah 2:2 that the desolator was come up, not against Judah, but against the Assyrians. Houbigant renders it, for the Lord hath restored the glory of Jacob, as the glory of Israel, after the desolaters have exhausted them, &c. Dr. Warburton reads the latter part of the first and the second verse thus, Strengthen the garrison, guard the passes, invigorate the loins, exert your force mightily. Nahum 2:2. For the Lord hath returned the pride against Jacob, and the pride against Israel: for the emptiers have exhausted them, &c.

Verse 3

Nahum 2:3. The shield—is made red In this and the two following verses we have a most animated and picturesque description of the warlike preparations made against Nineveh; or of the preparations of the king of Nineveh against the besiegers. Houbigant reads this verse, The shields of his mighty men blaze with splendour, his warriors shine in purple: the chariots, as they stand prepared, glitter with fire: the fir-tree spears or lances are terribly shaken;—and so on, in the present tense, which gives great force to the description. He renders the fifth verse, His nobles walk proudly: they march on with indignation; they hasten to the walls, where their tent is prepared.

Verse 6

Nahum 2:6. The gates of the river shall be opened Diodorus informs us, that there was an old prophesy, 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, built a large funeral pile in the palace, and collecting together all his wealth, his concubines, and eunuchs, burned himself and the palace with them all; and the enemy entered at the breach which the waters had made, and took the city; so that what was predicted in chap. 1: Nah 2:8 was literally fulfilled. See Newton on the Prophesies, vol. 1:

Verse 7

Nahum 2:7. And Huzzab shall be led away, &c.— Houbigant renders this, And the queen ascends into her upper chamber; [or the place where to see and lament the ruins of the city;] and like the voice of doves, so do her maidens lament, beating their breasts. Others suppose that Huzzab signifies a fortress, and denotes Nineveh, which is described as a great princess carried away captive, with her maids of honour attending her, and bewailing both her and their own condition, by beating their breasts, and other expressions of lamentation. According to these commentators, the maids denote the lesser cities of the Assyrian kingdom, which should share with the capital in the same calamities. See Grotius and Calmet. But the author of the Observations gives us the fullest and clearest explanation of this text. When D'Arvieux was in the camp of the great emir, his princess was visited by other Arab princesses. The last who came, and whose visit alone he describes, was mounted on a camel covered with carpet, and decked with flowers; a dozen of women marched in a row before her, holding the camel's halter with one hand, while they sung the praises of their mistress, in compositions expressive of joy, and the happiness of being in the service of so beautiful and amiable a lady. Those who went first, and were more distant from her person, came in their turn to the head of the camel, and took hold of the halter; which place, as being the post of honour, they quitted to others, when the princess had gone a few paces. The emir's lady sent her women to meet her, to whom the halter was entirely quitted out of respect, her own women placing themselves behind the camel: in this order they marched to the tent, where she alighted. They then all sung together the beauty, birth, and good qualities of this princess. Now, does not this account illustrate the passage before us? Nahum is speaking of the presenting of the queen of Nineveh, or Nineveh itself under the figure of a queen, to her conqueror. He describes her as led by her maids, with the voice of doves; with the voice of mourning; that is, their wonted songs of joy, with which they used to lead her along, as the Arab women dis their princess, being turned into lamentation. That the prophet is here speaking of a presentation to a conqueror, is evident from the term brought up; which is the same, in the original as well as in our version, with that used for the conducting of Zedekiah to the place where his conqueror held his court. Compare 2 Kings 25:6. Jeremiah 39:5. Nor were former distinctions altogether lost in captivity, as appears from Jeremiah 34:3-5. Though Zedekiah was to die a captive, yet some distinctions of royalty were to be paid him even in captivity: thus Huzzab was to be led by her maids into the presence of her conqueror, as princesses were usually led, but with the voice of lamentation, instead of the voice of joy. Thus we enter naturally into the force of the expression, her maids shall lead her, as well as of the term brought up. See Observations, p. 228.

Verse 8

Nahum 2:8. But Nineveh is of old, &c.— Nineveh is become as a pool of water. Its waters subvert it: they who fled stand still; they stand still, and know not whither to fly. See Houbigant, and the note on Nahum 2:6.

Verse 9

Nahum 2:9. Take ye, &c.— They have plundered the silver, they have plundered the gold: the weight of them is immense: it is more than all the precious furniture. We are told by Diodorus, that the conqueror of Nineveh carried away a great many talents of gold and silver. See Houbigant and Bishop Newton.

Verses 11-12

Nahum 2:11-12. Where is the dwelling, &c.— Where is the dwelling of the lioness? And the same was the nursery of the young lions: that is, "What has become of the stately palaces of the king and princes of Nineveh; who, like so many lions, cruel and violent, knew no other law than their pride and ambition; preying both upon their own people and the neighbouring countries, and enriching themselves with the spoil which they kept from them."

Verse 13

Nahum 2:13. I will burn her chariots I will burn thy habitation, &c. The simile taken from lions is continued; and therefore chariots is extremely improper. The word refers to the den or habitation of the lions, whom he threatens to suffocate with fire and smoke in their subterraneous caverns; thus keeping up the metaphor.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, Nineveh is doomed to fall, and lo! her enemies approach. He that dasheth in pieces is come up before thy face, that is to say, Nabopolassar the Babylonian. The Ninevites are ironically called to keep the munition, to guard the walls, to watch the way to the avenues of the city, to make their loins strong, and fortify their power mightily, to do their utmost to ward off the blow; but all their efforts will be vain, since their ruin is determined.

1. The cause of it, among other provocations, is their ill usage of Israel. The Lord hath turned away the excellency of Jacob as the excellency of Israel; hath humbled and brought them low, and hath employed the Assyrians as his instruments; but they gratified their pride, covetousness, and ambition herein; for the emptiers have emptied them out, and marred their vine-branches, plundering and destroying the country, and leading many of the people into captivity.

2. The terrible destruction coming upon Nineveh, for this and all her other sins, is described. The shields of the enemy are prepared, glittering with burnished brass, or red with the blood of the slain; the valiant men in scarlet, magnificently arrayed; their chariots, when preparing for the siege, shall shine with flaming torches, to direct their way by night, or set fire to the city. The fir-trees, the mighty men of Nineveh, shall be terribly shaken; quaking for fear, while the chariots of the enemy rage in the streets approaching the gates, or entered into the city; so eager to advance, that they shall jostle one against another, devouring as torches of fire, and swift as lightning. He shall recount his worthies, choosing out the mighty men to storm the place; and, in haste to obey, they shall stumble, though instantly recovering themselves, and mounting the breach, under the cover of the defence which is prepared; or this may be understood of the king of Nineveh mustering his forces, manning the walls, and preparing to sustain the siege, though his warriors shall stumble in their walk, and fall; at last the besiegers shall enter at the gates of the rivers, either forced or betrayed into their hands, and then the palace shall be dissolved; both the temples of the idols, and the houses of their princes, shall be laid in ruins, and Huzzab shall be led away captive, which some interpret of the queen, others of the king, compared to a woman for his effeminacy; or perhaps it may signify Nineveh itself, which before sat as a queen, but is now hurled from her dignity, and lamented by her maids of honour, her inhabitants; who, while they are represented supporting her fainting under her calamities, utter their doleful moans, and beat their breasts for grief and anguish. Thus, though of old this mighty city was like a pool of water, full of wealth and inhabitants, and tranquil and at ease; yet they shall flee away, like waters when the dam is broken down, and as weak before their enemies; in vain some gallant chief should cry, Stand, stand; panic fear has seized them, and none dare even look behind him. The besiegers now are called to seize the spoil of silver, gold, and rich furniture, immense, invaluable; and thoroughly is the city ransacked, and left empty, void, and waste; without inhabitant, a heap of ruins; none of that populous place dare resist; their hearts are melted, their knees knock against each other, they are like women in travail, and their countenances darkened like the livid faces of the dead.

2nd, They who insulted over the calamities of others, justly deserve retaliation in the day of their distress.
1. Nineveh is triumphed over by her enemies. Like a lion in time past had the king of this strong city ravened uncontrolled, and filled his young lions with food, and his den with prey; and strangled for his lionesses, his wives and concubines, who shared the spoils of the conquered nations, while none dared withstand or oppose him: but where is his dwelling now? it is desolate and ruined. Note; Wealth gotten by violence is a precarious tenure, a short-lived possession.

2. God is her enemy, therefore she must fall. Behold, I am against thee; and his wrath is more terrible than innumerable foes; he will burn her chariots in the smoke of the city in flames around them; and the sword shall devour the young lions, the inhabitants thereof and their children, enriched by rapine and spoil; I will cut off thy prey from the earth, destroying all their substance which they had collected; and the voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard, demanding tribute, menacing the poor subjected nations: or like Rabshakeh, uttering their blasphemies against God. Note; God will shortly silence the tongue of the blasphemer.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Nahum 2". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/nahum-2.html. 1801-1803.