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The Book of the Prophet
of Jonah, it should seem, afterward returned to the practice of their former sins ; adding also the oppression of the people of God; whereupon God, for the comfort of his people, sends Nahum te foretell her ruin, and the ruin of the Assyrian monarchy, and, consequently, the Jews deliverance, who were captivated by them : thus comforting them in their present miserics, according to his name, which signifies, a comforter. He is supposed to have lived in the reign of Hezekiah, and about ninety years later than Jonah. The destruction of Nineveh took place about sixty years after the prophecy; when the Medes and Babylonians, under Cyaxares and Nebopolassar, rebelled together, and overturned the Assyrian empire. Perhaps none of the lesser prophets equal Nahum in sublimity, fire, and boldness of spirit : his prophecy is one entire poem, relating almost wholly to the destruction of Nineveh ; the capital of thar people who carried away ten of the tribes captive, and greatly har. assed the other two.*
The majesty of God is here displayed, in goodness to his people, and
severity against his enemies.
i T HE burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of
1 Nahum the Elkoshite ; 80 called, from a village in Gal. 2 ilee. God (is) jealous of his own honour and the welfare of
his people, and the LORD revengeth ; the LORD revengeth, and [is] furious; or rather, he is Lord of his wrath, not subject to passion, but commands it as he pleaseth ; the LORD will
take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth (wrath,] 3 or indignation, for his enemies. The LORD [is] slow to anger,
as the Ninevites themselves had lately experienced, and great in power, and will not at all acquit (the wicked :) the LORD [hath) his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the
clouds are the dust of his feet ; an allusion to his descent upon mount Sinai, (Psalm civ. 3.) He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers : Bashan langujsheth, and
Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth by excessive $ heat or drought. The mountains quake at him, and the hills
melt, and the earth is burried at his presence, yea, the world, 6 and all that dwell therein. Who can stand before his indig.
nation ? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger?
his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown 7 down by him. Yet The LORD [is] good, a strong hold in the
day of trouble ; and he knoweth them that trust in him ; he approveth, and till defend them. But with an overrunning flood, an invading enemy, he will make an utter end of the place thereof, of Nineveh, and darkness shall pursue his ene9 mies.* What do ye imagine against the LORD ? referring
to the conduct and treatment of the Assyrians in Hezekiah', time ; he will make an utter end of those that rise up against him why then are you so foolish as to enter into contrivancer against him and his people ; thinking to destroy Judah, as you have done Israel ? affliction shall not rise up the second time;
Ae will do his work at once, so that he shall have no need to rise 10 again. For while (they be] folden together (as) thorns, in
the closest and strongest confederacy, and while they are drunk
en [as] drunkards, intoxicaled with their former success, they 11 shall be devoured as stubble fully dry. There is (one) come
out of thee, that imagineth evil against the LORD, Sennacherib,
a wicked counsellor ; an outrageous, licentious person, whose 12 counsels and projects tend only to mischief. Thus saith the
LORD ; Though (they be] quiet and prosperous, and likewise many, yet thus shall they be cut down, when he shall pass through to invade Judea : Though I have afflicted thee, I will
afflict thee no more ; there shall be no more such alarms in 13 Hezekiah's reign. For now will I break his yoke from off
thee, and will burst thy bonds in sunder ; thou shall be no 14 longer tribulary to the Assyrians. And the Loro hath given
a commandment concerning thee, O Assyrian empire, (that) no more of thy name be sown :f out of the house of thy gods will I cut off the graven image and the molten image : I will make thy grave ; for thou art vile ; thou shalt be slain in the house of thy god ; all thy idols shall not save thee ; for, thou hast been a vile persecutor of my people, and an oppressor of all.
• Here may be an allusion to the manner in which Nineveh was taken : the Euphrates Overflowed its banks, deluged a part of the city, and overturner twenty stadia of the wall; in consequence of which, the desponding king burnt himself, his palace, and treasures. Diod. Sic. J. ii. sect. 22.
+ This is an express prophecy that Sennacherib and his whole posterity should be cut oft. His successor, indeed, had a long and prosperous reign; but in the time of his grandson (who might be born when this prophecy was delivered) the city of Nineveh, and The empire of the Assyrians, were destroyed; so that there were no additions to his fairÜy, or, if there were, they were then cut off
15 Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth
good tidings, that publisheth peace ! an address 10 Jerusalem ; O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows, which Hezekiah and the people have made : for the wicked, this wicked one, shall no more pass through thee ; he is utterly cut off.
PROM the awful description which is here given of the
T power and wrath of this almighty and terrible Being, we should be led to reverence and adore him. Who can stand before his indignation ? When he determines to punish and destroy, what is great Nineveh, and the vast Assyrian empire ? What is any man, or kingdom, before him ? Let us stand in awe, therefore, and not sin. But while we fear his power and justice, let us remember, that he is not revengeful and passionate, but Lord of his anger; it is always under his control ; and always just and right : and his almighty power is continually employed for the security and supply of those that trust in him : his goodness shall never forsake his servants.
2. It is a great comfort to God's people, that he knows, and can defeat every design which is formed against his and their interest. Much evil is imagined against the Lord, and his people and cause in the world ; more than ever appears. Sometimes he defeats the design, by secretly cutting off the enemy; and sometimes by openly defeating him. He is able at once to destroy all opposing power and politics, and hath often done it. No wisdom, counsel, or might, can succeed against him.
3. When God delivers us from our enemies, and restores our peace, he expects and requires that we should worship and serve him. O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows. The goodness of God to us, in giving us national peace and prosperity, should engage us to value and love his ordinances, to be thankful for our solemn feasts; and diligently to observe them. Our prayers and humiliations, in the time of war and danger, were Vows ; and we ought to perform what we then promised ; else our case will be, like that of Nineveh, only a reprieve ; the de. struction will be more dreadful for having been a while suspend. ed; and the end will be with a flood. But this is our comfort, that if we trust in God, he is good ; he will be a strong hold in the day of trouble, and the everlasting portion of his servants.
This chapter is a prophecy of the conquest of Nineveh, which happen
ed about twenty four years before the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebopolassar, the father of Nebuchadnezzar, and Cyaxares, or, as he is called 'in scripture, Ahasuerus, king of the Medes, who united their forces against Nineveh.
ID E that dasheth in pieces, or, as the marginal reading is, the
11 disperser, or the hammer, is come up before thy face to destroy thy fortifications and inhabitants : keep the munition, strengthen the garrisons, watch the way which thy gallica pass, make (thy) loins strong, fortify [thy) power mightily : 0
Assyrian, use all the means thou canst possibly, to secure thyself. 2 For the LORD hath turned away the excellency, or pride, of
Jacob, as the excellency of Israel ; God will avenge thy pride and haughtiness against Israel on thy capital city : for the emptiers have emptied them out, and marred their vine
branches ; destroyed the products of the present, and the hopes 3 of future years. The shield of his mighty men is made red,
the valiant. men (are) in scarlet ; the usual dress of military men : the chariots (shall be) with flaming torches in the day of his preparation, and the fir trees, that is, the spears and
lances, though 80 numerous as to be like a moving wood, shall be 4 terribly shaken. The chariots shall rage in the streets, they shall justle one against another in the broad ways ; they
shall seem like torches, they shall run like the lightnings, by 5 reason of their multitude, haste, and fury. He shall recount
his worthies ; the Chaldean monarch shall muster up and pick out his choicest commanders and soldiers for this enterprize : they shall stumble in their walk ; they shall make haste to the wall thereof, and the defence shall be prepared ; though they shull come when they are called, yet they shall be of little use;
though they attempt to defend the place, yet it shall be in vain. @ The gates of the rivers shall be opened, and the palace shall
be dissolved ; the river Tygris, by continued rains, shall swell
and break down the wall, so that the besiegers shall enter at the 7 breach.* And Huzzab, that is, the city, shall be led away cap
tive,t she shall be brought up, and her maids shall lead (her,] like a queen retiring with her maids of honour, as with the voice
of doves, tabering upon their breasts ; that is, mourning, and 8 beating their breasts in the greatest distress. But Nineveh [is]
of old like a pool of water ; surrounded by those canals, which were formed to make the city inaccessible : yet they shall flee
See Note, chap. i. verse 8.
away. Stand, stand, [shall they cry ;] that is, their command9ers shall cry, but none shall look back. Take ye the spoil of
silver, take the spoil of gold : for [there is) none end of the 10 store (and) glory out of all the pleasant furniture* She is
empty, and void, and waste ; and the heart melteth, and the knees smite together, and much pain [is] in all loins, and the faces of them all gather blackness ; though long in plundering,
she shall be emptied at last, and the inhabitants have no heart 11 to defend themselves. · Where [is] the dwelling of the lions,
and the feeding place of the young lions ? where are the in. habitants of Nineveh, who were strong and rapacious, like lions ? where the lion, (even) the old lion, walked, [and] the lion's whelp, and none made [them] afraid ? that is, the tyrannical
princes who preyed upon their neighbours and enriched them12 selves with their spoils. The lion did tear in pieces enough
for his whelps, and strangled for his lionesses, and filled his holes with prey, and his dens with ravin ; the Assyrians have long been very successful, and plundered many provinces and
cities, and there are as many marks of this, as there are of 13 rapine in a lion's den. Behold, I (am) against thee, saith the
LORD of hosts, and I will burn her chariots in the smoke, and the sword shall devour thy young lions ; and I will cut off thy prey from the earth, and the voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard to encourage their allies, and terrify their enemies ; they shall no more hector other nations, as they have the Jews.
1. CEE how insignificant all the power and strength of man is,
w when it is opposed to God. Nineveh was a large and populous city, of three days' journey, (that is, sixty miles) in circumference in Jonah's time, about a hundred years before this prophecy was delivered ; and so populous, that there were an hundred and twenty thousand young children in it: and the inhabitants were probably now increased. They made great preparations to defend themselves; and are here ironically called upon to exert their utmost efforts ; but all was in vain. God can easily disappoint the mightiest, and confound all that they devise for their security. Who would not then fear this great Being, and labour to secure his friendship?
2. Observe in v. 9. the vanity and uncertainty of worldly wealth. The riches of the Ninevites made the enemy more desirous to take the city; and, when taken, their disappointment the greater. So precarious is it, that we may say of the world, as
, * Heathen historians mention the prodigious spoils that were found in Nineveh when taken.