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Descriptions of the third and fourth fall of Nineveh
This third description of my destruction, chapter 3:1-7 explains further the “why” for my fall, whereas the first two descriptions in the previous chapter gave more of the actual events, the “what” of it.
There is much similarity between the descriptions of the siege in 2:3-4 and 3:2-3, however. This section has been called a woe oracle because it pronounces doom on Nineveh in typical woe oracle fashion (cf. Isa. 5:18-19; Amos 5:18-20; 6:1-7; Mic. 2:1-4)
The miserable ruin of Nineveh.
Nahum 3:1 Woe to the bloody city! It is all full of lies and robbery. Its victim never departs.
Bloody city. That is, a place where blood was shed freely and apparently without any qualms of conscience (see Eze. 24:6, 9; Hab. 2:12).
The Assyrian monuments abundantly depict how captives were flayed, decapitated, impaled alive, or hanged by hands and feet to die in slow torture. These and other inhuman practices reveal the cruelty of this nation.
My royal inscriptions continually exult over the number of enemies killed, captives carried off, cities razed and plundered, lands wasted, and fruit trees destroyed.
Nahum 3:1 Woe to the bloody city! It is all full of lies and robbery. Its victim never departs.
Robbery. Heb. pereq, “an act of violence,” denoting the violence of the Assyrians in dealing with conquered peoples. The closing clause of v. 1 indicates that this plundering of its victims by the rulers of Nineveh never ceased (see Isa. 33:1).
Nahum 3:2 The noise of a whip And the noise of rattling wheels, Of galloping horses, Of clattering chariots!
The prophet here describes the sounds of the advance of the besieging armies, even as he has already described their outward appearance (ch. 2:3, 4). He hears, as it were, the charioteers’ cracking of whips, the rumble of chariot wheels, the galloping horses, and the leaping forward of the chariots.
Nahum 3:3 Horsemen charge with bright sword and glittering spear. There is a multitude of slain, A great number of bodies, Countless corpses— They stumble over the corpses—
Multitude. So many were slain that the living warriors “stumble” over them, and are delayed in their progress.
Nahum 3:4 Because of the multitude of harlotries of the seductive harlot, The mistress of sorceries, Who sells nations through her harlotries, And families through her sorceries.
An expression used figuratively of idolatry (see Eze. 23:27; Hosea 1:2; 4:12, 13; Hosea 5:4). Idolatry was another reason for Assyria’s fall. Inasmuch as Assyrian idolatry was grossly immoral, to designate it as “whoredoms” was doubly fitting (see on 2 Kings 9:22).
Nahum 3:5 “Behold, I am against you,” says the LORD of hosts; “I will lift your skirts over your face, I will show the nations your nakedness, And the kingdoms your shame.
Because of Nineveh’s “harlotreis” (see Nahum 3:4) God will punish her most ignominiously, as a harlot.
Nahum 3:6 I will cast abominable filth upon you, Make you vile, And make you a spectacle.
Filth. Heb. shiqquṣ, “a detested thing,” generally used of something connected with idol worship.
Continuing the figure of the “harlot” (Nahum 3:4), the prophet foretells that Nineveh would suffer the ignominy and ill-treatment that such a woman might receive from the rabble (see Eze. 16:37–40).
Nahum 3:7 It shall come to pass that all who look upon you Will flee from you, and say, ‘Nineveh is laid waste! Who will bemoan her?’ Where shall I seek comforters for you?”
Flee indicates the extreme punishment to come upon Nineveh, for the terrible sight would cause the beholder to hasten away.
Who will bemoan her? A rhetorical question indicating that none will feel sorry for her inasmuch as she deserved to be punished (see Jer. 15:5, 6).
The fourth description of Nineveh’s fall 3:8-19
This section, evidently another message that Nahum delivered concerning Nineveh’s fall, begins by comparing it to the fall of another great city. Nahum proceeded to use many figures of speech to describe how various segments of Ninevite society would respond to the coming invasion. The literary form of the section is that of a taunt song.[107]
Nahum 3:8 Are you better than No Amon That was situated by the River, That had the waters around her, Whose rampart was the sea, Whose wall was the sea?
No’ ’Amon, the city of the Egyptian god Amun; that is, the city of Thebes in Upper Egypt (see Jer. 46:25; Eze. 30:14–16).
This celebrated city, with its tombs of the kings, its colossi and sphinxes, its great temples of Karnak and Luxor with their massive columns and colonnades, was superbly situated on the Nile, as was Nineveh on the Tigris.
Nahum here serves warning to Nineveh that, in the sight of Heaven, she is no better than Thebes and can as easily meet with the same fate. Thebes had been destroyed in 663 b.c. by Ashurbanipal, king of Assyria.
Nahum 3:8 Are you better than No Amon That was situated by the River, That had the waters around her, Whose rampart was the sea, Whose wall was the sea?
Nahum 3:9 Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, And it was boundless; Put and Lubim were your helpers.
Ethiopia. Or, Cush, mainly the classical Nubia, or the modern Sudan (see on Gen. 10:6). The king who ruled over Egypt at the time of the destruction of Thebes was Tanutamon, the successor and nephew of Taharka, the Biblical Tirhakah. In the OT Tirhakah is called the “king of Ethiopia” (see on 2 Kings 19:9), because he belonged to the Twenty-fifth, or “Ethiopian,” Dynasty of Egypt (see Vol. II, pp. 52, 53).
Egypt whose people, joined with the Nubians, constituted a power that was “Boundless.”
Nahum 3:10 Yet she was carried away, She went into captivity; Her young children also were dashed to pieces At the head of every street; They cast lots for her honourable men, And all her great men were bound in chains.
Carried away. The strength of Thebes and her apparently unlimited resources, including the help of her confederates, did not save her from being captured (see on v. 8).
Nahum 3:10 Yet she was carried away, She went into captivity; Her young children also were dashed to pieces At the head of every street; They cast lots for her honorable men, And all her great men were bound in chains.
Dashed to pieces. Part of the usual cruel treatment often handed out to conquered cities in ancient times (see 2 Kings 8:12; Ps. 137:9; Isa. 13:16).
Nahum 3:11 You also will be drunk; You will be hidden; You also will seek refuge from the enemy.
You also. The prophet returns to addressing Nineveh.
Be hidden. The meaning here is that Nineveh would reveal no power to resist.
Nahum 3:12 All your strongholds are fig trees with ripened figs: If they are shaken, They fall into the mouth of the eater.
Nahum 3:13 Surely, your people in your midst are women! The gates of your land are wide open for your enemies; Fire shall devour the bars of your gates.
Women. The hitherto bold, brave Assyrian men would be as “women,” in the sense that they would not be able to resist and defeat the besieging armies (see on Hosea 10:5).
Nahum 3:14 Draw your water for the siege! Fortify your strongholds! Go into the clay and tread the mortar! Make strong the brick kiln!
Fortify. That is, strengthen places in the fortifications that may be weak. The prophet, speaking with a touch of irony, bids Nineveh do everything possible to prepare for a long, hard siege.
Brick kiln. Literally, “brick mold.”
Nahum 3:15 There the fire will devour you, The sword will cut you off; It will eat you up like a locust. Make yourself many—like the locust! Make yourself many— like the swarming locusts!
There. In spite of every care taken to strengthen these needful places in the fortifications, “fire” will “devour” the city. Archaeology has clearly shown that this prophecy was literally fulfilled.
Locusts. The prophet used this figure here and in the following verse to show that the destruction of Nineveh would be as sudden and complete as that wrought on vegetation by these insects.
Make thyself many. Though the Assyrians should assemble armies as numerous as the hordes of cankerworms, or locusts, it would avail them nothing.
Nahum 3:16 You have multiplied your merchants more than the stars of heaven. The locust plunders and flies away.
Nineveh was advantageously situated to carry on an extensive commerce with other countries. But these trade relationships would be of no avail to her. The destruction effected by her enemies would be swift and complete.
Nahum 3:17 Your commanders are like swarming locusts, And your generals like great grasshoppers, Which camp in the hedges on a cold day; When the sun rises they flee away, And the place where they are is not known.
Generals. Heb. ṭaphsarim, “tablet writers,” or “scribes” (see on Jer. 51:27). The term here used signifies military officers of high rank. These officials are often pictured on the monuments.
As locusts become inactive and inert in “cold” weather, so these Assyrian leaders and officials would become powerless in the city’s crisis. The only thing left for the Assyrian army was to “flee away,” that is, to perish and disappear.
Nahum 3:18 Your shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria; Your nobles rest in the dust. Your people are scattered on the mountains, And no one gathers them.
Shepherds slumber. The leaders of the nation are here represented, as being asleep to their responsibilities as well as being killed in battle, “sleeping” the sleep of death.
With their leaders gone, the people of Nineveh can no longer offer an effective resistance to their enemies.
Nahum 3:19 Your injury has no healing, Your wound is severe. All who hear news of you Will clap their hands over you, For upon whom has not your wickedness passed continually?
No healing. Literally, “no relief.”
At the news of Nineveh’s downfall, the surrounding nations are pictured as clapping their hands in joy because it will mean the end of Assyria’s ceaseless “wickedness” and relentless oppression.
The prophet ends his message on a note of certainty and finality. Assyria has received its day of grace; but now it is useless to offer mercy longer.
VTE The Vassal Treaties of Esarhaddon reveal the astonishing facts that Nahum uses these same threats when he addresses the destruction of Nineveh.

Updated on 21st Mar 2022

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