Na 1:1-15. Jehovah's Attributes as a Jealous Judge of Sin, Yet Merciful to His Trusting People, Should Inspire Them with Confidence. He Will Not Allow the Assyrians Again to Assail Them, but Will Destroy the Foe.
1. burden of Nineveh -- the prophetic doom of Nineveh. Nahum prophesied against that city a hundred fifty years after Jonah.
2. jealous -- In this there is sternness, yet tender affection. We are jealous only of those we love: a husband, of a wife; a king, of his subjects' loyalty. God is jealous of men because He loves them. God will not bear a rival in His claims on them. His burning jealousy for His own wounded honor and their love, as much as His justice, accounts for all His fearful judgments: the flood, the destruction of Jerusalem, that of Nineveh. His jealousy will not admit of His friends being oppressed, and their enemies flourishing (compare Ex 20:5; 1Co 16:22; 2Co 11:2). Burning zeal enters into the idea in |jealous| here (compare Nu 25:11, 13; 1Ki 19:10).
the Lord revengeth ... Lord revengeth -- The repetition of the incommunicable name Jehovah, and of His revenging, gives an awful solemnity to the introduction.
furious -- literally, |a master of fury.| So a master of the tongue, that is, |eloquent.| |One who, if He pleases, can most readily give effect to His fury| [Grotius]. Nahum has in view the provocation to fury given to God by the Assyrians, after having carried away the ten tribes, now proceeding to invade Judea under Hezekiah.
reserveth wrath for his enemies -- reserves it against His own appointed time (2Pe 2:9). After long waiting for their repentance in vain, at length punishing them. A wrong estimate of Jehovah is formed from His suspending punishment: it is not that He is insensible or dilatory, but He reserves wrath for His own fit time. In the case of the penitent, He does not reserve or retain His anger (Ps 103:9; Jer 3:5, 12; Mic 7:18).
3. slow to anger, and great in power -- that is, but great in power, so as to be able in a moment, if He pleases, to destroy the wicked. His long-suffering is not from want of power to punish (Ex 34:6, 7).
not at all acquit -- literally, |will not acquitting acquit,| or treat as innocent.
Lord hath his way in the whirlwind -- From this to Na 1:5, inclusive, is a description of His power exhibited in the phenomena of nature, especially when He is wroth. His vengeance shall sweep away the Assyrian foe like a whirlwind (Pr 10:25).
clouds are the dust of his feet -- Large as they are, He treads on them, as a man would on the small dust; He is Lord of the clouds, and uses them as He pleases.
4. rebuketh the sea -- as Jesus did (Mt 8:26), proving Himself God (compare Isa 50:2).
Bashan languisheth -- through drought; ordinarily it was a region famed for its rich pasturage (compare Joe 1:10).
flower of Lebanon -- its bloom; all that blooms so luxuriantly on Lebanon (Ho 14:7). As Bashan was famed for its pastures, Carmel for its corn fields and vineyards, so Lebanon for its forests (Isa 33:9). There is nothing in the world so blooming that God cannot change it when He is wroth.
5. earth is burned -- so Grotius. Rather, |lifts itself,| that is, |heaveth| [Maurer]: as the Hebrew is translated in Ps 89:9; Ho 13:1; compare 2Sa 5:21, Margin.
6. fury is poured out like fire -- like the liquid fire poured out of volcanoes in all directions (see Jer 7:20).
rocks are thrown down -- or, |are burnt asunder|; the usual effect of volcanic fire (Jer 51:25, 56). As Hannibal burst asunder the Alpine rocks by fire to make a passage for his army [Grotius].
7. Here Nahum enters on his special subject, for which the previous verses have prepared the way, namely, to assure his people of safety in Jehovah under the impending attack of Sennacherib (Na 1:7), and to announce the doom of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian foe (Na 1:8). The contrast of Na 1:7, 8 heightens the force.
he knoweth -- recognizes as His own (Ho 13:5; Am 3:2); and so, cares for and guards (Ps 1:6; 2Ti 2:19).
8. with an overrunning flood -- that is, with irresistible might which overruns every barrier like a flood. This image is often applied to overwhelming armies of invaders. Also of calamity in general (Ps 32:6; 42:7; 90:5). There is, perhaps, a special allusion to the mode of Nineveh's capture by the Medo-Babylonian army; namely, through a flood in the river which broke down the wall twenty furlongs (see on Na 2:6; Isa 8:8; Da 9:26; 11:10, 22, 40).
end of the place thereof -- Nineveh is personified as a queen; and |her place| of residence (the Hebrew for |thereof| is feminine) is the city itself (Na 2:8), [Maurer]. Or, He shall so utterly destroy Nineveh that its place cannot be found; Na 3:17 confirms this (compare Ps 37:36; Da 2:35; Re 12:8; 20:11).
darkness -- the severest calamities.
9. What do ye imagine against the Lord? -- abrupt address to the Assyrians. How mad is your attempt, O Assyrians, to resist so powerful a God! What can ye do against such an adversary, successful though ye have been against all other adversaries? Ye imagine ye have to do merely with mortals and with a weak people, and that so you will gain an easy victory; but you have to encounter God, the protector of His people. Parallel to Isa 37:23-29; compare Ps 1:1.
he will make an utter end -- The utter overthrow of Sennacherib's host, soon about to take place, is an earnest of the |utter end| of Nineveh itself.
affliction shall not rise up the second time -- Judah's |affliction| caused by the invasion shall never rise again. So Na 1:12. But Calvin takes the |affliction| to be that of Assyria: |There will be no need of His inflicting on you a second blow: He will make an utter end of you once for all| (1Sa 3:12; 26:8; 2Sa 20:10). If so, this verse, in contrast to Na 1:12, will express, Affliction shall visit the Assyrian no more, in a sense very different from that in which God will afflict Judah no more. In the Assyrian's case, because the blow will be fatally final; the latter, because God will make lasting blessedness in Judah's case succeed temporary chastisement. But it seems simpler to refer |affliction| here, as in Na 1:12, to Judah; indeed destruction, rather than affliction, applies to the Assyrian.
10. while they are folden together as thorns -- literally, |to the same degree as thorns| (compare 1Ch 4:27, Margin). As thorns, so folded together and entangled that they cannot be loosed asunder without trouble, are thrown by the husbandmen all in a mass into the fire, so the Assyrians shall all be given together to destruction. Compare 2Sa 23:6, 7, where also |thorns| are the image of the wicked. As this image represents the speediness of their destruction in a mass, so that of |drunkards,| their rushing as it were of their own accord into it; for drunkards fall down without any one pushing them [Kimchi]. Calvin explains, Although ye be dangerous to touch as thorns (that is, full of rage and violence), yet the Lord can easily consume you. But |although| will hardly apply to the next clause. English Version and Kimchi, therefore, are to be preferred. The comparison to drunkards is appropriate. For drunkards, though exulting and bold, are weak and easily thrown down by even a finger touching them. So the insolent self-confidence of the Assyrians shall precipitate their overthrow by God. The Hebrew is |soaked,| or |drunken as with their own wine.| Their drunken revelries are perhaps alluded to, during which the foe (according to Diodorus Siculus ) broke into their city, and Sardanapalus burned his palace; though the main and ultimate destruction of Nineveh referred to by Nahum was long subsequent to that under Sardanapalus.
11. The cause of Nineveh's overthrow: Sennacherib's plots against Judah.
come out of thee -- O Nineveh. From thyself shall arise the source of thy own ruin. Thou shalt have only thyself to blame for it.
imagineth evil -- Sennacherib carried out the imaginations of his countrymen (Na 1:9) against the Lord and His people (2Ki 19:22, 23).
a wicked counsellor -- literally, |a counsellor of Belial.| Belial means |without profit,| worthless, and so bad (1Sa 25:25; 2Co 6:15).
12-14. The same truths repeated as in Na 1:9-11, Jehovah here being the speaker. He addresses Judah, prophesying good to it, and evil to the Assyrian.
Though they be quiet -- that is, without fear, and tranquilly secure. So Chaldee and Calvin. Or, |entire,| |complete|; |Though their power be unbroken [Maurer], and though they be so many, yet even so they shall be cut down| (literally, |shorn|; as hair shaved off closely by a razor, Isa 7:20). As the Assyrian was a razor shaving others, so shall he be shaven himself. Retribution in kind. In the height of their pride and power, they shall be clean cut off. The same Hebrew stands for |likewise| and |yet thus.| So many as they are, so many shall they perish.
when he shall pass through -- or, |and he shall pass away,| namely, |the wicked counsellor| (Na 1:11), Sennacherib. The change of number to the singular distinguishes him from his host. They shall be cut down, he shall pass away home (2Ki 19:35, 36) [Henderson]. English Version is better, |they shall be cut down, |when| He (Jehovah) shall pass through,| destroying by one stroke the Assyrian host. This gives the reason why they with all their numbers and power are to be so utterly cut off. Compare |pass through,| that is, in destroying power (Eze 12:12, 23; Isa 8:8; Da 11:10).
Though I have afflicted thee -- Judah, |I will afflict thee no more| (Isa 40:1, 2; 52:1, 2). The contrast is between |they,| the Assyrians, and |thee,| Judah. Their punishment is fatal and final. Judah's was temporary and corrective.
13. will I break his yoke -- the Assyrian's yoke, namely, the tribute imposed by Sennacherib on Hezekiah (2Ki 18:14).
from off thee -- O Judah (Isa 10:27).
14. that no more of thy name be sown -- that no more of thy seed, bearing thy name, as kings of Nineveh, be propagated; that thy dynasty become extinct, namely, on the destruction of Nineveh here foretold; |thee| means the king of Assyria.
will I cut off ... graven image -- The Medes under Cyaxares, the joint destroyers of Nineveh with the Babylonians, hated idolatry, and would delight in destroying its idols. As the Assyrians had treated the gods of other nations, so their own should be treated (2Ki 19:18). The Assyrian palaces partook of a sacred character [Layard]; so that |house of thy gods| may refer to the palace. At Khorsabad there is remaining a representation of a man cutting an idol to pieces.
I will make thy grave -- rather, |I will make it (namely, 'the house of thy gods,' that is, 'Nisroch') thy grave| (2Ki 19:37; Isa 37:38). Thus, by Sennacherib's being slain in it, Nisroch's house should be defiled. Neither thy gods, nor thy temple, shall save thee; but the latter shall be thy sepulchre.
thou art vile -- or, thou art lighter than due weight (Da 5:27; compare Job 31:6) [Maurer].
15. This verse is joined in the Hebrew text to the second chapter. It is nearly the same as Isa 52:7, referring to the similar deliverance from Babylon.
him that bringeth good tidings -- announcing the overthrow of Sennacherib and deliverance of Jerusalem. The |mountains| are those round Jerusalem, on which Sennacherib's host had so lately encamped, preventing Judah from keeping her |feasts,| but on which messengers now speed to Jerusalem, publishing his overthrow with a loud voice where lately they durst not have opened their mouths. A type of the far more glorious spiritual deliverance of God's people from Satan by Messiah, heralded by ministers of the Gospel (Ro 10:15).
perform thy vows -- which thou didst promise if God would deliver thee from the Assyrian.
the wicked -- literally, |Belial|; the same as the |counsellor of Belial| (Na 1:11, Margin); namely, Sennacherib.