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Nah 1:1 The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.
Ver. 1. The burden of Nineveh ] i.e. The burdenous prophecy, See Trapp on " Mal 1:1 " It is a burden to wicked men to be told of their sins and foretold of their punishments, to whom we may not unfitly apply that of the civilian, Perquam durum est, sed ita lex scripta est (Ulpian). It is extremely hard, but so the law is written. If it be so tedious to hear of it, what will they do to bear it? Nineveh had fair warning before by Jonah; and for the present, the unclean spirit seemed to be cast out of her; but he returned soon after, with seven worse, as appears by this prophecy; and so their last state was worse than the former, Matthew 12:45 . Their boil, half healed, breaking out again, proved to be the plague of leprosy, Leviticus 13:18-20 , such as shut them out of heaven. God will do good to those that are good and continue so. But "as for those that turn aside unto their crooked ways" (as all apostates do), "the Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity" (as cattle are led to the slaughter, or malefactors to execution): "but peace shall be upon Israel," Psalms 125:5 .
The book of the vision ] Or, the epistle of the vision. Hence some collect that Nahum went not to Nineveh, as Jonah had done; but sent this prophetic epistle thither, to let them know what should shortly befall them. So Jeremiah sent an epistle to Babylon, Jeremiah 29:1 ., and Elijah wrote a threatening letter to Jehoram, King of Judah, 2 Chronicles 21:12 , before his translation to heaven; and left it to be sent to him by Elisha, or the other prophets, who dared not show themselves in his presence, such was his insolent cruelty, as it is conceived.
Of Nahum the Elkoshite ] Elkosh was a small town in Galilee beyond Bethabara, as say Jerome and Dorotheus. Here was our prophet born, and named Nahum, non sine numine, saith Gualther; for Nahum (as Noah) signifieth a comforter; and so he proved, by this book of his, both to the ten tribes now newly carried captive by the Assyrian monarch, and also to the other two tribes, who were shortly after besieged by the same Assyrian, in the reign of Hezekiah; under whom Nahum prophesied. See Trapp on " Exo 3:1 "
Nah 1:2 God [is] jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and [is] furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth [wrath] for his enemies.
Ver. 2. God is jealous ] See Trapp on " Zec 1:14 "
And the Lord revengeth, the Lord revengeth ] As he is Pater miserationum to his people, a father of mercies, and God of consolation; so to his and their enemies he is a most sure and severe revenger: Deus ultionum, as David calleth him, Psalms 94:1 . A God of recompenses, as Jeremiah, Jeremiah 51:56 . And when he comes against a people, he usually takes them to do when they are at the strongest and most confident; as Nineveh now was, in the days of proud Sennacherib.
And is furious ] Heb. And is master of hot wrath; he is all on a light fire, as it were, with fierce indignation against the enemies of his Church; yet not so, but that he is master of his anger too; and doth nothing in it but what is just and equal. Here the vials of his wrath are said to be golden vials, Revelation 15:7 , his anger is holy, his fire is pure, and without smoke. And this is further declared in the following words.
The Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries ] Such as seek to thrust him beside his throne, that oppose his worship, contemn his word, persecute his people, send proud messages after him, saying, "We will not have this man to reign over us," "Bring hither those mine enemies," saith he, "and slay them before me," Luke 19:27 . As for such as sin of infirmity and return to him by repentance, they shall not find him furious, but gracious.
And he reserveth wrath for his enemies ] Their preservation for a time is but a reservation to that wrath to come. As he precipitateth not his anger, but defers the execution of it, giving men space to repent, as he did Jezebel, Revelation 2:20 , so they shall find that his forbearance is no quittance; and that
Poena venit gravior, quo mage tarda venit
The penalty comes more heavily which comes with great slowness.
Nah 1:3 The LORD [is] slow to anger, 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.
Ver. 3. The Lord is slow to anger ] "Slack he is not, as some men count slackness," saith St Peter, "but longsuffering to us-ward," 2 Peter 3:9 . The devil stirred up the heathen poets to persuade people that God either knew not or cared not what was done here below; that he was often from home, feasting with the Ethiopians, &c. The Epicureans also taught the like doctrine; and the Sadducees among the Jews, the Manichees among the primitive Christians, the Libertines among us. But they shall one day find that God is slow, but sure; that the higher he lifteth his hand the harder he will strike; the farther he draweth his bow the deeper will be the wound.
And great in power ] Heb. Great of power, able to knock down sinners in the very act of their rebellion, and to send them packing to their place in hell. So that it is not for want of power that he is so patient. "For the Lord our God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible," Deuteronomy 10:17 . But what need we go farther than the text, where he is called the strong God, great in power, and
that will not at all acquit the wicked ] This is the last letter in his name (that nomen maiestativum, as Tertullian calleth it), Exodus 34:7 , which he will in nowise forget; as neither must we. He will not take the wicked by the hand, saith Job, Job 8:20 , nor wink at the workers of iniquity, saith David, Psalms 50:21 , but will render a just recompense to every transgression and disobedience, saith Paul, Hebrews 2:2 . "A God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is he," Deuteronomy 32:4 .
The Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm ] The word Suphah, here rendered whirlwind, begins with a small Samech, ad minuendum timorem piis, ne propterea terreantur, to take off the saints from their inordinate fears, and to assure the wicked, that when the Lord cometh, imminet inde Soph finis et exitium, there shall be an end of them, and an utter destruction. "As the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more; but the righteous is an everlasting foundation," Proverbs 10:25 . Or, as some read it, The righteous is the foundation of the world, as firm as the world’s foundation, sc. the earth, which is immovable.
And the clouds are the dust of his feet ] He walketh upon them as men do upon the dust of the earth; he maketh the clouds his chariot, and rideth upon the wings of the wind, Psalms 104:3 : see Isaiah 60:8 ; Isaiah 19:1 . The wicked’s happiness shall take its end surely and swiftly, as Ezekiel tells them in his seventh chapter, "An end is come, is come, is come."
Nah 1:4 He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth.
Ver. 4. He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry ] He had showed what wonders God can do in the air; now he telleth what he doeth in the water and in the earth. And it is well observed by an interpreter (Tarnov.), that when the prophets speak of God, they do for the most part imitate the expressions of Moses, that most severe lawgiver, and allude to his history; to show that by the law is the knowledge of sin, Romans 3:20 , without which the stony hearts of men melt not, that the promise of the gospel may relish sweetly with them, Psalms 19:10-11 . The word here rendered he rebuketh, importeth that God rateth and rattleth the sea, verborum pedumque strepitu, with such a voice and other noise, as causeth fright and flight. "The sea saw it, and fled: Jordan was driven back. What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest?" Psalms 114:3 ; Psalms 114:5 . "The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee; they were afraid: the depths also were troubled," Psalms 77:16 : see Exo 14:21 Psalms 78:14 ; Psalms 66:6 ; Psalms 136:16 ; Psalms 106:9 . This is not in the power of any man to do; though Xerxes vainly attempted something, when he wasted two million men over the Hellespont, and, for battering his bridge of boats, caused it to be beaten with three hundred stripes, and cast a pair of fetters into it, to make it his prisoner. But to how small purpose all this, together with his digging through Isthmus, his drinking up rivers with his army, and the like, it well appeared, when he was forced to flee back out of Greece in a poor fisher’s boat, which being over loaded, had sunk all if the Persians, by the casting away themselves, had not saved the life of their king. The story of Canute the Dane, sometime king of England, is well known. He was told by a court parasite that all things in his dominions were at his beck and command. Canute, to confute him, caused a chair to be set on the seashore; wherein being set, he said to the sea flowing fast toward him, Thou belongest to me, and the land upon which I now sit is mine own, neither is there any whosoever that obeys me not shall escape unpunished. I command thee, therefore, thou sea, that thou come up no higher into my land; nor presumest once to wet thy master’s legs or garments. But the sea, keeping his ordinary course, without duty or reverence, washed both his legs and gown. He then leaping back said, Let all the inhabitants of the world know, that the power of kings is frivolous and vain; neither is there any mortal man worthy the name of a king, but he to whose beck heaven, earth, and sea, by his laws eternally are obedient. Neither did Canute after this time wear a crown; but set it upon the crucifix, according to the superstition of those times; thereby acknowledging it to be a royalty proper to Christ alone to rebuke the surges of the sea, and to say unto them, Peace, and be still, Luk 8:24 Mark 4:39 .
And drieth up all the rivers ] As he did Jordan, Joshua 3:15-17 2 Kings 2:7-8 ; 2Ki 2:13-14 Chereth, 1 Kings 17:7 ; the great river Euphrates, Revelation 16:12 . See Trapp on " Rev 16:12 " See also Plin. Nat. Hist. 1. 2, cap. 85, 103.
Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth ] All the beauty of those fertile and pleasant places fadeth. When the earth beareth fruit and flowers, she is said to yield her strength, and to bring forth her increase; as when through drought or otherwise she doth not, she is said to languish and hang the head, see Joel 1:10 ; Joel 1:12 . If the eclipse of the sun cause a drooping in the whole frame of nature, how much more the wrath and vengeance of God!
Nah 1:5 The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.
Ver. 5. The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt ] Though valleys and low places are also liable to earthquakes, as Antioch often, Ferrara in Italy, A.D. 1516 and 1578, yet hill countries much more, because there are more holes and caverns: see Psalms 29:6 ; Psalms 144:4 Zechariah 14:4-5 . In the year 1618, Aug. 25, Pleurs, a town in Rhoetia, was overwhelmed by a hill, which, with a most swift motion, buried 1500 men. So that village mentioned before, in the country of Bern, that was covered over by a hill in an earthquake, to the destruction of 50 families. All this and that which followeth is alleged here, to show how easily God can overturn the Assyrian greatness.
And the earth is burnt at his presence ] Viz. by his fire from heaven, as Sodom, and by others of his land desolating judgments, such as Judea (that once fertile, now barren country), Greece, Asia (once so flourishing), Germany, Ireland, &c., do at this day groan under. God turneth "a fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein," Psalms 107:34 .
Yea, the world, and all that dwell therein ] Quae quidem sunt mira, sed tamen vera divinae potentiae effecta (Turnov.). Wicked men, besides what they here suffer, shall one day give an account of what they have done in the body, with the world all on a light of fire about their ears: the trial of their works shall be by fire, 1 Corinthians 3:13 , the tribunal of fire, Ezekiel 1:27 , the judge a consuming fire, Hebrews 12:29 , his attendants seraphims, flaming creatures, Isa 6:2 his pleading with sinners in flames of fire, 2 Thessalonians 1:7 , the place of punishment a lake of fire fed with tormenting temper, Isaiah 30:33 , Sodom’s fire and brimstone was but a toy to it. And shall the Ninevites think to mort up themselves against this formidable fire, which the most solid parts of the world cannot avoid or abide?
Nah 1:6 Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.
Ver. 6. Who can stand before his indignation? ] A glass bottle may as well stand before a cannon shot. There is no standing before a lion, much less before a devouring fire, least of all before an angry God. When our Saviour did but put forth a beam of his Deity, and said, "I am he," the stout soldiers fell to the ground, John 18:6 , and there they had lain if he had not licensed them to rise again. Quid autem iudicaturus faciet, qui iudicandus hoc fecit? (Augustin.) The wicked shall not stand in judgment, saith David, Psalms 1:5 .
Who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? ] Heb. in the inflammation of his nostrils, Collectumque premens volvit sub naribus ignem. Thus the prophet describeth God’s terrible executions of justice on the Church’s enemies, pulcherrimis metaphoris, hypotyposi evidentissima, et distributionis artificio insignissimo, by most elegant metaphors, evident demonstrations, and artificial distributions (Crocius in loc.).
His fury is poured out like fire ] A metaphor either from metals melted or from showers of rain, such as God poured down upon Sodom (whereunto probably the prophet here alludeth, as Nahum 1:8 , to Noah’s flood), flaming showers, Jeremiah 7:20 ; Jeremiah 44:6 .
And the rocks are thrown down by him ] That is, by his fierce wrath, when it is at the full height; as the fire which at first burns a little within, upon a few boards and rafters, but when it prevaileth, bursteth out in a most terrible flame, as thunder; which we hear at first, a little roaring noise afar off, but stay awhile, and it is a dreadful crack, cleaving the very rocks. See Jeremiah 4:28 ; Jer 4:24 Matthew 27:51 .
Nah 1:7 The LORD [is] good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.
Ver. 7. The Lord is good ] To Israel (though terrible to the Assyrians, as hath been plainly and plentifully set forth), to the pure in heart, Psalms 73:1 , and he doth good, Psalms 119:68 , to those that are good, that are upright in their hearts, Psalms 125:4 . These shall taste and see that the Lord is good: these shall feelingly say, "Oh, blessed is the man that trusteth in him," Psalms 34:8 , "Oh, praise the Lord, for he is good," &c.
A strong hold in the day of trouble ] Praesidium, aut fortalitium, A strong fort or fortification, better than a tower of brass or town of war: "the righteous run thereinto and are safe," Proverbs 18:10 . Hezekiah (for whose sake this is spoken) had the experience of it. He had a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy: the children were come to the birth, and there was not strength to bring forth, Isaiah 37:3 . To God, therefore, he runs in this doleful day of his, and had present help. And what though the gods of the nations had not delivered them; yet Hezekiah’s God, in whom he trusted, did not deceive him, as Sennacherib said he would, Nahum 1:10 ; Nahum 1:12 . He is the champion of his Church, and will be the strong hold of his people, when the heathen’s tutelar gods and the Papists’ patron saints will leave them in the lurch. England was sometime said to have a warlike George, but the Papists being offended with us (to do us, as they suppose, a mischief), have robbed us of our George, and left us God alone to be our champion: for which honour and favour all true English hearts are bound to thank them, and can merrily sing, as he did once, Contemno minutulos istos deos, mode Iovem propitium habeam, We care not for their he-saints or she-saints to shelter us, so that the great God will be good to us, a stronghold in the day of trouble.
And he knoweth them that trust in him ] That hover and cover under his wings, as the chickens do under the hen’s: for that is the force of the Hebrew word here used. Such as these God knoweth for his, 2 Timothy 2:19 ; he knoweth their soul in adversity, Psalms 31:7 ; he knoweth how to deliver them, as he did the righteous Lot, 2 Peter 2:9 ; then, when they know not what to do, as Jehoshaphat, 2 Chronicles 20:12 , yet if their eyes be toward him, their affiance in him, he will extricate and deliver them. So well pleased is he with those that trust in him (for that is meant here by his knowing of them, Psa 1:6 cf. Job 9:29 1Th 5:12 ), he taketh such complacence and delight in them Psalms 147:11 ; Psalms 33:18 , and such continual care of them (as hath been proved by a universal experience, not one instance can be given to the contrary), that they shall be sure to have whatsoever heart can wish or need require, 2 Samuel 22:2-3 , even miraculous lovingkindness from God in a strong city, Psalms 17:7 ; Psalms 31:21 , so great as cannot be uttered, Psalms 31:19 . This is for the comfort of God’s Israel. But lest the wicked (as they are apt) should meddle with children’s meat, which was never meant for them; lest Nineveh should please herself in a fond conceit of God’s goodness to her also, and so turn it into wantonness, the prophet brings in a stinging "but" in the next words.
Nah 1:8 But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies.
Ver. 8. But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof ] i.e. Of Nineveh, that great but bloody city, Nahum 3:1 . Her state shall be utterly ruined, as the old world by the general deluge. But because the word here rendered flood is used for rivers that overflow the banks, 2 Chronicles 32:4 , and the adjunct, overrunning, also implies as much, see Isa 8:8 Daniel 11:10 ; Dan 11:40 I suppose the Holy Ghost here forethreateneth that ruin of this city by the river Tigris, which at an inundation broke out upon the wall, and threw down two and a half miles of it. This was a sad foretoken to them of their ensuing desolation by the enemy (as that rain was that fell in Egypt, where it used not to rain, a little before Cambyses with his Persians subdued it), for it occured in the time of the siege, as Diodorus testifieth, according to an oracle that the Ninevites had received by tradition from their progenitors, sc. that their city should then be taken by the enemy, when the river took part against them: and it happened accordingly.
And darkness shall pursue his enemies ] i.e. Terrible and inextricable calamities shall overtake them: their ruin shall be irreparable. And indeed it may now be said of Nineveh, which once was of a great city in Strabo, Magna civitas, magna solitude Great city, great wilderness. See Zephaniah 2:13-15 . Drusius rendereth it thus, Hostes suos persequi faciet tenebras, He shall cause darkness to pursue his enemies, or, He shall make his enemies to pursue darkness, according to that noted saying of the ancients, Deus quem destruit dementat, whom God intends to destroy him he first infatuateth. But the former sense is the better.
Nah 1:9 What do ye imagine against the LORD? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time.
Ver. 9. What do ye imagine against the Lord? ] Because against his people. So Psalms 62:3 , "How long will ye imagine mischief against a man? ye shall be slain all of you: as a bowing wall shall ye be, and as a tottering fence." The blind and bloody Ninevites looked no farther than the Jews, whom they invaded: they considered not that God was engaged in the quarrel of his people. This made the virgin, daughter of Zion, confident of God s help, shake her head in scorn and pity at them, saying, "Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel," Isaiah 37:22-23 . She knew well (though her enemies knew not), that as an unskilful archer in shooting at a beast hitteth a man sometimes; so the Church’s adversaries, in troubling of her trouble Almighty God, who will not fail to be even with them: for he that toucheth God’s people toucheth the apple of his eye, Zechariah 2:8 . "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" Acts 9:4 . It was a simple question of Satan to our Saviour, "What have I to do with thee?" while he vexed a servant of his. Hath he his name from knowledge, and yet could he so mistake him whom he confessed to be the Son of the living God? It is an idle misprision to sever the sense of an injury done to any of the members from the head. Drusius reads the text thus, Quid cogitatis de Domino? what think ye of the Lord? what conceit or opinion have ye of him? Do ye imagine that he cannot perform what he threateneth by his prophets? or that he cannot, when he pleaseth, deliver his people out of your hand?
He will make an utter end ] Not a consumption only, but a consummation. This he is ever doing, as the Hebrew hath it: he is busy about it, and will not fail to finish it; for he useth not to do his work to the halves. Surely a short work will the Lord make in your land, now that he taketh you to do, certo, cito penitus.
Affliction shall not rise up the second time ] God will despatch you at one blow. See a like expression 1 Samuel 26:8 . Nineveh had many brushes before, by Phraortes, King of Medes, and his son Cyaxares, and afterwards by the Scythians, whereof see Jeremiah 49:34 , and by Astyages, &c. Now Nebuchadnezzar was appointed by God to make an utter end of it, &c. The wicked shall totally and finally be consumed at once. Not so the saints: these he corrects with a rod, those with a grounded staff, Isaiah 30:32 . These in mercy and in measure, in the bunches only, "he stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind," Isaiah 27:8 , he stayeth such afflictions as would shake his plants too much, or quite blow them down. But to the wicked he hath no such tender respect: he smites them at the root, and, after many blows, he resolves to have them down. For instance, compare God’s different dealing with Noah and the old world, with Lot and the Sodomites, Israel and the Canaanites, Moses and Pharaoh, David and Saul, &c. "Fret not therefore thyself because of evil doers," Psalms 37:1 . "When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever," Psalms 92:7 . Pharaoh had fair way made for him till he came to the midst of the sea; not one wave may rise up against him to wet so much as the hoof of his horse. It was a fair sunshine day when Lot went out of Sodom; but ere night there fell out a dismal change. It was in the spring a that the flood came, then when everything was prime and pride: besides that, the world never more flourished in wealth, peace, arts, and all magnificence; yet sudden destruction came upon them, they were all at once buried in one universal grave of waters.
a The growing season in Palestine starts in mid-fall and is similar to our spring in the northern hemisphere.
Nah 1:10 For while [they be] folden together [as] thorns, and while they are drunken [as] drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry.
Ver. 10. For while they be folden together as thorns ] And so can hardly be handled without hurt, God will burn them together in the same place, 2 Samuel 23:7 , as a man puts thorns folden, and that cannot easily be sundered, all together into the fire, where they make a sudden blaze and are extinct. So will God deal with the Ninevites, notwithstanding their carnal combinations and confederacies.
And while they are drunken as drunkards ] Who are very quarrelsome, bragging and braving; but may be easily dealt with, and pushed down with one finger.
As stubble fully dry ] That hath long lain a sunning, and so is very combustible. The wicked are oft compared to stubble, because good for nothing but the fire; and when fully dry, when ripe for ruin, they shall be fully devoured, as some read the words. Ecquem vero mihi dabis rhetorem, &c., as one saith of another text. But what gallant rhetoric is here! well might God say, Hosea 12:10 , "I have spoken also by the prophets and used similitudes," &c. (see the note there); here we have three in a breath, and all little enough to work on the hearts of the wicked, who are loth to believe the truth and certainty of God’s threats; but rather bless themselves when God curseth, Deuteronomy 29:19 .
Nah 1:11 There is [one] come out of thee, that imagineth evil against the LORD, a wicked counsellor.
Ver. 11. There is one come out of thee that imagineth evil against the Lord ] Many there are, but one among and above the rest; sc. Sennacherib, that bold Briareus, that lifteth up his hundred hands at once against heaven, and threateneth to cut off at a blow God’s people, as if they had all but one neck. See Nahum 1:9 . "He is come up over all his channels, and gone over all his banks," Isaiah 8:7 ; but God shall soon put a stop to him, and with an "overrunning flood" (that he may be even with him) "make an utter end of his place," as it is here, Nahum 1:8 .
A wicked counsellor ] Heb. a counsellor of Belial, or of the devil, who lendeth him his seven heads to plot, and his ten horns to push God’s people. What pernicious counsel he gave them, see 2 Kings 18:19-35 2Ch 32:9-19 Isaiah 36:4-10 ; Isaiah 36:13-20 ; sc. to cast off God as not able to deliver them out of his hands; and to make an agreement with him by a present, &c. This pestilent counsel he gave them by Rabshakeh, who was, say the rabbins, a renegade Jew. Every vizier and bashaw of state among the Turks useth to keep still a Jew for his private counsel; whose malice, wit, and experience of Christendom, with their continual intelligence, is thought to advise most of that mischief which the Turk at this day puts in execution against us (saith mine author), the Jews being found the most nimble and mercurial wits in the world, but counsellors of Belial. In all the shop of hell there is no anvil so well set, whereon to forge, no engine so apt, whereby to execute any choice piece of mischief, as that man, who is ingenuose nequam et publico male faeundus (as it is said of Gaius Curio the Roman), wittily wicked and pestilently eloquent. Such were Cardinal Pole to England, Cardinal Sadoletus to Geneva, and the Jesuits generally, great politicians and factors for Rome. They say, Satan sent Luther, and God sent them to withstand him. They destroy many souls, as the dragon doth the elephant, by biting his ear and sucking his blood; because he knows that to be the only place which the elephant cannot reach with his trunk to defend. They take crafty counsel against the Church, Psalms 83:3 .
Nah 1:12 Thus saith the LORD; Though [they be] quiet, and likewise many, yet thus shall they be cut down, when he shall pass through. Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more.
Ver. 12. Thus saith the Lord ] To thee, O Jerusalem, and for thy comfort. The Lord will speak peace to his people; and ministers are charged to speak to their hearts, Isaiah 40:1 .
Though they be quiet ] Or still, well disciplined, as the Turkish army is, to the wonder of all that pass through it, Turcae perpetuum silentium tenent ut muti (Cuspin. de Caesar.) There was no falling out nor complaining in the Assyrian hosts; therefore, and by this means, did their king march on, pass through.
And likewise many ] How great an army they were may be gathered from the many thousands of them that were slain by the angel, Isaiah 37:36 . It is all one with God whether it be done against a nation or against a man only, Job 34:29 ; he stands not upon multitudes, who "taketh up the isles as a very little thing," Isaiah 40:15 .
Yet thus shall they be cut down ] Heb. shorn; with as little ado as one would shear a sheep, mow down a meadow, or shave off hair with a sharp razor. The prophet seemeth to allude to that text in Isaiah (with whom, as his contemporary, he hath many things common), Isaiah 7:20 , and to threaten the Assyrian, that he shall be paid home in his own coin; and that as he had done to Israel so should it be done again to him. God loveth to retaliate.
When he shall pass through ] Heb. And he passeth, or away he goeth, sc. to his own country, after the loss of his army, slain by the angel, so Jerome. Others, they shall be cut down, sc. by the hand of a mighty one, as Isaiah 10:34 , or of an angel, when he, that is, Sennacherib, and every one of his army hath passed through, sc. the land without restraint or control, and now maketh account that he is master of all.
Though I have afflicted thee, yet I will afflict thee no more ] sc. By these Ninevites; no, nor by any other enemies, unless there be a very great need, 1 Peter 1:6 . The Church hath ever had her halcyons, her interchanges of prosperity and adversity. God will not always chide, Psalms 103:9 , he delighteth in the prosperity of his servants, Psalms 35:27 , and wisheth, O that this people were wise, &c. "O that my people had hearkened," &c., Psalms 81:13-15 . There is another reading of the words, as may be seen in the margent. This is Junius. The Chaldee paraphraseth thus: Although the Ninevites enjoy great peace, and by peace are so multiplied that they are very numerous, yet shall they be shorn and cut down.
Nah 1:13 For now will I break his yoke from off thee, and will burst thy bonds in sunder.
Ver. 13. For now will I break his yoke from off thee ] Lest the promised deliverance should be any whit doubted, the time when and the misery whence they should be delivered is here laid open. God hath set the time of his people’s sufferings, which shall be neither so little a while as they would, nor so long as the enemy would. Hold out faith and patience; deliverance is at next door by.
And will burst thy bonds in sunder ] By yoke and bonds here understand those tributes which the Assyrians, called out by Ahaz, imposed upon the kingdom of Judah, 2 Kings 16:7-9 . God promiseth them here their ancient liberty; which was, soon after this, recovered under Hezekiah, who, trusting in God, and reforming religion, rebelled against the King of Assyria, and served him no longer. Shortly after also the Persians destroyed Nineveh, dealt more gently with the captive Jews, and gave them good leave to return home again, as many as had a mind to it, Ezra 1:4 2 Chronicles 36:23 .
Nah 1:14 And the LORD hath given a commandment concerning thee, [that] no more of thy name be sown: 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.
Ver. 14. And the Lord hath given a commandment ] sc. To his upper and lower forces, for he is Lord of hosts, commander-in-chief of all creatures.
Against thee ] O Sennacherib, devoted to destruction for thine intolerable pride and cruelty. God resisteth the proud, James 4:6 , he setteth himself in battle array against him, as the word αντιτασσεται signifieth, commanding all his creatures to fall on; and no wonder. For whereas all other vices flee from God, pride alone fleeth in his face; casteth down the gauntlet of defiance, and maketh head against him. Hence his hatred of a proud person.
That no more of thy name be sown ] i.e. That no more children be born to thee, so Lyra expounds it; that thy posterity perish, so Gualther. This must needs be grievous to proud and ambitious persons, who promise themselves a kind of immortality here in their posterity, and that there shall be a perpetual succession of their name in this world. "Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever; they call their lands after their own names," Psalms 49:11 . But their "lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness," Proverbs 20:20 , there shall be - Nullus, cui lampada tradant. Others sense the text thus: Thou shalt no more be talked of; but the memory of thy name shall be utterly extinct. "The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth," Psalms 34:16 . See Isa 10:12-13 Jeremiah 49:33 . Sennacherib had done great exploits, till he lifted up his hand against heaven he had been very victorious and famous; but now lies wrapped up in the sheet of shame, and is made an instance of Divine vengeance, even among the heathen; for so Herodotus, tells us, that in Egypt there was Sennacherib’s statue erected, with this inscription: Let whosoever looketh upon me learn to fear God, ’ Eμε τις εισοριων ευσεβης εστω (Her. l. 2). He lifted up himself against his Creator and Father; he is therefore slain by his own children. He thought to overturn the true service of God; he is therefore slain at his idol worship. He went about to destroy the house of God; he is therefore destroyed in the house of his god, Isaiah 37:38 .
Out of the house of thy gods will I cut off the graven image ] This those superstitious heathens held a great loss, a sore affliction. It is reported of the people of the East Indies, in the isle of Ceylon, that having an ape’s tooth got from them, which was a consecrated thing by them, they offered an incredible mass of treasure to recover it. What a noise made Micah after his ephod and images! Judges 18:24 , and Laban after his teraphim! Genesis 31:19 , and the men of Ophrah for their altar and grove! Judges 6:30 . And what a price set Papists on their pictures and trinkets!
I will make thy grave ] sc. Of thine idol temple, polluted by thy slaughter therein, and so converted into a sepulchre for thee. There is a story (but of no great authority) that Sennacherib, after his shameful return out of Judea, demanding of some about him what might be the reason that the unresistible God of heaven so favoured the Jewish nation, as he had found by sad experience, answer was given him, that Abraham, from whom they descended, sacrificed unto him his only son, which purchased this protection to his progeny. If that will win him, saith he, I will spare him two of my sons, to procure him to be on my side: which Sharezer and Adrammelech, his sons, hearing of, prevented their own deaths by slaying him. It is more likely that they laid wicked hands upon their father either out of ambition or discontent for the loss of the army (Castal. Annot.). Howsoever, God made use of their cruelty for the just punishment of Sennacherib; and is here therefore said to have commanded it. After this cruel war arose among Sennacherib’s sons, which were the utter overthrow of that nation, and laid them open as a prey to the kings of Babylon, as Xenophon writeth.
For thou art vile ] Worthless and weightless. All wicked men are so, be they never so great, Psa 15:4 Daniel 11:21 , "In his estate shall stand up a vile person," that is, Antiochus Epiphanes, the great King of Syria, whom the Samaritans in flattery styled, The mighty god. It is virtue only that ennobles. Them that honour God he will honour; but they that "despise him shall be lightly esteemed," 1 Samuel 2:30 . Contempt shall be their portion, and "with ignominy reproach," Proverbs 18:3 . Here, then, the prophet threateneth the same that Joel had done, Joel 2:20 , "His stink shall come up, and ill savour shall, come up, because he hath done the great things," i.e. he hath attempted to do them, but was hindered from heaven. God put a hook in his nose and a bridle in his lips, and turned him back to Nineveh; where, within less than fifty days after, he was slain by his two sons, Tob 1:21 ; and although his third son, Esarhaddon, reigned in his stead, yet he soon after lost both his life and his kingdom, which was devolved to the Babylonians, and all the royal race of Assyria was rooted out. Antiochus Epiphanes-Vile person
Nah 1:15 Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.
Ver. 15. Behold upon the mountains the feet of him, &c. ] This "behold" is as the sound of a trumpet before some proclamation, to bespeak attention. Jerusalem is surrounded with mountains, Psalms 125:2 , and on the mountains a voice may be heard afar off.
The feet of him that bringeth good tidings ] Or of an evangelist ( Pedes Evangelizantis, Vulgate), that brings news of Sennacherib’s ruin; but especially of Satan subdued by Christ, which is the sum of all the good news in the world, Luke 2:10 .
That publisheth peace ] Pacem omnimodam; external, internal, eternal peace of country and of conscience, by Christ, who is our peace. It is usual with the prophets to rise from earthly things to heavenly, from corporals to spirituals. See Rom 10:15 Isaiah 52:7 .
O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, &c. ] Which hitherto, hindered by the enemy, thou hast intermitted. Perform thy vows (made in the day of thy distress), bring presents to him that ought to be feared, Psalms 76:11 2 Chronicles 32:13 .
For the wicked ] Heb. Belial, that stigmatical Belialist Sennacherib, that lawless, yokeless, masterless monster, that merum scelus, sheer wickedness, that is so portentously, so peerlessly vicious.
He is utterly cut off ] His army by the angel, himself by his sons, his monarchy by the Babylonians. See Isaiah 27:1-2 .
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Nahum 1". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany