Partner with as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

Nahum 1

Verses 1-15


A Sublime Description of the Attributes and Operations of Jehovah, with a View to inspire his People with Confidence in his Protection (Nahum 1:2-8). The Assyrians addressed and described (Nahum 1:9-11). Their Destruction together with the Deliverance of the Jews connected with that Event (Nahum 1:12-15).

1     The Burden1 of Nineveh.

The book of the Vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.

2     A God jealous and avenging is Jehovah;

Avenging is Jehovah and a Lord2 of burning wrath

Avenging is Jehovah to his adversaries;
And He keeps anger against his enemies.

3     Jehovah is slow to anger and of great strength,

And acquitting He will not acquit [the guilty].
Jehovah—his way is in the whirlwind and in the tempest;
And clouds are the dust of his feet.

4     He rebukes the sea and makes it dry;

And all the rivers he drieth up:
Bashan and Carmel languish;
And the flower of Lebanon droopeth.

5     Mountains tremble because of Him,

And the hills melt away;
The earth heaves3 before Him,

And the globe and all the inhabitants upon it.

6     Before his anger who shall stand?

And who shall endure in the heat of his wrath?
His fury is poured out like fire;
And the rocks are shattered by Him.

7     Good is Jehovah, a fortress in the day of trouble,

And He knoweth those, who trust in Him.

8     And with an overflowing flood

He will make an end of her place,
And pursue his enemies with darkness.4

9     What devise ye against Jehovah?

He is about to make an end:
Distress shall not arise twice.

10     For though they are interwoven like5 thorns,

And soaked with their wine,
They shall be devoured like stubble fully dry.

11     From thee came forth

One meditating evil against Jehovah,
Counseling wickedness.

12     Thus saith Jehovah:

Though they are complete and so very numerous,
Yet even so are they mown down,
And he has passed away.
Though I have afflicted thee,
I will afflict thee no more.

13     And now I will break his yoke from off thee,

And break thy fetters.

14     And Jehovah has given commandment concerning thee:

No more of thy name shall be sown;
From the house of thy gods I will cut off the graven and the molten image;
I will make thy grave, because thou art despised.


Nahum 1:1. The book has a double title, like Obadiah 1:1. First, a title of the contents: The sentence of Nineveh. About the signification of the word Massâ there is a dispute. On the one hand it cannot be denied that it is used, with preference, as a title for threatening prophecies: Compare the series of Massâim, Isaiah 13 ff., to which the Massâ here conforms in a manifold relation. Consequently, we may suppose that the fundamental idea of a burden, laid by God upon the object of his threatening, is the prominent one. This is the meaning that Jonathan, Aquila, Luther, and others, give in their translations, and which recently, Hengstenberg, Strauss, Kurz, and Keil maintain with great force. Indeed the idea of burden is very plainly derived from the root נשׂא, [to lift up.—C. E.], to bear, and suits the word also in its literal signification (2 Kings 5:17, and above). But on the other hand it can just as little be denied, that in prophecies such as Zechariah 9:12, the real contents can be represented as a threatening burden only by means of critical subtilty: namely, only in this way, that we, as Hieronymus has already done (Ad Habakkuk 1:1 : “Massâ nunquam prafertur in titulo, nisi quum grave ac ponderis laborisque plenum est quod videtur”), refer to the serious and sorrowful topics, which, beside others, occur in this as in every prophecy, whereby evidently the special idea of threatening prophecy is set aside. This is still clearer in the maxims, Proverbs 30:31 which, in their titles, are also styled Massaim. Hence, if it is evident from Exodus 20:7; Isaiah 42:2, that the radical word נשׂא can signify also, by the ellipsis of קוֹל (properly קוֹל נשׂא, to raise the voice), to utter forth, “to call,” then one will have sure ground to hold with Hupfeld (on Psalms 15:3) and Delitzsch (on Isaiah 13:1), that declaration, or sentence, is the common, and in all places naturally [ohne Zwang] the proper signification of the word; the more, as this signification, both for the verb and noun, undoubtedly lies on the face of 2 Kings 9:27 [25]. Moreover, in passages like 1 Chronicles 15:27, with the signification of burden and without supplying קוֹל, one could arrive at no meaning; and finally as in Jeremiah 23:33 ff., the ambiguity, which was attached to the word, by giving it the meaning of burden, is stigmatized as impious, and consequently rejected. Concerning Nineveh, see the Introduction.

The title is connected with the prophecy as an integrant part, as the reference of the suffix in Nahum 1:7 shows, and is accordingly to be ascribed to the prophet himself. Of course also the following second title: Book of the Vision of Nahum the Elkoshite; as also the expression: Book, Writing, refers to a redaction of this prophecy already given to the public before the compilation of the Canon. חָזוֹן is, as in Isaiah 1:1, the nomen acti of חזה, the term employed to express prophetical vision (comp. on Habakkuk 1:1): that which Nahum, the Elkoshite (comp. the Introd.) saw.

[The first part of the title “gives the substance and object” of the book; “the second the form and author.”
“The noun מַשָּׂא, in the superscriptions of the prophecies, has been from ancient times interpreted in two different ways. According to the one interpretation it means burden. According to the other it means declaration, prophecy.

For a discussion of these different meanings, see Hengstenberg’s Christology on Zechariah 9:1 (vol. 3 pp. 380–384. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1858). Where he strenuously advocates the meaning of burden. See also Keil on Nahum 1:1.

On Nineveh refer to (besides the Introduction), the Com. on Jonah 1:2.—C. E.]

Nahum 1:2-6. The Exordium. The prophet begins his announcement in the manner of a psalm, and that of the psalms of degrees, with a concatenated structure of members formed by repetition of words (compare Delitzsch, Psalter, 1867, p. 692), forming the way, as it were, from the general statements concerning God’s holy wrath and righteous jealousy to the special, approaching manifestation [of God’s righteous judgment and wrath.—C. E.]

Nahum 1:2. A God jealous and taking vengeance is Jehovah. The general statements Nahum takes from the book of the Covenant, and that from its core, the Decalogue, Exodus 20:5. [Compare also Exodus 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24; Deuteronomy 5:9.—C. E.] For the secondary form קַכּוֹא, instead of קַכָּא, compare Joshua 24:19. The jealousy of God arises from his love to his people. He is jealous of his people, lest they should serve any other god, lest they should acknowledge any man as their lord (Exodus 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24); and he is jealous for his people, lest any should approach them with malicious intention, or for their injury (Deuteronomy 32:43). He avenges both; and hence his coming is not merely (in the first case) an object of fear, but also (in the second case) an object of longing hope on the part of his people. So Psalms 94:1, and here.

The vengeance of God is more strictly defined as furious: An avenger is Jehovah and a master of fury (= furious, possidens iram, Calv., Genesis 37:19); further, as aimed at his adversaries: An avenger is Jehovah with respect to his adversaries; finally, as inevitably realized; that can be deferred, but not arrested: and one, who keeps wrath to his enemies (Leviticus 19:18.) The three statements are complementary to one another (He can be provoked, He kindles into anger, and keeps it, Hitzig), and the threefold repetition of the word avenger, contributes to the emphatic prominence of the central thought, as in Isaiah 6:3. The reference of it by Tarnov and Mich. to the Trinity is forced.

It would seem natural, according to the analogy of כקם, and in allusion to 2 d, to translate also 3 a, in strict conformity with the original meaning of the word: He is long in wrath, i.e., He is angry for a long while. This, however, would be against the constant usage of the language, according to which the combination [אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם] אא designates the slowness with which his anger discharges itself. He is slow to anger, long suffering, as He had proved himself in the present instance by a hundred years’ endurance of the wickedness of the Assyrians. The connection with Nahum 1:2 is antithetic: the whole verse is a reproduction of the Mosaic declarations concerning the nature of God (Exodus 34:6 f.). But we must not think that this delay arises from weakness; for He is of great power. And just as little should we think that it is a remission of punishment, for He does not clear the guilty (Exodus 20:7; Exodus 34:7). He is a just judge; and his sentence is fact. Calmly looking on He permits the vast, restrained power of his wrath to be accomplished, until the measure is filled up and runs over. There follows (3 b–6) a description of this actuality of God’s judging, in the general features of the Theophany, i.e. of an appearance of Jehovah in judgment connected with powerful signs in nature. These descriptions, borrowed from Exodus 19:0 occur in Judges 5:0, and run through the whole book of Psalms Psalms 18:1, 68, 97 Nahum 1:3 b, first of all describes his coming, as in Micah 1:0, under the image of a thunder-storm approaching with tempest speed, whose whirling clouds sweep over the earth (comp. Psalms 83:16). Jehovah, in the storm and in the whirlwind is his way. He moves along quickly and with power (Isaiah 4:4), And clouds are the dust of his feet; He continues in his approach a concealed God (Psalms 77:20 (19)).

From this image [of a storm] Nahum 1:4 changes to that of a scorching heat (comp. Joel 1:18 ff.; Psalms 83:15), in allusion to the glow of wrath, Nahum 1:2 : He threatens the sea and makes it dry. The memory of the historical fact (Exodus 14:15) is woven into the description of the judgment; hence the imp. attractum; although the miraculous deliverance on that occasion acquires another meaning in the coming to judgment (וַיֽיַבִ=וַיַּבְּשֵׁהוּ, comp. Ges., sec. 69, obs. 6).

And He drieth up all the rivers, and with them the fountains of the land: Bashan and Carmel wither and the blossom of Lebanon withers. These three extreme points, in East, West, and North, are used here, as they are frequently, for the whole land. That Canaan is designated, although the judgment was to fall upon Assyria, proves, that we have to take it as a typical, that is to say, as an abstract description of the judgment, not surely as prophetic details. The same conclusion follows from the interchange of the images, for the different features [ground-lines] of the separate theophanies described by the Psalms and prophets gradually meet. To the two first he joins the third, viz., that of an earthquake accompanied with violent rains.

Nahum 1:5. The mountains quake (Amos 8:8) and the hills melt away (comp. on Micah 1:4); and the earth heaves, with violent commotions, at his presence, the manifestation of his glory (מַלְאַךְ, שֵׁס, כָבוֹד), which is revealed for the destruction of the wicked (Psalms 35:5; Isaiah 30:27 ff.); and the circle of the earth (the inhabited land, Job 37:12; O. Strauss) with all that dwell thereon.וָשָׂא is intransitive, as in Hosea 13:1; Habakkuk 1:3 (Abarb., Cocc., Hitz.). The signification, to shriek, (O. Strauss) is possible, and would not even here unmeaning, but it does not suit the figure. It is natural that all things should tremble, for the judgment is irresistible, before which everything must fall.

Nahum 1:6 : Before his fury who can stand? impf. potent., comp. Psalms 15:1. And who can endure the fierceness of his anger? (Jeremiah 10:10.) His fury pours itself out like fire and the rocks are shattered (the syllable צוּ is repeated onomato-poetically) before Him. With storm and dark clouds, with sultriness and reeling of the earth, the thunder-storm bursts forth; the last catastrophe is the fiery eruption; and it is at hand.

[Nahum 1:2-6. “The description of the divine justice, and its judicial manifestation on the earth, with which Nahum introduces his prophecy concerning Nineveh, has this double object: first of all, to indicate the connection between the destruction of the capital of the Assyrian empire, which is about to be predicted, and the divine purpose of salvation; and secondly, to cut off at the very outset all doubt as to the realization of this judgment.” Keil and Delitzsch.—C. E.]

Nahum 1:7-14. The Announcement. The transition to the impending confirmation of the avenging zeal of God. It is introduced by a reference to the goodness of God to those who trust in Him; on the one hand that his wrath may enter into more striking contrast with it; and on the other hand, that the ethical ground of this wrath in the nature of God may not be mistaken. This double turn governs the whole announcement, so that it constantly fluctuates between threatening and consolation, between Nineveh and Judah.

Good is Jehovah, not unfavorably disposed, but full of tender inclination of heart (Psalms 86:5; Psalms 143:10), a refuge in the time of trouble; טוֹב is not to be construed with לְמָעוֹז; good for a refuge; which would be a Germanism; but both are coördinate predicates. But He is not good to all (Psalms 73:1): He knows them that trust in Him.יִרע stands emphatically for the knowledge, with which God fosters and provides for his elect, and which is experienced by them (Hosea 13:5).

Therefore it is no contradiction, when Nahum 1:8 adds: But with an overflowing flood He will make an end of her place: not with an unjust destruction, but with the divine justice overwhelming the wicked (Isaiah 10:22 f.). Calvin: cum inundatione transiens, because the word שׁטף may be designated as feminine by the suffix attached to מקומהּ.6 But this suffix refers to Nineveh (Hitz., Strauss), to which, withdrawing his mind from the consideration of the divine wrath and zealous love, the prophet now turns with energetic change of address. The completeness of the destruction is expressed by כּלה, finishing stroke, utter ruin (the construction is here that of the double acc.), but still more by the fact, that not merely the city itself, but even its place is mentioned as the object of the same destruction. Concerning the special reason, which the prophet had for employing, to describe this destruction, the image of a flood, evidently borrowed from Amos 9:5, compare the Introduction, 4, p. 11 and the Com. on. Nahum 2:7.

And he will pursue his enemies with [into] darkness. [Henderson and Newcome render it: “And darkness shall pursue his enemies.” So also the LXX: and the Vulgate. Luther and Kleinert: Und Seine Feinde verfolgt Er mit Finsterniss.—C. E.] Light is the emblem of good and salvation (comp. Numbers 6:25); darkness, of wrath and destruction (Ps. 88:19; comp. also the Introd. 4, p. 11). And resistance is useless.

Nahum 1:9. What devise ye against Jehovah? Rosenm., Strausb, Keil:7 “What think ye against Jehovah?” This, however, is feeble. אֶל frequently, moreover, takes the place of עַל, and in relation to Jehovah the scheme of the enemies is of a character hostile to Him.” Hitzig. Compare also Hosea 7:15. The prophet imagines, as addressed, all who doubt the announcement; not only the external Jews (Strauss, Keil), whose doubt, moreover, was, in the estimation of the prophet, a thought against Jehovah (Isaiah 7:10 ff.); but also the enemies, who still imagined that they would, by means of preparation for defense, be able to escape from the hand of God (Nahum 2:2). It is in vain: He makes an utter ruin. The part expresses the absolute fixedness of the decree.

For the affliction shall not arise twice, namely, the affliction mentioned Nahum 1:7, the affliction, which his people should suffer from Assyria, in which they took refuge in Him. It is too confidently asserted that an argument is found in the verse for placing the composition [of this book] immediately after the catastrophe of Sennacherib. His invasion was not the first trouble that Judah experienced from Assyria, but already the second or third. (2 Chronicles 28:20 f. mentions a siege by Tiglath-Pileser; and even if one would not ascribe to it the origin of the imposition of tribute upon Hezekiah, we must still admit that there was an oppression by Sargon, the conqueror of Samaria, which is highly probable, taking into consideration his enterprises against Egypt.)

The prophecy has principally to do with the affliction experienced from the hand of Assyria, Conformable to the same view is the translation of Marck, Strauss, and others: the enemy, to wit, Nineveh, will not arise twice. However this is, on account of the צרה in Nahum 1:7, not very probable.

Nahum 1:10. But with a single stroke the trouble ends: in thorns they are entangled [עַד as in Isaiah 37:3, in the place from which one cannot extricate himself, in which one is fettered], so that they find no escape, at the time of the manifestation of the divine wrath (comp. Micah 7:4), but they are burned with the thorns (Ecclesiastes 7:6); and while they are drowned in their carousing.סבאם is not, as the commentators think, a substantive, but the infinitive of the same verb סבא (Isaiah 56:12), whose passive participle follows; and כִּ is temporal, as in Isaiah 18:4 f.] i. e., they are swallowed by the flood (Nahum 1:8), they are consumed by the fire (Isaiah 5:24), like stubble fully dry. מלא is an adverb modifying יבשׁ (comp. Ew., 279 a; Micah 2:7). Diodorus Siculus, ii. 26, following Ctesias (comp. the Introd. 4, p. 11), describes the drunkenness, in which the last king of Nineveh was surprised by destruction. [Ewald, and also Hitzig with a few changes, introduce an antithesis into the three members. Even should they be like wicker-work of twisted thorns, and as moist as their wine itself, yet shall they be consumed by the fire like dry stubble. Similarly also, Keil. The antithesis between b and c would be striking, and at the same time, as Hitzig remarks, witty; but between a and c none exists; and the irony, which exists in our wording, is more earnest, perhaps also more becoming the prophet.] The change and the apparent inconsistency of the accumulated images are accounted for, on the one hand, by the inwoven hint at the reality (comp. on 2:17); on the other hand, by the vivacity of the prophet’s language (Introd. i.), which manifests itself directly again (Nahum 1:11) in the shifting of the person addressed.

From thee, Nineveh, has he gone out [not out of thee, viz., Jerusalem, has He gone out hence, retreated (Hölemann, Strauss): the formula מן יצא has a fixed meaning (Micah 5:2; Genesis 17:6 and above)], who meditated evil against Jehovah, who advised worthlessness. It is difficult to think of a definite person (according to the old interpreters, Rabshakeh), but, like Nahum 1:9, we must understand it of the constant hostility of the kings of Nineveh against the kingdom of God, which is typically expressed in the name Nimrod, Micah 5:5.

So then finally the discourse, Nahum 1:12 ff., culminates in the Divine Sentence of annihilation: Thus speaks Jehovah; however complete and numerous they are: however numerous they are, they shall be cut off: subito et tanquam falce memoria abscinduntur. Kreenen. And he passes away, who went out with mischief (Isaiah 29:5). But the sentence has two sides: a terrible one for Nineveh, a consoling one for God’s people, Nahum 1:7 : and though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more. For the sense, compare 9 c; for the construction, Micah 7:8.

Nahum 1:13. But now (to the prophet’s mind) in the nearest present (Micah 4:9),—all prophetic visions have the ἐν τάχει in themselves (Revelation 1:1)—I will break his yoke from off thee and will burst thy bonds: the day has come, which I have long ago announced to thee (Isaiah 10:24; Isaiah 10:27).

But the discourse, Nahum 1:14, turns again to Nineveh: concerning thee, Jehovah has given a command: no more shall there be seed of thy name; literally, it shall no more be sown of thy name. As from בית, house, comes the Niph. denom. אֶבָּנֶה a house, i. e., off, spring, is raised for me [literally, I shall be built—C. E.]; so from זרע, seed, comes the Niphal יִזָּרַע, seed springs up [literally, shall be sown—C. E.]. The race is to be destroyed forever.

From the house of thy God I will destroy the graven image; in the fate of the national god is represented the fate of the nation (Isaiah 36:18).

Yes, thy molten image will I make thy grave. Thy temple shall fall over thee, so that thou shalt perish, where thou seekest refuge: antithesis to Nahum 1:7 (comp. Isaiah 37:38). Such is the connection pointed out by the accents, and Grot, Drus., Rosenm., Bötticher, and others follow them. [On the other hand, Hitzig, Strauss, and Keil connect מסכה with what precedes, and translate אשיס קבריך “I will prepare thy grave.”] For thou art found light. Compare Daniel 5:27.

[Keil: “To confirm, the threat expressed in Nahum 1:8-11, Nahum explains the divine purpose more fully. Jehovah hath spoken: the completeness and strength of her army will be of no help to Nineveh; Nahum 1:12-14.

“It is not the King of Assyria who is here addressed, but the Assyrian power personified as a single man, as we may see from what follows, according to which the idols are to be rooted out along with the seed from the house of God, i. e., out of the idol temples (cf. Isaiah 37:38; Isaiah 44:13). Pesel and massçkhàh are combined, as in Deuteronomy 27:15, to denote every kind of idolatrous image. For the idolatry of Assyria, see Layard’s Nineveh and its Remains, ii. p. 439 seq. אָשִׂיס קִכְרֶךָ cannot mean, “I make the temple of thy god into a grave,” although this meaning has already been expressed in the Chaldee and Syriac; and the Masoretic accentuation, which connects the words with what precedes, is also founded upon this view. If an object had to be supplied to אָשׂים from the context, it must be pesel umassekhâh; but there would be no sense in “I make thine idol into a grave.” There is no other course left, therefore, than to take קִבְרֶךָ as the nearest and only object of אָשִׂים, “I lay, i. e., prepare thy grave.” כִי קַלּותָ, because, when weighed according to thy moral worth (Job 31:6), thou hast been been found light (cf. Daniel 5:27). Hence the widespread opinion, that the murder of Sennacherib (Isaiah 37:38; 2 Kings 19:37) is predicted here, must be rejected as erroneous and irreconcilable with the words, and not even so far correct as that Nahum makes any allusion to that event. He simply announces the utter destruction of the Assyrian power, together with its idolatry, upon which that rested. Jehovah has prepared a grave for the people and their idols, because they have been found light when weighed in the balances of righteousness.”

Henderson’s translation is: “From the house of thy gods I will cut off the graven and the molten image; I will make it thy grave, because thou art worthless.” He applies the threat to the Assyrian monarch, who was slain by his sons, while he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, 2 Kings 19:37. “The Medes being great enemies to idolatry, those of them who composed the army of Cyaxares would take singular pleasure in destroying the idols which they found in the chief temple at Nineveh.”

Newcome understands the language, “there shall not be sown of thy name any more,” to refer to colonies: “That no more of thy colonies be transplanted to other countries.”—C. E.]


The matter in question in prophecy is not the foretelling of single facts, but the exposition of the laws and dispensations of the Divine government of the world, which result from the holy nature of God, and from the fact that He governs the world with a view to his Kingdom. Therefore the prophet Nahum also, who more than others might be suspected of having, like the heathen diviners, but one catastrophe of the future in view, begins his prediction, by causing the light of God to shine, in which He would have his prophecy viewed and understood. It treats of the destruction of an enemy of God, and of such a one, as is found too light on the just and infallible balances of God. He articulates the judgment of Nineveh into the joint connection of the one Divine judgment of the world, which began with the destruction of the Egyptians in the Red Sea (along with his revelation to his people), and which shall end in the final judgment of all those who are disobedient (Micah 5:14).

God’s essence is light, warming and blessing those who love Him and trust in Him (comp. Psalms 139:11 with Nahum 1:7); but consuming to his adversaries. Both meet in the zeal of God, which includes in it potentially all the warmth of love and all the heat of wrath (Song of Solomon 8:6); even the ardor of his wrath springs from love (Exodus 34:14; Exodus 20:5). But if God reserves his wrath for the wicked, He does not do so out of any feeling of grudge, as a revengeful man might picture God in his imagination, but because of His righteousness, which by forgetting would destroy itself. The unjust verdict of man originates in forgetfulness (Psalms 103:2). God reserves wrath, not because He is angry, but because He is slow to anger, and allows much to be accumulated, before He resolves upon judgment. He knows that his judgment is terrible. The reserving of his wrath has the same root as the knowledge of his own. He is pure Spirit, hence pure understanding, pure wisdom, and also pure memory. Forgiving and forgetting belong to the self-forbearance of God (Isaiah 43:25). If a man, or a nation, should succeed in suddenly placing the whole Kingdom of Christ in peril of destruction, then we could better comprehend the emphasis, with which the prophets speak of the avenging zeal of God. Whoever oppresses Israel is guilty of this very thing in the estimation of the prophet. The world-power is the Old Testament form of Antichrist, just as Israel is the Old Testament form of Christ (Hebrews 11:26). Hence John, in the Apocalypse, describing great Babylon, makes frequent use of this prophet. The world-power, indeed, in its effects, is an instrument and scourge of Jehovah, and thus it belongs to the phenomena of judgment, which commenced in the Holy Land; but its disposition is hostile to God, and this comes to light in its execution of his judgments (Zechariah 1:15). He decrees chastisement against Israel; it devises mischief against Jehovah (comp. Isaiah 37:10): He intends a rod: it makes out of that a yoke; and therefore it becomes subject to judgment.

Jehovah himself is a refuge; his judgments are accomplished by means—thunderstorm, waves, and darkness. So appeared He also to Elijah, not in storm, tempest, and earthquake, which passed before him, but in the still voice.

The whole creation falls under the judgment of God in painful commotion. For it was made for man and united by God to him in indissoluble unity. Hence the land is involved in the penal sufferings of its inhabitants; and the creature longs to be delivered from the bondage of this transitory existence into the glory of the children of God, which is promised to it also (Genesis 3:0; Romans 8:0; Isaiah 11:6). As the earth stained with the sin of the Adamites9 must go through the destructive purifying bath of the Flood, so the site of Nineveh must go through the purifying waves of God’s new judgment.

As the judgment of Nineveh is only a reflection in time of the one eternal judgment, so also is its result, the deliverance of the Church from the yoke of Nineveh, only one in the series of God’s deliverances, which are fundamentally but one deliverance. For they all proceed from the heart of the one kind God, who knows those who trust in Him; and all are of no effect, if not embraced with faith in God. Each preceding judgment presignifying the final judgment, contains its characteristics: each of the foregoing deliverances will receive its perfect light only from the final redemption.
It cannot be denied that to the prophetical vision the great city is in itself, in a certain sense, an object of the Divine displeasure. The_ destruction of each of the great cities, which have come into contact with the history of the Kingdom of God, has been the subject of prophecy: e. g., Nineveh Babylon, Jerusalem, Borne. As the founding of cities had its origin in the anguish of conscience experienced by Cain, who, with the consciousness of the guilt of murder, sought society in order to Find protection in it, so one after another of the great cities is swept away, because they become in themselves cities of murder (Isaiah 1:21). Living together unfetters the consciousness of power for insolence, and the overthrow of the tower of Babel is a type of each succeeding Babel. [The concatenation of the inward and outward crisis prevailing therein, which the prophets represent from the, point of view of the everlasting laws of God, Schiller has, with penetration, more fully carried out in his “Walk,” by imitating the prophets, but obscured it by Hellenistic turns. From this we can understand how it was necessary for Micah to depict the future Jerusalem, (Micah 4:1) as being built upon the ruins of the present (Nahum 3:12).

The relation of the heathen to the Kingdom of God falls, in the Old Testament, under a twofold point of view. On the one hand the heathen are included from the beginning in the purpose of the kingdom. It is true that in the Torah, according to the nature of the case, the relation in which God’s plans extend also over the heathen, is thrown more in the back ground. Here the election of Israel stands in the foreground, and the acts of God toward the heathen are manifestations of his glory in favor of Israel. The admission of the heathen into Israel has, in the mean time, only the painful form of circumcision, by which they could enter as servants into the fellowship of the chosen people. However, Deuteronomy 32:8 presents already a wider field of view; and further on the bearing of that statement becomes always more distinct. Jehovah brought the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir (Amos 9:7). He weakens the Egyptians by insurrection (Isaiah 19:0), even where no mention is made of collision with Israel. He gives to Nebuchadnezzar the countries of the earth (Jeremiah 25:0.). The kings, who destroy Babylon, are his instruments (Ezekiel 31:9; Isaiah 13:3 ff.); so also is Cyrus, though he knows it not (Isaiah 41:4-6). And thus the heathen world enters by degrees, in a form adequate to the original (Genesis 12:3, comp. Genesis 9:27), into the circle of the expectation of Salvation: the universality of salvation, the participation of all the heathen in it is a vital moment thereof (Isaiah 45:22; Psalms 87:0). But on the other hand the heathen also come into consideration as the conscious enemies of the Kingdom of God. The world-powers are scourges in His hand to chastise his people (Isaiah 10:0.; Habakkuk 1:0.) But their minds are elated with pride and arrogance (Habakkuk 1:7; Habakkuk 1:11), and hence they carry to excess the power of punishment committed to them temporarily (Zechariah 1:15), presume to attribute their success to themselves in defiance of the God of Israel (Isaiah 37:10), and continue in their hostility against Him (Nahum 1:11). It follows then, that there is a difference between the heathen, who hear, and those who hear not (comp. Com. on Micah 5:14). The former will be added to the people of God: the latter are subjected to various overwhelming judgments, which will hereafter find their completion in the final judgment.

Schmieder: It is according to the style of prophecy to view each judgment upon the enemies of God and of his people as a type of the last judgment. As long as the people of God sin against the Lord, they will certainly always and always again be subjected to new scourges of hostile nations. But to the converted, who are the genuine seed of Israel, each deliverance from any hostile power is an image and pledge of the last complete redemption, and the prophets, filled with the Spirit of God, so speak that the vista is always open to this.


Nahum 1:2-6. The glory of the Lord in his judgments.

1. He honors his word, Nahum 1:2 a–c, Nahum 1:3 c.

2. He proves His eternal omniscience, 2 d.
3. He puts to shame those who consider His forbearance weakness, 3 a.
4. He proves his glorious and irresistible (6 a b) power as Creator over the whole world, nature, and men, 3 b–6.

Nahum 1:7-14. The consolation of the pious in the great judgments of God.

1. Their refuge in God, Nahum 1:7 a.

2. None of them can be lost, 7 c.; comp. Ezekiel 9:0.

3. His floods destroy only his enemies, and his darkness is dark to them only, Nahum 1:8.

4. His terrors will make a free course for his Kingdom, for

(a.) They bring the hostility against Him to an end, Nahum 1:9, and Amos 9:5.

(b.) They terminate the severe purifying chastisements of his friends, Nahum 1:10-12; Psalms 75:4.

(c.) Their end is redemption, Nahum 1:13.

5. And even to the last judgment, every thing which comes from Him, is in accordance with justice, Nahum 1:14.

Nahum 1:2-8. Advent-sermon: Make haste to be saved. For (1) look at the misery in which thou standest: a guilty and impotent being before the Holy and Almighty One (Nahum 1:2-6); (2) look at the salvation which is offered thee (Nahum 1:7); (3) look at the wretchedness of those, who refuse to be saved (Nahum 1:8).

On Nahum 1:2. Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith Jehovah; He says it, that we may be still, and that our heart may learn to give way to the wrath of God. If we had Nahum’s faith, we would be Nahums too, i. e., consolatory. We would then also learn to intercede; for he, with whom God is long-suffering, deserves compassion. This is also the case among men. He who is speedily ready for action has usually little power. God’s forgiveness does not proceed from weakness of mind like that of Eli. The latter does not punish because he cannot; but God forgives, although He cannot, according to his nature, allow sin to go unpunished. Hence follows the necessity of the expiatory death of Christ. We do not see the ways of God, even though they are very near to us (Psalms 77:20 (19)). That should not induce us to go astray; but inspire us with confidence. Where God approaches, there a cloud of dust arises: a cloud is the dust of his feet. God treads under foot nothing, which is not already in itself rubbish, Nahum 1:4, Exodus 14:15; Isaiah 3:0 :

Nahum 1:6. Before Him mountains and rocks are dashed to pieces: before Him even the hardest heart cannot stand. [Nahum 1:3-6 gives a beautiful and striking allegory of the approaching hour of death. Darkness comes before the eyes: the heart disturbed and agitated by earthly cares, becomes all at once withered as it were with reference to these things: every delight of the eye loses its charm: ambitious pride vanishes and the flesh trembles; and in the conscience begins the burning feeling of divine wrath. Then the heart learns to flee to God (Nahum 1:7).]

Nahum 1:7. Because God is good, He knows them who trust in Him: He knows the heart, and He will be acknowledged with the heart.

Nahum 1:8. To him to whom the eternal light becomes darkness there is no more morning.

Nahum 1:9. Human wisdom is powerful, if it coöperates with God; impotent, if it opposes Him. Eating and drinking are the lot of the despisers of God: and the Lord leaves them to their lot. Food and drink for the body do not give the life, which secures against destruction.

Nahum 1:11. Nineveh and Bethlehem.

Nahum 1:12. Were the enemy ever so dissolute and impious, yet it is not without the permission of God, when he succeeds in humbling thee.

Nahum 1:14. We cheerfully puzzle our brains how to remedy the evil consequences of an injury, which will probably operate for a long time hereafter. We should rather think that it is in the power of God, and also in his will, if it should appear necessary to his wisdom, to extirpate such an injury with all its consequences by a single blow. Wickedness is chaff: it falls not to the ground to become lasting seed; but because it is too light, it must fly away as far as it can go. Nineveh was a great city before God (Jonah 3:3), and yet now it is too light. In God’s scales number and size [augenmass, measuring by the eye] weigh nothing.

Luther: On Nahum 1:1. The burden which hitherto has lain upon and oppressed you, will come to lie upon the Ninevites. Such is our weakness that we always wish that God would speedily avenge Himself; and if He does not, then we think that we are undone. But he says, when ye shall be regarded as thoroughly subdued, and when there is no more hope on your side, when it is impossible to withstand the enemy with human power, then He is there, withstands them, and subdues them most gloriously [auf’s allerherrlichste].

Nahum 1:10. The prophet calls them thorns, which grow into one another, i. e., they combine their might and power into a mass, make leagues and friendships, and are very insolent and proud. But still they are thorns which must perish, let them combine together as they will.

Nahum 1:12. He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

Starke: On Nahum 1:1. God draws forth his eminent men even from obscure and unknown places.

Nahum 1:2. We can indeed discover the wisdom and power of God from the book of Nature; yet the Holy Scriptures teach them to us most correctly. God does not allow the heathen, when they mock his holy name, to go unpunished.

Nahum 1:3. The reason of the long-suffering of God is that He waits for repentance.

Nahum 1:4. As the fruitfulness of a country comes from God, so also its unfruitfulness.

Nahum 1:6. If the wrath of an earthly king is a messenger of death (Proverbs 16:14), how much more the wrath of the Almighty (Job 9:13).

Nahum 1:7. Whoever will avail himself of the Divine help must trust in God.

Nahum 1:8. God causes his punishments to come like a flood, that is, suddenly and before they are expected.

Nahum 1:9. Those who fall again into their former sins, after they have repeatedly been brought by God to repentance, are generally lost.

Nahum 1:10. Godless people are like thorns, which thrive and grow without culture, but at last are burned with fire.

Nahum 1:11. God causes the mischief, which men prepare for others, to fall upon their own heads. The enemies of God place their confidence upon fleshly things: but thereby destroy themselves.

Pfaff: On Nahum 1:2. Notwithstanding the Lord is slow to wrath and kind, yet, if one turns his grace to licentiousness, his wrath comes at last upon hardened sinners like a storm, and his vengeance like a tempest.

Nahum 1:4 ff. Behold how terrible are God’s wrath and majesty. And thou sinner, sinnest recklessly and fearest not this wrath of thy Creator, and wilt not know that He can destroy soul and body in hell.

Nahum 1:9 ff. It is in vain to take counsel against the Lord. His wisdom, justice, and omnipotence will finally prevail and utterly destroy the godless.

Rieger: The principal design of the last six prophets is to comfort the people of God under the actual invasion and pressure of their chastisements, and to snow them how the zeal of God toward them is truly great, but that his wrath toward his enemies is still greater; and how God, after having accomplished his design by their chastisement, will recompense their enemies, but remember his covenant for their highest good.

Nahum 1:2 ff. Every thing in God is terrible to the wicked: every thing to them, who take refuge in Him, is consolatory. Jealousy is caused by violated love, and is exercised either toward those whom one would bring back by it to the duty of love, or against those who outrage the beloved [object]. The patience and power heretofore shown, in his forbearance for a long time with the objects of his wrath, give to his judgments, when at last God’s time comes to visit, a special sting in the conscience of men which, however, in case of a final humiliation, may prove quite salutary.

Nahum 1:9 ff. If we compare the blasphemous words, which Sennacherib uttered by his servants, against the God of Israel, with the definitive sentence pronounced here against his seed, we can see how impotent even the mightiest upon earth is against the Lord in heaven; and like interwoven thorns, plans projected with the greatest skill, well supported on all sides, and strengthened by the association of wicked men, can be suddenly overthrown by the wrath of God before they become ripe, if the heart of man is still set to evil. Blessed are all that trust in Him!

Caspari: On Nahum 1:1. In all times there was in Israel a great number of persons, whose very names (Nahum, from nachem, to console) were for themselves and their countrymen a constant living sermon on the glorious being and the great deeds of Jehovah their God; and also on the subject, as to how the heart should stand with Him, and on what one should ask and expect from Him.

Mich.: Hostium deletio ecclesiœ consolatio.

Schmieder: Nahum, in the Spirit, saw the Lord as He appears as an avenger upon Nineveh. Filled with this vision he now announces the Lord’s purpose to destroy this wicked city. But at the same time he teaches how the Holy God unites his righteous wrath with long-suffering and patience; how his judgment upon the oppressors is at the same time protection and deliverance to his people. Hence this prophecy is a master-key for understanding the divine judgments.

Schmieder: Nahum 1:2. The enemies of the Lord are those who hate the living God, his name, his word, and his covenant, and therefore inflict every evil upon his people.

Calvin: Nahum 1:3. The godless should not console themselves with the fact that God is patient; for He is also powerful; hence those who abuse his patience will not escape from Him.

Burck: God shows his long-suffering not only toward his children, whose manifold weaknesses He so bears with as to restore them again and again; but also toward his enemies, whom He does not punish at once, but bears with them very patiently for a long time.

Hieronymus: Nahum 1:4. It will not be hard for Him, who has the prerogative to put even the elements in commotion, to destroy Nineveh.

Nahum 1:7. He does not surprise all mariners with a storm.

Schmieder: Nahum 1:8. That is really darkness, which breaks in on the day of the Lord (Amos 5:18).

Nahum 1:9. As the deluge shall not occur again, so the desolation of Israel by the Assyrians shall not take place the second time (Isaiah 54:9). God comforts and tranquillizes those hearts which have become fearful by the divine judgments which they experienced.

Mich.: Nahum 1:12. As the multitude of hairs can offer no resistance to the shears, so also God will remove the multitude of his enemies by an easy cut.

Hieronymus: Nahum 1:14. God gives a command concerning thee, in order that whatever may come upon thee, may come not accidentally and from another judge; but in order that thou mayest suffer it according to the Divine announcement.

[Calvin: Nahum 1:7. The prophet expresses … here … that God is hard and severe toward refractory men, and that He is merciful and kind to the teachable and obedient,—not that God changes his nature, or that, like Proteus, He puts on various forms; but because He treats men according to their disposition.

Henry: Nahum 1:7. This glorious description of the Sovereign of the world, like the pillar of cloud and of fire, has a bright side toward Israel, and a dark side toward the Egyptians.—C. E.]


[1][Nahum 1:1.—מַשׂא; LXX., Αῆμμα; Vulgate, Onus, is derived from נָשָׂא, to take up, to lift up, to raise, and signifies something uttered. As it is often found in the inscriptions of threatening oracles or denunciations, Jerome, Luther, the English version, and others, have rendered it burden, meaning a threatening oracle. Hengstenberg contends (Christology of the O. T., vol. 3 pp. 380–384, on Zechariah 9:1; and vol. 4 p. 60, on Zechariah 12:1. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1858), that it always signifies burden, and occurs only in the superscription of prophecies announcing adversity. Gesenius thinks that it is used also for the annunciation of good. Lexicon, sub מַשָׂא.

[2][Nahum 1:2.—בַעַל חֵמָה, lord, master, or possessor, of burning wrath.

[3][Nahum 1:5.—וַתִּשָּׂא הָאָרֶץ, the earth heaves; LXX., Καἱ�; Vulgate, et contremuit terra; Luther, Das Erdreich bebet; A. V., “the earth is burned.”

[4][Nahum 1:8.—Kleinert translates the last clause of this verse: und seine Feinde verfolgt Er mit Finsterniss. So does Luther. Keil defends this translation on the ground that the translation of the LXX., Vulgate, and A. V. is irreconcilable with the makkeph, and does not answer so well the parallelism of the clauses.

[5][Nahum 1:10.—עַד, to the degree that, i.e., like. See Gesenius, s. v.—C. E.]

[6][Calvin: “By inundation, then, he, in passing, will make a consummation in her place; that is, God will suddenly overwhelm the Assyrians as though a deluge should rise to cover the whole earth. He intimates, that God would not punish the Assyrians by degrees, as men sometimes do, who proceed step by step to avenge themselves, but suddenly. God, he says, will of a sudden thunder against the Assyrians, as when a deluge comes over a land. Hence this passing of God is opposed to long or slow progress; as though he said, ‘As soon as God’s wrath shall break forth or come upon the Assyrians, it will be all over, for a consummation will immediately follow: by inundation, He, passing through, will make a consummation in her place.’ By place he means the ground; as though he had said, that God would not only destroy the face of the land, but would also destroy the very ground, and utterly demolish it. A feminine pronoun is here added, because he speaks of the kingdom or nation, as it is usual in Hebrew. But it ought especially to be noticed, that the Prophet threatens the Assyrians, that God would entirely subvert them, that He would not only demolish the surface, as when fire or waters destroy houses, but that the Lord would reduce to nothing the land itself, even the very ground.”—C. E.]

[7] [Keil’s view requires: What think ye of Jehovah? He says: “The question in 9 a is not addressed to the enemy, viz., the Assyrians, as very many commentators suppose: ‘What do ye meditate against Jehovah?’ For although Châsabh, el is used in Hosea 7:15 for a hostile device in regard to Jehovah, the supposition that ’el is used here for ’al, according to a later usage of the language, is precluded by the fact that הָשַב עַל is actually used in this sense in Nahum 1:11.”

The LXX. have ἐπὶ τὸν κύριον; the Vulgate has Contra Dominum, Luther; Was gedenket ihr wider den Herrn?—C E.]

[8][Reichsgedanken. See note, Com.,on Jonah, p. 20.—C. E.]

[9][This expression does not necessarily imply that the whole human race was not descended from Adam.—C. E.]

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at Public Domain.
Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Nahum 1". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". 1857-84.