You will be shocked and amazed! 2
For I will do something in your lifetime 3
that you will not believe even though you are forewarned. 4
They sweep across the surface 8 of the earth,
seizing dwelling places that do not belong to them.
1:7 They are frightening and terrifying;
they decide for themselves what is right. 9
1:8 Their horses are faster than leopards
their horses come a great distance;
every face is determined. 17
They take prisoners as easily as one scoops up sand. 18
1:10 They mock kings
and laugh at rulers.
They laugh at every fortified city;
they build siege ramps 19 and capture them.
2 tn The Hebrew text combines the Hitpael and Qal imperatival forms of the verb תָּמַה (tamah, “be amazed”). A literal translation might read, “Shock yourselves and be shocked!” The repetition of sounds draws attention to the statement. The imperatives here have the force of an emphatic assertion. On this use of the imperative in Hebrew, see GKC 324 §110.c and IBHS 572-73 §34.4c.
3 tc Heb “for a work working in your days.” Following the LXX reading, some supply a first person singular pronoun with the participle פֹּעֵל (po’el). Ellipsis of a first singular pronoun before participles is relatively rare (see GKC 360 §116.s); perhaps an original אֲנֹכִי (’anoki; or אֲנִי, ’aniy) followed the initial כִּי (ki) and was omitted by homoioteleuton.
4 tn Heb “you will not believe when it is told.” In this context the force of כִּי (ki) may be “when,” “if,” or “even though.”
5 tn Heb “raise up” (so KJV, ASV).
6 tn Heb “bitter.” Other translation options for this word in this context include “fierce” (NASB, NRSV); “savage” (NEB); or “grim.”
7 tn Heb “hasty, quick.” Some translate here “impetuous” (so NEB, NASB, NIV, NRSV) or “rash,” but in this context greed may very well be the idea. The Babylonians move quickly and recklessly ahead in their greedy quest to expand their empire.
8 tn Heb “the open spaces.”
9 tn Heb “from him his justice, even his lifting up, goes out.” In this context שְׂאֵת (sÿ’et) probably has the nuance “authority.” See R. D. Patterson, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (WEC), 150.
10 tn Heb “sharper,” in the sense of “keener” or “more alert.” Some translate “quicker” on the basis of the parallelism with the first line (see HALOT 291 s.v. חדד).
12 tn Or “horsemen,” “cavalry.”
14 tn Or “eagle” (so NASB, NRSV). The term can refer to either eagles or vultures, but in this context of gruesome destruction and death “vulture” is preferred.
15 tn Heb “they fly like a vulture/an eagle quickly to devour.” The direct object “their prey” is not included in the Hebrew text but is implied, and has been supplied in the translation for clarity.
16 tn Heb “come.”
17 tn Heb “The totality of their faces is to the east” (or “is forward”). The precise meaning of the Hebrew term מְגַמַּת (megammat) is unclear. For a discussion of options see J. J. M. Roberts, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah (OTL), 93. NEB has “a sea of faces rolls on”; NIV “their hordes advance like a desert wind”; NRSV “with faces pressing forward.”
18 tn Heb “and he gathers like sand, prisoners.”
19 tn Heb “they heap up dirt.” This is a reference to the piling up of earthen ramps in the process of laying siege to a fortified city.