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Nahum 1:3

Context

1:3 The Lord is slow to anger 1  but great in power; 2 

the Lord will certainly not 3  allow the wicked 4  to go unpunished.

The Divine Warrior Destroys His Enemies but Protects His People

He marches out 5  in the whirlwind and the raging storm;

dark storm clouds billow like dust 6  under his feet. 7 

Nahum 1:7-8

Context

1:7 The Lord is good 8 

indeed, 9  he is a fortress 10  in time of distress, 11 

and he protects 12  those who seek refuge 13  in him.

1:8 But with an overwhelming flood 14 

he will make a complete end of Nineveh; 15 

he will drive 16  his enemies into darkness.

1 tn Heb “long of anger,” i.e., “slow to anger” (Exod 34:6; Num 14:18; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2; Pss 86:15; 103:8; 145:8; Prov 14:29; 15:18; 16:32; Neh 9:17) or restraining anger (Jer 15:15; Prov 25:15). Cf. NCV “The Lord does not become angry quickly.”

2 tc The BHS editors suggest emending MT “power” (כֹּחַ, koakh) to “mercy” (חֶסֶד, khesed) as in Exod 34:6; Num 14:18; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2; Ps 103:8; Neh 9:17. However, this is unnecessary, it has no textual support, and it misses the rhetorical point intended by Nahum’s modification of the traditional expression.

sn This is an allusion to the well-known statement, “The Lord is slow to anger but great in mercy” (Exod 34:6; Num 14:18; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2; Ps 103:8; Neh 9:17). Nahum subtly modifies this by substituting “great in mercy” with “great in power.” God’s patience at the time of Jonah (Jonah 4:2) one century earlier (ca. 750 b.c.), had run out. Nineveh had exhausted the “great mercy” of God and now would experience the “great power” of God.

3 tn Or “he will certainly not acquit [the wicked]”; KJV “and will not at all acquit the wicked.” The root נָקַה (naqah, “to acquit”) is repeated for emphasis. The phrase “he will certainly not allow the wicked to go unpunished” (וְנַקֵּה לֹא יְנַקֶּה, vÿnaqqeh loyÿnaqqeh) is an emphatic construction (see GKC 215 §75.hh; IBHS 584-88 §35.3.1).

4 tn The words “the wicked” are not in the Hebrew text but are supplied in the translation; they are implied when this idiom is used (Exod 34:7; Num 14:18). In legal contexts the nuance “the guilty” is most appropriate; in nonlegal contexts the nuance “the wicked” is used.

5 tn Heb “His way is in the whirlwind” (so NIV). The noun דַּרְכּוֹ (darko, “his way”) is nuanced here in a verbal sense. The noun דֶּרֶךְ (derekh) often denotes a “journey” (Gen 28:20; 30:36; 45:23; Num 9:10; Josh 9:13; 1 Sam 21:6; 1 Kgs 18:27). The verb דָּרַךְ (darakh) often means “to tread a path” (Job 22:15) and “to march out” (Judg 5:21). The Lord is portrayed as the Divine Warrior marching out to battle (Exod 15:1-12; Deut 33:2; Judg 5:4-5; Pss 18:7-15; 68:4-10, 32-35; 77:16-19; Mic 1:3-4; Hab 3:3-15).

6 tn Heb “clouds are dust.”

7 tn Heb “of his feet.”

8 tn The Masoretic disjunctive accent marker (zaqeph parvum) divides the lines here. Most English versions reflect this line division (KJV, RSV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NKJV). Some extend the line: “Yahweh is better than a fortress” (NJB); “The Lord is good to those who hope in him” (NJPS); and “The Lord is good to those who trust him” (NEB). This issue is complicated by the textual problems in this verse.

9 tn The preposition לְ (lamed) probably functions in an emphatic asseverative sense, suggested by D. L. Christensen, “The Acrostic of Nahum Reconsidered,” ZAW 87 (1975): 22. This explains the preceding statement: the Lord is good to his people (1:7a) because – like a fortress – he protects them in time of distress (1:7b).

10 tc Some ancient versions read, “The Lord is good to those who trust him.” The MT reads לְמָעוֹז (lÿmaoz, “a fortress”): the noun מָעוֹז (maoz, “fortress”) with the preposition לְ (lÿ, see below). However, the LXX reflects the reading לְמֵעִיז (lÿmeiz, “to those who trust [him]”): the Hiphil participle from עוּז (’uz, “seek refuge”) with the preposition לְ. The variants involve only different vocalizations and the common confusion of vav (ו) with yod. Most English versions follow the traditional Hebrew reading (KJV, RSV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NKJV); however, several others follow the alternate Greek reading (NEB, NJPS). The BHS editors and several other scholars favor the LXX tradition; however, the Masoretic tradition has been defended by others. The Masoretic tradition is supported by the Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpNah). The problem with the LXX reading is the absence of the direct object in the Hebrew text; the LXX is forced to supply the direct object αὐτόν (auton, “him”; for a similar addition of the direct object αὐτόν by the LXX, see Amos 9:12). The main objection to the MT reading לְמָעוֹז (“a fortress”) is that לְ is hard to explain. However, לְ may be taken in a comparative sense (Cathcart: “Yahweh is better than a fortress in time of distress”) or an asseverative sense (Christensen: “Yahweh is good; indeed, a fortress in time of distress”). See K. J. Cathcart, Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic (BibOr), 55; idem, “More Philological Studies in Nahum,” JNSL 7 (1979): 4; D. L. Christensen, “The Acrostic of Nahum Reconsidered,” ZAW 87 (1975): 22. Elsewhere, the Lord is commonly portrayed as a “fortress” (מָעוֹז) protecting his people (Pss 27:1; 28:8; 31:3, 5; 37:39; 43:2; 52:9; Isa 17:10; 25:4; 27:5; Joel 4:16; Jer 16:19; Neh 8:10; Prov 10:29).

11 sn The phrase “time of distress” (בְּיוֹם צָרָה) refers to situations in which God’s people are oppressed by enemy armies (Isa 33:2; Jer 14:8; 15:11; 16:19; Obad 12; Pss 20:2; 37:39). Nahum may be alluding to recent Assyrian invasions of Judah, such as Sennacherib’s devastating invasion in 701 b.c., in which the Lord protected the remnant within the fortress walls of Jerusalem (2 Kgs 18-19; 2 Chr 32; Isa 36-37).

12 tn Heb “he knows” or “he recognizes.” The basic meaning of the verb יָדַע (yada’) is “to know,” but it may denote “to take care of someone” or “to protect” (HALOT 391 s.v.; see Gen 39:6; Job 9:21; Ps 31:8). Most English versions render it as “know” here (KJV, RSV, NASB, NKJV) but at least two recognize the nuance “protect” (NRSV, NIV [which reads “cares for”]). It often refers to God protecting and caring for his people (2 Sam 7:20; Ps 144:3). When the subject is a king (suzerain) and the object is a servant (vassal), it often has covenantal overtones. In several ancient Near Eastern languages this term depicts the king (suzerain) recognizing his treaty obligation to protect and rescue his servant (vassal) from its enemies. For example, a letter from Abdi-Ashirta governor of Ammuru to the Egyptian king Amenophis III ends with a plea for protection from the raids of the Mittani: “May the king my lord know [= protect] me” (yi-da-an-ni; EA 60:30-32). Similarly, in the treaty between Muwattallis and Alaksandus, the Hittite suzerain assures his vassal that in case he was attacked, “As he is an enemy of you, even so he is an enemy to the Sun; I the Sun, will know [= “protect”] only you, Alaksandus” (see H. B. Huffmon, “The Treaty Background of Hebrew YADA`,” BASOR 181 (1966): 31-37; idem, “A Further Note on the Treaty Background of Hebrew YADA`,” BASOR 184 (1966): 36-38.

13 tn Or “those who trust in him” (NIV); NAB “those who have recourse to him.”

14 tn Some scholars connect “in an overwhelming flood” (וּבְשֶׁטֶף עֹבֵר, uvÿshetefover) with the preceding line: “he protects those who trust him in an overwhelming flood.” However, others connect it with the following line: “But with an overwhelming flood he will make a complete end of its [Nineveh’s] site.” D. T. Tsumura (“Janus Parallelism in Nah 1:8,” JBL 102 [1983]: 109-11) suggests that it does double duty and should be read with both lines: “he knows those who trust him in an overwhelming flood, / but with an overwhelming flood he will make a complete end of its [Nineveh’s] site.” Connecting it with the preceding line creates a tight parallelism and a balanced 5+5 metrical count. Connecting it with the following line harmonizes with Nah 2:9 [8], which describes the walls of Nineveh being destroyed by flood waters, and with historical evidence (Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica, 2.27.1-3; Xenophon, Anabasis, 3.4.12) and modern archaeological evidence (A. T. Olmstead, History of Assyria, 637). This might be an example of intentional ambiguity: God will protect his people from the very calamity that he will use to destroy his enemies.

15 tc Heb “her place.” Alternately, some ancient versions read “his adversaries.” The MT reads מְקוֹמָהּ (mÿqomah, “her place”). This is supported by the Dead Sea Scrolls (מקומה, “her place,” found in 4QpNah) and Symmachus (τῆς τόποῦ αὐτοῦ, th" topou autou, “her place”). The reading of the LXX (τούς ἐπεγειρουμένους, tou" epegeiroumenou", “those who rise up [against Him]”) and Aquila (ἀντισταμενω¡ν, antistamenw>n, “adversaries”) reflect מְקּוֹמיהוּ or מְקִימיהוּ or מְקִּמָיו (“his adversaries”), also reflected in the Vulgate and Targum. Some scholars suggest emending the MT in the light of the LXX to create a tight parallelism between “his adversaries” (מקומיו) and “his enemies” (וְאֹיְבָיו, vÿoyÿvayv) which is a parallel word pair elsewhere (Deut 28:7; 2 Sam 22:40-41, 49; Mic 7:6; Ps 59:2). Likewise, Tsumura suggests emending the MT because the text, as it stands, does not have a clear parallel word for “his enemies” (וְאֹיְבָיו) – emending the MT’s מְקוֹמָהּ (“her place”) to מקומיו (“his adversaries”) would result in a parallel word (D. T. Tsumura, “Janus Parallelism in Nah 1:8,” JBL 102 [1983]: 109-11). The BHS editors propose emending the MT in favor of the Greek tradition. The English versions reflect both textual traditions – several follow the MT with “her place” and “its site” (KJV, NASB, NIV, NKJV, NJPS), while others adopt the LXX reading and emend the Hebrew, resulting in “his adversaries” (NRSV) or “those who defy him” (NJB). The MT makes sense as it stands, but the proposed emendation is attractive and involves only the common confusion between ה and יו.

16 tc The BHS editors propose emending the Masoretic reading יְרַדֶּף (yÿraddef, Piel imperfect of רָדַּף [raddaf], “to chase”) to יֶהְדֹּף (yekhdof, Qal imperfect of הָדַף [hadaf], “to thrust away, drive away”). Although הָדַף is used with חֹשֶׁךְ (khoshekh, “darkness”) in Job 18:18 (“he is driven from light into darkness”), the MT makes good sense as it stands, and is supported by the versions. The conjectural emendation has no support and is unnecessary.



TIP #08: Use the Strong Number links to learn about the original Hebrew and Greek text. [ALL]
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