His wrath is poured out like volcanic fire,
like the drink of drunkards, 10
like very 11 dry stubble.
1 tn Heb “stand before” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV, NLT). The Hebrew verb עָמַד (’amad, “stand”) here denotes “to resist, withstand.” It is used elsewhere of warriors taking a stand in battle to hold their ground against enemies (Judg 2:14; Josh 10:8; 21:44; 23:9; 2 Kgs 10:4; Dan 11:16; Amos 2:15). It is also used of people trying to protect their lives from enemy attack (Esth 8:11; 9:16). Like a mighty warrior, the
2 tn Heb “Who can stand before his indignation?” The rhetorical question expects a negative answer; it is translated here as an emphatic denial. The Hebrew noun זַעַם (za’am, “indignation, curse”) connotes the angry wrath or indignant curse of God (Isa 10:5, 25; 13:5; 26:20; 30:27; Jer 10:10; 15:17; 50:25; Ezek 21:36; 22:24, 31; Hab 3:12; Zeph 3:8; Pss 38:4; 69:25; 78:49; 102:11; Lam 2:6; Dan 8:19; 11:36). It depicts anger expressed in the form of punishment (HALOT 276 s.v.; TWOT 1:247).
3 tn Heb “Who can rise up against…?” The verb יָקוּם (yaqum, “arise”) is here a figurative expression connoting resistance. Although the adversative sense of בְּ (bet) with יָקוּם (yaqum, “against him”) is attested, denoting hostile action taken against one’s enemy (Mic 7:6; Ps 27:12), the locative sense (“before him”) is preferred due to the parallelism with לִפְנֵי (lifney, “before him”).
4 tn Heb “Who can rise up against the heat of his anger?” The rhetorical question expects a negative answer which is translated as an emphatic denial to clarify the point.
5 tn Or “burst into flames.” The Niphal perfect נִתְּצוּ (nittÿtsu) from נָתַץ (natats, “to break up, throw down”) may denote “are broken up” or “are thrown down.” The BHS editors suggest emending the MT’s נִתְּצוּ (nittÿtsu) to נִצְּתּוּ (nitsÿtu, Niphal perfect from יָצַת [yatsat, “to burn, to kindle, to burst into flames”]): “boulders burst into flames.” This merely involves the simple transposition of the second and third consonants. This emendation is supported by a few Hebrew
6 tn Heb “before him” (so NAB, NIV, TEV).
7 tn The verb אֻכְּלוּ (’ukkÿlu, “they will be consumed”) is an example of the old Qal passive perfect 3rd person common plural which was erroneously pointed by the Masoretes as Pual perfect 3rd person common plural. The Qal passive of אָכַל (’akhal) occurs several times in the Hebrew Bible, pointed as Pual (e.g., Exod 3:2; Neh 2:3, 13; Isa 1:20; Nah 1:10). For further discussion on the old Qal passive see H. L. Ginsberg, “Studies on the Biblical Hebrew Verb: Masoretically Misconstrued Internal Passives,” AJSL 46 (1929): 53-56; R. J. Williams, “The Passive Qal Theme in Hebrew,” Essays on the Ancient Semitic World, 43-50; Joüon 1:166-67 §58.a; IBHS 373-76 §22.6 (see especially n. 36 on p. 375).
8 tn The particle עַד (’ad) is taken as a comparative of degree (“like”) by many lexicographers (BDB 724 s.v. I.3; HALOT 787 s.v. 5), English versions (NASB, NRSV, NJPS), and scholars (W. A. Maier, Nahum, 192; R. L. Smith, Micah-Malachi [WBC], 76; R. D. Patterson, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah [WEC], 42). Although the comparative sense is rare (1 Sam 11:15; 2 Sam 23:19; 2 Kgs 24:20; 1 Chr 4:27), it is suggested by the similes in v. 10 (see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 57, §312). The comparative sense is reflected in the Greek versions of Symmachus, Aquila, and Theodotion. Although Origen took עַד in its more common spatial sense (“up to”), his approach can be dismissed because he misunderstood the entire line: ὅτι ἕως θεμελίου αὐτοῦ ξερσωθήσεται (Joti Jew" qemeliou autou xerswqhsetai, “up to his foundation he shall be laid bare”). The KJV takes עַד in its rare temporal sense (“while”; see BDB 725 s.v. II.2). T. Longman suggests a locative sense: “by the entangled thorns they are like drunkards stinking of drink” (“Nahum,” The Minor Prophets, 2:794, 796; see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 56-57, §310). Because of its difficulty, several scholars have resorted to conjectural emendations of the MT: (1) K. J. Cathcart (Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic [BibOr], 61) suggests emending the MT’s עַד to the temporal particle עוֹד (’od, “again”); (2) The BHS editors suggest emending the MT’s כִּי עַד (ki ’ad) to הוֹי עִיר (hoy ’ir, “woe to the city!”) which appears in Nah 3:1; (3) The BHS editors suggest the alternate conjectural emendation of יִבְעֲרוּ כְ (yiv’aru kÿ, “they will burn like …”); (4) H. Junker (Die zwolf kleinen Propheten, 175) suggests emending כִּי עַד (ki ’ad) to כְּיַעַד (kÿya’ad, “like a forest”). Although the Masoretic reading is difficult, it is more plausible than any conjectural emendation.
9 tc The MT reads סִירִים סְבֻכִים (sirim sÿvukhim, “entangled thorn-bushes”), and is supported by the Dead Sea text from Murabba`at: סירים סבכים (see DJD 2:197). The noun סִירִים (“thorn bushes”) is from סִיר (sir, “thorn, thorn bush,” BDB 696 s.v. II סִיר; HALOT 752 s.v. *סִירָה), e.g., Isa 34:13; Hos 2:8; Eccl 7:6. The Qal passive participle סְבֻכִים (sÿvukhim) is from סָבַךְ (savakh, “to interweave,” BDB 687 s.v. סָבַךְ; HALOT 740 s.v. סבך), e.g., Job 8:17, which is related to Assyrian sabaku (“to entwine,” AHw 2:999.a) and Arabic sabaka (“to entwine”; Leslau, 51). The MT is supported by several LXX translators, e.g., Symmachus, Aquila, and Theodotion. It is also reflected in Vulgate’s spinarum perplexi (“thorn-bushes entangled”). On the other hand, the Syriac Peshitta reflects סָרִים סוֹרְרִים (sarim sorÿrim, “your princes are rebels”) which points to orthographic confusion and a different vocalization. Similar textual confusion is apparent in Origen: θεμελίου αὐτοῦ ξερσωθήσεται (qemeliou autou xerswqhsetai, “his foundation shall be laid bare”) seems to reflect יְסֹדָם יְכָבֵּס (yÿsodam yÿkhabbes, “their foundation shall be washed away”) which was caused by orthographic confusion and transposition of consonants. The MT should be retained.
sn This simile compares the imminent destruction of Nineveh to the burning of a mass of entangled thorn-bushes (Job 8:17). When thorn-bushes are entangled they burn quickly and completely ( Eccl 7:6; Isa 34:13).
10 tc The MT reading וּכְסָבְאָם סְבוּאִים (ukhÿsav’am sÿvu’im, “and like the drink of drunkards”) is supported by Symmachus (“and as those drinking their drink with one another”) who is known for his wooden literalness to the Hebrew text, and by Vulgate which reads et sicut vino suo inebriati. K. J. Cathcart revocalizes as וּכְסֹבְאִים סְבֻאִים (ukhÿsovÿ’im sÿvu’im, “and like drunkards sodden with drink”; Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic [BibOr], 61). Haldar equates Hebrew סָבָא (sava’) with Ugaritic sp’ (“eat”) due to an interchange between ב (bet) and פ (pe), and produces “and as they consume a consuming” (A. Haldar, Studies in the Book of Nahum, 32). Barr argues that the mem (מ) on MT וּכְסָבְאָם (ukhÿsov’am) is enclitic, and he translates the line as “and as the drunken are getting drunk” (J. Barr, Comparative Philology, 33).
tn The MT’s וּכְסָבְאָם is a noun with masculine plural suffix from סֹבֶא (sove’, “drink, liquor”), meaning “their drink, liquor” (e.g., Hos 4:18). This is supported by Symmachus (“their drink”) and is reflected in the Syriac (“in their drink”). The Masoretic סְבוּאִים (sÿvu’im) is the passive participle from סָבָא (sava’, “to drink,” BDB 684-85 s.v. סָבָא). This produces “and like their liquor/drink being drunken.” This makes good sense with the following line in which אֻכְּלוּ (’ukkÿlu, “they will be consumed”) appears. The verb אֻכְּלוּ is frequently used in comparisons of consuming liquor and being consumed like chaff.
11 tc The BHS editors propose emending the MT’s מָלֵא (male’, “fully”) to the negative interrogative הֲלֹא (halo’, “Has not…?”) and connecting it with the next line: “Has not one plotting evil marched out from you?” However, this emendation is unnecessary because the MT makes sense as it stands, and there is no textual support for the emendation. The MT is supported by the Greek tradition, the Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpNah), and the other versions.
tn Or “They will be fully consumed like dried stubble.” The term מָלֵא (“fully”) functions either as: (1) an adjective modifying כְּקַשׁ יָבֵשׁ (kÿqash yavesh, “like fully dried stubble”) or (2) an adverb modifying אֻכְּלוּ (’ukkÿlu, “they will be fully consumed”); see BDB 571 s.v. מָלֵא. The adverbial sense is rare, appearing elsewhere only in Jer 12:6; thus, the adjectival sense is more probable. The Hebrew word order also suggests the adjectival sense because מָלֵא follows כְּקַשׁ יָבֵשׁ (kÿqash yavesh) rather than אֻכְּלוּ.