Watch the road!
Prepare yourselves for battle! 7
Muster your mighty strength!” 8
as well as 11 the majesty of Israel,
and have destroyed their fields. 14
the mighty soldiers are dressed in scarlet garments. 16
they rush back and forth 26 in the broad plazas;
they rush to the city wall 35
she cries out: 54 “Stop! Stop!” –
but no one turns back. 55
“Plunder the silver! Plunder the gold!”
There is no end to the treasure;
riches of every kind of precious thing.
Their hearts faint, 58
their knees tremble, 59
the feeding place 65 of the young lions,
and no one disturbed them? 69
and strangled prey to provide food 71 for his lionesses;
he filled 72 his lairs with prey
and his dens with torn flesh.
the sword will devour your young lions; 77
you will no longer prey upon the land; 78
the voices of your messengers 79 will no longer be heard.”
She is full of lies; 81
she is filled with plunder; 82
she has hoarded her spoil! 83
the chariot wheels will shake the ground; 85
There will be many people slain; 96
there will be piles of the dead,
and countless casualties 97 –
so many that people 98 will stumble over the corpses.
a seductive mistress who practices sorcery, 101
and entices peoples by her sorcery 105 –
“I will strip off your clothes! 107
I will show your nakedness to the nations
and your shame to the kingdoms;
I will treat you with contempt;
I will make you a public spectacle.
3:7 Everyone who sees you will turn away from you in disgust;
they will say, ‘Nineveh has been devastated!
Who will lament for her?’
There will be no one to comfort you!” 109
she was located on the banks of the Nile;
the waters surrounded her,
the water 114 was her wall.
even her infants were smashed to pieces 122 at the head of every street.
all her dignitaries were bound with chains.
you will go into hiding; 126
you too will seek refuge from the enemy.
3:13 Your warriors will be like women in your midst;
the gates of your land will be wide open 133 to your enemies;
Strengthen your fortifications!
Trample the mud 137 and tread the clay!
Make mud bricks to strengthen your walls! 138
the sword will cut you down;
it will devour 140 you like the young locust would.
Multiply yourself 141 like the young locust;
multiply yourself like the flying locust!
your officials 146 are like a swarm of locusts!
They encamp in the walls on a cold day,
Your people are scattered like sheep 154 on the mountains
and there is no one to regather them!
your demise is like a fatal injury! 156
for no one ever escaped your endless cruelty! 159
1 tn The introductory phrase “The watchmen of Nineveh shout” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied from the context for clarity.
2 tc The MT reads מֵפִיץ (mefits, “scatterer, disperser”), the Hiphil participle of פּוּץ (puts, “to scatter, to disperse”; HALOT 755 s.v. פוּץ, but see BDB 807 s.v. מֵפִיץ, which classifies it as a noun). The Vulgate’s qui dispergat (“one who disperses”) and the LXX’s ἐμφυσῶν (emfuswn, “one who blows hard; one who scatters”) also reflect מֵפִיץ. The BHS editors propose the emendation מַפֵּץ (mappets, “shatterer, hammerer, war club”; e.g., Jer 51:20 and Prov 25:18). This is unnecessary; the text makes sense as it stands and there is no textual support for the emendation. The theme of exile and dispersion is prominent in the book (Nah 2:7; 3:10-11, 17-18).
tn Heb “a scatterer.” The Hebrew term מֵפִיץ (mefits, “scatterer”) is either a collective singular referring to the Babylonian army or a singular of number referring to the Babylonian commander. Singular forms occur elsewhere in the vision of the fall of Nineveh (2:1-10), used in reference to the Babylonian commander (Nah 2:3, 5)
3 tn Or “has come up”; or “has advanced.” Used in reference to an army, the verb עָלָה (’alah, “to go up”) means “to advance; to march against” (HALOT 829 s.v. 3.d; see 1 Sam 7:7; 1 Kgs 20:22; Isa 7:1; 21:2; Jer 46:9; Joel 1:6; Mic 2:3). Appearing in a prophetic vision, the suffix conjugation (perfect tense) form עָלָה can denote a future-time action that is pictured as complete (certain) and independent (not contingent upon other factors). The so-called “prophetic perfect” or “perfect of confidence” vividly expresses a future action that is “as good as done” (cf. Num 24:17; Isa 5:13; 8:23-9:1). See R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 33, §165; IBHS 489-90 §30.5.1.
4 tn Heb “against your face”; NASB, NRSV “against you.”
5 tn The Qal infinitive absolute נָצוֹר (notsar, from נָצַר [nastar], “to guard”) is used in an imperatival sense as the following string of imperatives suggests. The imperatival use of the infinitive absolute is often used to introduce a series of imperatives with special urgency (e.g., Deut 1:16; 2 Sam 24:12; 2 Kgs 5:10). See IBHS 593-94 §35.5.1; R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 42, §211.
6 tc The BHS editors suggest revocalizing the Masoretic noun מְצֻרָה (mÿtsurah, “rampart”) to the noun מַצָּרָה (matsarah, “the watchtower”) from the root נָצַר (natsar, “to watch, guard”). This would create a repetition of the root נָצַר which immediately precedes it: מַצָּרָה נָצוֹר (natsor matsarah, “Watch the watchtower!”). However, the proposed noun מַצָּרָה (“the watchtower”) appears nowhere in the Hebrew Bible. On the other hand, the Masoretic reading מְצֻרָה (“rampart”) and the related noun מָצוֹר (matsor, “rampart”) appear often (Pss 31:22; 60:11; Hab 2:1; Zech 9:3; 2 Chr 8:5; 11:5, 10, 11, 23; 12:4; 14:5, 21:3; 32:10). Thus, the Masoretic vocalization should be preserved. The LXX completely misunderstood this line. The LXX reading (“one who delivers out of tribulation”) has probably arisen from a confusion of the MT noun נָצוֹר (“guard”) with the common verb נָצַר (“deliver”). It also reflects a confusion of MT מְצֻרָה (“road, rampart”) with מִצְּרָה (mitsÿrah, “from distress”).
7 tn Heb “Make strong your loins,” an expression which could refer (1) to the practice of tucking the ends of the long cloak (outer garment) into the belt to shorten it in preparation for activities like running, fighting in battle, etc. (cf. NAB, NRSV “gird your loins”); (2) to preparing oneself physically for the onslaught of the enemy (cf. NASB “strengthen your back”); or (3) to a combination of mental and physical preparation for battle (cf. NIV “brace yourselves”).
8 tn Heb “Make [your] strength exceedingly firm.”
9 tn The Qal perfect שָׁב (shav, “restore, return”) is an example of the so-called “prophetic perfect.” In this case, the perfect tense does not denote past-time action, but a future-time action that is pictured as complete (certain) and independent (not contingent upon other factors). The so-called “prophetic perfect” or “perfect of confidence” vividly expresses a future action that is deemed “as good as done” (Num 24:17; Isa 5:13; 8:23-9:1). See R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 33, §165; IBHS 489-90 §30.5.1. Though the transitive use of the Qal of this verb is problematic, most scholars derive שָׁב from the root שׁוּב (shuv, “to turn, to return, to restore”). However, W. A. Maier (Nahum, 232) contends that שָׁב is derived from I שָׁבַב (shavav, “to cut off, to destroy, to smite”) which is related to Arabic sabba (“to cut”), Aramaic sibba’(“splinter”), and New Hebrew. Maier admits that this would be the only occurrence of a verb from I שָׁבָב in the OT; however, he argues that the appearance of the plural noun שְׁבָבִים (shÿvavim, “splinters”) in Hos 8:6 provides adequate support. There are several problems with Maier’s proposal. First, his support from Arabic, Aramaic (Targum) and New Hebrew is all late. Second, it creates a hapax legomenon (a word that occurs only once in the Hebrew Bible) for a well-known Hebrew word which frequently appears in climactic contexts in prophetic speeches, as here. Third, the root שׁוּב (shuv, “to turn, to return, to restore”) makes perfectly good sense in this context. The meaning of this usage of שָׁב (from the root שׁוּב) is debated. The LXX took it in the negative sense “has turned aside.” On the other hand, it is nuanced in a positive, salvific sense by the Vulgate, Targum, and Syriac. The salvific nuance is best for the following reasons: (1) its direct object is גְּאוֹן (ge’on) which should be understood in the positive sense of “majesty; exaltation; glory” (see following note on the word “majesty”); (2) the motive clause introduced by causative/ explanatory כִּי (ki, “for”) would make little sense, saying that the reason the
10 tc The BHS editors propose emending the MT reading גְּאוֹן (gÿ’on, “majesty; pride”) to גֶּפֶן (gefen, “vineyard”) due to the mention of “their branches” (וּזְמֹרֵיהֶם, uzÿmorehem) in the following line (so HALOT 169 s.v. גָּאוֹן [2.b]). However, the LXX supports the MT.
tn While גְּאוֹן (ge’on) sometimes has the negative connotation “pride; arrogance; presumption” (Isa 13:11, 19; 14:11; 16:6; 23:9; Jer 13:9; 48:29; Ezek 16:49, 56; 32:12; Hos 5:5; 7:10; Amos 6:8; Zeph 2:10; Zech 9:6; 10:11; 11:3; Ps 59:13; Job 35:12; 40:10), it probably has the positive connotation “eminence; majesty; glory” (e.g., as in Exod 15:7; Isa 2:10, 19, 21; 4:2; 24:14; 60:15; Mic 5:3; Ps 47:5) in this context (BDB 145 s.v. 1.a).
11 tn The preposition כְּ (kaf) on כִּגְאוֹן (kig’on, “the glory of Israel”) may be comparative (“like the glory of Israel”) or emphatic (“the glory of Jacob, indeed, the glory of Israel”). See J. O’Rourke, “Book Reviews and Short Notes: Review of Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic by Kevin J. Cathcart,” CBQ 36 (1974): 397.
12 tn Or “for.” The introductory particle כִּי (ki) may be causal (“because”), explanatory (“for”), or concessive (“although”). KJV adopts the causal sense (“For”), while the concessive sense (“Although”) is adopted by NASB, NIV, NJPS, NRSV.
13 tn Heb “plunderers have plundered them.” The Hebrew root בָּקַק (baqaq, “to lay waste, to empty”) is repeated for emphasis: בְקָקוּם בֹּקְקִים (vÿqaqum boqÿqim, “plunderers have plundered them”). Similar repetition of the root בָּקַק occurs in Isa 24:3: “[The earth] will be completely laid waste” (הִבּוֹק תִּבּוֹק, hibboq tibboq).
14 tn Heb “their vine-branches.” The term “vine-branches” is a figurative expression (synecdoche of part for the whole) representing the agricultural fields as a whole.
15 tc The MT reads מְאָדָּם (mÿ’adam, “reddened”) from אָדֹם (’adom, “red”). The LXX confused the roots אָדָם (“man”) and אָדֹם (“red”): ἐξ ἀνθρώπων (ex anqrwpwn, “from among men”) which reflects מֵאָדָם (me’adam, “from man”) from אָדָם.
tn The Hebrew term מְאָדָּם (“reddened”) from אָדֹם (“red”) refers to clothes made red with dye (Exod 25:6; 26:14; 35:7, 23; 36:13; 39:34) or made red from bloodshed (Isa 63:2). The parallelism between מְאָדָּם (“reddened”) and מְתֻלָּעִים (mÿtulla’im, “clad in scarlet colored clothing”) suggests that the shields were dyed prior to battle, like the scarlet dyed uniforms. Nahum 2:1-10 unfolds the assault in chronological sequence; thus, the spattering of blood on the warrior’s shields would be too early in the account (R. D. Patterson, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah [WEC], 65).
sn As psychological warfare, warriors often wore uniforms colored blood-red, to strike fear into the hearts of their enemy (see Xenophon, Cyropaedia 6.4.1; Ezek 23:5-6).
17 tc The MT reads פְּלָדוֹת (pÿladot, “steel”; see the following tn). The LXX’s αἱ ἡνιάι (Jai Jhniai, “the reins”) and Vulgate’s habenai (“reins”) confused פְּלָדוֹת (pÿladot) with כְּלָיוֹת (kÿlayot, “reins, kidneys”). The BHS editors suggest emending the MT’s פְּלָדוֹת (peladot) to לַפִּדוֹת (lappidot, “torches”) to create the simile כְּאֵשׁ לַפִּדוֹת (kÿ’esh lappidot, “like torches of fire” or “like flaming torches”) which is reflected in the Syriac Peshitta and Symmachus (so KJV, RSV, NJPS). The problem with this is that לַפִּיד (lappid, “torch”) is masculine in gender, so the plural form is not לַפִּדוֹת but לַפִּדִים (lappidim) – which appears in Nah 2:4 (BDB 542 s.v. לַפִּיד; HALOT 533 s.v. לַפִּיד). Others propose a complete reversal of the consonants to דלפות from the root דָּלַף (dalaf, “to drip, to trickle, to leak, to weep”) and translate כְּאֵשׁ דְלָפוֹת (kÿ’esh dÿlafot) as “like flickering fire” (so NEB). Against this proposal is the fact that דָּלָף is usually used in reference to water, but it is never used in reference to fire (HALOT 223 s.v. דלף; BDB 196 s.v. דָּלַף).
tn Heb “the steel.” The Hebrew term פְּלָדוֹת is a hapax legomenon. The corresponding noun פְּלָדָה (pÿladah) probably means “metal, steel” (BDB 811 s.v. פְּלָדָה; HALOT 761 s.v. פְּלָדָה), and it is probably related to Arabic puladu, Syriac pld’, and early Persian fulad (all of which mean “steel”). This rendering is followed by NASB, NIV, NRSV. The term פְּלָדוֹת (“steel”) probably refers to the metallic pole attachments for the chariot spears, the side armor of the chariots, or the steel scythes fastened to the axle of a chariot. Xenophon described the army of Cyrus in a similar manner; the side armor of the chariots and the breastplates and thigh-pieces of the chariot-horses were “flashing with bronze” (Xenophon, Cyropaedia 6.4.1). On the other hand, Cathcart connects Hebrew פְּלָדָה to Ugaritic paladu, which means “a garment made of linen hair,” and suggests that פְּלָדוֹת הָרֶכֶב (pÿladot harekhev) refers to the coverings, blankets, or caparisons of chariot horses (K. J. Cathcart, Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic [BibOr], 88). This demands that הָרֶכֶב be nuanced “chariot horses” – a problem when it means “chariots” in Nah 2:4; 3:2.
18 tn The collective singular רֶכֶב (rekhev, “chariot”) refers to all of the chariots in the army as a whole: “chariots; chariotry” (BDB 939 s.v. 1; HALOT 891 s.v. 1). The singular form rarely refers to a single chariot (BDB 939 s.v. 2; HALOT 891 s.v. 3). The collective use is indicated by the plural verb “they race back and forth” (יִתְהוֹלְלוּ, yitholÿlu) in v. 5 (GKC 462 §145.b). The term רֶכֶב usually refers to war chariots (Exod 14:7; Josh 11:4; 17:16, 18; 24:6; Judg 1:19; 4:3, 7, 13; 5:28; 1 Sam 13:5; 2 Sam 1:6; 8:4; 10:18; 1 Kgs 9:19, 22; 10:26; Jer 47:3; 50:37; 51:21; Ezek 23:24; Nah 2:3, 4, 13).
19 tc The MT reads the preposition בְּ (bet, “are [like]”), but several Hebrew
tn Heb “The chariots are…” The preposition בְּ on בְּאֵשׁ (bÿ’esh) denotes essence: “The chariots are…” (GKC 430 §133.c; HALOT 104 s.v. בְּ 3). The use of this preposition creates a metaphor, comparing the steel fittings of the chariots to flashes of fire.
20 tn Or perhaps “The chariots are [like] flaming torches.”
21 tn Heb “on the day of its preparation.” The Hiphil infinitive construct הֲכִינוֹ (hakhino; from כּוּן, kun) means “to prepare, to make ready” (HALOT 465 s.v. כּוּן; BDB 466 s.v. כּוּן). The Hiphil verb is used of preparing weapons and military equipment for the day of battle (2 Chr 26:14; Ps 7:13 [HT 7:14]; 57:6 [HT 57:7]). The 3rd person masculine singular suffix (“its preparation”) is a collective singular, referring to the chariotry as a whole.
22 tc Some scholars adopt the variant reading הַפְּרֹשִׁים (happÿroshim, “the horses”) and relate הָרְעָלוּ (hor’alu) to Arabic raàala (“to stand in row and rank”): “the horses stand in row and rank,” that is, at attention. However, it is preferable to retain the MT for the noun, with the verb given its normal Hebrew meaning.
tn Heb “the spears quiver”; or “the spears are made to quiver.” Alternately, “the horses quiver” or “the horses shake [with excitement].” The Hophal perfect הָרְעָלוּ (hor’alu, “are made to quiver”) is from רָעַל (ra’al, “to quiver, to shake”) which appears elsewhere only in Hab 2:16 (BDB 947 s.v. רָעַל; HALOT 900 s.v. II רעל); the related noun רַעַל (“reeling”) appears only once (Zech 12:2). This Hebrew root is related to the Aramaic רְעַל (rÿ’al, “to quiver, to shake”). The action of the spear-shafts quivering is metonymical (effect for cause) to the action of the spear-shafts being brandished by the warriors. In the translation the words “the soldiers” are supplied for clarity.
23 tc The MT reads הַבְּרֹשִׁים (habbÿroshim, “the cypresses”). A variant textual tradition (preserved in several Hebrew
tn Heb “the cypresses”; alternately, “the horses.” The Hebrew noun הַבְּרֹשִׁים (“the cypresses”) is probably from the root בְּרוֹשׁ (bÿrosh, “cypress, fir”) and is a figure of speech (synecdoche of material) in which the thing made (spear-shafts) is intended by the use of the term for the material out of which it is made (cypress wood). See K. J. Cathcart, Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic (BibOr), 89.
24 tn Heb “the chariot.” The Hebrew noun הָרֶכֶב (harekhev, “the chariot”) is a collective use of the singular, as indicated by the plural verb “[they] race madly” (see GKC 462 §145.b).
25 tn The Hitpolel imperfect יִתְהוֹלְלוּ (yitholÿlu, “they rush wildly”) is from the root III הלל (“to be foolish, to be senseless, to be insane”). The Hitpolel stem describes seemingly insane actions: “to pretend to be insane; to act like a madman” (1 Sam 21:14; Jer 25:16; 50:38; 51:7; see HALOT 249 s.v. III הלל). When used in military contexts, it describes the wild, furious action of war-chariots charging forward to attack the enemy (Jer 46:9). The Hitpolel stem is the equivalent to the Hitpael stem for geminate verbs (see IBHS 425-26 §26.1.1). The Hitpolel stem expresses energetic, intense, and rapid action; it gives special energy and movement to the verbal idea (J. Muilenburg, “Hebrew Rhetoric: Repetition and Style,” VTSup 1 : 101).
26 tn The Hitpalpel imperfect יִשְׁתַּקְשְׁקוּן (yishtaqshÿqun, “they rush back and forth”; see GKC 153 §55.g) is from שָׁקַק (shaqaq, “to rush upon; to rush forth”); cf. Prov 28:15; Isa 33:4; Joel 2:9 (HALOT 1009 s.v. I שׁקק). The Hitpalpel is the Hitpael stem for geminate verbs (IBHS 425-26 §26.1.1). The Hitpalpel stem gives special energy and movement to the verbal idea; it connotes intense, furious, and energetic action (e.g., Deut 9:20; Jer 5:22; see J. Muilenburg, “Hebrew Rhetoric: Repetition and Style,” VTSup 1 : 101). The nun ending on יִשְׁתַּקְשְׁקוּן may denote additional energy and emphasis (see IBHS 516-17 §31.7.1).
27 tn Heb “Their appearance is like.”
28 tn Or “like torches.” The Hebrew term לַפִּיד (lappid) often means “torch, flame” (Gen 15:17; Judg 7:16, 20; 15:4, 5; Isa 62:1; Ezek 1:13; Zech 12:6; Dan 10:6), but sometimes refers to “lightning bolts” (Exod 20:18; Job 12:5; see HALOT 533 s.v. לַפִּיד; BDB 542 s.v. לַפִּיד). Most English versions render this usage as “torches” (KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NJPS). However, the parallelism with כַּבְּרָקִים (kabbÿraqim, “like lightning flashes”) suggests that in this context כַּלַּפִּידִם (kalappidim) may be nuanced “like lightning bolts.”
29 tn Or “they flash here and there.” The Polel imperfect יְרוֹצֵצוּ (yirotsetsu, “they dash here and there”) is from the root רוּץ (ruts) which means “to run quickly” in reference to men (Gen 18:2; 2 Kgs 23:12; Prov 4:12) and “to gallop” in reference to horsemen (Joel 2:14). The Hiphil stem denotes “to drive off with haste” (Jer 49:19; 50:44). The Polel stem, which is used here, means “to race about swiftly; to flash by speedily; to run to and fro” (HALOT 1208 s.v. רוץ; BDB 930 s.v. רוּץ).
30 tn Or simply, “like lightning.” The term “lightning flash” (בָּרָק, baraq) is often used to compare the brightness of an object to the flash of lightning: the glory of Yahweh (Ezek 1:13), the splendor of an angel (Dan 10:6), the glitter of swords (Deut 32:41; Ezek 21:15; Nah 3:3; Hab 3:11), and the gleam of arrowheads (Job 20:25). It is also used as a figure (hypocatastasis) for speed, such as the swift destruction of an enemy (Zech 9:14). Perhaps both images are suggested here: the bright glitter of the chariots ( v. 4b) and the speed of the chariots as suggested by the verb “they dash here and there” (יְרוֹצֵצוּ, yÿrotsetsu, v. 5b).
31 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the commander) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
32 tc The MT reads the Qal imperfect 3rd person masculine singular יִזְכֹּר (yizkor, “he commands”) from II זָכַּר (zakkar, “to command”); see above. The rarity of this homonymic root in Hebrew has led to textual variants and several proposed emendations. The LXX misunderstood זָכַּר and the syntax of the line: καὶ μνησθνήσονται οἱ μεγιστα¡τες (mnhsqnhsontai Joi megista>te", “And their mighty men will be remembered”; or “will remember themselves”). The LXX reflects the Niphal imperfect 3rd person common plural יִזָּכְרוּ (yizzakhru, “they will be remembered”). The BHS editors suggest emending to יִזָּכְרוּ on the basis of the LXX. The BHK editors proposed emending to pilpel imperfect 3rd person common plural יְכַרְכְרוּ (yÿkharkhÿru, “they prance, they whirl”) from II כָּרַר (karar, “to dance”). None of the emendations are necessary once the existence of the homonym II זָכַּר (“to order”) is recognized.
tn The Hebrew verb II זָכַּר is related to Akkadian zakartu (“to give an order”; see CAD 2:17). This is distinct from the more common root zakar I (“to remember”) which is related to Akkadian zakaru. The English versions are split between the two roots: “he commands” (NJPS) and “he summons” (NIV) versus “he recounts” (KJV), “he remembers” (NASB), and “he calls” (NRSV).
33 tc The MT reads the Niphal imperfect 3rd person masculine plural יִכָּשְׁלוּ (yikoshlu, “they stumble”) from the root כָּשַׁל (kashal, “stumble”). G. R. Driver argues that the MT makes little sense in the portrayal of a successful assault; the motif of stumbling warriors usually connotes defeat (Isa 5:27; Jer 46:6). Driver argues that MT’s יִכָּשְׁלוּ (“they stumble”) arose from metathesis (reversal of consonants) from an original יִשָּׁלְכוּ (yishalkhu, Niphal from שָׁלַךְ [shalakh, “to cast forth”]) which also appears in 2 Kgs 13:24-25, 28 (“hurled himself,” i.e., rushed headlong). Driver suggests that this is related to Arabic salaka VII (“to rush in”). He notes that the emendation would produce a tighter parallelism with the following noun: יְמַהֲרוּ (yÿmaharu, “they hasten”). See G. R. Driver, “Linguistic and Textual Problems: Minor Prophets II,” JTS 39 (1938): 270. On the other hand, Armerding argues that the anomalous MT reading יִכָּשְׁלוּ (“they stumble”) can be explained without recourse to textual emendation. The stumbling of the attacking army is caused, not by their weakness, but by the corpses of the Assyrians strewn in their path which obstructs their advance. Armerding suggests that this motif appears in Nah 3:3 (C. E. Armerding, “Nahum,” EBC 7:475).
tn Alternately, “they rush forward.”
34 tn Or “in their trenches”; or “in their columns”; Heb “in their advance”; or “in their march.” The noun הֲלִיכָה (halikhah, “procession, journey”) is nuanced “march; advance” in a military context (BDB 237 s.v. 1.a; HALOT 246 s.v. 1.a). Similarly, the related verb הָלַךְ (halakh) means “to march, to advance” in battle contexts (Judg 1:10; Hab 1:6). This is related to the Assyrian noun alaktu (“to advance”) which is often used of military advances (CAD 1.1.299). The related Assyrian noun aliktu means “detachment of soldiers” (CAD 1.1.346). HALOT suggests that הֲלִיכָה is related to an Assyrian noun which is a technical military term: “trenches, columns” (HALOT 246 s.v. *הֲלִיכָה). This line could be rendered, “They stumble in their trenches” or “They stumble in their columns.”
35 tc The MT reads הוֹמָתָהּ (homatah, “her wall”). On the other hand, several Hebrew
tn Heb “to her wall,” referring to Nineveh.
36 tc The MT reads the Hophal perfect 3rd person masculine singular וְהֻכַן (vÿhukhan, “and [it] is prepared”). On the other hand, the LXX reading reflects the Hiphil perfect 3rd person common plural וְהֵכִינּוּ (vÿhekhinnu, “and they will prepare”). Arguing that the active sense is necessary because the three preceding verbs are all active, K. J. Cathcart (Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic [BibOr], 95) suggests emending to the Hiphil infinitive absolute וְהָכִין (vÿhakhin, “and [they] prepare”). However, the Masoretic form should be retained because it is the more difficult reading that best explains the origin of the LXX reading. The shift from active to passive verbs is common in Hebrew, marking a cause-result sequence (e.g., Pss 24:7; 69:14 ; Jer 31:4; Hos 5:5). See M. Weinfeld, “The Active-Passive (Factitive-Resultive) Sequence of Identical Verbs in Biblical Hebrew and Ugaritic,” JBL 84 (1965): 272-82.
tn Heb “the mantelet is prepared.”
37 tn Heb “mantelet.” The Hebrew noun סֹכֵךְ (sokhekh, “mantelet”) is a military technical term referring to a large movable shelter used as a protective cover for soldiers besieging a fortified city, designed to shield them from the arrows shot down from the city wall (HALOT 754 s.v.; BDB 697 s.v.). This noun is a hapax legomenon (a word that only occurs once in the Hebrew Bible) and is derived from the verb III סָכַךְ (sakhakh, “to cover; to protect”; TWOT 2:623-24). K. J. Cathcart (Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic [BibOr], 95) suggests that the translation “mantelet” is supported by the use of the verb III סָכַךְ in Ps 140:7 : “Yahweh, my Lord, my fortress of safety; shelter (סַכֹּתָּה, sakotah) my head in the day of arms.” This is reflected in several recent English versions: “wheeled shelters” (NJPS), “protective shield” (NIV), “covering used in a siege” (NASB margin), and “mantelet” (ASV, NAB, NASB, NRSV). Cf. also TEV “the shield for the battering ram.”
sn The Hebrew term translated covered siege tower probably does not refer to a battering ram, but to a movable protective tower, used to cover the soldiers and the siege machinery. These are frequently depicted in Neo-Assyrian bas-reliefs, such as the relief of Sennacherib’s siege of Lachish. The Neo-Assyrians used both small, hut-like shelters that could be carried by a few men, as well as larger, tower-like structures rolled on wheels to the top of siege embankments. These mantelets protected the attackers while they built the embankments and undermined the foundations of the city walls to hasten their collapse. Siege towers were equipped with machines designed to hurl stones to smash the fortifications and firebrands to start conflagrations (see A. H. Layard, Nineveh and Its Remains, 2:281-86).
38 tn Or “river dam gates”; NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT “river gates.”
sn Nineveh employed a system of dams and sluice gates to control the waters of the Tebiltu and Khoser Rivers which flowed through the city (R. C. Thompson and R. W. Hutchinson, A Century of Exploration at Nineveh, 120-132). However, the Tebiltu often flooded its banks inside the city, undermining palace foundations and weakening other structures. To reduce this flooding, Sennacherib changed the course of the Tebiltu inside the city. Outside the city, he dammed up the Khoser and created a reservoir, regulating the flow of water into the city through an elaborate system of double sluice gates (D. D. Luckenbill, Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylon, 99-100; J. Reade, “Studies in Assyrian Geography, Part I: Sennacherib and the Waters of Nineveh,” RA 72 : 47-72; idem, “Studies in Assyrian Geography, Part II: The Northern Canal System,” RA 72 : 157-80). According to classical tradition (Diodorus and Xenophon), just before Nineveh fell, a succession of very high rainfalls deluged the area. The Khoser River swelled and the reservoir was breached. The waters rushed through the overloaded canal system, breaking a hole twenty stades (about 2.3 miles or 3.7 km) wide in the city wall and flooding the city. When the waters receded, the Babylonians stormed into Nineveh and conquered the city (Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica, 2.26-27, especially 27.1-3; Xenophon, Anabasis, 3.4.12; P. Haupt, “Xenophon’s Account of the Fall of Nineveh,” JAOS 28 : 65-83). This scenario seems to be corroborated by the archaeological evidence (A. T. Olmstead, History of Assyria, 637).
39 tn Heb “and the palace melts.” The Niphal perfect נָמוֹג (namog, “is undulated”) from מוּג (mug, “to melt, to soften, to dissolve”) is sometimes used of material objects (earth, hills) being softened or eroded by water (Ps 65:11; Amos 9:13). Nahum pictures the river banks inside Nineveh overflowing in a torrent, crashing into the royal palace and eroding its limestone slab foundations.
sn Ironically, a few decades earlier, Sennacherib engaged in a program of flood control because the Tebiltu River often flooded its banks inside Nineveh and undermined the palace foundations. Sennacherib also had to strengthen the foundations of his palace with “mighty slabs of limestone” so that “its foundation would not be weakened by the flood of high water” (D. D. Luckenbill, Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylon, 99-100). At the time of the fall of Nineveh, the Palace of Ashurbanipal was located on the edge of the sharpest bend of the Khoser River as it flowed through the city; when the Khoser overflowed its banks, the palace foundation was weakened (J. Reade, “Studies in Assyrian Geography, Part I: Sennacherib and the Waters of Nineveh,” RA 72 : 51).
40 tn Or “the palace collapses and crumbles.” The Hophal perfect 3rd person masculine singular וְהֻצַּב (vÿhutsav) is from either I נָצַב (“to stand”; HALOT 715 s.v. I נצב; BDB 662 s.v. נָצַב) or II נָצַב (“to dissolve, weaken”; HALOT 715 s.v. II נצב). Many scholars who take וְהֻצַּב from I נָצָב (“to stand”) suggest that the meaning is “it is fixed; it is determined” (BDB 662 s.v. נָצַב). This is followed by several English versions: “it is decreed” (NIV, NRSV) and “it is fixed” (NASB). This is a rather awkward idea and does not seem to fit the context of the description of the destruction of the palace or the exile of the Ninevites. On the other hand, several scholars suggest that וְהֻצַּב is derived from נָצָב II (“to be weak”; cf. Ps 39:6; Zech 11:16;) which is related to Arabic nasiba (“to be weak”) or Arabic nasaba (“to suck out, to dissolve”) and Assyrian nasabu (“to suck out”); see W. H. F. Saggs, “Nahum and the Fall of Nineveh,” JTS 20 (1969): 220-21; R. D. Patterson, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (WEC), 69-70. As a parallel word to נָמוֹג (namog, “is deluged” or “melts”), וְהֻצַּב (“is weakened” or “is dissolved”) describes the destructive effect of the flood waters on the limestone foundations of the palace. The verse divisions in the MT place וְהֻצַּב at the beginning of v. 7 ET [v. 8 HT]; however, it probably should be placed at the end of v. 6 ET [v. 7 HT] and connected with the last two words of the line: וְהַהֵיכָל נָמוֹג וְהֻצַּב (vÿhahekhal namog vÿhutsav, “the palace is deluged and dissolved”; see Patterson, 69-70). This is supported by several factors: (1) the gender of וְהֻצַּב is masculine, while the verbs in v. 7 are feminine: גֻּלְּתָה הֹעֲלָתָה (gullÿtah ho’alatah, “she is led into exile and taken away”); (2) the gender of the final verb in v. 6 is masculine: נָמוֹג (“[the palace] is deluged”); (3) both וְהֻצַּב and נָמוֹג are passive verbs (Niphal and Hophal); (4) both נָמוֹג (“is deluged”) and וְהֻצַּב (“is dissolved/weakened”) are parallel in meaning, describing the effects of flood waters on the limestone foundation of the royal palace; (5) this redivision of the lines produces a balanced 3+3 and 2+2 colon count in these two lines; and (6) this produces a balance of two verbs each in each colon. The meaning of וְהֻצַּב is notoriously difficult. Scholars offer over a dozen different proposals but only the most important are summarized here: (1) Most scholars take וְהֻצַּב as Hophal perfect 3rd person masculine singular with vav (ו) conjunction from I נָצַב (“to stand”), meaning “it is fixed; it is determined” (BDB 662 s.v. נָצַב). This is followed by several English versions: “it is decreed” (NIV, NRSV) and “it is fixed” (NASB). The LXX translation καὶ ἡ ὑπόστασις (kai Jh Jupostasi", “and the foundation”) reflects a reading of וְהֻצַּב with a meaning similar to its use in Gen 28:12 (“a stairway resting on the earth”) or a reading of וְהַמַּצָּב (vÿhammatsav) from the noun מַצָּב (matsav, “place of standing”; cf. BDB 662 s.v. מַצָּב; HALOT 620 s.v. מַצָּב). (2) The BHS editors suggest emending to Hophal perfect 3rd person feminine singular וְהֻצְאָה (vÿhuts’ah) from יָצָא (yatsa’, “to go out”), meaning “she is led out into exile” or “she is led out to be executed” (HALOT 427 s.v. יצא; see, e.g., Gen 38:25; Jer 38:22; Ezek 14:22; 38:8; 44:5; Amos 4:3). (3) Early Jewish interpreters (Targum Jonathan, Kimchi, Rashi) and modern Christian interpreters (e.g., W. A. Maier, Nahum, 259-62) view וְהֻצַּב as the proper name of an Assyrian queen, “Huzzab.” This is adopted by several English versions: “And Huzzab is exiled” (KJV, RV, NJPS). However, this view has been severely criticized by several scholars because no queen in Assyrian history is known by this name (G. R. Driver, “Farewell to Queen Huzzab!” JTS 16 : 296-98; W. H. F. Saggs, “Nahum and the Fall of Nineveh,” JTS 20 : 220). (4) Several scholars suggest that וְהֻצַּב is the Hophal perfect of II נָצַב which is related to Assyrian nasabu (“to suck out”) and Arabic nasaba (“to suck out; to dissolve”), as in Ps 39:6 and Zech 11:16. Taking גֻּלְּתָה (gullÿtah) as the noun “column-base” (see translator’s note on the word “exile” in this verse), Saggs translates the line as: “its column-base is dissolved” (W. H. F. Saggs, “Nahum and the Fall of Nineveh,” JTS 20 : 220-21). Patterson connects it to the last two words of the previous line: וְהַהֵיכָל נָמוֹג וְהֻצַּב, “The palace collapses and crumbles” (Patterson, 69-70). (5) Driver revocalizes it as the noun וְהַצֹּב (“and the [captive] train”) which he relates to the Arabic noun sub (“train”): “the train of captives goes into exile” (so NEB). This is reflected in the Greek text of the Minor Prophets from Nahal Heber which took וְהֻצַּב as “wagon, chariot.” (6) Cathcart suggests that the MT’s וְהֻצַּב may be repointed as וְהַצַּב which is related to Assyrian hassabu (“goddess”). (7) Several scholars emend to וְהַצְּבִי (vÿhatsÿvi, “the Beauty”) from צְבִי (tsÿvi, “beauty”) and take this as a reference to the statue of Ishtar in Nineveh (K. J. Cathcart, Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic [BibOr], 96-98; M. Delcor, “Allusions à la déesse Istar en Nahum 2,8?” Bib 58 : 73-83; T. Longman, “Nahum,” The Minor Prophets, 2:806). (8) R. L. Smith (Micah-Malachi [WBC], 82) derives consonantal והצב from נְצִיב (nitsiv, “pillar”; HALOT 716-17 s.v. נְצִיב) which is related to Assyrian nisibi which refers to the statue of a goddess.
41 tn The term “Nineveh” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied from context.
42 tn The MT reads the Pual perfect 3rd person feminine singular גֻּלְּתָה (gullÿtah) from גָלָה (galah, “to uncover, to go into exile”; BDB 162-63 s.v. גָלָה; HALOT 191-92 s.v. גלה). There are two basic views of the meaning of גֻּלְּתָה in this verse: (1) “She is stripped” (see R. L. Smith, Micah-Malachi [WBC], 81). This may describe the exposure of the foundation of a building (Ezek 13:14) or the uncovering of intimate parts of the body (Exod 20:26; Isa 47:3; Ezek 16:36, 57; 23:29;). This is reflected in the LXX reading ἀπεκαλύφθη (apekalufqh, “she has been exposed”). This approach is followed by NASB (“she is stripped”). (2) “She is taken into exile” (KJV, NIV, NRSV, NJPS). The Qal stem of גָלָה often means “to go into exile” (Judg 18:30; 2 Kgs 24:14; Isa 5:13; 49:21; Jer 1:3; Ezek 39:23; Amos 1:5; 5:5; 6:7; Lam 1:3); the Hiphil often means “to deport exiles” (2 Kgs 15:20; 16:9; 17:6, 11, 26, 28, 33; 18:11; 24:14-15; 25:11; Jer 20:4; 22:12; 24:1; 27:20; 29:1, 4, 7, 14; 39:9; 43:3; 52:15, 28, 30; Ezek 39:28; Amos 1:6; 5:27; Lam 4:22; Esth 2:6; Ezra 2:1; Neh 7:6; 1 Chr 5:6, 26, 41; 8:6; 2 Chr 36:20); and the Hophal stem always means “to be deported; to be taken into exile” (Jer 40:1, 7; Esth 2:6; 1 Chr 9:1). This makes the best sense in the light of the parallel verb הֹעֲלָתָה (ho’alatah, “she is led away”) in v. 7 [8 HT] and the description of the fleeing Ninevites in v. 8 [9 HT]. The BHS editors and HALOT suggest that consonantal גלתה be vocalized as Qal perfect 3rd person feminine singular גָּלְתָה (goltah, “she goes into exile”) from גָלָה (Qal: “go into exile”). R. D. Patterson suggests vocalizing consonantal גלתה as the noun with 3rd person feminine singular suffix גָּלְתָהּ for גּוֹלְתָהּ (goltah, “her exiles/captives”) and taking the singular form as collective in meaning: “her exiles/captives are carried away” (Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah [WEC], 70). W. H. F. Saggs suggests that גֻלְּתָה is the noun גֻּלָּה (gullah, “column-base”) as in 1 Kgs 7:41-42; 2 Chr 4:12-13 (BDB 165 s.v. גֻּלָּה 2.b; HALOT 192 s.v. גֻּלָּה 1.b) which is related to Assyrian gullatu (“column-base”; CAD 5:128). He renders the phrase וְהֻצַּב גֻּלְּתָה (vÿhutsav gullÿtah) as “its column-base[s] is/are dissolved” (see above). He suggests that this provides an excellent parallel to “the palace begins to melt” (וְהַהֵיכָל נָמוֹג, vÿhahekhal namog). W. H. F. Saggs also proposes that the LXX reflects this picture (“Nahum and the Fall of Nineveh,” JTS 20 : 220-25).
43 tn Or “And its column-bases collapse and it goes up [in smoke].” The MT reads the Hophal perfect 3rd person feminine singular הֹעֲלָתָה (ho’alatah, “she is carried away”) from עָלָה (’alah, “to go up”). The Hiphil stem of עָלָה often describes a military commander leading a group of forced workers out of a town (1 Kgs 5:13 [HT 5:27]; 9:15, 21; 2 Chr 8:8); likewise, the Hophal stem may denote “to be led away into exile” (HALOT 830 s.v.; BDB 748 s.v. עָלָה).
44 tc The MT reads the Piel participle מְנַהֲגוֹת (mÿnahagot, “sobbing, moaning”) from II נָהַג (“to moan, to lament”; HALOT 675 s.v.; BDB 624 s.v. II נָהַג). This root is related to Assyrian nagagu (“to cry”; AHw 2:709.b). This harmonizes well with the following cola: “Her maidservants moan like doves, they beat upon their breasts.” This is adopted by several English versions (NASB, NIV, NRSV). On the other hand, an alternate vocalization tradition (represented by several Hebrew
tn Or “her maidservants are led away [into exile].”
45 tn Heb “like the sound of doves.”
46 tn The Poel participle מְתֹפְפֹת (mÿtofÿfot, “beating continuously”) is from תָפַף (“to beat”; HALOT 1037-38 s.v. תֹּף; BDB 1074 s.v. תָּפַף). Elsewhere it is used of beating timbrels (Ps 68:26; 1 Sam 21:14). The participle describes a circumstance accompanying the main action (“her maidservants moan”) and functions in a continual, repetitive manner (see IBHS 625-26 §37.6; R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 43, §221).
47 tc The MT reads מְתֹפְפֹת עַל־לִבְבֵהֶן (mÿtofÿfot ’al-livvehen, “beating upon their hearts [= breasts]”). The LXX reading φθεγγόμεναι ἐν καρδίαις αὐτῶν (fqengomenai en kardiai" autwn, “moaning in their hearts”) reflects either an alternate textual tradition or simple textual confusion. The Greek participle φθεγγόμεναι seems to reflect either: (1) the Qal participle הֹגוֹת (hogot) from הָגָה (hagah, “to moan”) as reflected in Targum Jonathan and Vulgate or (2) the Poel participle מְנֹהֲגוֹת (mÿnohagot, “moaning”) from II נָהַג (“to moan”) which appears in the previous line, pointing to a transposition of words between the two lines.
tn Heb “upon their heart.” The term “their heart” (לִבְבֵהֶן, livvehen) is a figure of speech (synecdoche of the inner organ for the outer body part) representing their breasts/chests (e.g., Dan 4:16 ; see HALOT 516 s.v. לֵבָב; BDB 523 s.v. לֵבָב II.1). The singular noun is used collectively for all the maidservants as a whole, as the plural suffix indicates (see IBHS 113 §7.2.1; R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 7, §2).
48 tn The term “pool” (בְּרֵכָה, bÿrekhah) usually refers to a man-made artificial water reservoir fed by water aqueducts rather than to a natural pond (HALOT 161 s.v.). For example, it is used in reference to man-made water reservoirs for the royal gardens (Eccl 2:6; Neh 2:14); man-made water reservoirs in Jerusalem, some of which were fed by aqueducts (2 Kgs 18:17; 20:20; Isa 7:3; 22:9, 11; 36:2; Neh 3:15, 16); the pool of Gibeon (2 Sam 2:13); the pool of Hebron (2 Sam 4:12); the pool of Samaria (1 Kgs 22:38); and the pools of Heshbon (Song 7:5). The pool of Siloam, built by Hezekiah and fed by the underground aqueduct known as Hezekiah’s Tunnel, is designated by the term בְּרֵכָה in 2 Kgs 20:20 and the Siloam Inscription (line 5).
sn Nineveh was like a pool of water. This is an appropriate simile because Nineveh was famous for its artificial pools, many of which serviced the royal gardens. Two rivers also flowed through the city: the Tebiltu and the Khoser.
49 tn Or “Nineveh [is] like a pool of water.” Either a present tense or a past tense verb may be supplied.
50 tc The MT reads מִימֵי הִיא (mime hi’, “from her days”). The form מִימֵי is composed of the assimilated preposition מִן (min, “from”) prefixed to the plural construct of יוֹם (yom, “day”; see HALOT 399 s.v. יוֹם). The preposition מִן is used temporally, marking the beginning of a continuous period (“since, from”; see HALOT 597 s.v. מִן 2; BDB 581 s.v. מִן 4.a). Several scholars suggest that the third-person independent pronoun הִיא (hi’) functions as a possessive genitive (“her”), a usage attested in Ugaritic, Akkadian, and elsewhere in Hebrew (2 Kgs 9:18; Isa 18:2; Nah 2:12). See K. J. Cathcart, Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic (BibOr), 100-101; IBHS 291 §16.2 n. 9; T. Longman, “Nahum,” The Minor Prophets, 2:807. The plural of יוֹם (“day”) here denotes “lifetime” (HALOT 400 s.v. יוֹם 6.c). The phrase מִימֵי הִיא probably means “from the beginning of her days” or “throughout her days” or “during her lifetime.” This is similar to “from the beginning of your days” or “since your days began” or “as long as you live” (1 Sam 25:28; Job 38:12; see HALOT 400 s.v. יוֹם 6.c; 597 s.v. מִן 2.a; BDB 581 s.v. מִן 4.a). Several English versions adopt this: “throughout her days” (NASB), “from earliest times” (NJPS), and “[Nineveh] of old” (KJV). In contrast to the Masoretic vocalization, the consonantal text מִימֵי הִיא is rendered “her waters” by the LXX and critical scholars. The reading of the LXX (τὰ ὕδατα αὐτῆς, ta Judata auth", “her waters”) reflects the alternate vocalization מֵימֶיהָ (memeha, “her waters”). The BHS editors suggest emending the MT to מֵימֶיהָ (“her waters”). Saggs suggests that the original form was מֵימֶיהָא (memeha’, “her waters”) which he explains thus: מִימֶי is the plural construct of מָיִם (mayim, “waters”); הָא is the 3rd person feminine singular suffix on the plural noun, as in Ezek 41:15 (GKC 107 §32.l); the yod (י) of Masoretic הִיא (hi’) is a secondary matres lectionis inserted into wrongly-divided and misunderstood ־הָא (W. H. F. Saggs, “Nahum and the Fall of Nineveh,” JTS 20 : 220-25). These alternative approaches are followed by several English versions: “its water is draining away” (NIV); “whose waters run away” (NRSV); and “its waters are fleeing” (NJB).
tn Heb “from days of her” or “from her days.”
51 tn The translation takes the vav on וְהֵמָּה (vÿhemmah) in a temporal sense. This approach is also adopted by NJPS: “Now they flee.”
52 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the people of Nineveh) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
53 tn Or “fleeing away”; or (maintaining the imagery of the pool of water) “draining away.”
54 tn The introductory phrase “she cries out” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.
55 tn Or “can turn [them] back.” The Hebrew verb ָָפּנַה (panah, “to turn”) often describes the fearful flight from an attacking enemy army (Josh 7:12; Judg 20:42, 45, 47; Jer 46:5, 21; 47:3; 48:39; 49:8, 24). Nahum pictures the people of Nineveh fleeing from their attackers; nothing can be done to stop their fearful flight. The Hiphil participle מַפְנֶה (mafneh) may be taken in an intransitive (Jer 46:5, 21; 47:3; 49:24) or transitive sense (Judg 15:4; 1 Sam 10:9; Jer 48:39), i.e., “no one turns back” or “no one can turn [them] back,” respectively (see IBHS 436-43 §27.2).
56 tn The phrase “Her conquerors cry out” has been supplied from context.
57 tn Heb “Emptiness and devastation and being laid waste.” Several English versions attempt to reproduce the assonance, alliteration, and paronomasia of three similarly sounding Hebrew words: בּוּקַָה וּמְבוּקָה וּמְבֻלָּקָה (buqah umÿvuqah umÿvullaqah; NJPS “Desolation, devastation, and destruction!”; NRSV: “Devastation, desolation, and destruction!”).
sn Destruction, devastation, and desolation. The feminine form of each of these terms is used, referring to Nineveh (e.g., NASB: “She is emptied! Yes, she is desolate and laid waste!”). Conquered cities are often personified as a desolated woman (e.g., Isa 47:1; 54:1).
58 tn Heb “and melting heart.”
59 tn Heb “and tottering of knees.”
60 tn Heb “and shaking in all of the loins.”
61 tn Heb “all of their faces.”
62 tn Heb “gather” or “withdraw.” The Piel perfect קִבְּצוּ (qibbÿtsu) from קָבַץ (qavats, “to gather”) may be nuanced in the intensive sense “to gather glow; to glow [in excitement]” (HALOT 1063 s.v. קבץ pi. 4) or the privative sense “to take away, withdraw” (BDB 868 s.v. קָבַץ Pi.3). The phrase קִבְּצוּ פָארוּר (qibbÿtsu pa’rur) is very difficult; it occurs only here and in Joel 2:6 which also describes the fearful facial reaction to an invading army. It probably means: (1) to grow red in fear; (2) to grow pale in fear; or (3) to turn ashen in fear. This difficult phrase may be translated by the modern English idioms: “every face grows pale” or “every face flushes red in fear.”
63 tn The Hebrew term פָּארוּר (pa’rur) occurs only here and in Joel 2:6 where it also describes a fearful facial reaction. The meaning of פָּארוּר is debated and numerous etymologies have been suggested: (1) From פָּרוּר (parur, “cooking pot”; HALOT 964 s.v. פָּרוּר): LXX τὸ πρόσωπον πάντων ὡς πρόσκαυμα ξύτρας (to proswpon pantwn Jw" proskauma xutra", “all their faces are like a blackened/burned pot”); Vulgate et facies omnium sicut nigredo ollae (“all their faces are like a black pot”); Targum Jonathan (“covered with black like a pot”). This approach is adopted by the KJV and AV: “the faces of them all gather blackness.” (2) From פְּאֵר (pÿ’er, “beauty”). Taking קָבַץ (qavats) in a private sense (“gather in”), several scholars propose: “to draw in beauty, withdraw color,” hence: “their faces grow pale” (NASB, NIV); see K&D 26:192-93; A. Haldar, Studies in the Book of Nahum, 59. (3) From פָּרַר (parar, “break in pieces”). Due to fear, their faces have gathered wrinkles. (4) From IV פּרר (“to boil”), related to Arabic ’pr and Syriac npr (“to boil”): “their faces glow red in excitement” (HALOT 860 s.v.). (5) From פּאר (“grey, ash grey”): “their faces turn grey” (J. J. Gluck, “parur – paárur: A Case of Biblical Paronomasia,” OTWSA 12 : 21-26). The NJPS translation appears to adopt this approach: “all faces turn ashen.”
64 tn Or “What has become of the den of the lions?”
65 tc The Masoretic form וּמִרְעֶה (umir’eh, “the feeding ground”) is supported by the Dead Sea Scrolls: ומרעה (4QpNah). It is also reflected in the LXX reading ἡ νομή (Je nomh, “the pasture”). The BHS editors suggest emending to וּמְעָרָה (umÿ’arah, “the cave”), which involves the metathesis of ר (resh) and ע (ayin). This proposed emendation is designed to create a tighter parallelism with מְעוֹן (mÿ’on, “the den”) in the preceding line. However, this emendation has no textual support and conflicts with the grammar of the rest of the line: the feminine noun וּמְעָרָה (umÿ’arah, “the cave”) would demand a feminine independent pronoun instead of the masculine independent pronoun הוּא which follows. Nevertheless, several English versions adopt the emendation (NJB, NEB, RSV, NRSV), while others follow the reading of the MT (KJV, NASB, NIV, NJPS).
66 tn Alternately, “the lion…[once] prowled there.” The construction שָׁם…אֲשֶׁר (’asher...sham) denotes “where…there” (BDB 81 s.v. אֲשֶׁר). This locative construction is approximately reflected in the LXX interrogative ποῦ (pou, “where?”).
67 tn The meaning of the term לָבִיא (lavi’) is debated. There are three basic approaches: (1) The MT reads לָבִיא, which is supported by the Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpNah) which preserves the consonantal form לביא (see DJD 5:38). Most English versions render לָבִיא as “lioness,” the parallel term for אַרְיֵה (’aryeh, “lion”); so RSV, NASB, NIV, NJPS; in contrast, KJV has “old lion.” Indeed, the noun לָבִיא (“lioness” or “lion”; BDB 522 s.v. לָבִיא) occurs frequently in poetic texts (Gen 49:9; Num 23:24; 24:9; Deut 33:20; Isa 5:29; 30:6; Joel 1:6; Job 4:11; 38:39). The problem is the absence of a vav (ו) conjunction between the two nouns and the presence of a singular rather than plural verb: הָלַךְ אַרְיֵה לָבִיא (halakh ’aryeh lavi’, “lion [and] lioness prowled”). Furthermore, the term for “lioness” in the following verse is not לָבִיא but לִבְאָה (liv’ah; see HALOT 515 s.v. *לִבְאָה; BDB 522 s.v. לָבִיא). (2) Due to the grammatical, syntactical, and lexical difficulties of the previous approach, several scholars propose that the MT’s לָבִיא is a Hiphil infinitive construct form shortened from לְהָבִיא (lÿhavi’, “to bring”); cf. Jer 27:7; 39:7; 2 Chr 31:10; HALOT 114 s.v. בוא. Because the Hiphil of בּוֹא (bo’) can depict an animal bringing food to its dependents (cf. 1 Kgs 17:6), they treat the line thus: “where the lion prowled to bring [food]” (Ehrlich, Haldar, Maier). The Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpNah) reading לביא does not solve the problem because the pesher to this line uses לבוא (“to enter”), and it is not clear whether this is a literal translation or creative word-play: “Its pesher concerns Demetrius, king of Greece, who sought to enter (לבוא) Jerusalem” (col. 1, line 4). (3) The LXX translation τοῦ εἰσελθεῖν (tou eiselqein, “would enter”) seems to have confused the consonantal form לביא with לבוא which it viewed as Qal infinitive construct לָבוֹא from בּוֹא (“to enter”). This approach is followed by at least one modern translation: “where the lion goes” (NRSV).
69 tn Or “and no one frightened [them].” Alternately, reflecting a different division of the lines, “Where the lion [and] lioness [once] prowled // the lion-cub – and no one disturbed [them].”
70 tn Heb “as much as he needs.” The term בְּדי (bÿdi, “as much as he needs”; HALOT 219 s.v. 2a) is composed of the preposition בְּ (bet) and the noun דַּי (day, “enough, what is required”). This idiom means” to satisfy the hunger of [something]” (cf. Jer 51:58; Hab 2:13).
71 tn The words “to provide food” are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied in the translation for clarity.
72 tn The Piel verb וַיְמַלֵּא (vayÿmalle’) is a preterite with vav (ו) consecutive which depicts a sequence of events.
74 tn Traditionally, “the
75 tc The MT reads the 3rd person feminine singular suffix on a singular noun: רִכְבָּהּ (rikhbah, “her chariot”). However, the BHS editors suggest emending to the 2nd person feminine singular suffix on a plural noun: רִכְבֵּךְ (rikhbekh, “your chariots”) due to the use of 2nd person feminine singular suffixes throughout this verse and the anomaly of the singular noun. On the other hand, the Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpNah) read רובכה (“your abundance”) which is the plene spelling of רֹבְכָה (rovÿkhah). This reflects the transposition (metathesis) of כ (kaf) and ב (bet) in the consonantal forms רכבה and רבכה. The textual tradition attested at Qumran is reflected in the LXX’s πλῆθος σου (plhqo" sou, “your abundance”) which reflects a reading of רֹבְכָה (“your abundance”) as well. It should be noted that the plene form of the 2nd person feminine singular suffix appears elsewhere in the MT of this verse: מַלְאָכֵכֵה (mal’akhekheh, “your messenger”). Although there is good evidence for the alternate traditions, the MT reading may be retained for three reasons: (1) The burning of enemy chariots was a common threat in ancient Near Eastern warfare (see D. R. Hillers, Treaty-Curses and the Old Testament Prophets, 60; K. J. Cathcart, “Treaty-Curses and the Book of Nahum,” CBQ 35 : 182). (2) The singular רֶכֶב (rekhev, “chariot”) is often used collectively to refer to all the chariots of a nation (Exod 14:7; Josh 11:4; 24:6; Judg 4:7, 13; 5:28). (3) The abrupt shift from the 2nd person feminine singular suffix on אֵלַיִךְ (’elayikh, “I am against you!”) to the 3rd person feminine singular suffix on רִכְבָּהּ (“her chariot”) is an example of a common poetic/stylistic device: heterosis of second to third person (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 525 [4.5]). The 2nd person feminine singular suffix in the translation above is used simply for smooth literary style. This is a good example of how sensitivity to figures of speech, ancient Near Eastern backgrounds, and syntax can prevent unnecessary textual emendations.
76 tn Heb “with smoke.” The term “smoke” (עָשָׁן, ’ashan) is a figure of speech (metonymy of effect for the cause) representing the fire which produces the smoke (Josh 8:19-20; Isa 65:5; cf. Rev 14:11). In the translation this has been replaced with “fire” since most English readers would find the expression “to burn [something] with smoke” unfamiliar.
77 tc The MT reads וּכְפִירַיִךְ (ukhÿfirayikh, “and your young lions”), as reflected by the LXX. The BHS editors emend to וּגִיבֹּרַיִךְ (ugibborayikh, “and your warriors”); this lacks textual support and is unnecessary.
sn The Assyrian warriors are pictured as young lions in Nah 2:11-13. The Assyrians often pictured themselves with lion imagery (see D. Marcus, “Animal Similes in Assyrian Royal Inscriptions,” Or 46 : 87).
78 tn Heb “I will cut off your prey from the land.”
79 tc The MT reading מַלְאָכֵכֵה (mal’akhekheh, “your messengers”) has a very unusual ending: the plural ending of the noun is spelled defectively (short spelling), while the 2nd person feminine singular pronominal suffix is spelled plene (long spelling); see GKC 258 §91.l. It is possible that the final ה (hey) is due to dittography with the first letter of the first word of the next verse, הוֹי (hoy, “Woe!”). On the other hand, the LXX reads τὰ ἔργα σου (ta erga sou, “your deeds”) which reflects מַלְאֲכַיִךְ (mal’akhayikh, “your deeds”) – a confusion of מַלְאָךְ (mal’akh, “messenger”) for מְלָאכָה (mÿla’khah, “deed”) due to the unusual Hebrew ending here.
80 tn Heb “of bloods.” The plural noun דָּמִים (damim, “bloods”) connotes “bloodshed” or “blood guilt” (BDB 196-97 s.v. דָּם 2.f; HALOT 224-25 s.v. דָּם 5; DCH 2:443-47 s.v. דָּם). Human blood in its natural state in the body is generally designated by the singular form דָּם (dam, “blood”); after it has been spilled, the plural form is used to denote the abundance of blood in quantity (IBHS 119-20 §7.4.1; BDB 196-97 s.v. דָּם 2.f). The plural is often used with the verb שָׁפַךְ (shafakh, “to spill, to shed”) to connote bloodshed (Gen 9:6; 37:22; Lev 17:4; Num 35:33; Deut 21:7; 1 Sam 25:31; 1 Kgs 18:28; 2 Kgs 21:16; 24:4; 1 Chr 22:8; Ezek 16:38; 22:4, 6, 9, 12, 27; 23:45; 33:25; 36:18; Prov 1:16). The plural often denotes bloodshed (Gen 4:10; 2 Sam 3:27, 28; 16:8; 20:12; 1 Kgs 2:5; 2 Kgs 9:7, 26, 33; 2 Chr 24:25; Job 16:18; Isa 1:15; 4:4; 9:4; 26:21; 33:15; 34:3, 6, 7; Ezek 7:23; 16:6, 9, 36; 21:37; 22:13; 24:8; Hos 1:4; 4:2; Hab 2:8, 12, 17; Mic 3:10; Zech 9:7) or blood-guilt (Exod 22:1; Lev 20:9; Num 35:27; Deut 19:10; 22:8; Judg 9:24; 1 Sam 25:26, 33; 2 Sam 21:1; Isa 33:15; Ezek 9:9). The term can refer to murder (2 Sam 16:7, 8; Pss 5:7; 26:9; 55:24; 59:3; 139:10; Prov 29:10) or more generally, connote social injustice, cruelty, and oppression (Deut 21:8, 9; 1 Sam 19:5; 2 Kgs 21:6; 24:4; Pss 94:21; 106:38; Prov 6:17; Isa 59:7; Jer 7:6; 22:3; Joel 4:19; Jonah 1:14). The term may refer to blood that has been shed in war (1 Kgs 2:5) and the unnecessary shedding of blood of one’s enemy (1 Kgs 2:31), which is probably the intended meaning here. The phrase “city of bloodshed” (עִיר דָּמִים [’ir damim], “city of bloods”) is used elsewhere to describe a city held guilty before God of blood-guilt and about to be judged by God (Ezek 22:2; 24:6).
81 tn Heb “All of her [is] lying.”
82 tn Heb “full of plunder.”
83 tn Heb “prey does not depart.”
84 tn Heb “the sound of a whip.”
85 tn Heb “the shaking of a chariot wheel.”
86 tn Heb “a horse.”
87 tn Albright argues that the term דֹּהֵר (doher) should be translated as “chariot driver” (W. F. Albright, “The Song of Deborah in Light of Archaeology,” BASOR 62 : 30). More recent research indicates that this term denotes “to dash” (HALOT 215 s.v.) or “to gallop, neigh” (DCH 2:417 s.v. דהר I). It is used as a synonym for רָקַד (raqad, “to skip”). This Hebrew verb is related to Egyptian thr (“to travel by chariot”) and Arabic dahara VII (“to hurry”). The related noun דַּהֲרָה (daharah) means “dashing, galloping” (Judg 5:22; HALOT 215 s.v.; DCH 2:417 s.v. דַּהֲרָה I).
88 tn Heb “a chariot.”
89 tn The Piel participle מְרַקֵּדָה (mÿraqqedah, “jolting”) is from רַקַד (raqad); this verb means “to dance, to leap” (of children, Job 21:11), “to skip about, to dance” (Eccl 3:4), and “to leap” (of chariots, Joel 2:5). In related Semitic languages (Akkadian, Ugaritic, and Arabic) the root raqad means “to dance, to skip about.” Here, the verb is used as a figurative expression (hypocatastasis) to describe the jostling of the madly rushing war-chariots.
90 tn Heb “a horseman.” Although the Hebrew term פָּרָס (paras, alternately spelled פָּרָשׂ [paras] here) could denote “horse” (1 Sam 8:11; Joel 2:4; Hab 1:8; Jer 46:4), the Hiphil participle מַעֲלֶה (ma’aleh, “cause to charge”) – the subject of which is פָּרָס – suggests that פָּרָס refers here to “horsemen” charging their horses (2 Sam 1:6; 1 Kgs 20:20; Jer 4:29; 46:4).
91 tn The term מַעֲלֶה (ma’aleh; the Hiphil participle “cause to charge”) refers to charioteers bringing war-horses up to a charge or attack (e.g., Jer 46:9; 51:27). On the other hand, the KJV translates this as “lifteth up [both the bright sword and the glittering sword],” while RV renders it as “mounts [his horse (or chariot)].”
92 tn Heb “a sword.”
93 tn Heb “flash of a sword.” Alternately, “swords flash.” Although לַהַב (lahav) can mean “blade” (Judg 3:22; 1 Sam 17:7), it means “flash [of the sword]” here (e.g., Hab 3:11; see HALOT 520 s.v.) as suggested by its parallelism with וּבְרַק (uvÿraq, “flashing, gleaming point [of the spear]”); cf. Job 20:25; Deut 32:41; Hab 3:11; Ezek 21:15.
94 tn Heb “a spear.”
95 tn Heb “and flash of a spear.” Alternately, “spears glimmer” (HALOT 162 s.v. בָּרָק).
96 tn Heb “many slain.”
97 tc The MT reads לַגְּוִיָּה (laggÿviyyah, “to the dead bodies”). The LXX reflects לְגוֹיָה (lÿgoyah, “to her nations”) which arose due to confusion between the consonant ו (vav) and the vowel וֹ (holem-vav) in an unpointed text.
tn Heb “There is no end to the dead bodies.”
98 tn Heb “they.”
99 tn The preposition מִן (min) on מֵרֹב (merov; Heb “from the abundance of harlotries”) is causal: “because of; in consequence of” (HALOT 598 מִן 6; BDB 579-80 s.v. מִן 2.e). See, e.g., Exod 2:23; 15:23; Deut 7:7; 2 Sam 3:11, 37; Job 22:4; Isa 6:4; 43:4; 53:5; Ezek 28:5, 18; Nah 1:5; Zech 2:8; see also IBHS 213 §11.2.11.d; R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 58, §319. The causal sense is supported by the LXX’s ἀπό (apo, “from, because of”). Most English versions adopt the causal sense (KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NJPS).
100 tn Heb “Because of the many harlotries of the harlot.” The MT connects v. 4 with vv. 5-6; however, the LXX connects v. 4 with vv. 1-3. The Masoretic division is followed by NRSV and NJPS; the LXX division is followed by KJV and NIV; and the NASB division equivocates on the issue. It is best to connect v. 4 with vv. 5-6 (following the MT) because: (1) vv. 1-3 constitute a self-contained woe-oracle; and (2) the theme of the harlot unifies vv. 4-6: the accusation against the harlot (v. 4) and the stereotypical punishment of the harlot (vv. 5-6).
101 tn Heb “fair of form, a mistress of sorceries.”
102 tn Heb “she.” This has been translated as a relative pronoun for stylistic reasons. The shift from 2nd person feminine singular (“you”) to 3rd person feminine singular (“she”) is an example of heterosis of persons, a common literary/poetic device used in Hebrew poetry and prophetic literature.
103 tc The MT reads the Qal participle הַמֹּכֶרֶת (hammokheret) which is derived from מָכַר (makhar, “to sell, to betray”): “the one who sells/betrays [nations].” The MT is supported by the LXX. The Dead Sea Scrolls read הממכרת (4QpNah 2:7): “the one who sells/betrays [nations]” (see DJD 5:38). Dahood repoints the MT as a Hophal participle, הַמֻּכֶּרֶת (hammukkeret) from נָכַר (nakhar, “to know, to recognize”): “the one who is known [by the nations for her harlotries]” (M. Dahood, “Causal Beth and the Root NKR in Nahum 3.4,” Bib 52 : 395-96). The BHS editors suggest emending the MT, due to metathesis, to הַכֹּמֶרֶת (hakkomeret) from II כמר (“to ensnare”; HALOT 482 s.v. II כמר) which is related to Assyrian kamaru [A] (“to ensnare”): “The one who ensnares [nations].” The related nouns “snare; net” (מִכְמָר, mikhmar) and “net” (מִכְמֶרֶת, mikhmeret) are used as metaphors of the wicked destroying their victims (Ps 141:10; Isa 51:20; Hab 1:15, 16). This approach is adopted by NJPS: “who ensnared nations.” Others suggest emending to the Qal participle הַכֹּמֶרֶת from III כמר (“to destroy, to overthrow”; BDB 485 s.v. III כמר) related to Assyrian kamaru [B] (“to destroy; to annihilate”): “the one who destroys nations.” The MT may be retained due to strong external support (LXX and 4QpNah) and adequate internal support; the conjectural emendations are unnecessary.
tn Heb “sells.” Alternately, “enslaves”; or perhaps “deceives.” Most scholars derive the Qal participle הַמֹּכֶרֶת from מָכַר (“to sell, to betray”): “who sells nations.” When used in reference to people, this verb may denote three things: (1) to sell slaves or prisoners of war (Exod 21:8; Deut 21:14; 24:7; Joel 4:3, 6); (2) to sell off someone into the hands of the enemy, that is, to give someone entirely into their power (Exod 21:7; 22:2; Deut 32:30; Judg 2:14; 3:8; 4:2; 10:7; 1 Sam 12:9; Isa 50:1; Joel 4:8; Ps 44:13); and (3) to betray someone (possibly the meaning here in Nah 3:4?); see HALOT 581-82 s.v. I מכר; BDB 569 s.v. מָכַר. This is related to Assyrian makara (“to carry out trade; to make merchandise of”). Some English versions nuance הַמֹּכֶרֶת as “who sells nations” (KJV, NASB); others nuance it metonymically, “who enslaves nations” (NIV, NRSV). Thomas derives הַמֹּכֶרֶת from II מָכַר (“to deceive, to beguile, to betray”) which is related to Arabic makara (“to betray”): “who deceives the nations” (D. W. Thomas, “The Root mkr in Hebrew,” JTS 37 : 388-89; idem, “A Further Note on the Root mkr in Hebrew,” JTS 3 : 214).
104 tn Heb “the one who sells nations by her harlotries.”
105 tn Heb “and clans by her sorceries.”
107 tn Heb “I will uncover your skirts over your face.”
sn Strip off your clothes. In the ancient Near East, the typical punishment for a prostitute was to strip her of her clothes publicly to expose her to open shame, embarrassment, and public ridicule. Because Nineveh had acted like a prostitute, the
108 tn Heb “detestable things”; KJV, ASV “abominable filth”; NCV “filthy garbage.”
109 tc While the MT reads 2nd person feminine singular לָךְ (lakh, “for you”), the LXX reads αὔτή (Jauth, “for her”). The Dead Sea Scrolls from Wadi Murabba’at read לך (“for you”). The MT reading is preferred for several reasons: (1) it is supported by the scrolls from Wadi Murabba’at; (2) it is the most difficult reading; and (3) it explains the origin of the LXX which probably harmonized this with the preceding 3rd person feminine singular pronoun. Abrupt switches from third to second person are commonly found in poetic and prophetic literature (e.g., Deut 32:15; Isa 5:8; Jer 29:19; Job 16:7) as well as in Northwest Semitic curses (see S. Gevirtz, “West-Semitic Curses and the Problem of the Origins of Hebrew Law,” VT 11 : 147, n. 4).
tn Heb “From whence shall I find comforters for you?”
110 tn Heb “Are you better than Thebes?”
111 tn Heb “No-Amon.” The name is transliterated by NAB, NASB; many other English versions employ the equivalent “Thebes.”
113 tn The consonantal form חיל is vocalized in the MT as חֵיל (khel, “rampart”). The LXX translation ἡ ἀρξή (Jh arxh, “strength”) reflects confusion between the relatively rare חֵיל and the more common חַיִל (khayil, “strength”); see HALOT 310-12.
114 tn Heb “from (the) sea.” The form should be emended to מַיִם (mayim, “water”). This is a figurative description of the Nile River: It functioned like a fortress wall for Thebes.
115 sn Cush is the Hebrew name for the ancient kingdom of Ethiopia (also known as Nubia) along the Nile valley south of Aswan in Egypt. Many modern English versions render this “Ethiopia,” but this area is not to be confused with modern Ethiopia (i.e., Abyssinia).
116 tn Or “Cush was limitless and Egypt was strong.” The NIV treats the two nations (“Cush and Egypt”) as a hendiadys of the predicate and translates them as one clause. On the other hand, NJPS treats them separately and translates them in two different clauses.
117 tn Heb “Lubim.” Most modern English versions render this as “Libya” or “the Libyans.”
118 tn The preposition בְּ (bet) in בְּעֶזְרָתֵךְ (bÿ’ezratekh) should probably be taken as a bet of identity rather than in a locative sense (DCH 2:84 s.v. בְּ 7; HALOT 104 s.v. בְּ 3).
119 tc Although the LXX and Syriac read a 3 fs suffix, the 2 fs suffix on MT בְּעֶזְרָתֵךְ (bÿ’ezratekh, “your strength”) should be retained because of the support of 4QpNah, which reads בעזרתך. The MT is the more difficult reading and best explains the origin of the variants, which attempt to harmonize with the preceding 3 fs suffix.
tn Heb “your strength.”
sn This is an example of enallage – a figure of speech in which a speaker addresses a party who is not present. Here, the prophet Nahum addresses the city of Thebes.
120 tn The Hebrew noun עָזָר (’azar) has been understood in two ways: (1) In the light of the Ugaritic root gzr (“hero, valiant one, warrior”), several scholars posit the existence of the Hebrew root II עָזַר (“warrior”), and translate בְּעֶזְרָתֵךְ (bÿ’ezratekh) as “in your army” (M. Dahood, Psalms, 1:210; P. Miller, “Ugaritic GZR and Hebrew `ZR II,” UF 2 : 168). (2) It is better to relate the Hebrew עָזָר to Canaanite izirtu (“military help”) which appears several times in the El-Amarna correspondence: “Let him give you soldiers and chariots as help for you so that they may protect the city” (EA 87:13) and “I have provided help for Tyre” (EA 89:18); see K. J. Cathcart, “More Philological Studies in Nahum,” JNWSL 7 (1979): 11.
121 tc The MT reads לַגֹּלָה (laggolah, “as a captive”) with the preposition לְ (lamed) denoting essence/identity. On the other hand, 4QpNah reads בגולה (“as a captive”) with the preposition בְּ (bet) denoting essence/identity (“as a captive”). The LXX’s αἰξμάλωτος (aixmalwto", “as a prisoner”) does not reveal which preposition was the original.
122 tc The past-time reference of the context indicates that the Pual verb יְרֻטְּשׁוּ (yÿruttÿshu) is a preterite describing past action (“they were smashed to pieces”) rather than an imperfect describing future action (“they will be smashed to pieces”). The past-time sense is supported by the Syriac and Vulgate. The LXX, however, misunderstood the form as an imperfect. Not recognizing that the form is a preterite, the BHS editors suggest emending to Pual perfect רֻטְּשׁוּ (ruttÿshu, “they were smashed to pieces”). This emendation is unnecessary once the possibility of a preterite is recognized. The Masoretic reading is supported by the reading ירוטשו found in the Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpNah 3:10).
123 tc The MT reads יַדּוּ (yadu, “they cast [lots]”) from יָדַד (yadad, “to cast [lots]”). On the other hand, the Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpNah) read ירו (“they threw, cast [lots]”) from יָרָה (yarah, “to throw, cast [lots]”) (e.g., Josh 18:6). The textual variant arose due to orthographic confusion between ד (dalet) and ר (resh) – two Hebrew letters very similar in appearance. The root יָדַד is relatively rare – it occurs only two other times (Obad 11; Joel 4:3 [3:3 ET]) – therefore, it might have been confused with יָרָה which appears more frequently.
124 tc The MT and Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpNah) read ועל נכבדיה (“for her nobles”). The LXX reflects וְעַל כָּל נִכְבַּדֶּיהָ (vÿ’al kol nikhbaddeha, “for all her nobles”), adding כָּל (“all”). The LXX addition probably was caused by the influence of the repetition of כָּל in the preceding and following lines.
125 tc The editors of BHS suggest emending the MT reading, the Qal imperfect תִּשְׁכְּרִי (tishkÿri, “you will become drunk”) from שָׁכַר (shakhar, “to become drunk”; BDB 1016 s.v. שָׁכַר; HALOT 971 s.v. שׁכר). However, there is no external textual support for the emendation. The imagery of drunkenness is a common figure for defeat in battle.
tn Heb “you will be drunken.”
sn You…will act like drunkards. The imagery of drunkenness is frequently used to describe defeat in battle (Isa 49:26; Jer 25:27; 51:21). It is an appropriate use of imagery: Drunkards frequently pass out and wine drools out of their mouth; likewise, slain warriors lie fallen and their blood flows out of their mouths.
126 tc The MT reads the Niphal participle נַעֲלָמָה (na’alamah) from I עָלַם (’alam, “to conceal”). This is supported by the Dead Sea Scrolls, נעלמה (4QpNah 3:11), and is reflected by the LXX. Several scholars suggest nuancing the Niphal in a passive sense: “you will be concealed” or “you will be obscured” (BDB 761 s.v. I. עָלַם 2). However, the reflexive sense “you will conceal yourself; you will hide yourself” (e.g., Ps 26:4) is better (HALOT 835 s.v. עלם). On the other hand, the BHS editors suggest emending to the Niphal participle נֶעֱלָפָה (ne’elafah) from עָלַף (’alaf, “become faint”): “you will become faint,” “you will pass out,” or “you will swoon” (HALOT 836 s.v. עלף; BDB 761 s.v. I. עָלַם 2). This is unnecessary and lacks textual support.
tn Heb “you will hide yourself.”
127 sn Ironically, Sennacherib had recently planted fig trees along all the major avenues in Nineveh to help beautify the city, and had encouraged the citizens of Nineveh to eat from these fruit trees. How appropriate that Nineveh’s defenses would now be compared to fig trees whose fruit would be eaten by its enemies.
128 sn This extended simile compares the siege of Nineveh with reapers shaking a tree to harvest the “first-ripe fruit.” Fruit that matured quickly and ripened early in the season dropped from the trees more easily than the later crop which developed more slowly (Isa 28:4). To harvest the later crop the worker had to climb the tree (sixteen to twenty feet tall) and pick the figs by hand from each branch. On the other hand, the fruit from the early harvest could be gathered quickly and with a minimum of effort by simply shaking the trunk of the tree (G. Dalman, Arbeit und Sitte in Palestina, 1:378-80). The point of this simile is that Nineveh would fall easily and quickly.
129 tn This conditional sentence expresses a real anticipated situation expected to occur in the future, rather than an unreal completely hypothetical situation. The particle אִם (’im, “if”) introduces real conditions (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 75, §453). The imperfect tense verb יִנּוֹעוּ (yinno’u, “they are shaken”) depicts a future-time action conceived as a real situation expected to occur (see Joüon 2:629 §167.c; IBHS 510-11 §31.6.1).
130 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the first ripe fruit of the previous line, rendered here as “their figs”) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
131 tn The syntax of the concluding clause (apodosis) emphasizes that this action is expected and certain to occur. This clause is introduced by vav conjunction and the perfect tense verb וְנָפְלוּ (vÿnoflu, “they will fall”) which emphasizes the expected certainty of the action (see Joüon 2:627-33 §167; IBHS 526-29 §32.2.1).
132 sn This is appropriate imagery and highly ironic. After defeating their enemies, the Assyrian kings often encouraged their troops to consume the fruit of the conquered city’s fruit trees.
133 tn Or “have been opened wide.” The Niphal perfect נִפְתְּחוּ (niftÿkhu) from פָּתַח (patach, “to open”) may designate a past-time action (“have been opened wide”) or a present-time circumstance (“are wide open”). The present-time sense is preferred in vv. 13-14. When used in reference to present-time circumstances, the perfect tense represents a situation occurring at the very instant the expression is being uttered; this is the so-called “instantaneous perfect” (IBHS 488-89 §30.5.1). The root פָּתַח (“to open”) is repeated for emphasis to depict the helpless state of the Assyrian defenses: פָּתוֹחַ נִפְתְּחוּ (patoakh niftÿkhu, “wide open”).
134 tn Or “has consumed.” The Qal perfect אָכְלָה (’okhlah) from אָכַל (’akhal, “to consume”) refers either to a past-time action (“has consumed”) or a present-time action (“consumes”). The context suggests the present-time sense is preferable here. This is an example of the “instantaneous perfect” which represents a situation occurring at the very instant the expression is being uttered (see IBHS 488-89 §30.5.1).
135 tn Heb “your bars.”
136 tn Heb “waters of siege.”
137 tn Heb “go into the mud.”
138 tn Heb “Take hold of the mud-brick mold!”
139 sn The expression the fire will consume you is an example of personification. Fire is often portrayed consuming an object like a person might consume food (Lev 6:3; 10:2; 16:25; Num 16:35; Deut 4:24; 5:22; Judg 9:15; 1 Kgs 18:38; 2 Kgs 1:10, 12, 14; 2 Chr 7:1; Isa 5:24; 10:17; 30:27, 30; 33:14; Amos 1:4, 7, 10, 12, 14; 2:2, 5; 5:6).
140 tn The verb אָכַל (’akhal, “to consume, to devour”) is used twice for emphasis: “the fire will consume you, the sword…will devour you.”
sn The expression the sword…will devour you is an example of personification; the sword is frequently portrayed as consuming or devouring a defeated enemy (Deut 32:42; 2 Sam 2:26; 11:25; 18:8; Hos 11:6; Jer 2:30; 12:12); see BDB 37 s.v. אָכַל 4; HALOT 46 s.v. אכל.
141 tc The root כָּבֵּד (kabbed, “be numerous”) is repeated for emphasis: the forms are the Hitpael infinitive absolute הִתְכַּבֵּד (hitkabbed) and Hitpael imperative הִתְכַּבְּדִי (hitkabbÿdi), both translated here as “Multiply yourself”). The infinitive absolute functions as an imperative (GKC §113.bb, 346). The BHS editors suggest emending the Hitpael infinitive absolute form הִתְכַּבֵּד to the Hitpael imperative form הִתְכַּבְּדִי in order to have two identical forms in this line. However, this is not necessary; the infinitive absolute is used for stylistic variation and often precedes imperatives to add urgency. The MT makes sense as it stands.
142 tn Or “Increase!” or “You have increased.” The form and meaning of the MT perfect tense verb הִרְבֵּית (hirbet; from רָבָה [ravah], “to increase”) is debated. The LXX translated it as a simple past meaning. However, some scholars argue for an imperatival form or an imperatival nuance due to the presence of the two preceding volitive forms: הִתְכַּבֵּד (hitkabbed) and הִתְכַּבְּדִי (hitkabbÿdi, “Multiply…multiply!”). For example, the editors of BHS propose emending the perfect tense הִרְבֵּית to the imperative form הַרְבִי (harvi, “multiply!”). K. J. Cathcart (Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic [BibOr], 145) retains the MT perfect form but classifies it as a precative perfect with an imperatival nuance (“increase!”). Some scholars deny the existence of the precative perfect in Hebrew (G. R. Driver, Tenses in Hebrew, 25-26); however, others argue for its existence (IBHS 494-95 §30.5.4).
143 tn The words “they are like” are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied in the translation for clarity.
144 tn The verb פָּשַׁט (pashat, “to strip off”) refers to the action of the locust shedding its outer layer of skin or sheaths of wings while in the larval stage (BDB 833 s.v.). In a similar sense, this verb is normally used of a person stripping off garments (Gen 37:23; Lev 6:4; 16:23; Num 20:26, 28; 1 Sam 18:4; 19:24; 31:8, 9; 2 Sam 23:10; 1 Chr 10:8, 9; Neh 4:17; Job 19:9; 22:6; Ezek 16:39; 23:26; 26:16; 44:19; Hos 2:5; Mic 2:8; 3:3).
145 tn Or “your guards.” The noun מִגְּזָרַיִךְ (miggÿzarayikh, “your courtiers”) is related to Assyrian manzazu (“courtier”; AHw 2:639.a) or massaru (“guard”; AHw 2:621.a); see HALOT 601 s.v. *מִגְּזָר). The nuance “princes,” suggested by older lexicographers (BDB 634 s.v. מִנְזַר), is obsolete.
146 tn The noun טַפְסְרַיִךְ (tafsÿrayikh, “your scribes”) from טִפְסָר (tifsar, “scribe, marshal”) is a loanword from Assyrian tupsarru and Sumerian DUB.SAR (“tablet-writer; scribe; official”); see BDB 381 s.v. טִפְסָר; HALOT 379 s.v. This term is also attested in Ugaritic tupsarru and in Phoenician dpsr. As in Jer 51:27, it is used of military and administrative officials. This term designated military officials who recorded the names of recruits and the military activities of Assyrian kings (see P. Machinist, “Assyria and its Image in the First Isaiah,” JAOS 103 : 736).
147 tn Heb “it flees.”
148 tc The BHS editors propose redividing the singular MT reading וְנוֹדַד (vÿnodad, “and it flees”) to the plural וְנוֹדְדוּ (vÿnodÿdu, “and they flee”) due to the difficulty of a singular verb. However, the LXX supports the singular MT reading. The subject is גוֹב (gov, “swarm”), not individual locusts.
149 tc The MT reads the noun with 3rd person masculine singular suffix מְקוֹמוֹ (mÿqomo, “its place”). The BHS editors suggest emending to 3rd person masculine plural suffix מְקוֹמָם (mÿqomam, “their place”). The MT is supported by the LXX reading, which has a singular suffix. The 3rd person masculine singular suffix is not as awkward as the BHS editors claim – its antecedent is the singular אַרְבֶּה (’arbeh, “locust”) and גוֹב גֹבָי (gov govay, “a swarm of locusts”), as reflected by the 3rd person masculine singular verb וְנוֹדַד (translated “it flies away”).
150 tc The MT reads אַיָּם (’ayyam, “Where are they?”); see, e.g., Isa 19:12; DCH 1:202-3 s.v. אֵי; HALOT 40 s.v.). On the other hand, the LXX’s οὐαί αὐτοῖς (ouai autoi", “Woe to them!”) seems to reflect a reading of אֶיָּם (’eyyam, “Alas to them!”). The BHS editors suggest emending to אֵיכָה (“Alas!” or “How?”) and join it to v. 18, or אוֹי מַה (’oy mah, “Woe! Why…?”) joined to v. 18. HALOT (40 s.v.) suggests the emendation אֵיךָ (’ekha, “Alas to you!”).
tn Heb “Its place is not known – where are they?” The form אַיָּם has been taken in various ways: (1) an interrogative adverb with 3rd person masculine plural suffix (“where are they?”; GKC 296-97 §100.o; BDB 32 s.v. אַי 1.a); (2) an interrogative particle אֵי (’ey, “where?”) lengthened to אַיָּה (ayyah) and written with the enclitic particle ־ם (mem; GKC 295 §100.g), similar to ayyami (“where?”) in Assyrian (CAD 1.1.220); see W. A. Maier, Nahum, 356; R. D. Patterson, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (WEC), 111; T. Longman, “Nahum,” The Minor Prophets, 2:826.
151 sn The term shepherd was frequently used in the ancient Near East in reference to kings and other leaders (royal, political, military). Here, the expression your shepherds is an implied comparison (hypocatastasis) referring to the royal/military leadership of Assyria.
152 tn The Hebrew term אַדִּירֶיךָ (’addirekha, “your officers”) from the root אַדִּיר (’addir, “high noble, majestic one”) designates “prominent people” in society (Judg 5:13, 25; Jer 14:3; Ps 16:3; Neh 3:5; 10:30; 2 Chr 23:20) and prominent “officers” in the military (Nah 2:6; 3:18); see HALOT 14 s.v.; BDB 12 s.v. אַדִּיר. This is related to Assyrian adaru (“high noble official”).
153 tn The MT reads יִשְׁכְּנוּ (yishkÿnu, “they are settling down; they are lying down”) from שָׁכַן (shakhan, “to settle down, to lie down”). The BHS editors suggest emending to יָשְׁנוּ (yashnu, “they are slumbering”) in order to produce a tighter parallelism with the parallel verb נָמוּ (namu, “they are sleeping”). However, the MT has an adequate parallelism because the verb שָׁכַן is often used in reference to the dead lying down in the grave (Job 4:19; 26:5; Ps 94:17; Isa 26:19; see BDB 1015 s.v. שָׁכַן Qal.2.b). This is a figurative expression (hypocatastasis) for someone dying. Although the LXX misunderstood the syntax of this line, the LXX translation ἐκοίμισε (ekoimise, “he has laid low”) points to a form of the Masoretic verbal root שָׁכַן.
154 tn The words “like sheep” are not in the Hebrew text; they are added for clarification of the imagery. The previous line compares Assyria’s leaders to shepherds.
155 tc The MT reads the hapax legomenon כֵּהָה (kehah, “relief, alleviation”). On the other hand, the LXX reads ἴασις (iasi", “healing”) which seems to reflect a reading of גֵּהָה (gehah, “cure, healing”). In the light of the LXX, the BHS editors suggest emending the MT to גֵּהָה (gehah) – which occurs only once elsewhere (Prov 17:22) – on the basis of orthographic and phonological confusion between Hebrew כ (kaf) and ג (gimel). This emendation would produce the common ancient Near Eastern treaty-curse: “there is no cure for your wound” (e.g., Hos 5:13); see HALOT 461 s.v. כֵּהָה; K. J. Cathcart, “Treaty-Curses and the Book of Nahum,” CBQ 35 (1973): 186; D. Hillers, Treaty-Curses and the Old Testament Prophets, 64-66.
tn Heb “There is no relief of your fracture.”
156 tn Heb “your injury is fatal.”
157 tn Heb “the report of you.”
158 tn Heb “will clap their hands over you.”
159 tn Heb “For who ever escaped…?”