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Nahum 2:2

Context

2:2 For the Lord will restore 1  the majesty 2  of Jacob,

as well as 3  the majesty of Israel,

though 4  their enemies have plundered them 5 

and have destroyed their fields. 6 

1 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 (geon) 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 Lord was about to destroy Nineveh was because he had turned away the pride of Judah; however, it makes good sense to say that the Lord would destroy Nineveh because he was about to deliver Judah; and (3) a reference to the Lord turning aside from Judah would be out of harmony with the rest of the book.

2 tc The BHS editors propose emending the MT reading גְּאוֹן (gÿon, “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 (geon) 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).

3 tn The preposition כְּ (kaf) on כִּגְאוֹן (kigon, “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.

4 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.

5 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).

6 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.



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