the mighty soldiers are dressed in scarlet garments. 2
they rush to the city wall 14
1 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).
3 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.
4 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).
5 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.
6 tn Or perhaps “The chariots are [like] flaming torches.”
7 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.
8 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.
9 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.
10 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the commander) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
11 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).
12 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.”
13 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.”
14 tc The MT reads הוֹמָתָהּ (homatah, “her wall”). On the other hand, several Hebrew
tn Heb “to her wall,” referring to Nineveh.
15 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.”
16 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).