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Nahum 2:7-9

Context

2:7 Nineveh 1  is taken into exile 2  and is led away; 3 

her slave girls moan 4  like doves 5  while they beat 6  their breasts. 7 

2:8 Nineveh was like a pool 8  of water 9  throughout her days, 10 

but now 11  her people 12  are running away; 13 

she cries out: 14  “Stop! Stop!” –

but no one turns back. 15 

2:9 Her conquerors cry out: 16 

“Plunder the silver! Plunder the gold!”

There is no end to the treasure;

riches of every kind of precious thing.

1 tn The term “Nineveh” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied from context.

2 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 (hoalatah, “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 [1969]: 220-25).

3 tn Or “And its column-bases collapse and it goes up [in smoke].” The MT reads the Hophal perfect 3rd person feminine singular הֹעֲלָתָה (hoalatah, “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).

4 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 mss, Targum Jonathan, LXX, and Vulgate) reads the Pual participle מְנֹהֲגוֹת (mÿnohagot, “forcibly removed”) from the more common root I נַהַג (“to drive away, to lead away”; HALOT 675 s.v. נהג). This root is often used of conquerors leading away exiles or prisoners of war (Gen 31:26; Deut 4:27; 28:37; Isa 20:4; Lam 3:2). This picture is clearly seen in the LXX reading καὶ αἱ δοῦλαι αὐτῆς ἤγοντο (kai Jai doulai auth" hjgonto, “and her maidservants were led away”). This textual tradition harmonizes with the imagery of exile in the preceding colon (see translator’s note on the word “exile” in this verse). This approach is adopted by several English versions (KJV, NJPS).

tn Or “her maidservants are led away [into exile].”

5 tn Heb “like the sound of doves.”

6 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).

7 tc The MT reads מְתֹפְפֹת עַל־לִבְבֵהֶן (mÿtofÿfotal-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 [13]; 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).

8 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.

9 tn Or “Nineveh [is] like a pool of water.” Either a present tense or a past tense verb may be supplied.

10 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 [1969]: 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.”

11 tn The translation takes the vav on וְהֵמָּה (vÿhemmah) in a temporal sense. This approach is also adopted by NJPS: “Now they flee.”

12 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the people of Nineveh) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

13 tn Or “fleeing away”; or (maintaining the imagery of the pool of water) “draining away.”

14 tn The introductory phrase “she cries out” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

15 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).

16 tn The phrase “Her conquerors cry out” has been supplied from context.



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