even her infants were smashed to pieces 9 at the head of every street.
all her dignitaries were bound with chains.
you will go into hiding; 13
you too will seek refuge from the enemy.
your officials 15 are like a swarm of locusts!
They encamp in the walls on a cold day,
Your people are scattered like sheep 23 on the mountains
and there is no one to regather them!
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 (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).
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 (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).
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
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 (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).
8 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.
9 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).
10 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.
11 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.
12 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.
13 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.”
14 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.
15 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).
16 tn Heb “it flees.”
17 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.
18 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”).
19 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.
20 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.
21 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”).
22 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.
23 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.