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Nahum 2:8-10

Context

2:8 Nineveh was like a pool 1  of water 2  throughout her days, 3 

but now 4  her people 5  are running away; 6 

she cries out: 7  “Stop! Stop!” –

but no one turns back. 8 

2:9 Her conquerors cry out: 9 

“Plunder the silver! Plunder the gold!”

There is no end to the treasure;

riches of every kind of precious thing.

2:10 Destruction, devastation, and desolation! 10 

Their hearts faint, 11 

their knees tremble, 12 

each stomach churns, 13  each face 14  turns 15  pale! 16 

1 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.

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

3 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.”

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

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

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

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

8 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).

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

10 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).

11 tn Heb “and melting heart.”

12 tn Heb “and tottering of knees.”

13 tn Heb “and shaking in all of the loins.”

14 tn Heb “all of their faces.”

15 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 parur) 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.”

16 tn The Hebrew term פָּארוּר (parur) 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 (pÿer, “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, “parurpaárur: A Case of Biblical Paronomasia,” OTWSA 12 [1969]: 21-26). The NJPS translation appears to adopt this approach: “all faces turn ashen.”



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