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Nahum 3:17-18

Context

3:17 Your courtiers 1  are like locusts,

your officials 2  are like a swarm of locusts!

They encamp in the walls on a cold day,

yet when the sun rises, they 3  fly away; 4 

and no one knows where they 5  are. 6 

Concluding Dirge

3:18 Your shepherds 7  are sleeping, O king of Assyria!

Your officers 8  are slumbering! 9 

Your people are scattered like sheep 10  on the mountains

and there is no one to regather them!

1 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 The nuance “princes,” suggested by older lexicographers (BDB 634 s.v. מִנְזַר), is obsolete.

2 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 [1983]: 736).

3 tn Heb “it flees.”

4 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.

5 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”).

6 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.

7 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.

8 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”).

9 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.

10 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.



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