Watch the road!
Prepare yourselves for battle! 7
Muster your mighty strength!” 8
as well as 11 the majesty of Israel,
and have destroyed their fields. 14
1 tn The introductory phrase “The watchmen of Nineveh shout” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied from the context for clarity.
2 tc The MT reads מֵפִיץ (mefits, “scatterer, disperser”), the Hiphil participle of פּוּץ (puts, “to scatter, to disperse”; HALOT 755 s.v. פוּץ, but see BDB 807 s.v. מֵפִיץ, which classifies it as a noun). The Vulgate’s qui dispergat (“one who disperses”) and the LXX’s ἐμφυσῶν (emfuswn, “one who blows hard; one who scatters”) also reflect מֵפִיץ. The BHS editors propose the emendation מַפֵּץ (mappets, “shatterer, hammerer, war club”; e.g., Jer 51:20 and Prov 25:18). This is unnecessary; the text makes sense as it stands and there is no textual support for the emendation. The theme of exile and dispersion is prominent in the book (Nah 2:7; 3:10-11, 17-18).
tn Heb “a scatterer.” The Hebrew term מֵפִיץ (mefits, “scatterer”) is either a collective singular referring to the Babylonian army or a singular of number referring to the Babylonian commander. Singular forms occur elsewhere in the vision of the fall of Nineveh (2:1-10), used in reference to the Babylonian commander (Nah 2:3, 5)
3 tn Or “has come up”; or “has advanced.” Used in reference to an army, the verb עָלָה (’alah, “to go up”) means “to advance; to march against” (HALOT 829 s.v. 3.d; see 1 Sam 7:7; 1 Kgs 20:22; Isa 7:1; 21:2; Jer 46:9; Joel 1:6; Mic 2:3). Appearing in a prophetic vision, the suffix conjugation (perfect tense) form עָלָה can denote a future-time action that is pictured as complete (certain) and independent (not contingent upon other factors). The so-called “prophetic perfect” or “perfect of confidence” vividly expresses a future action that is “as good as done” (cf. Num 24:17; Isa 5:13; 8:23-9:1). See R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 33, §165; IBHS 489-90 §30.5.1.
4 tn Heb “against your face”; NASB, NRSV “against you.”
5 tn The Qal infinitive absolute נָצוֹר (notsar, from נָצַר [nastar], “to guard”) is used in an imperatival sense as the following string of imperatives suggests. The imperatival use of the infinitive absolute is often used to introduce a series of imperatives with special urgency (e.g., Deut 1:16; 2 Sam 24:12; 2 Kgs 5:10). See IBHS 593-94 §35.5.1; R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 42, §211.
6 tc The BHS editors suggest revocalizing the Masoretic noun מְצֻרָה (mÿtsurah, “rampart”) to the noun מַצָּרָה (matsarah, “the watchtower”) from the root נָצַר (natsar, “to watch, guard”). This would create a repetition of the root נָצַר which immediately precedes it: מַצָּרָה נָצוֹר (natsor matsarah, “Watch the watchtower!”). However, the proposed noun מַצָּרָה (“the watchtower”) appears nowhere in the Hebrew Bible. On the other hand, the Masoretic reading מְצֻרָה (“rampart”) and the related noun מָצוֹר (matsor, “rampart”) appear often (Pss 31:22; 60:11; Hab 2:1; Zech 9:3; 2 Chr 8:5; 11:5, 10, 11, 23; 12:4; 14:5, 21:3; 32:10). Thus, the Masoretic vocalization should be preserved. The LXX completely misunderstood this line. The LXX reading (“one who delivers out of tribulation”) has probably arisen from a confusion of the MT noun נָצוֹר (“guard”) with the common verb נָצַר (“deliver”). It also reflects a confusion of MT מְצֻרָה (“road, rampart”) with מִצְּרָה (mitsÿrah, “from distress”).
7 tn Heb “Make strong your loins,” an expression which could refer (1) to the practice of tucking the ends of the long cloak (outer garment) into the belt to shorten it in preparation for activities like running, fighting in battle, etc. (cf. NAB, NRSV “gird your loins”); (2) to preparing oneself physically for the onslaught of the enemy (cf. NASB “strengthen your back”); or (3) to a combination of mental and physical preparation for battle (cf. NIV “brace yourselves”).
8 tn Heb “Make [your] strength exceedingly firm.”
9 tn The Qal perfect שָׁב (shav, “restore, return”) is an example of the so-called “prophetic perfect.” In this case, the perfect tense does not denote past-time action, but a future-time action that is pictured as complete (certain) and independent (not contingent upon other factors). The so-called “prophetic perfect” or “perfect of confidence” vividly expresses a future action that is deemed “as good as done” (Num 24:17; Isa 5:13; 8:23-9:1). See R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 33, §165; IBHS 489-90 §30.5.1. Though the transitive use of the Qal of this verb is problematic, most scholars derive שָׁב from the root שׁוּב (shuv, “to turn, to return, to restore”). However, W. A. Maier (Nahum, 232) contends that שָׁב is derived from I שָׁבַב (shavav, “to cut off, to destroy, to smite”) which is related to Arabic sabba (“to cut”), Aramaic sibba’(“splinter”), and New Hebrew. Maier admits that this would be the only occurrence of a verb from I שָׁבָב in the OT; however, he argues that the appearance of the plural noun שְׁבָבִים (shÿvavim, “splinters”) in Hos 8:6 provides adequate support. There are several problems with Maier’s proposal. First, his support from Arabic, Aramaic (Targum) and New Hebrew is all late. Second, it creates a hapax legomenon (a word that occurs only once in the Hebrew Bible) for a well-known Hebrew word which frequently appears in climactic contexts in prophetic speeches, as here. Third, the root שׁוּב (shuv, “to turn, to return, to restore”) makes perfectly good sense in this context. The meaning of this usage of שָׁב (from the root שׁוּב) is debated. The LXX took it in the negative sense “has turned aside.” On the other hand, it is nuanced in a positive, salvific sense by the Vulgate, Targum, and Syriac. The salvific nuance is best for the following reasons: (1) its direct object is גְּאוֹן (ge’on) which should be understood in the positive sense of “majesty; exaltation; glory” (see following note on the word “majesty”); (2) the motive clause introduced by causative/ explanatory כִּי (ki, “for”) would make little sense, saying that the reason the
10 tc The BHS editors propose emending the MT reading גְּאוֹן (gÿ’on, “majesty; pride”) to גֶּפֶן (gefen, “vineyard”) due to the mention of “their branches” (וּזְמֹרֵיהֶם, uzÿmorehem) in the following line (so HALOT 169 s.v. גָּאוֹן [2.b]). However, the LXX supports the MT.
tn While גְּאוֹן (ge’on) sometimes has the negative connotation “pride; arrogance; presumption” (Isa 13:11, 19; 14:11; 16:6; 23:9; Jer 13:9; 48:29; Ezek 16:49, 56; 32:12; Hos 5:5; 7:10; Amos 6:8; Zeph 2:10; Zech 9:6; 10:11; 11:3; Ps 59:13; Job 35:12; 40:10), it probably has the positive connotation “eminence; majesty; glory” (e.g., as in Exod 15:7; Isa 2:10, 19, 21; 4:2; 24:14; 60:15; Mic 5:3; Ps 47:5) in this context (BDB 145 s.v. 1.a).
11 tn The preposition כְּ (kaf) on כִּגְאוֹן (kig’on, “the glory of Israel”) may be comparative (“like the glory of Israel”) or emphatic (“the glory of Jacob, indeed, the glory of Israel”). See J. O’Rourke, “Book Reviews and Short Notes: Review of Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic by Kevin J. Cathcart,” CBQ 36 (1974): 397.
12 tn Or “for.” The introductory particle כִּי (ki) may be causal (“because”), explanatory (“for”), or concessive (“although”). KJV adopts the causal sense (“For”), while the concessive sense (“Although”) is adopted by NASB, NIV, NJPS, NRSV.
13 tn Heb “plunderers have plundered them.” The Hebrew root בָּקַק (baqaq, “to lay waste, to empty”) is repeated for emphasis: בְקָקוּם בֹּקְקִים (vÿqaqum boqÿqim, “plunderers have plundered them”). Similar repetition of the root בָּקַק occurs in Isa 24:3: “[The earth] will be completely laid waste” (הִבּוֹק תִּבּוֹק, hibboq tibboq).
14 tn Heb “their vine-branches.” The term “vine-branches” is a figurative expression (synecdoche of part for the whole) representing the agricultural fields as a whole.