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Nahum 3:18-19

Context
Concluding Dirge

3:18 Your shepherds 1  are sleeping, O king of Assyria!

Your officers 2  are slumbering! 3 

Your people are scattered like sheep 4  on the mountains

and there is no one to regather them!

3:19 Your destruction is like an incurable wound; 5 

your demise is like a fatal injury! 6 

All who hear what has happened to you 7  will clap their hands for joy, 8 

for no one ever escaped your endless cruelty! 9 

1 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.

2 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”).

3 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.

4 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.

5 tc The MT reads the hapax legomenon כֵּהָה (kehah, “relief, alleviation”). On the other hand, the LXX reads ἴασις (iasi", “healing”) which seems to reflect a reading of גֵּהָה (gehah, “cure, healing”). In the light of the LXX, the BHS editors suggest emending the MT to גֵּהָה (gehah) – which occurs only once elsewhere (Prov 17:22) – on the basis of orthographic and phonological confusion between Hebrew כ (kaf) and ג (gimel). This emendation would produce the common ancient Near Eastern treaty-curse: “there is no cure for your wound” (e.g., Hos 5:13); see HALOT 461 s.v. כֵּהָה; K. J. Cathcart, “Treaty-Curses and the Book of Nahum,” CBQ 35 (1973): 186; D. Hillers, Treaty-Curses and the Old Testament Prophets, 64-66.

tn Heb “There is no relief of your fracture.”

6 tn Heb “your injury is fatal.”

7 tn Heb “the report of you.”

8 tn Heb “will clap their hands over you.”

9 tn Heb “For who ever escaped…?”



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