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Nahum 1:8


1:8 But with an overwhelming flood 1 

he will make a complete end of Nineveh; 2 

he will drive 3  his enemies into darkness.

Nahum 2:5-6


2:5 The commander 4  orders 5  his officers;

they stumble 6  as they advance; 7 

they rush to the city wall 8 

and they set up 9  the covered siege tower. 10 

2:6 The sluice gates 11  are opened;

the royal palace is deluged 12  and dissolves. 13 

Nahum 3:13-14


3:13 Your warriors will be like women in your midst;

the gates of your land will be wide open 14  to your enemies;

fire will consume 15  the bars of your gates. 16 

3:14 Draw yourselves water for a siege! 17 

Strengthen your fortifications!

Trample the mud 18  and tread the clay!

Make mud bricks to strengthen your walls! 19 

1 tn Some scholars connect “in an overwhelming flood” (וּבְשֶׁטֶף עֹבֵר, uvÿshetefover) with the preceding line: “he protects those who trust him in an overwhelming flood.” However, others connect it with the following line: “But with an overwhelming flood he will make a complete end of its [Nineveh’s] site.” D. T. Tsumura (“Janus Parallelism in Nah 1:8,” JBL 102 [1983]: 109-11) suggests that it does double duty and should be read with both lines: “he knows those who trust him in an overwhelming flood, / but with an overwhelming flood he will make a complete end of its [Nineveh’s] site.” Connecting it with the preceding line creates a tight parallelism and a balanced 5+5 metrical count. Connecting it with the following line harmonizes with Nah 2:9 [8], which describes the walls of Nineveh being destroyed by flood waters, and with historical evidence (Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica, 2.27.1-3; Xenophon, Anabasis, 3.4.12) and modern archaeological evidence (A. T. Olmstead, History of Assyria, 637). This might be an example of intentional ambiguity: God will protect his people from the very calamity that he will use to destroy his enemies.

2 tc Heb “her place.” Alternately, some ancient versions read “his adversaries.” The MT reads מְקוֹמָהּ (mÿqomah, “her place”). This is supported by the Dead Sea Scrolls (מקומה, “her place,” found in 4QpNah) and Symmachus (τῆς τόποῦ αὐτοῦ, th" topou autou, “her place”). The reading of the LXX (τούς ἐπεγειρουμένους, tou" epegeiroumenou", “those who rise up [against Him]”) and Aquila (ἀντισταμενω¡ν, antistamenw>n, “adversaries”) reflect מְקּוֹמיהוּ or מְקִימיהוּ or מְקִּמָיו (“his adversaries”), also reflected in the Vulgate and Targum. Some scholars suggest emending the MT in the light of the LXX to create a tight parallelism between “his adversaries” (מקומיו) and “his enemies” (וְאֹיְבָיו, vÿoyÿvayv) which is a parallel word pair elsewhere (Deut 28:7; 2 Sam 22:40-41, 49; Mic 7:6; Ps 59:2). Likewise, Tsumura suggests emending the MT because the text, as it stands, does not have a clear parallel word for “his enemies” (וְאֹיְבָיו) – emending the MT’s מְקוֹמָהּ (“her place”) to מקומיו (“his adversaries”) would result in a parallel word (D. T. Tsumura, “Janus Parallelism in Nah 1:8,” JBL 102 [1983]: 109-11). The BHS editors propose emending the MT in favor of the Greek tradition. The English versions reflect both textual traditions – several follow the MT with “her place” and “its site” (KJV, NASB, NIV, NKJV, NJPS), while others adopt the LXX reading and emend the Hebrew, resulting in “his adversaries” (NRSV) or “those who defy him” (NJB). The MT makes sense as it stands, but the proposed emendation is attractive and involves only the common confusion between ה and יו.

3 tc The BHS editors propose emending the Masoretic reading יְרַדֶּף (yÿraddef, Piel imperfect of רָדַּף [raddaf], “to chase”) to יֶהְדֹּף (yekhdof, Qal imperfect of הָדַף [hadaf], “to thrust away, drive away”). Although הָדַף is used with חֹשֶׁךְ (khoshekh, “darkness”) in Job 18:18 (“he is driven from light into darkness”), the MT makes good sense as it stands, and is supported by the versions. The conjectural emendation has no support and is unnecessary.

4 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the commander) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

5 tc The MT reads the Qal imperfect 3rd person masculine singular יִזְכֹּר (yizkor, “he commands”) from II זָכַּר (zakkar, “to command”); see above. The rarity of this homonymic root in Hebrew has led to textual variants and several proposed emendations. The LXX misunderstood זָכַּר and the syntax of the line: καὶ μνησθνήσονται οἱ μεγιστα¡τες (mnhsqnhsontai Joi megista>te", “And their mighty men will be remembered”; or “will remember themselves”). The LXX reflects the Niphal imperfect 3rd person common plural יִזָּכְרוּ (yizzakhru, “they will be remembered”). The BHS editors suggest emending to יִזָּכְרוּ on the basis of the LXX. The BHK editors proposed emending to pilpel imperfect 3rd person common plural יְכַרְכְרוּ (yÿkharkhÿru, “they prance, they whirl”) from II כָּרַר (karar, “to dance”). None of the emendations are necessary once the existence of the homonym II זָכַּר (“to order”) is recognized.

tn The Hebrew verb II זָכַּר is related to Akkadian zakartu (“to give an order”; see CAD 2:17). This is distinct from the more common root zakar I (“to remember”) which is related to Akkadian zakaru. The English versions are split between the two roots: “he commands” (NJPS) and “he summons” (NIV) versus “he recounts” (KJV), “he remembers” (NASB), and “he calls” (NRSV).

6 tc The MT reads the Niphal imperfect 3rd person masculine plural יִכָּשְׁלוּ (yikoshlu, “they stumble”) from the root כָּשַׁל (kashal, “stumble”). G. R. Driver argues that the MT makes little sense in the portrayal of a successful assault; the motif of stumbling warriors usually connotes defeat (Isa 5:27; Jer 46:6). Driver argues that MT’s יִכָּשְׁלוּ (“they stumble”) arose from metathesis (reversal of consonants) from an original יִשָּׁלְכוּ (yishalkhu, Niphal from שָׁלַךְ [shalakh, “to cast forth”]) which also appears in 2 Kgs 13:24-25, 28 (“hurled himself,” i.e., rushed headlong). Driver suggests that this is related to Arabic salaka VII (“to rush in”). He notes that the emendation would produce a tighter parallelism with the following noun: יְמַהֲרוּ (yÿmaharu, “they hasten”). See G. R. Driver, “Linguistic and Textual Problems: Minor Prophets II,” JTS 39 (1938): 270. On the other hand, Armerding argues that the anomalous MT reading יִכָּשְׁלוּ (“they stumble”) can be explained without recourse to textual emendation. The stumbling of the attacking army is caused, not by their weakness, but by the corpses of the Assyrians strewn in their path which obstructs their advance. Armerding suggests that this motif appears in Nah 3:3 (C. E. Armerding, “Nahum,” EBC 7:475).

tn Alternately, “they rush forward.”

7 tn Or “in their trenches”; or “in their columns”; Heb “in their advance”; or “in their march.” The noun הֲלִיכָה (halikhah, “procession, journey”) is nuanced “march; advance” in a military context (BDB 237 s.v. 1.a; HALOT 246 s.v. 1.a). Similarly, the related verb הָלַךְ (halakh) means “to march, to advance” in battle contexts (Judg 1:10; Hab 1:6). This is related to the Assyrian noun alaktu (“to advance”) which is often used of military advances (CAD 1.1.299). The related Assyrian noun aliktu means “detachment of soldiers” (CAD 1.1.346). HALOT suggests that הֲלִיכָה is related to an Assyrian noun which is a technical military term: “trenches, columns” (HALOT 246 s.v. *הֲלִיכָה). This line could be rendered, “They stumble in their trenches” or “They stumble in their columns.”

8 tc The MT reads הוֹמָתָהּ (homatah, “her wall”). On the other hand, several Hebrew mss, Targum Jonathan, and the Syriac Peshitta omit the mappiq and preserve an alternate textual tradition of the directive -he ending: הוֹמָתָה (“to the wall”). The directive sense is seen in the LXX. Although the MT lacks the directive -he (ה) ending, it is possible that the MT’s הוֹמָתָהּ functions as an adverbial accusative of direction meaning “to her wall.” The adverbial accusative of direction often occurs after verbs of motion (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 13-14, §54; IBHS 169-71 §10.2.2).

tn Heb “to her wall,” referring to Nineveh.

9 tc The MT reads the Hophal perfect 3rd person masculine singular וְהֻכַן (vÿhukhan, “and [it] is prepared”). On the other hand, the LXX reading reflects the Hiphil perfect 3rd person common plural וְהֵכִינּוּ (vÿhekhinnu, “and they will prepare”). Arguing that the active sense is necessary because the three preceding verbs are all active, K. J. Cathcart (Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic [BibOr], 95) suggests emending to the Hiphil infinitive absolute וְהָכִין (vÿhakhin, “and [they] prepare”). However, the Masoretic form should be retained because it is the more difficult reading that best explains the origin of the LXX reading. The shift from active to passive verbs is common in Hebrew, marking a cause-result sequence (e.g., Pss 24:7; 69:14 [15]; Jer 31:4; Hos 5:5). See M. Weinfeld, “The Active-Passive (Factitive-Resultive) Sequence of Identical Verbs in Biblical Hebrew and Ugaritic,” JBL 84 (1965): 272-82.

tn Heb “the mantelet is prepared.”

10 tn Heb “mantelet.” The Hebrew noun סֹכֵךְ (sokhekh, “mantelet”) is a military technical term referring to a large movable shelter used as a protective cover for soldiers besieging a fortified city, designed to shield them from the arrows shot down from the city wall (HALOT 754 s.v.; BDB 697 s.v.). This noun is a hapax legomenon (a word that only occurs once in the Hebrew Bible) and is derived from the verb III סָכַךְ (sakhakh, “to cover; to protect”; TWOT 2:623-24). K. J. Cathcart (Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic [BibOr], 95) suggests that the translation “mantelet” is supported by the use of the verb III סָכַךְ in Ps 140:7 [8]: “Yahweh, my Lord, my fortress of safety; shelter (סַכֹּתָּה, sakotah) my head in the day of arms.” This is reflected in several recent English versions: “wheeled shelters” (NJPS), “protective shield” (NIV), “covering used in a siege” (NASB margin), and “mantelet” (ASV, NAB, NASB, NRSV). Cf. also TEV “the shield for the battering ram.”

sn The Hebrew term translated covered siege tower probably does not refer to a battering ram, but to a movable protective tower, used to cover the soldiers and the siege machinery. These are frequently depicted in Neo-Assyrian bas-reliefs, such as the relief of Sennacherib’s siege of Lachish. The Neo-Assyrians used both small, hut-like shelters that could be carried by a few men, as well as larger, tower-like structures rolled on wheels to the top of siege embankments. These mantelets protected the attackers while they built the embankments and undermined the foundations of the city walls to hasten their collapse. Siege towers were equipped with machines designed to hurl stones to smash the fortifications and firebrands to start conflagrations (see A. H. Layard, Nineveh and Its Remains, 2:281-86).

11 tn Or “river dam gates”; NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT “river gates.”

sn Nineveh employed a system of dams and sluice gates to control the waters of the Tebiltu and Khoser Rivers which flowed through the city (R. C. Thompson and R. W. Hutchinson, A Century of Exploration at Nineveh, 120-132). However, the Tebiltu often flooded its banks inside the city, undermining palace foundations and weakening other structures. To reduce this flooding, Sennacherib changed the course of the Tebiltu inside the city. Outside the city, he dammed up the Khoser and created a reservoir, regulating the flow of water into the city through an elaborate system of double sluice gates (D. D. Luckenbill, Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylon, 99-100; J. Reade, “Studies in Assyrian Geography, Part I: Sennacherib and the Waters of Nineveh,” RA 72 [1978]: 47-72; idem, “Studies in Assyrian Geography, Part II: The Northern Canal System,” RA 72 [1978]: 157-80). According to classical tradition (Diodorus and Xenophon), just before Nineveh fell, a succession of very high rainfalls deluged the area. The Khoser River swelled and the reservoir was breached. The waters rushed through the overloaded canal system, breaking a hole twenty stades (about 2.3 miles or 3.7 km) wide in the city wall and flooding the city. When the waters receded, the Babylonians stormed into Nineveh and conquered the city (Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica, 2.26-27, especially 27.1-3; Xenophon, Anabasis, 3.4.12; P. Haupt, “Xenophon’s Account of the Fall of Nineveh,” JAOS 28 [1907]: 65-83). This scenario seems to be corroborated by the archaeological evidence (A. T. Olmstead, History of Assyria, 637).

12 tn Heb “and the palace melts.” The Niphal perfect נָמוֹג (namog, “is undulated”) from מוּג (mug, “to melt, to soften, to dissolve”) is sometimes used of material objects (earth, hills) being softened or eroded by water (Ps 65:11; Amos 9:13). Nahum pictures the river banks inside Nineveh overflowing in a torrent, crashing into the royal palace and eroding its limestone slab foundations.

sn Ironically, a few decades earlier, Sennacherib engaged in a program of flood control because the Tebiltu River often flooded its banks inside Nineveh and undermined the palace foundations. Sennacherib also had to strengthen the foundations of his palace with “mighty slabs of limestone” so that “its foundation would not be weakened by the flood of high water” (D. D. Luckenbill, Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylon, 99-100). At the time of the fall of Nineveh, the Palace of Ashurbanipal was located on the edge of the sharpest bend of the Khoser River as it flowed through the city; when the Khoser overflowed its banks, the palace foundation was weakened (J. Reade, “Studies in Assyrian Geography, Part I: Sennacherib and the Waters of Nineveh,” RA 72 [1978]: 51).

13 tn Or “the palace collapses and crumbles.” The Hophal perfect 3rd person masculine singular וְהֻצַּב (vÿhutsav) is from either I נָצַב (“to stand”; HALOT 715 s.v. I נצב; BDB 662 s.v. נָצַב) or II נָצַב (“to dissolve, weaken”; HALOT 715 s.v. II נצב). Many scholars who take וְהֻצַּב from I נָצָב (“to stand”) suggest that the meaning is “it is fixed; it is determined” (BDB 662 s.v. נָצַב). This is followed by several English versions: “it is decreed” (NIV, NRSV) and “it is fixed” (NASB). This is a rather awkward idea and does not seem to fit the context of the description of the destruction of the palace or the exile of the Ninevites. On the other hand, several scholars suggest that וְהֻצַּב is derived from נָצָב II (“to be weak”; cf. Ps 39:6; Zech 11:16;) which is related to Arabic nasiba (“to be weak”) or Arabic nasaba (“to suck out, to dissolve”) and Assyrian nasabu (“to suck out”); see W. H. F. Saggs, “Nahum and the Fall of Nineveh,” JTS 20 (1969): 220-21; R. D. Patterson, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (WEC), 69-70. As a parallel word to נָמוֹג (namog, “is deluged” or “melts”), וְהֻצַּב (“is weakened” or “is dissolved”) describes the destructive effect of the flood waters on the limestone foundations of the palace. The verse divisions in the MT place וְהֻצַּב at the beginning of v. 7 ET [v. 8 HT]; however, it probably should be placed at the end of v. 6 ET [v. 7 HT] and connected with the last two words of the line: וְהַהֵיכָל נָמוֹג וְהֻצַּב (vÿhahekhal namog vÿhutsav, “the palace is deluged and dissolved”; see Patterson, 69-70). This is supported by several factors: (1) the gender of וְהֻצַּב is masculine, while the verbs in v. 7 are feminine: גֻּלְּתָה הֹעֲלָתָה (gullÿtah hoalatah, “she is led into exile and taken away”); (2) the gender of the final verb in v. 6 is masculine: נָמוֹג (“[the palace] is deluged”); (3) both וְהֻצַּב and נָמוֹג are passive verbs (Niphal and Hophal); (4) both נָמוֹג (“is deluged”) and וְהֻצַּב (“is dissolved/weakened”) are parallel in meaning, describing the effects of flood waters on the limestone foundation of the royal palace; (5) this redivision of the lines produces a balanced 3+3 and 2+2 colon count in these two lines; and (6) this produces a balance of two verbs each in each colon. The meaning of וְהֻצַּב is notoriously difficult. Scholars offer over a dozen different proposals but only the most important are summarized here: (1) Most scholars take וְהֻצַּב as Hophal perfect 3rd person masculine singular with vav (ו) conjunction from I נָצַב (“to stand”), meaning “it is fixed; it is determined” (BDB 662 s.v. נָצַב). This is followed by several English versions: “it is decreed” (NIV, NRSV) and “it is fixed” (NASB). The LXX translation καὶ ἡ ὑπόστασις (kai Jh Jupostasi", “and the foundation”) reflects a reading of וְהֻצַּב with a meaning similar to its use in Gen 28:12 (“a stairway resting on the earth”) or a reading of וְהַמַּצָּב (vÿhammatsav) from the noun מַצָּב (matsav, “place of standing”; cf. BDB 662 s.v. מַצָּב; HALOT 620 s.v. מַצָּב). (2) The BHS editors suggest emending to Hophal perfect 3rd person feminine singular וְהֻצְאָה (vÿhutsah) from יָצָא (yatsa’, “to go out”), meaning “she is led out into exile” or “she is led out to be executed” (HALOT 427 s.v. יצא; see, e.g., Gen 38:25; Jer 38:22; Ezek 14:22; 38:8; 44:5; Amos 4:3). (3) Early Jewish interpreters (Targum Jonathan, Kimchi, Rashi) and modern Christian interpreters (e.g., W. A. Maier, Nahum, 259-62) view וְהֻצַּב as the proper name of an Assyrian queen, “Huzzab.” This is adopted by several English versions: “And Huzzab is exiled” (KJV, RV, NJPS). However, this view has been severely criticized by several scholars because no queen in Assyrian history is known by this name (G. R. Driver, “Farewell to Queen Huzzab!” JTS 16 [1965]: 296-98; W. H. F. Saggs, “Nahum and the Fall of Nineveh,” JTS 20 [1969]: 220). (4) Several scholars suggest that וְהֻצַּב is the Hophal perfect of II נָצַב which is related to Assyrian nasabu (“to suck out”) and Arabic nasaba (“to suck out; to dissolve”), as in Ps 39:6 and Zech 11:16. Taking גֻּלְּתָה (gullÿtah) as the noun “column-base” (see translator’s note on the word “exile” in this verse), Saggs translates the line as: “its column-base is dissolved” (W. H. F. Saggs, “Nahum and the Fall of Nineveh,” JTS 20 [1969]: 220-21). Patterson connects it to the last two words of the previous line: וְהַהֵיכָל נָמוֹג וְהֻצַּב, “The palace collapses and crumbles” (Patterson, 69-70). (5) Driver revocalizes it as the noun וְהַצֹּב (“and the [captive] train”) which he relates to the Arabic noun sub (“train”): “the train of captives goes into exile” (so NEB). This is reflected in the Greek text of the Minor Prophets from Nahal Heber which took וְהֻצַּב as “wagon, chariot.” (6) Cathcart suggests that the MT’s וְהֻצַּב may be repointed as וְהַצַּב which is related to Assyrian hassabu (“goddess”). (7) Several scholars emend to וְהַצְּבִי (vÿhatsÿvi, “the Beauty”) from צְבִי (tsÿvi, “beauty”) and take this as a reference to the statue of Ishtar in Nineveh (K. J. Cathcart, Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic [BibOr], 96-98; M. Delcor, “Allusions à la déesse Istar en Nahum 2,8?” Bib 58 [1977]: 73-83; T. Longman, “Nahum,” The Minor Prophets, 2:806). (8) R. L. Smith (Micah-Malachi [WBC], 82) derives consonantal והצב from נְצִיב (nitsiv, “pillar”; HALOT 716-17 s.v. נְצִיב) which is related to Assyrian nisibi which refers to the statue of a goddess.

14 tn Or “have been opened wide.” The Niphal perfect נִפְתְּחוּ (niftÿkhu) from פָּתַח (patach, “to open”) may designate a past-time action (“have been opened wide”) or a present-time circumstance (“are wide open”). The present-time sense is preferred in vv. 13-14. When used in reference to present-time circumstances, the perfect tense represents a situation occurring at the very instant the expression is being uttered; this is the so-called “instantaneous perfect” (IBHS 488-89 §30.5.1). The root פָּתַח (“to open”) is repeated for emphasis to depict the helpless state of the Assyrian defenses: פָּתוֹחַ נִפְתְּחוּ (patoakh niftÿkhu, “wide open”).

15 tn Or “has consumed.” The Qal perfect אָכְלָה (’okhlah) from אָכַל (’akhal, “to consume”) refers either to a past-time action (“has consumed”) or a present-time action (“consumes”). The context suggests the present-time sense is preferable here. This is an example of the “instantaneous perfect” which represents a situation occurring at the very instant the expression is being uttered (see IBHS 488-89 §30.5.1).

16 tn Heb “your bars.”

17 tn Heb “waters of siege.”

18 tn Heb “go into the mud.”

19 tn Heb “Take hold of the mud-brick mold!”

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