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Nahum 2:8

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 

Nahum 2:13

Context
Battle Cry of the Divine Warrior

2:13 “I am against you!” declares 9  the Lord who commands armies: 10 

“I will burn your chariots 11  with fire; 12 

the sword will devour your young lions; 13 

you will no longer prey upon the land; 14 

the voices of your messengers 15  will no longer be heard.”

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 term נְאֻם (nÿum) is a fixed formulaic term meaning “oracle” (Isa 14:22-23; 17:3; 22:25; Jer 8:3; 25:29; 31:38; 49:26; Zech 13:2, 7).

10 tn Traditionally, “the Lord of hosts.” The title pictures God as the sovereign king who has at his disposal a multitude of attendants, messengers, and warriors to do his bidding. In some contexts, like this one, the military dimension of his rulership is highlighted. In this case, the title pictures him as one who leads armies into battle against his enemies.

11 tc The MT reads the 3rd person feminine singular suffix on a singular noun: רִכְבָּהּ (rikhbah, “her chariot”). However, the BHS editors suggest emending to the 2nd person feminine singular suffix on a plural noun: רִכְבֵּךְ (rikhbekh, “your chariots”) due to the use of 2nd person feminine singular suffixes throughout this verse and the anomaly of the singular noun. On the other hand, the Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpNah) read רובכה (“your abundance”) which is the plene spelling of רֹבְכָה (rovÿkhah). This reflects the transposition (metathesis) of כ (kaf) and ב (bet) in the consonantal forms רכבה and רבכה. The textual tradition attested at Qumran is reflected in the LXX’s πλῆθος σου (plhqo" sou, “your abundance”) which reflects a reading of רֹבְכָה (“your abundance”) as well. It should be noted that the plene form of the 2nd person feminine singular suffix appears elsewhere in the MT of this verse: מַלְאָכֵכֵה (malakhekheh, “your messenger”). Although there is good evidence for the alternate traditions, the MT reading may be retained for three reasons: (1) The burning of enemy chariots was a common threat in ancient Near Eastern warfare (see D. R. Hillers, Treaty-Curses and the Old Testament Prophets, 60; K. J. Cathcart, “Treaty-Curses and the Book of Nahum,” CBQ 35 [1973]: 182). (2) The singular רֶכֶב (rekhev, “chariot”) is often used collectively to refer to all the chariots of a nation (Exod 14:7; Josh 11:4; 24:6; Judg 4:7, 13; 5:28). (3) The abrupt shift from the 2nd person feminine singular suffix on אֵלַיִךְ (’elayikh, “I am against you!”) to the 3rd person feminine singular suffix on רִכְבָּהּ (“her chariot”) is an example of a common poetic/stylistic device: heterosis of second to third person (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 525 [4.5]). The 2nd person feminine singular suffix in the translation above is used simply for smooth literary style. This is a good example of how sensitivity to figures of speech, ancient Near Eastern backgrounds, and syntax can prevent unnecessary textual emendations.

12 tn Heb “with smoke.” The term “smoke” (עָשָׁן, ’ashan) is a figure of speech (metonymy of effect for the cause) representing the fire which produces the smoke (Josh 8:19-20; Isa 65:5; cf. Rev 14:11). In the translation this has been replaced with “fire” since most English readers would find the expression “to burn [something] with smoke” unfamiliar.

13 tc The MT reads וּכְפִירַיִךְ (ukhÿfirayikh, “and your young lions”), as reflected by the LXX. The BHS editors emend to וּגִיבֹּרַיִךְ (ugibborayikh, “and your warriors”); this lacks textual support and is unnecessary.

sn The Assyrian warriors are pictured as young lions in Nah 2:11-13. The Assyrians often pictured themselves with lion imagery (see D. Marcus, “Animal Similes in Assyrian Royal Inscriptions,” Or 46 [1977]: 87).

14 tn Heb “I will cut off your prey from the land.”

15 tc The MT reading מַלְאָכֵכֵה (malakhekheh, “your messengers”) has a very unusual ending: the plural ending of the noun is spelled defectively (short spelling), while the 2nd person feminine singular pronominal suffix is spelled plene (long spelling); see GKC 258 §91.l. It is possible that the final ה (hey) is due to dittography with the first letter of the first word of the next verse, הוֹי (hoy, “Woe!”). On the other hand, the LXX reads τὰ ἔργα σου (ta erga sou, “your deeds”) which reflects מַלְאֲכַיִךְ (malakhayikh, “your deeds”) – a confusion of מַלְאָךְ (malakh, “messenger”) for מְלָאכָה (mÿlakhah, “deed”) due to the unusual Hebrew ending here.



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