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Nahum 3:8-10

Nineveh Will Suffer the Same Fate as Thebes

3:8 You are no more secure 1  than Thebes 2 

she was located on the banks of the Nile;

the waters surrounded her,

her 3  rampart 4  was the sea,

the water 5  was her wall.

3:9 Cush 6  and Egypt had limitless strength; 7 

Put and the Libyans 8  were among 9  her 10  allies. 11 

3:10 Yet she went into captivity as an exile; 12 

even her infants were smashed to pieces 13  at the head of every street.

They cast lots 14  for her nobility; 15 

all her dignitaries were bound with chains.

1 tn Heb “Are you better than Thebes?”

2 tn Heb “No-Amon.” The name is transliterated by NAB, NASB; many other English versions employ the equivalent “Thebes.”

3 tn The relative pronoun אֲשֶׁר (’asher) is functioning in a possessive sense: “whose” (Job 37:17; Ps 95:5; Isa 5:28; 49:23; Jer 31:32; see HALOT 98 s.v. 4).

4 tn The consonantal form חיל is vocalized in the MT as חֵיל (khel, “rampart”). The LXX translation ἡ ἀρξή (Jh arxh, “strength”) reflects confusion between the relatively rare חֵיל and the more common חַיִל (khayil, “strength”); see HALOT 310-12.

5 tn Heb “from (the) sea.” The form should be emended to מַיִם (mayim, “water”). This is a figurative description of the Nile River: It functioned like a fortress wall for Thebes.

6 sn Cush is the Hebrew name for the ancient kingdom of Ethiopia (also known as Nubia) along the Nile valley south of Aswan in Egypt. Many modern English versions render this “Ethiopia,” but this area is not to be confused with modern Ethiopia (i.e., Abyssinia).

7 tn Or “Cush was limitless and Egypt was strong.” The NIV treats the two nations (“Cush and Egypt”) as a hendiadys of the predicate and translates them as one clause. On the other hand, NJPS treats them separately and translates them in two different clauses.

8 tn Heb “Lubim.” Most modern English versions render this as “Libya” or “the Libyans.”

9 tn The preposition בְּ (bet) in בְּעֶזְרָתֵךְ (bÿezratekh) should probably be taken as a bet of identity rather than in a locative sense (DCH 2:84 s.v. בְּ 7; HALOT 104 s.v. בְּ 3).

10 tc Although the LXX and Syriac read a 3 fs suffix, the 2 fs suffix on MT בְּעֶזְרָתֵךְ (bÿezratekh, “your strength”) should be retained because of the support of 4QpNah, which reads בעזרתך. The MT is the more difficult reading and best explains the origin of the variants, which attempt to harmonize with the preceding 3 fs suffix.

tn Heb “your strength.”

sn This is an example of enallage – a figure of speech in which a speaker addresses a party who is not present. Here, the prophet Nahum addresses the city of Thebes.

11 tn The Hebrew noun עָזָר (’azar) has been understood in two ways: (1) In the light of the Ugaritic root gzr (“hero, valiant one, warrior”), several scholars posit the existence of the Hebrew root II עָזַר (“warrior”), and translate בְּעֶזְרָתֵךְ (bÿezratekh) as “in your army” (M. Dahood, Psalms, 1:210; P. Miller, “Ugaritic GZR and Hebrew `ZR II,” UF 2 [1970]: 168). (2) It is better to relate the Hebrew עָזָר to Canaanite izirtu (“military help”) which appears several times in the El-Amarna correspondence: “Let him give you soldiers and chariots as help for you so that they may protect the city” (EA 87:13) and “I have provided help for Tyre” (EA 89:18); see K. J. Cathcart, “More Philological Studies in Nahum,” JNWSL 7 (1979): 11.

12 tc The MT reads לַגֹּלָה (laggolah, “as a captive”) with the preposition לְ (lamed) denoting essence/identity. On the other hand, 4QpNah reads בגולה (“as a captive”) with the preposition בְּ (bet) denoting essence/identity (“as a captive”). The LXX’s αἰξμάλωτος (aixmalwto", “as a prisoner”) does not reveal which preposition was the original.

13 tc The past-time reference of the context indicates that the Pual verb יְרֻטְּשׁוּ (yÿruttÿshu) is a preterite describing past action (“they were smashed to pieces”) rather than an imperfect describing future action (“they will be smashed to pieces”). The past-time sense is supported by the Syriac and Vulgate. The LXX, however, misunderstood the form as an imperfect. Not recognizing that the form is a preterite, the BHS editors suggest emending to Pual perfect רֻטְּשׁוּ (ruttÿshu, “they were smashed to pieces”). This emendation is unnecessary once the possibility of a preterite is recognized. The Masoretic reading is supported by the reading ירוטשו found in the Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpNah 3:10).

14 tc The MT reads יַדּוּ (yadu, “they cast [lots]”) from יָדַד (yadad, “to cast [lots]”). On the other hand, the Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpNah) read ירו (“they threw, cast [lots]”) from יָרָה (yarah, “to throw, cast [lots]”) (e.g., Josh 18:6). The textual variant arose due to orthographic confusion between ד (dalet) and ר (resh) – two Hebrew letters very similar in appearance. The root יָדַד is relatively rare – it occurs only two other times (Obad 11; Joel 4:3 [3:3 ET]) – therefore, it might have been confused with יָרָה which appears more frequently.

15 tc The MT and Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpNah) read ועל נכבדיה (“for her nobles”). The LXX reflects וְעַל כָּל נִכְבַּדֶּיהָ (vÿal kol nikhbaddeha, “for all her nobles”), adding כָּל (“all”). The LXX addition probably was caused by the influence of the repetition of כָּל in the preceding and following lines.

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