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(0.21) (Nah 1:7)

sn The phrase “time of distress” (בְּיוֹם צָרָה) refers to situations in which God’s people are oppressed by enemy armies (Isa 33:2; Jer 14:8; 15:11; 16:19; Obad 12; Pss 20:2; 37:39). Nahum may be alluding to recent Assyrian invasions of Judah, such as Sennacherib’s devastating invasion in 701 b.c., in which the Lord protected the remnant within the fortress walls of Jerusalem (2 Kgs 18-19; 2 Chr 32; Isa 36-37).

(0.18) (Joh 18:28)

sn The permanent residence of the Roman governor of Palestine was in Caesarea (Acts 23:35). The governor had a residence in Jerusalem which he normally occupied only during principal feasts or in times of political unrest. The location of this building in Jerusalem is uncertain, but is probably one of two locations: either (1) the fortress or tower of Antonia, on the east hill north of the temple area, which is the traditional location of the Roman praetorium since the 12th century, or (2) the palace of Herod on the west hill near the present Jaffa Gate. According to Philo (Embassy 38 [299]) Pilate had some golden shields hung there, and according to Josephus (J. W. 2.14.8 [2.301], 2.15.5 [2.328]) the later Roman governor Florus stayed there.

(0.14) (Sos 2:14)

sn The dove was a common figure for romantic love in ancient Near Eastern love literature. This emphasis seems to be suggested by his use of the term “my dove.” Just as the young man heard the voice of the turtledove in 2:12, so now he wants to hear her voice. Doves were often associated with timidity in the ancient world. Being virtually defenseless, they would often take refuge in crevices and cliffs for safety (Jer 48:28). The emphasis on timidity and the need for security is undoubtedly the emphasis here because of the explicit description of this “dove” hiding in the “clefts of the rock” and in “the hiding places of the mountain crevice.” Fortresses were sometimes built in the clefts of the rocks on mountainsides because they were inaccessible and therefore, in a secure place of safety (Jer 49:16; Obad 3). Perhaps he realized it might be intimidating for her to join him and communicate with him freely. She would need to feel secure in his love to do this. It would be easy for her to hide from such emotionally exposing experiences.

(0.14) (Sos 8:9)

sn The verb צוּר (tsur, “to surround, encircle, enclose”) is often used in military contexts in reference to the siege or defense of a fortress city: (1) setting up military positions (siege walls) to surround a besieged city (e.g., Isa 29:3); (2) encircling and laying siege to a city (e.g., Deut 20:12, 19; 2 Sam 11:1; 1 Kgs 15:27; 16:17; 20:1; 2 Kgs 6:24-25; 17:5; 19:9; 24:11; 1 Chr 20:1; Isa 21:2; 29:3; Jer 21:4, 9; 32:2; 37:5; 39:1; Ezek 4:3; Dan 1:1); (3) enclosing a city with sentries (e.g., Isa 29:3); (4) shutting a person within a city (1 Sam 23:8; 2 Sam 20:15; 2 Kgs 16:5); and (5) barricading a city door shut to prevent the city from being broken into and conquered (e.g., Song 8:7) (HALOT 1015 s.v. I צור).

(0.14) (Jer 6:27)

tn Heb “I have made you an assayer of my people, a tester [?].” The meaning of the words translated “assayer” (בָּחוֹן, bakhon) and “tester” (מִבְצָר, mivtsar) is uncertain. The word בָּחוֹן (bakhon) can mean “tower” (cf. BDB 103 s.v. בָּחוֹן; cf. Isa 23:13 for the only other use) or “assayer” (cf. BDB 103 s.v. בָּחוֹן). The latter would be the more expected nuance because of the other uses of nouns and verbs from this root. The word מִבְצָר (mivtsar) normally means “fortress” (cf. BDB 131 s.v. מִבְצָר), but most modern commentaries and lexicons deem that nuance inappropriate here. HALOT follows a proposal that the word is to be repointed to מְבַצֵּר (mÿvatser) and derived from a root בָּצַר (batsar) meaning “to test” (cf. HALOT 143 s.v. IV בָּצַר). That proposal makes the most sense in the context, but the root appears nowhere else in the OT.

(0.14) (Jer 44:1)

sn The first three cities, Migdol, Tahpanhes, and Memphis, are located in Northern or Lower Egypt. Memphis (Heb “Noph”) was located south of Heliopolis (which was referred to earlier as “the temple of the sun”) and was about fourteen miles (23 km) south of Cairo. For the identification and location of Tahpanhes see the study note on Jer 43:7. The location of Migdol has been debated but is tentatively identified with a border fortress about twenty-five miles (42 km) east-northeast of Tahpanhes. The “region of southern Egypt” is literally “the land of Pathros,” the long Nile valley extending north and south between Cairo and Aswan (biblical Syene). For further information see the discussion in G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, T. G. Smothers, Jeremiah 26-52 (WBC), 262-63. Reference here is to Judean exiles who had fled earlier as well as to those from Mizpah who were led into Egypt by Johanan and the other arrogant men (43:3, 5).

(0.14) (Nah 2:5)

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.”

(0.12) (Amo 7:7)

tn The Hebrew word אֲנָךְ (’anakh, “tin”) occurs only in this passage (twice in this verse and twice in the following verse). (Its proposed meaning is based on an Akkadian cognate annaku.) The tin wall of the vision, if it symbolizes Israel, may suggest weakness and vulnerability to judgment. See S. M. Paul, Amos (Hermeneia), 233-35. The symbolic significance of God holding tin in his hand and then placing tin among the people is unclear. Possibly the term אֲנָךְ in v. 8b is a homonym meaning “grief” (this term is attested in postbiblical Hebrew). In this case there is a wordplay, the אֲנָךְ (“tin”) of the vision suggesting the אֲנָךְ (“grief”) that judgment will bring upon the land. See F. I. Andersen and D. N. Freedman, Amos (AB), 759. Another option is to maintain the meaning “tin” and understand that the Lord has ripped off a piece of the tin wall and placed it in front of all to see. Their citadels, of which the nation was so proud and confident, are nothing more than tin fortresses. The traditional interpretation of these verses (reflected in many English versions) understands the term אֲנָךְ to mean “lead,” and by extension, “plumb line.” In this case, one may translate: “I saw the sovereign one standing by a wall built true to plumb holding a plumb line in his hand. The Lord said to me, ‘What do you see, Amos?’ I said, ‘A plumb line.’ The sovereign one then said, ‘Look, I am about to place a plumb line among my people…’” According to this view, the plumb line symbolizes God’s moral standards by which he will measure Israel to see if they are a straight or crooked wall.

(0.12) (Sos 4:4)

tn Scholars debate whether this refers to (1) the interior walls of a tower upon which warriors would hang their shields when not in use or (2) the external upper wall of a military fortress upon which warriors would hang their shields to add to their protection during battle. A few scholars suggest that what is pictured here are the internal walls of the tower and, on the basis of Ezek 27:10-11, posit that in the ancient world there was a practice in which mercenaries, who had joined themselves to a king, would hang their shields upon his fortress wall as a sign of their allegiance. Following Crim, Deere suggests, “the custom of hanging shields on the tower was symbolic of the warriors’ allegiance to and valor for a particular king.” Crim suggests that the point of comparison of his praise would be something similar to what follows: “Just as the fame of Tyre in Ezek. 27:11 attracted mercenaries, the fame of the tower of David has attracted soldiers to come and enter its service. The shields hanging there show that they have given their allegiance to the tower. Your neck is like that tower. It is so beautiful that it could win the allegiance of a thousand heroic soldiers.” We would then translate something like this: “Your neck attracts men as the tower of David attracts warriors. A thousand heroic soldiers would swear allegiance to your beauty.” J. S. Deere suggests that the point of the comparison is that the bride’s neck was so beautiful and majestic that mighty warriors from near and far would have given their allegiance to her…It is as if he were saying that these soldiers would be willing to surrender their shields to her beauty. On the other hand, most scholars suggest that it refers to the common practice in the ancient Near East of lining the top wall of a military fortress tower with shields, behind which the soldiers could stand for protection leaving both hands free for bow and arrows (Note: It is possible to view Ezek 27:10-11 and 2 Chr 32:5 in this manner). This is supported by ancient Near Eastern art which pictures such a practice, especially by the relief of Sennacherib’s siege of Lachish which shows the top wall of Lachish lined with shields. The Illustrated Family Encyclopedia of the Living Bible, 10:56, notes: “The art of the ancient East often shows us the shields that were, in time of war, set in position on the towers of the city walls, so that defenders could safely fire arrows and hurl stones while standing upright behind them.” Those who see this as the imagery all agree that the point of comparison is to jeweled necklaces with pendants which could be compared to shields, as in 1:10-11 (A. Robert, T. J. Meek, G. Gerlemann, A. M. Honeyman, B. S. J. Isserlin, J. McKenzie). McKenzie expresses this view when he posits that she was wearing jewelry around her neck and that this was being compared to the shields hung around this military tower: “One of the many physical charms that the Beloved finds in his mistress (Song of Sol. 4:1-4) is her long neck which, with its stately poise, reminds him of the lofty tower of David. Just as this tower is hung all round with shields placed there by mighty men of valor, so is his mistress’ neck adorned with chains and strings of jewels. This is supported by the fact that 4:9 explicitly mentions a necklace with a multitude of jewels in it which she was wearing at this time. And Isserlin suggests that the complete image in view fits the evidence of both ancient Near Eastern military towers and jewelry which has been recovered archaeologically: “It seems to the present writer that a reading of the verse…can be taken to refer to the presence not of one, but two elements on the tower: there is the coursed masonry, and on top of it there are the shields. If we keep the idea that a multiple necklace is alluded to, then this should be made up of two kinds of elements: on top there should be a series of beads resembling round shields; below we should find something resembling either the short or the long side of building stones (according to whether the masonry is laid in headers or stretchers). Can necklaces of this type be found in the ancient Near East? It seems to the writer that the well-known sculpture from Arsos in Cyprus (Pl. VI) represents just this type of necklace. The upper beads do look like a row of round shields, as shown on the tower in the relief slab representing Sennacherib’s siege of Lachish, while the lower elements do evoke roughly bossed headers, as found in ancient Palestinian defence works” (B. S. J. Isserlin, The Israelites, 59, and plate VI). Composite necklaces such as this one might be referred to in Prov 1:9. In any case, it is quite unlikely that the point of comparison was that she had a large, muscular neck, as some have suggested (M. Jastrow, L. Waterman, and R. Gordis). See A. M. Honeyman, “Two Contributions to Canaanite Toponymy,” JTS 50 (1949): 51; B. S. J. Isserlin, “Song of Songs IV, 4: An Archaeological Note,” PEQ 90 (1958): 59-61; The Illustrated Family Encyclopedia of the Living Bible, 10:56; K. R. Crim, “Your Neck is Like the Tower of David (The Meaning of a Simile in the Song of Solomon 4:4),” BT 22:2 (April 1977): 70-74.

(0.07) (Sos 4:4)

tn The feminine noun לְתַלְפִּיּוֹת (lÿtalpiyyot) is a hapax legomenon of uncertain etymology. Various attempts have been made to find the origin of this word, but they are all uncertain. LXX εἰς θαλπιωθ (eis qalpiwq) simply transliterated the word, taking it as a proper name of a locality (Tel Pivoth). Similarly, Dom Calmet treated תלפיות as a compound word (תֵּל, tal, “hill,” and פֵּיוֹת, peyot, “mouths”) as a reference to a tower built by David on a height in the valleys of Lebanon. The Talmud suggests that the term refers to Jerusalem as the hill (תֵּל) to which all mouths (פיות) turn (b.Berakhot 30a). Aquila reads εἰς ἐπάλξεις (eis epalxeis) and Symmachus εἰς ὓψη (eis {uyh), while Vulgate has cum propugnaculis. Ibn Ezra redivided לתלפיות as ל תל פיות “for suspending weapons” by taking פֵּיוֹת (“mouths” = edge of swords) as a reference to weaponry. This is reflected in several translations: “armoury” (KJV, AV, ASV), “arsenal” (RSV), and “fortress” (JB). The noun may be related to the Arabic root tlp (“to perish”) in a metonymical sense: “a cause of perishing,” i.e., a weapon. The Hebrew Piel verb תִּלֵּף (tillef) means “to hang up for display,” thus NEB suggests that it is derived from lpy which means “to arrange in courses,” i.e., “layered,” as a reference to the Bride’s layered necklace she wears. The NIV nuances it as “with elegance” and NEB “winding courses.” Perles connects תַלְפִּיּוֹת to Akkadian tilpanu (“bow”), while Haupt connects the word with the Shaphel stem of the Akkadian
labu (“to fortify”). Honeyman suggests that לְתַלְפִּיּוֹת is a feminine plural noun of the taqtilat nominal pattern from the root לפי which means “to arrange in courses.” HALOT notes that the phrase בָּנוּי לְתַלְפִּיּוֹת (banu lÿtalpiyyot) has been rendered in several ways: (1) “built with turrets,” (2) “built with siege-towers,” (3) “built in rows (of stones)” or “built in terraces.” Haupt and Krauss suggest that לְתַלְפִּיּוֹת בָּנוּי denotes “constructed for siege-towers” or “built for an armory.” Honeyman suggests that תַלְפִּיּוֹת is a feminine plural noun with a standard nominative prefix ת and is derived from the verbal root לפא (“to arrange in stones”). Probably, the best solution is to relate this Hebrew root to Akkadian lapu (“to surround, enclose”), Arabic laffa or lifafah (“to envelope”), and Aramaic lpp and lp’ (“to interlace, entwine, plait”). This is the simplest solution and does not demand emending the text. The preposition לְ (lÿ) could denote “in respect to” and the colon בָּנוּי לְתַלְפִּיּוֹת could be translated “built in rows (of stones)” or “built in terraces.” Thus, the phrase “built in rows of stones” refers to the outer walls of a tower built in spiraling rows of stones or built in terraces. This is a comparison of sight: (1) her neck was long and symmetrical or (2) she was wearing a strand of beads or necklaces wrapped around her neck like a tower built in spiraling rows of stones. See P. Haupt, “Heb. talpi’ot, Siege-Towers,” JBL 38 (1919): 186-88; S. Krauss, “The Archaeological Background of Some Passages in the Song of Songs,” JQR 32 (1941-42): 125-29; A. M. Honeyman, “Two Contributions to Canaanite Toponymy,” JTS 50 (1949): 51; B. S. J. Isserlin, “Song of Songs IV, 4: An Archaeological Note,” PEQ 90 (1958): 59-61; K. Crim, “‘Your Neck is Like the Tower of David’ (The Meaning of a Simile in Song of Solomon 4:4),” BT 22:2 (1977): 72-74; E. Klein, Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language, 704.

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