Internet Verse Search Commentaries Word Analysis ITL - draft

Nahum 1:12

Context
NET ©

This is what the Lord says: 1  “Even though 2  they are powerful 3  – and what is more, 4  even though their army is numerous 5  – nevertheless, 6  they will be destroyed 7  and trickle away! 8  Although I afflicted you, I will afflict you no more. 9 

NIV ©

This is what the LORD says: "Although they have allies and are numerous, they will be cut off and pass away. Although I have afflicted you, O Judah, I will afflict you no more.

NASB ©

Thus says the LORD, "Though they are at full strength and likewise many, Even so, they will be cut off and pass away. Though I have afflicted you, I will afflict you no longer.

NLT ©

This is what the LORD says: "Even though the Assyrians have many allies, they will be destroyed and disappear. O my people, I have already punished you once, and I will not do it again.

MSG ©

And GOD has something to say about all this: "Even though you're on top of the world, With all the applause and all the votes, you'll be mowed down flat. "I've afflicted you, Judah, true, but I won't afflict you again.

BBE ©

This is what the Lord has said: The days of my cause against you are ended; they are cut off and past. Though I have sent trouble on you, you will no longer be troubled.

NRSV ©

Thus says the LORD, "Though they are at full strength and many, they will be cut off and pass away. Though I have afflicted you, I will afflict you no more.

NKJV ©

Thus says the LORD: "Though they are safe, and likewise many, Yet in this manner they will be cut down When he passes through. Though I have afflicted you, I will afflict you no more;


KJV
Thus saith
<0559> (8804)
the LORD
<03068>_;
Though [they be] quiet
<08003>_,
and likewise many
<07227>_,
yet thus shall they be cut down
<01494> (8738)_,
when he shall pass through
<05674> (8804)_.
Though I have afflicted
<06031> (8765)
thee, I will afflict
<06031> (8762)
thee no more. {Though...: or, If they would have been at peace, so should they have been many, and so should they have been shorn, and he should have passed away} {cut down: Heb. shorn}
NASB ©
Thus
<03541>
says
<0559>
the LORD
<03068>
, "Though
<0518>
they are at full
<08003>
strength and likewise
<03651>
many
<07227>
, Even so
<03651>
, they will be cut
<01494>
off
<01494>
and pass
<05674>
away
<05674>
. Though I have afflicted
<06031>
you, I will afflict
<06031>
you no
<03808>
longer
<05750>
.
HEBREW
dwe
<05750>
Knea
<06031>
al
<03808>
Ktnew
<06031>
rbew
<05674>
wzgn
<01494>
Nkw
<03651>
Mybr
<07227>
Nkw
<03651>
Mymls
<08003>
Ma
<0518>
hwhy
<03068>
rma
<0559>
hk (1:12)
<03541>
LXXM
tade
<3592
D-APN
legei
<3004
V-PAI-3S
kuriov
<2962
N-NSM
katarcwn {V-PAPNS} udatwn
<5204
N-GPN
pollwn
<4183
A-GPN
kai
<2532
ADV
outwv
<3778
ADV
diastalhsontai {V-FPI-3P} kai
<2532
CONJ
h
<3588
T-NSF
akoh
<189
N-NSF
sou
<4771
P-GS
ouk
<3364
ADV
enakousyhsetai {V-FPI-3S} eti
<2089
ADV
NET © [draft] ITL
This is what
<03541>
the Lord
<03068>
says: “Even though
<01494>
they are powerful
<01494>
– and what is
<03651>
more
<07227>
, even though their army
<01494>
is
<03651>
numerous– nevertheless
<01494>
, they will be destroyed
<01494>
and trickle
<05674>
trickle
<08003>
away! Although I afflicted
<06031>
you, I will afflict
<06031>
you no
<03808>
more
<05750>
.
NET ©

This is what the Lord says: 1  “Even though 2  they are powerful 3  – and what is more, 4  even though their army is numerous 5  – nevertheless, 6  they will be destroyed 7  and trickle away! 8  Although I afflicted you, I will afflict you no more. 9 

NET © Notes

sn Verse 12 begins with a typical prophetic introduction (“This is what the Lord says”) in language similar to the typical ancient Near Eastern messenger formula (see C. Westermann, Basic Forms of Prophetic Speeches, 100-115). This formula is frequently used to introduce prophetic speeches (e.g., Jer 2:5; Ezek 2:4; Amos 1:3). The messenger formula indicates that the prophet’s message is not his own, but is a revelatory and prophetic oracle from the Lord. It confirms the authenticity of the message.

tn The syntax of this line is complicated and difficult to translate. The first clause is the concessive protasis of a real condition, while the second is the logical apodosis of a comparative clause. This creates an a fortiori argument: “Even though they are strong and likewise many, so much more will they be cut down and pass away!” The first use of the particle וְכֵן (vÿkhen, “Even though”) introduces a concessive or conditional protasis of a present-time or immediate future-time real condition (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 87, §515; IBHS 636-37 §38.2). The second use of the particle וְכֵן (“so much more…”) introduces the apodosis of a logical resultative clause (see IBHS 641-42 §38.5).

tn Or “are strong” (cf. NCV); or “are at full strength” (NAB, NRSV); or “are intact.” Alternately, “Even though they have allies” (cf. NIV, NLT). The Hebrew noun שְׁלֵמִים (shÿlemim, from שָׁלֵם [shalem]) means “complete, healthy, sound, safe, intact, peaceful” (BDB 1023-24 s.v. שָׁלֵם; HALOT 1538-1539 s.v. שָׁלֵם). It can connote “full strength” or “full number” of an object (Gen 15:16; Deut 25:15; Prov 11:1; Amos 1:6, 9). Most commentators view this as a reference to the strength or numbers of the Assyrian army: “strong” (R. L. Smith, Micah-Malachi [WBC], 77-78), “full strength” (NASB, NRSV) or “intact” (T. Longman, “Nahum,” The Minor Prophets, 2:798). On the other hand, NIV and NLT follow the lead of Wiseman who points out that שְׁלֵמִים can refer to military allies: “Even though they will have allies and so be all the more numerous” (D. J. Wiseman, “Is It Peace? Covenant and Diplomacy,” VT 32 [1982]: 311-26). Nahum refers to the allies of the Assyrians elsewhere (Nah 3:15-17).

tn The particle וְכֵן (vÿkhen, “and moreover”) functions as an emphatic comparative adverb of degree (BDB 486 s.v. כֵּן; IBHS 663, 665-67 §39.3.4). It draws a comparison between שְׁלֵמִים (shÿlemim, “strong”) and רַבִּים (rabbim, “many”) but goes one step further for emphasis. This creates an “A, what is more B!” parallelism: “They are strong – what is more – they are many!”

tc The MT reads אִם־שְׁלֵמִים וְכֵן רַבִּים (’im-shÿlemim vÿkhen rabbim, “Even though they are strong and numerous”). The complicated syntax of this line led to textual confusion and several textual variants among the versions. For example, the LXX’s κατάρξων ὑδάτων πολλῶν (katarxwn Judatwn pollwn, “ruler of many waters”) reflects מֹשֵׁל מַיִם רַבִּים (moshel mayim rabbim, “ruler of many waters”) which redivides the words, and omits the letter א (aleph) and the word וְכֵן (vÿkhen). Similarly, the Syriac reflects אֶל מֹשְׁלֵי מַיִם רַבִּים (’el mosÿle rabbim, “to the rulers of many waters”). The MT is the most difficult reading and therefore best explains the origin of these textual variants. Moreover, the LXX of Nahum is well-known for its unusual mistranslations of the Hebrew text of Nahum. The LXX butchers v. 12 in several other places (see below). All major English versions follow the MT here.

tn The particle וְכֵן (vÿkhen, “so much more…”) introduces the apodosis of a logical resultative clause (IBHS 641-42 §38.5). It emphasizes that the action described in the apodosis will occur almost immediately (e.g., 1 Kgs 20:40; Ps 48:6).

tn Heb “they will be sheared.” The term “cut off” (גָּזָז, gazaz) is ordinarily used to describe the literal actions of “shearing” sheep (Gen 31:19; 38:12-13; Deut 15:19; 18:4; 1 Sam 25:2, 4, 7, 11; 2 Sam 13:23-24; Job 31:20; Isa 53:7) and “cutting” hair (Jer 7:29; Mic 1:16; Job 1:20). It is used figuratively here to describe the destruction of the Assyrian army (BDB 159 s.v. גָּזַז; HALOT 186 s.v. גזז).

sn The expression they will be cut off is an example of a hypocatastasis (implied comparison); Nahum intentionally chose this term to compare the destruction of the Assyrians to the shearing of sheep. This word-play has great rhetorical impact because the Assyrians frequently used sheep imagery when boasting of the ease and brutality with which they defeated their enemies (see D. Marcus, “Animal Similes in Assyrian Royal Inscriptions,” Or 46 [1977]: 92-93). It is both appropriate (poetic justice) and ironic (reversal of situation) that the Assyrians themselves should suffer a fate which they boasted of inflicting upon others. They will be an easy, helpless prey for the Divine Warrior. Their punishment will fit their crimes.

tc In v. 12 the MT preserves a string of plural forms followed by a seemingly anomalous singular form: וְעָבָרנָגֹזּוּרַבִּיםשְׁלֵמִים (shÿlemimrabbimnagozzuvÿavar, “Even though they are numerous…they are many…they will be cut off…and he [?] will pass away”). Several other versions (LXX, Syr, Targum) read the plural form וְעָבָרוּ (vÿavaru, “and they will pass away”). Several scholars emend the MT to the plural form, noting that the next word (וְעִנִּתִךְ, vÿinnitikh) begins with vav (ו); they suggest that the plural ending of וְעָבָרוּ dropped out due to haplography or faulty word division (e.g., T. Longman, “Nahum,” The Minor Prophets, 2:798). Another scholar retains the consonantal text, but repoints the form as an infinitive absolute: “They will be cut off, passing away” (K. J. Cathcart). On the other hand, more conservative scholars defend the MT reading and try to solve the problem by suggesting a shift from a plural referent (the Assyrians) to a singular referent (God or the Assyrian king): “They shall be cut down, when he passes through” (KJV) and “They will be cut off and he will pass over” (R. L. Smith, Micah-Malachi [WBC], 77). Still others suggest that the singular form functions as a collective: “They will be cut off and [they] will pass away” (W. A. Maier, Nahum, 206; K&D 27:15).
However, rather than resorting to textual emendations or performing syntactical improbabilities, the best solution may be simply to posit the presence of a rhetorical, stylistic device. The shift from these plural forms to the concluding singular form may be an example of heterosis of the plural to the singular (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 525 [4.5]). This is a common poetic device used for emphasis, especially at the climactic point in a speech (e.g., Gen 29:27; Num 22:6; 32:25; Job 12:7; 18:2; Esth 9:23; Ps 73:7; Prov 14:1, 9; John 3:11; 1 Tim 2:15).

tn Or “pass away.” The term עָבַר (’avar, “to pass through”) is a key word in Nahum 1; it occurs three times (Nah 1:8, 12, 15 [2:1 HT]). This verb is often used in reference to water, both the raging onset of flood waters (Nah 1:8) and the passive trickling or dwindling away of receding waters (Job 6:15; 11:16).

sn The phrase trickle away is an example of a hypocatastasis (implied comparison); Nahum compares the destruction of the mighty Assyrians with the trickling away of once high waters. This imagery has strong rhetorical impact because the Assyrians often boasted that they overwhelmed their enemies like a flood. It is ironic then that they would soon dwindle away to a mere trickle! This is also an appropriate image in the light of the historical destruction of Nineveh through the use of flood waters, as predicted by the prophet (Nah 2:7-9) and recorded by ancient historians (Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica 2.26-27; Xenophon, Anabasis 3.4.12; also see P. Haupt, “Xenophon’s Account of the Fall of Nineveh,” JAOS 28 [1907]: 99-107).

tn The terms אֲעַנֵּךְ (’aannekh, “I will [no longer] afflict you”) and וְעִנִּתִךְ (vÿinnitikh, “I afflicted you”) are both derived from the root II עָנָה (’anah, “to afflict”). The LXX mistakenly confused this with the more common root I עָנָה (“to answer, respond”). Although it mistranslated the roots, the LXX reflects the same consonantal text as the MT: וְעִנִּתִךְ לֹא אֲעַנֵּךְ (vÿinnitikh lo’ ’aannekh, “Although I have afflicted you, I will afflict you no longer”). Some modern English versions supply various terms not in the Hebrew text to indicate the addressee: NIV “O Judah”; NLT “O my people.” Judah is specifically addressed in 1:15 (2:1 HT) and the feminine singular is used there, just as it is in 1:12.



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