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Nahum 1:1-2

Context
Introduction

1:1 The oracle against Nineveh; 1 

the book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite: 2 

God Takes Vengeance against His Enemies

1:2 The Lord is a zealous 3  and avenging 4  God;

the Lord is avenging and very angry. 5 

The Lord takes vengeance 6  against his foes;

he sustains his rage 7  against his enemies.

1 tn Heb “of Nineveh.”

2 tn Or “Nahum of Elkosh” (NAB, NRSV).

3 tn Heb “jealous.” The Hebrew term קַנּוֹא (qanno’, “jealous, zealous”) refers to God’s zealous protection of his people and his furious judgment against his enemies. The root קָנָא (qana’) can denote jealous envy (Gen 26:14; 30:1; 37:11; Pss 37:1; 73:3; 106:16; Prov 3:31; 23:17; 24:1, 19; Ezek 31:9), jealous rivalry (Eccl 4:4; 9:6; Isa 11:13), marital jealousy (Num 5:14, 15, 18, 25, 30; Prov 6:34; 27:4), zealous loyalty (Num 11:29; 25:11, 13; 2 Sam 21:2; 1 Kgs 19:10, 14; 2 Kgs 10:16; Ps 69:10; Song 8:6; Isa 9:6; 37:32; 42:13; 59:17; 63:15; Zech 1:14; 8:2), jealous anger (Deut 32:16, 21; Ps 78:58), and zealous fury (Exod 34:14; Deut 5:9; 29:19; 1 Kgs 14:22; Job 5:2; Pss 79:5; 119:139; Prov 14:30; Isa 26:11; Ezek 5:13; 8:3; 16:38, 42; 23:25; 35:11; 36:5, 6; 38:19; Zeph 1:18). See BDB 888 s.v. קָנָא; E. Reuter, TDOT 13:47-58.

4 tn The syntax of this line has been understood in two ways: (1) as a single clause with the Lord as the subject: “A jealous and avenging God is the Lord” (NRSV; NASB) or “The Lord is a jealous and avenging God” (NIV); and (2) as two parallel clauses: “God is jealous, and the Lord avenges” (KJV). The LXX reflects the latter. Masoretic accentuation and Hebrew syntax support the former. Accentuation links קַנּוֹא וְנֹקֵם (qanovÿnoqem, “jealous and avenging”) together rather than dividing them into separate clauses. Normal word order suggests that קַנּוֹא וְנֹקֵם (“jealous and avenging”) are attributive adjectives modifying אֵל (’el, “God”). In verbless clauses such as this, the predicate normally precedes the subject; thus, “a jealous and avenging God” (אֵל קַנּוֹא וְנֹקֵם, ’el qannovÿnoqem) is the predicate and “the Lord” (יְהוָה, yÿhvah) is the subject.

5 tn Or “exceedingly wrathful”; Heb “a lord of wrath.” The idiom “lord of wrath” (וּבַעַל חֵמָה, uvaal khemah) means “wrathful” or “full of wrath” (Prov 22:24; 29:22). The noun “lord” (בַעַל) is used in construct as an idiom to describe a person’s outstanding characteristic or attribute (e.g., Gen 37:19; 1 Sam 28:7; 2 Kgs 1:8; Prov 1:17; 18:9; 22:24; 23:2; 24:8; Eccl 7:12; 8:8; 10:11, 20; Isa 41:15; 50:8; Dan 8:6, 20); see IBHS 149-51 §9.5.3.

6 tn The term נָקַם (naqam, “avenge, vengeance”) is used three times in 1:2 for emphasis. The Lord will exact just retribution against his enemies (the Assyrians) to avenge their wickedness against his people (Judah).

7 tn The verb “rage” (נָטַר, natar) is used elsewhere of keeping a vineyard (Song 1:6; 8:11-12) and guarding a secret (Dan 7:28). When used of anger, it does not so much mean “to control anger” or “to be slow to anger” (HALOT 695 s.v.) but “to stay angry” (TWOT 2:576). It describes a person bearing a grudge, seeking revenge, and refusing to forgive (Lev 19:18). It is often used as a synonym of שָׁמַר (shamar, “to maintain wrath, stay angry”) in collocation with לְעוֹלָם (lÿolam, “forever, always”) and לָעַד (laad, “continually”) to picture God harboring rage against his enemies forever (Jer 3:5, 12; Amos 1:11; Ps 103:9). The long-term rage depicted by נָטַר (“maintain rage”) serves as an appropriate bridge to the following statement in Nahum that the Lord is slow to anger but furious in judgment. God seeks vengeance against his enemies; he continually rages and maintains his anger; he is slow to anger, but will eventually burst out with the full fury of his wrath.



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