as well as 3 the majesty of Israel,
and have destroyed their fields. 6
“Plunder the silver! Plunder the gold!”
There is no end to the treasure;
riches of every kind of precious thing.
Their hearts faint, 9
their knees tremble, 10
1 tn The Qal perfect שָׁב (shav, “restore, return”) is an example of the so-called “prophetic perfect.” In this case, the perfect tense does not denote past-time action, but a future-time action that is pictured as complete (certain) and independent (not contingent upon other factors). The so-called “prophetic perfect” or “perfect of confidence” vividly expresses a future action that is deemed “as good as done” (Num 24:17; Isa 5:13; 8:23-9:1). See R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 33, §165; IBHS 489-90 §30.5.1. Though the transitive use of the Qal of this verb is problematic, most scholars derive שָׁב from the root שׁוּב (shuv, “to turn, to return, to restore”). However, W. A. Maier (Nahum, 232) contends that שָׁב is derived from I שָׁבַב (shavav, “to cut off, to destroy, to smite”) which is related to Arabic sabba (“to cut”), Aramaic sibba’(“splinter”), and New Hebrew. Maier admits that this would be the only occurrence of a verb from I שָׁבָב in the OT; however, he argues that the appearance of the plural noun שְׁבָבִים (shÿvavim, “splinters”) in Hos 8:6 provides adequate support. There are several problems with Maier’s proposal. First, his support from Arabic, Aramaic (Targum) and New Hebrew is all late. Second, it creates a hapax legomenon (a word that occurs only once in the Hebrew Bible) for a well-known Hebrew word which frequently appears in climactic contexts in prophetic speeches, as here. Third, the root שׁוּב (shuv, “to turn, to return, to restore”) makes perfectly good sense in this context. The meaning of this usage of שָׁב (from the root שׁוּב) is debated. The LXX took it in the negative sense “has turned aside.” On the other hand, it is nuanced in a positive, salvific sense by the Vulgate, Targum, and Syriac. The salvific nuance is best for the following reasons: (1) its direct object is גְּאוֹן (ge’on) which should be understood in the positive sense of “majesty; exaltation; glory” (see following note on the word “majesty”); (2) the motive clause introduced by causative/ explanatory כִּי (ki, “for”) would make little sense, saying that the reason the
2 tc The BHS editors propose emending the MT reading גְּאוֹן (gÿ’on, “majesty; pride”) to גֶּפֶן (gefen, “vineyard”) due to the mention of “their branches” (וּזְמֹרֵיהֶם, uzÿmorehem) in the following line (so HALOT 169 s.v. גָּאוֹן [2.b]). However, the LXX supports the MT.
tn While גְּאוֹן (ge’on) sometimes has the negative connotation “pride; arrogance; presumption” (Isa 13:11, 19; 14:11; 16:6; 23:9; Jer 13:9; 48:29; Ezek 16:49, 56; 32:12; Hos 5:5; 7:10; Amos 6:8; Zeph 2:10; Zech 9:6; 10:11; 11:3; Ps 59:13; Job 35:12; 40:10), it probably has the positive connotation “eminence; majesty; glory” (e.g., as in Exod 15:7; Isa 2:10, 19, 21; 4:2; 24:14; 60:15; Mic 5:3; Ps 47:5) in this context (BDB 145 s.v. 1.a).
3 tn The preposition כְּ (kaf) on כִּגְאוֹן (kig’on, “the glory of Israel”) may be comparative (“like the glory of Israel”) or emphatic (“the glory of Jacob, indeed, the glory of Israel”). See J. O’Rourke, “Book Reviews and Short Notes: Review of Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic by Kevin J. Cathcart,” CBQ 36 (1974): 397.
4 tn Or “for.” The introductory particle כִּי (ki) may be causal (“because”), explanatory (“for”), or concessive (“although”). KJV adopts the causal sense (“For”), while the concessive sense (“Although”) is adopted by NASB, NIV, NJPS, NRSV.
5 tn Heb “plunderers have plundered them.” The Hebrew root בָּקַק (baqaq, “to lay waste, to empty”) is repeated for emphasis: בְקָקוּם בֹּקְקִים (vÿqaqum boqÿqim, “plunderers have plundered them”). Similar repetition of the root בָּקַק occurs in Isa 24:3: “[The earth] will be completely laid waste” (הִבּוֹק תִּבּוֹק, hibboq tibboq).
6 tn Heb “their vine-branches.” The term “vine-branches” is a figurative expression (synecdoche of part for the whole) representing the agricultural fields as a whole.
7 tn The phrase “Her conquerors cry out” has been supplied from context.
8 tn Heb “Emptiness and devastation and being laid waste.” Several English versions attempt to reproduce the assonance, alliteration, and paronomasia of three similarly sounding Hebrew words: בּוּקַָה וּמְבוּקָה וּמְבֻלָּקָה (buqah umÿvuqah umÿvullaqah; NJPS “Desolation, devastation, and destruction!”; NRSV: “Devastation, desolation, and destruction!”).
sn Destruction, devastation, and desolation. The feminine form of each of these terms is used, referring to Nineveh (e.g., NASB: “She is emptied! Yes, she is desolate and laid waste!”). Conquered cities are often personified as a desolated woman (e.g., Isa 47:1; 54:1).
9 tn Heb “and melting heart.”
10 tn Heb “and tottering of knees.”
11 tn Heb “and shaking in all of the loins.”
12 tn Heb “all of their faces.”
13 tn Heb “gather” or “withdraw.” The Piel perfect קִבְּצוּ (qibbÿtsu) from קָבַץ (qavats, “to gather”) may be nuanced in the intensive sense “to gather glow; to glow [in excitement]” (HALOT 1063 s.v. קבץ pi. 4) or the privative sense “to take away, withdraw” (BDB 868 s.v. קָבַץ Pi.3). The phrase קִבְּצוּ פָארוּר (qibbÿtsu pa’rur) is very difficult; it occurs only here and in Joel 2:6 which also describes the fearful facial reaction to an invading army. It probably means: (1) to grow red in fear; (2) to grow pale in fear; or (3) to turn ashen in fear. This difficult phrase may be translated by the modern English idioms: “every face grows pale” or “every face flushes red in fear.”
14 tn The Hebrew term פָּארוּר (pa’rur) occurs only here and in Joel 2:6 where it also describes a fearful facial reaction. The meaning of פָּארוּר is debated and numerous etymologies have been suggested: (1) From פָּרוּר (parur, “cooking pot”; HALOT 964 s.v. פָּרוּר): LXX τὸ πρόσωπον πάντων ὡς πρόσκαυμα ξύτρας (to proswpon pantwn Jw" proskauma xutra", “all their faces are like a blackened/burned pot”); Vulgate et facies omnium sicut nigredo ollae (“all their faces are like a black pot”); Targum Jonathan (“covered with black like a pot”). This approach is adopted by the KJV and AV: “the faces of them all gather blackness.” (2) From פְּאֵר (pÿ’er, “beauty”). Taking קָבַץ (qavats) in a private sense (“gather in”), several scholars propose: “to draw in beauty, withdraw color,” hence: “their faces grow pale” (NASB, NIV); see K&D 26:192-93; A. Haldar, Studies in the Book of Nahum, 59. (3) From פָּרַר (parar, “break in pieces”). Due to fear, their faces have gathered wrinkles. (4) From IV פּרר (“to boil”), related to Arabic ’pr and Syriac npr (“to boil”): “their faces glow red in excitement” (HALOT 860 s.v.). (5) From פּאר (“grey, ash grey”): “their faces turn grey” (J. J. Gluck, “parur – paárur: A Case of Biblical Paronomasia,” OTWSA 12 : 21-26). The NJPS translation appears to adopt this approach: “all faces turn ashen.”