Internet Verse Search Commentaries Word Analysis ITL - draft

Nahum 2:6


The sluice gates 1  are opened; the royal palace is deluged 2  and dissolves. 3 


Isa 45:1,2; 2Pe 3:10,11

NET © Notes

tn Or “river dam gates”; NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT “river gates.”

sn Nineveh employed a system of dams and sluice gates to control the waters of the Tebiltu and Khoser Rivers which flowed through the city (R. C. Thompson and R. W. Hutchinson, A Century of Exploration at Nineveh, 120-132). However, the Tebiltu often flooded its banks inside the city, undermining palace foundations and weakening other structures. To reduce this flooding, Sennacherib changed the course of the Tebiltu inside the city. Outside the city, he dammed up the Khoser and created a reservoir, regulating the flow of water into the city through an elaborate system of double sluice gates (D. D. Luckenbill, Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylon, 99-100; J. Reade, “Studies in Assyrian Geography, Part I: Sennacherib and the Waters of Nineveh,” RA 72 [1978]: 47-72; idem, “Studies in Assyrian Geography, Part II: The Northern Canal System,” RA 72 [1978]: 157-80). According to classical tradition (Diodorus and Xenophon), just before Nineveh fell, a succession of very high rainfalls deluged the area. The Khoser River swelled and the reservoir was breached. The waters rushed through the overloaded canal system, breaking a hole twenty stades (about 2.3 miles or 3.7 km) wide in the city wall and flooding the city. When the waters receded, the Babylonians stormed into Nineveh and conquered the city (Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica, 2.26-27, especially 27.1-3; Xenophon, Anabasis, 3.4.12; P. Haupt, “Xenophon’s Account of the Fall of Nineveh,” JAOS 28 [1907]: 65-83). This scenario seems to be corroborated by the archaeological evidence (A. T. Olmstead, History of Assyria, 637).

tn Heb “and the palace melts.” The Niphal perfect נָמוֹג (namog, “is undulated”) from מוּג (mug, “to melt, to soften, to dissolve”) is sometimes used of material objects (earth, hills) being softened or eroded by water (Ps 65:11; Amos 9:13). Nahum pictures the river banks inside Nineveh overflowing in a torrent, crashing into the royal palace and eroding its limestone slab foundations.

sn Ironically, a few decades earlier, Sennacherib engaged in a program of flood control because the Tebiltu River often flooded its banks inside Nineveh and undermined the palace foundations. Sennacherib also had to strengthen the foundations of his palace with “mighty slabs of limestone” so that “its foundation would not be weakened by the flood of high water” (D. D. Luckenbill, Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylon, 99-100). At the time of the fall of Nineveh, the Palace of Ashurbanipal was located on the edge of the sharpest bend of the Khoser River as it flowed through the city; when the Khoser overflowed its banks, the palace foundation was weakened (J. Reade, “Studies in Assyrian Geography, Part I: Sennacherib and the Waters of Nineveh,” RA 72 [1978]: 51).

tn Or “the palace collapses and crumbles.” The Hophal perfect 3rd person masculine singular וְהֻצַּב (vÿhutsav) is from either I נָצַב (“to stand”; HALOT 715 s.v. I נצב; BDB 662 s.v. נָצַב) or II נָצַב (“to dissolve, weaken”; HALOT 715 s.v. II נצב). Many scholars who take וְהֻצַּב from I נָצָב (“to stand”) suggest that the meaning is “it is fixed; it is determined” (BDB 662 s.v. נָצַב). This is followed by several English versions: “it is decreed” (NIV, NRSV) and “it is fixed” (NASB). This is a rather awkward idea and does not seem to fit the context of the description of the destruction of the palace or the exile of the Ninevites. On the other hand, several scholars suggest that וְהֻצַּב is derived from נָצָב II (“to be weak”; cf. Ps 39:6; Zech 11:16;) which is related to Arabic nasiba (“to be weak”) or Arabic nasaba (“to suck out, to dissolve”) and Assyrian nasabu (“to suck out”); see W. H. F. Saggs, “Nahum and the Fall of Nineveh,” JTS 20 (1969): 220-21; R. D. Patterson, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (WEC), 69-70. As a parallel word to נָמוֹג (namog, “is deluged” or “melts”), וְהֻצַּב (“is weakened” or “is dissolved”) describes the destructive effect of the flood waters on the limestone foundations of the palace. The verse divisions in the MT place וְהֻצַּב at the beginning of v. 7 ET [v. 8 HT]; however, it probably should be placed at the end of v. 6 ET [v. 7 HT] and connected with the last two words of the line: וְהַהֵיכָל נָמוֹג וְהֻצַּב (vÿhahekhal namog vÿhutsav, “the palace is deluged and dissolved”; see Patterson, 69-70). This is supported by several factors: (1) the gender of וְהֻצַּב is masculine, while the verbs in v. 7 are feminine: גֻּלְּתָה הֹעֲלָתָה (gullÿtah hoalatah, “she is led into exile and taken away”); (2) the gender of the final verb in v. 6 is masculine: נָמוֹג (“[the palace] is deluged”); (3) both וְהֻצַּב and נָמוֹג are passive verbs (Niphal and Hophal); (4) both נָמוֹג (“is deluged”) and וְהֻצַּב (“is dissolved/weakened”) are parallel in meaning, describing the effects of flood waters on the limestone foundation of the royal palace; (5) this redivision of the lines produces a balanced 3+3 and 2+2 colon count in these two lines; and (6) this produces a balance of two verbs each in each colon. The meaning of וְהֻצַּב is notoriously difficult. Scholars offer over a dozen different proposals but only the most important are summarized here: (1) Most scholars take וְהֻצַּב as Hophal perfect 3rd person masculine singular with vav (ו) conjunction from I נָצַב (“to stand”), meaning “it is fixed; it is determined” (BDB 662 s.v. נָצַב). This is followed by several English versions: “it is decreed” (NIV, NRSV) and “it is fixed” (NASB). The LXX translation καὶ ἡ ὑπόστασις (kai Jh Jupostasi", “and the foundation”) reflects a reading of וְהֻצַּב with a meaning similar to its use in Gen 28:12 (“a stairway resting on the earth”) or a reading of וְהַמַּצָּב (vÿhammatsav) from the noun מַצָּב (matsav, “place of standing”; cf. BDB 662 s.v. מַצָּב; HALOT 620 s.v. מַצָּב). (2) The BHS editors suggest emending to Hophal perfect 3rd person feminine singular וְהֻצְאָה (vÿhutsah) from יָצָא (yatsa’, “to go out”), meaning “she is led out into exile” or “she is led out to be executed” (HALOT 427 s.v. יצא; see, e.g., Gen 38:25; Jer 38:22; Ezek 14:22; 38:8; 44:5; Amos 4:3). (3) Early Jewish interpreters (Targum Jonathan, Kimchi, Rashi) and modern Christian interpreters (e.g., W. A. Maier, Nahum, 259-62) view וְהֻצַּב as the proper name of an Assyrian queen, “Huzzab.” This is adopted by several English versions: “And Huzzab is exiled” (KJV, RV, NJPS). However, this view has been severely criticized by several scholars because no queen in Assyrian history is known by this name (G. R. Driver, “Farewell to Queen Huzzab!” JTS 16 [1965]: 296-98; W. H. F. Saggs, “Nahum and the Fall of Nineveh,” JTS 20 [1969]: 220). (4) Several scholars suggest that וְהֻצַּב is the Hophal perfect of II נָצַב which is related to Assyrian nasabu (“to suck out”) and Arabic nasaba (“to suck out; to dissolve”), as in Ps 39:6 and Zech 11:16. Taking גֻּלְּתָה (gullÿtah) as the noun “column-base” (see translator’s note on the word “exile” in this verse), Saggs translates the line as: “its column-base is dissolved” (W. H. F. Saggs, “Nahum and the Fall of Nineveh,” JTS 20 [1969]: 220-21). Patterson connects it to the last two words of the previous line: וְהַהֵיכָל נָמוֹג וְהֻצַּב, “The palace collapses and crumbles” (Patterson, 69-70). (5) Driver revocalizes it as the noun וְהַצֹּב (“and the [captive] train”) which he relates to the Arabic noun sub (“train”): “the train of captives goes into exile” (so NEB). This is reflected in the Greek text of the Minor Prophets from Nahal Heber which took וְהֻצַּב as “wagon, chariot.” (6) Cathcart suggests that the MT’s וְהֻצַּב may be repointed as וְהַצַּב which is related to Assyrian hassabu (“goddess”). (7) Several scholars emend to וְהַצְּבִי (vÿhatsÿvi, “the Beauty”) from צְבִי (tsÿvi, “beauty”) and take this as a reference to the statue of Ishtar in Nineveh (K. J. Cathcart, Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic [BibOr], 96-98; M. Delcor, “Allusions à la déesse Istar en Nahum 2,8?” Bib 58 [1977]: 73-83; T. Longman, “Nahum,” The Minor Prophets, 2:806). (8) R. L. Smith (Micah-Malachi [WBC], 82) derives consonantal והצב from נְצִיב (nitsiv, “pillar”; HALOT 716-17 s.v. נְצִיב) which is related to Assyrian nisibi which refers to the statue of a goddess.

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