New English Translation
Reason for Judgment: Sins of Nineveh
Portrayal of the Destruction of Nineveh
2 The chariot drivers will crack their whips;[e]
the chariot wheels will shake the ground.[f]
The chariot horses[g] will gallop;[h]
the war chariots[i] will bolt forward![j]
3 The charioteers[k] will charge ahead;[l]
their swords[m] will flash[n]
and their spears[o] will glimmer![p]
There will be many people slain;[q]
there will be piles of the dead
and countless casualties[r]—
so many that people[s] will stumble over the corpses.
Taunt against the Harlot City
4 Because[t] you have acted like a wanton prostitute[u]—
a seductive mistress who practices sorcery,[v]
who[w] enslaves[x] nations by her harlotry,[y]
and entices peoples by her sorcery[z]—
5 “I am against you,” declares the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.[aa]
“I will strip off your clothes![ab]
I will show your nakedness to the nations
and your shame to the kingdoms.
6 I will pelt you with filth;[ac]
I will treat you with contempt;
I will make you a public spectacle.
7 Everyone who sees you will turn away from you in disgust;
they will say, ‘Nineveh has been devastated!
Who will lament for her?’
There will be no one to comfort you!”[ad]
Nineveh Will Suffer the Same Fate as Thebes
8 You are no more secure[ae] than Thebes[af]—
she was located on the banks of the Nile;
the waters surrounded her—
her[ag] rampart[ah] was the sea,
the water[ai] was her wall.
9 Cush[aj] and Egypt had limitless strength;[ak]
Put and the Libyans[al] were among[am] her[an] allies.[ao]
10 Yet she went into captivity as an exile;[ap]
even her infants were smashed to pieces[aq] at the head of every street.
They cast lots[ar] for her nobility;[as]
all her dignitaries were bound with chains.
11 You too will act like drunkards;[at]
you will go into hiding;[au]
you too will seek refuge from the enemy.
The Assyrian Defenses Will Fail
12 All your fortifications will be like fig trees[av] with first-ripe fruit:[aw]
If they are shaken,[ax] their figs[ay] will fall[az] into the mouth of the eater.[ba]
13 Your warriors will be like women in your midst;
the gates of your land will be wide open[bb] to your enemies;
fire will consume[bc] the bars of your gates.[bd]
14 Draw yourselves water for a siege![be]
Strengthen your fortifications!
Trample the mud[bf] and tread the clay!
Make mud bricks to strengthen your walls![bg]
15 There the fire will consume[bh] you;
the sword will cut you down;
it will devour[bi] you like the young locust would.
The Assyrian Defenders Will Flee
Multiply yourself[bj] like the young locust;
multiply yourself like the flying locust!
16 Increase[bk] your merchants more than the stars of heaven!
They are like[bl] the young locust that sheds its skin[bm] and flies away.
17 Your courtiers[bn] are like locusts,
your officials[bo] are like a swarm of locusts!
They encamp in the walls on a cold day,
yet when the sun rises, they[bp] fly away,[bq]
and no one knows where they[br] are.[bs]
18 Your shepherds[bt] are sleeping, O king of Assyria.
Your officers[bu] are slumbering![bv]
Your people are scattered like sheep[bw] on the mountains,
and there is no one to regather them.
19 Your destruction is like an incurable wound;[bx]
your demise is like a fatal injury.[by]
All who hear what has happened to you[bz] will clap their hands for joy,[ca]
for no one ever escaped your endless cruelty![cb]
- Nahum 3:1 tn Heb “of bloods.” The plural noun דָּמִים (damim, “bloods”) connotes “bloodshed” or “blood guilt” (BDB 196-97 s.v. דָּם 2.f; HALOT 224-25 s.v. דָּם 5; DCH 2:443-47 s.v. דָּם). Human blood in its natural state in the body is generally designated by the singular form דָּם (dam, “blood”); after it has been spilled, the plural form is used to denote the abundance of blood in quantity (IBHS 119-20 §7.4.1; BDB 196-97 s.v. דָּם 2.f). The plural is often used with the verb שָׁפַךְ (shafakh, “to spill, to shed”) to connote bloodshed (Gen 9:6; 37:22; Lev 17:4; Num 35:33; Deut 21:7; 1 Sam 25:31; 1 Kgs 18:28; 2 Kgs 21:16; 24:4; 1 Chr 22:8; Ezek 16:38; 22:4, 6, 9, 12, 27; 23:45; 33:25; 36:18; Prov 1:16). The plural often denotes bloodshed (Gen 4:10; 2 Sam 3:27, 28; 16:8; 20:12; 1 Kgs 2:5; 2 Kgs 9:7, 26, 33; 2 Chr 24:25; Job 16:18; Isa 1:15; 4:4; 9:4; 26:21; 33:15; 34:3, 6, 7; Ezek 7:23; 16:6, 9, 36; 21:37 HT [21:32 ET]; 22:13; 24:8; Hos 1:4; 4:2; Hab 2:8, 12, 17; Mic 3:10; Zech 9:7) or blood-guilt (Exod 22:1; Lev 20:9; Num 35:27; Deut 19:10; 22:8; Judg 9:24; 1 Sam 25:26, 33; 2 Sam 21:1; Isa 33:15; Ezek 9:9). The term can refer to murder (2 Sam 16:7, 8; Pss 5:7 HT [5:6 ET]; 26:9; 55:24 HT [55:23 ET]; 59:3 HT [59:2 ET]; 139:10; Prov 29:10) or more generally, connote social injustice, cruelty, and oppression (Deut 21:8, 9; 1 Sam 19:5; 2 Kgs 21:6; 24:4; Pss 94:21; 106:38; Prov 6:17; Isa 59:7; Jer 7:6; 22:3; Joel 4:19 HT [3:19 ET]; Jonah 1:14). The term may refer to blood that has been shed in war (1 Kgs 2:5) and the unnecessary shedding of blood of one’s enemy (1 Kgs 2:31), which is probably the intended meaning here. The phrase “city of bloodshed” (עִיר דָּמִים [ʿir damim], “city of bloods”) is used elsewhere to describe a city held guilty before God of blood-guilt and about to be judged by God (Ezek 22:2; 24:6).
- Nahum 3:1 tn Heb “All of her [is] lying.”
- Nahum 3:1 tn Heb “full of plunder.”
- Nahum 3:1 tn Heb “prey does not depart.”
- Nahum 3:2 tn Heb “the sound of a whip.”
- Nahum 3:2 tn Heb “the shaking of a chariot wheel.”
- Nahum 3:2 tn Heb “a horse.”
- Nahum 3:2 tn Albright argues that the term דֹּהֵר (doher) should be translated as “chariot driver” (W. F. Albright, “The Song of Deborah in Light of Archaeology,” BASOR 62 : 30). More recent research indicates that this term denotes “to dash” (HALOT 215 s.v.) or “to gallop, neigh” (DCH 2:417 s.v. דהר I). It is used as a synonym for רָקַד (raqad, “to skip”). This Hebrew verb is related to Egyptian thr (“to travel by chariot”) and Arabic dahara VII (“to hurry”). The related noun דַּהֲרָה (daharah) means “dashing, galloping” (Judg 5:22; HALOT 215 s.v.; DCH 2:417 s.v. דַּהֲרָה I).
- Nahum 3:2 tn Heb “a chariot.”
- Nahum 3:2 tn The Piel participle מְרַקֵּדָה (meraqqedah, “jolting”) is from רַקַד (raqad); this verb means “to dance, to leap” (of children, Job 21:11), “to skip about, to dance” (Eccl 3:4), and “to leap” (of chariots, Joel 2:5). In related Semitic languages (Akkadian, Ugaritic, and Arabic) the root raqad means “to dance, to skip about.” Here, the verb is used as a figurative expression (hypocatastasis) to describe the jostling of the madly rushing war-chariots.
- Nahum 3:3 tn Heb “a horseman.” While the Hebrew term פָּרָס (paras) can also denote “horse” (1 Sam 8:11; Joel 2:4; Hab 1:8; Jer 46:4), the Hiphil participle מַעֲלֶה (maʾaleh, “cause to charge”) requires a human agent, clarifying that here פָּרָס refers here to “horsemen” charging their horses (2 Sam 1:6; 1 Kgs 20:20; Jer 4:29; 46:4) cf. HALOT 830 s.v. עָלָה.
- Nahum 3:3 tn The term מַעֲלֶה (maʿaleh; the Hiphil participle “cause to charge”) refers to charioteers bringing war-horses up to a charge or attack (e.g., Jer 46:9; 51:27). The ASV renders as the “[the horseman] mounting,” but this should be the Qal, while the KJV views the horseman as raising the sword and the spear, for which one would not expect the conjunction vav (ו) to begin the first direct object.
- Nahum 3:3 tn Heb “a sword.”
- Nahum 3:3 tn Heb “flash of a sword.” Alternately, “swords flash.” Although לַהַב (lahav) can mean “blade” (Judg 3:22; 1 Sam 17:7), it means “flash [of the sword]” here (e.g., Hab 3:11; see HALOT 520 s.v.) as suggested by its parallelism with וּבְרַק (uveraq, “flashing, gleaming point [of the spear]”); cf. Job 20:25; Deut 32:41; Hab 3:11; Ezek 21:15.
- Nahum 3:3 tn Heb “a spear.”
- Nahum 3:3 tn Heb “and flash of a spear.” Alternately, “spears glimmer” (HALOT 162 s.v. בָּרָק).
- Nahum 3:3 tn Heb “many slain.”
- Nahum 3:3 tc The MT reads לַגְּוִיָּה (laggeviyyah, “to the dead bodies”). The LXX reflects לְגוֹיָה (legoyah, “to her nations”) which arose due to confusion between the consonant ו (vav) and the vowel וֹ (holem-vav) in an unpointed text.tn Heb “There is no end to the dead bodies.”
- Nahum 3:3 tn Heb “they.”
- Nahum 3:4 tn The preposition מִן (min) on מֵרֹב (merov; Heb “from the abundance of harlotries”) is causal: “because of; in consequence of” (HALOT 598 מִן 6; BDB 579-80 s.v. מִן 2.e). See, e.g., Exod 2:23; 15:23; Deut 7:7; 2 Sam 3:11, 37; Job 22:4; Isa 6:4; 43:4; 53:5; Ezek 28:5, 18; Nah 1:5; Zech 2:8; see also IBHS 213 §11.2.11.d; R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 58, §319. The causal sense is supported by the LXX’s ἀπό (apo, “from, because of”). Most English versions adopt the causal sense (KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NJPS).
- Nahum 3:4 tn Heb “Because of the many harlotries of the harlot.” The MT connects v. 4 with vv. 5-6; however, the LXX connects v. 4 with vv. 1-3. The Masoretic division is followed by NRSV and NJPS; the LXX division is followed by KJV and NIV; and the NASB division equivocates on the issue. It is best to connect v. 4 with vv. 5-6 (following the MT) because: (1) vv. 1-3 constitute a self-contained woe-oracle; and (2) the theme of the harlot unifies vv. 4-6: the accusation against the harlot (v. 4) and the stereotypical punishment of the harlot (vv. 5-6).
- Nahum 3:4 tn Heb “fair of form, a mistress of sorceries.”
- Nahum 3:4 tn Heb “she.” This has been translated as a relative pronoun for stylistic reasons. The shift from second person feminine singular (“you”) to third person feminine singular (“she”) is an example of heterosis of persons, a common literary/poetic device used in Hebrew poetry and prophetic literature.
- Nahum 3:4 tc The MT reads the Qal participle הַמֹּכֶרֶת (hammokheret) which is derived from מָכַר (makhar, “to sell, to betray”): “the one who sells/betrays [nations].” The MT is supported by the LXX. The Dead Sea Scrolls read הממכרת (4QpNah 2:7): “the one who sells/betrays [nations]” (see DJD 5:38). Dahood repoints the MT as a Hophal participle, הַמֻּכֶּרֶת (hammukkeret) from נָכַר (nakhar, “to know, to recognize”): “the one who is known [by the nations for her harlotries]” (M. Dahood, “Causal Beth and the Root NKR in Nahum 3.4,” Bib 52 : 395-96). The BHS editors suggest emending the MT, due to metathesis, to הַכֹּמֶרֶת (hakkomeret) from II כמר (“to ensnare”; HALOT 482 s.v. II כמר) which is related to Assyrian kamaru [A] (“to ensnare”): “The one who ensnares [nations].” The related nouns “snare; net” (מִכְמָר, mikhmar) and “net” (מִכְמֶרֶת, mikhmeret) are used as metaphors of the wicked destroying their victims (Ps 141:10; Isa 51:20; Hab 1:15, 16). This approach is adopted by NJPS: “who ensnared nations.” Others suggest emending to the Qal participle הַכֹּמֶרֶת from III כמר (“to destroy, to overthrow”; BDB 485 s.v. III כמר) related to Assyrian kamaru [B] (“to destroy; to annihilate”): “the one who destroys nations.” The MT may be retained due to strong external support (LXX and 4QpNah) and adequate internal support; the conjectural emendations are unnecessary.tn Heb “sells.” Alternately, “enslaves”; or perhaps “deceives.” Most scholars derive the Qal participle הַמֹּכֶרֶת from מָכַר (makhar, “to sell, to betray”): “who sells nations.” When used in reference to people, this verb may denote three things: (1) to sell slaves or prisoners of war (Exod 21:8; Deut 21:14; 24:7; Joel 4:3, 6 HT [3:3, 6 ET]); (2) to sell off someone into the hands of the enemy, that is, to give someone entirely into their power (Exod 21:7; 22:2; Deut 32:30; Judg 2:14; 3:8; 4:2; 10:7; 1 Sam 12:9; Isa 50:1; Joel 4:8 HT [3:8 ET]; Ps 44:13); and (3) to betray someone (possibly the meaning here in Nah 3:4?); see HALOT 581-82 s.v. I מכר; BDB 569 s.v. מָכַר. This is related to Assyrian makara (“to carry out trade; to make merchandise of”). Some English versions nuance הַמֹּכֶרֶת as “who sells nations” (KJV, NASB); others nuance it metonymically, “who enslaves nations” (NIV, NRSV). Thomas derives הַמֹּכֶרֶת from II מָכַר (“to deceive, to beguile, to betray”) which is related to Arabic makara (“to betray”): “who deceives the nations” (D. W. Thomas, “The Root mkr in Hebrew,” JTS 37 : 388-89; idem, “A Further Note on the Root mkr in Hebrew,” JTS 3 : 214).
- Nahum 3:4 tn Heb “the one who sells nations by her harlotries.”
- Nahum 3:4 tn Heb “and clans by her sorceries.”
- Nahum 3:5 tn Traditionally, “the Lord of hosts.” See the note at 2:13.
- Nahum 3:5 tn Heb “I will uncover your skirts over your face.”sn Strip off your clothes. In the ancient Near East, the typical punishment for a prostitute was to strip her of her clothes publicly to expose her to open shame, embarrassment, and public ridicule. Because Nineveh had acted like a prostitute, the Lord would punish her as a prostitute.
- Nahum 3:6 tn Heb “detestable things”; KJV, ASV “abominable filth”; NCV “filthy garbage.”
- Nahum 3:7 tc While the MT reads second person feminine singular לָךְ (lakh, “for you”), the LXX reads αὔτή (autē, “for her”). The Dead Sea Scrolls from Wadi Murabba’at read לך (“for you”). The MT reading is preferred for several reasons: (1) it is supported by the scrolls from Wadi Murabba’at; (2) it is the more difficult reading; and (3) it explains the origin of the LXX which probably harmonized this with the preceding third person feminine singular pronoun. Abrupt switches from third to second person are commonly found in poetic and prophetic literature (e.g., Deut 32:15; Isa 5:8; Jer 29:19; Job 16:7) as well as in Northwest Semitic curses (see S. Gevirtz, “West-Semitic Curses and the Problem of the Origins of Hebrew Law,” VT 11 : 147, n. 4). The LXX treats the final phrase as part of the onlookers’ quote while the MT treats it as part of the Lord’s address.tn Heb “From whence shall I find comforters for you?”
- Nahum 3:8 tn Heb “Are you better than Thebes?”
- Nahum 3:8 tn Heb “No-Amon.” The name is transliterated by NAB, NASB; many other English versions employ the equivalent “Thebes.”
- Nahum 3:8 tn The relative pronoun אֲשֶׁר (ʾasher) is functioning in a possessive sense: “whose” (Job 37:17; Ps 95:5; Isa 5:28; 49:23; Jer 31:32; see HALOT 98 s.v. 4).
- Nahum 3:8 tn The consonantal form חיל is vocalized in the MT as חֵיל (khel, “rampart”). The LXX translation ἡ ἀρξή (hē arxē, “strength”) reflects confusion between the relatively rare חֵיל and the more common חַיִל (khayil, “strength”); see HALOT 310-12.
- Nahum 3:8 tn Heb “from (the) sea.” The form should be emended to מַיִם (mayim, “water”). This is a figurative description of the Nile River: It functioned like a fortress wall for Thebes.
- Nahum 3:9 sn Cush is the Hebrew name for the ancient kingdom of Ethiopia (also known as Nubia) along the Nile valley south of Aswan in Egypt. Many modern English versions render this “Ethiopia,” but this area is not to be confused with modern Ethiopia (i.e., Abyssinia).
- Nahum 3:9 tn Or “Cush was limitless and Egypt was strong.” The NIV treats the two nations (“Cush and Egypt”) as a hendiadys of the predicate and translates them as one clause. On the other hand, NJPS treats them separately and translates them in two different clauses.
- Nahum 3:9 tn Heb “Lubim.” Most modern English versions render this as “Libya” or “the Libyans.”
- Nahum 3:9 tn The preposition בְּ (bet) in בְּעֶזְרָתֵךְ (beʿezratekh) should probably be taken as a bet of identity rather than in a locative sense (DCH 2:84 s.v. בְּ 7; HALOT 104 s.v. בְּ 3).
- Nahum 3:9 tc The MT, supported by the Dead Sea Scrolls 4QpNah and Mur88, reads “your help.” The LXX and Syriac read “her help.” While the MT has strong external support, the internal evidence supports the LXX. The speaker is still speaking about Thebes to Nineveh and a shift to second person would imply a brief direct address to Nineveh, for whom the named nations were not allies.tn The noun עֶזְרָה (ʿezrah) means “help, assistance, strength” (HALOT 812, s.v.). Nations named as help would either be allies or vassals responsible to give support.
- Nahum 3:9 tn The Hebrew noun עָזָר (ʿazar) has been understood in two ways: (1) In the light of the Ugaritic root ǵzr (“hero, valiant one, warrior”), several scholars posit the existence of the Hebrew root II עָזַר (“warrior”), and translate בְּעֶזְרָתֵךְ (beʿezratekh) as “in your army” (M. Dahood, Psalms, 1:210; P. Miller, “Ugaritic ǴZR and Hebrew ʿZR II,” UF 2 : 168). (2) It is better to relate the Hebrew עָזָר to Canaanite izirtu (“military help”) which appears several times in the El-Amarna correspondence: “Let him give you soldiers and chariots as help for you so that they may protect the city” (EA 87:13) and “I have provided help for Tyre” (EA 89:18); see K. J. Cathcart, “More Philological Studies in Nahum,” JNWSL 7 (1979): 11.
- Nahum 3:10 tc The MT reads לַגֹּלָה (laggolah, “as a captive”) with the preposition לְ (lamed) denoting essence/identity. On the other hand, 4QpNah reads בגולה (“as a captive”) with the preposition בְּ (bet) denoting essence/identity (“as a captive”). The LXX’s αἰξμάλωτος (aixmalōtos, “as a prisoner”) does not reveal which preposition was the original.
- Nahum 3:10 tc The past-time reference of the context indicates that the Pual verb יְרֻטְּשׁוּ (yerutteshu) is a preterite describing past action (“they were smashed to pieces”) rather than an imperfect describing future action (“they will be smashed to pieces”). The past-time sense is supported by the Syriac and Vulgate. The LXX, however, misunderstood the form as an imperfect. Not recognizing that the form is a preterite, the BHS editors suggest emending to Pual perfect רֻטְּשׁוּ (rutteshu, “they were smashed to pieces”). This emendation is unnecessary once the possibility of a preterite is recognized. The Masoretic reading is supported by the reading ירוטשו found in the Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpNah 3:10).
- Nahum 3:10 tc The MT reads יַדּוּ (yaddu, “they cast [lots]”) from יָדַד (yadad, “to cast [lots]”). On the other hand, the Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpNah) read ירו (“they threw, cast [lots]”) from יָרָה (yarah, “to throw, cast [lots]”) (e.g., Josh 18:6). The textual variant arose due to orthographic confusion between ד (dalet) and ר (resh)—two Hebrew letters very similar in appearance. The root יָדַד is relatively rare—it occurs only two other times (Obad 11; Joel 4:3 [3:3 ET])—therefore, it might have been confused with יָרָה which appears more frequently.
- Nahum 3:10 tc The MT and Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpNah) read ועל נכבדיה (“for her nobles”). The LXX reflects וְעַל כָּל נִכְבַּדֶּיהָ (veʿal kol nikhbaddeha, “for all her nobles”), adding כָּל (“all”). The LXX addition probably was caused by the influence of the repetition of כָּל in the preceding and following lines.
- Nahum 3:11 tc The MT reads תִּשְׁכְּרִי (tishkeri, “you will become drunk”), the Qal imperfect from שָׁכַר (shakhar, “to become drunk”; HALOT 1501 s.v. שׁכר). The editors of BHS suggest emending the MT to read the תִּשָּׁבְרִי (tishaveri, “you will be broken”), the Niphal imperfect from שָׁבַר (shavar, “to break”; HALOT 1402 s.v. שׁבר). However, there is no external textual support for the emendation. The imagery of drunkenness is a common figure for defeat in battle.tn Heb “you will be drunken.”sn You…will act like drunkards. The imagery of drunkenness is frequently used to describe defeat in battle (Isa 49:26; Jer 25:27; 51:21). It is an appropriate use of imagery: Drunkards frequently pass out and wine drools out of their mouth; likewise, slain warriors lie fallen and their blood flows out of their mouths.
- Nahum 3:11 tc The MT reads the Niphal participle נַעֲלָמָה (naʿalamah) from I עָלַם (ʿalam, “to conceal”). This is supported by the Dead Sea Scrolls with נעלמה in (4QpNah 3:11) and is reflected by the LXX. Several scholars suggest nuancing the Niphal in a passive sense: “you will be concealed” or “you will be obscured” (BDB 761 s.v. I עָלַם Niphal 2). However, the reflexive sense “you will conceal yourself; you will hide yourself” (e.g., Ps 26:4) is better (HALOT 835 s.v. עלם). On the other hand, the BHS editors suggest emending to the Niphal participle נֶעֱלָפָה (neʿelafah) from עָלַף (ʿalaf, “become faint”): “you will become faint,” “you will pass out,” or “you will swoon” (HALOT 836 s.v. עלף; BDB 761 s.v. I. עָלַם 2). This is unnecessary and lacks textual support.tn Heb “you will hide yourself.”
- Nahum 3:12 sn Ironically, Sennacherib had recently planted fig trees along all the major avenues in Nineveh to help beautify the city, and had encouraged the citizens of Nineveh to eat from these fruit trees. How appropriate that Nineveh’s defenses would now be compared to fig trees whose fruit would be eaten by its enemies.
- Nahum 3:12 sn This extended simile compares the siege of Nineveh with reapers shaking a tree to harvest the “first-ripe fruit.” Fruit that matured quickly and ripened early in the season dropped from the trees more easily than the later crop which developed more slowly (Isa 28:4). To harvest the later crop the worker had to climb the tree (16 to 20 feet tall) and pick the figs by hand from each branch. On the other hand, the fruit from the early harvest could be gathered quickly and with a minimum of effort by simply shaking the trunk of the tree (G. Dalman, Arbeit und Sitte in Palestina, 1:378-80). The point of this simile is that Nineveh would fall easily and quickly.
- Nahum 3:12 tn This conditional sentence expresses a real anticipated situation expected to occur in the future, rather than an unreal completely hypothetical situation. The particle אִם (ʾim, “if”) introduces real conditions (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 75, §453). The imperfect tense verb יִנּוֹעוּ (yinnoʿu, “they are shaken”) depicts a future-time action conceived as a real situation expected to occur (see Joüon 2:629 §167.c; IBHS 510-11 §31.6.1).
- Nahum 3:12 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the first ripe fruit of the previous line, rendered here as “their figs”) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Nahum 3:12 tn The syntax of the concluding clause (apodosis) emphasizes that this action is expected and certain to occur. This clause is introduced by vav conjunction and the perfect tense verb וְנָפְלוּ (venafelu, “they will fall”) which emphasizes the expected certainty of the action (see Joüon 2:627-33 §167; IBHS 526-29 §32.2.1).
- Nahum 3:12 sn This is appropriate imagery and highly ironic. After defeating their enemies, the Assyrian kings often encouraged their troops to consume the fruit of the conquered city’s fruit trees.
- Nahum 3:13 tn Or “have been opened wide.” The Niphal perfect נִפְתְּחוּ (niftekhu) from פָּתַח (patach, “to open”) may designate a past-time action (“have been opened wide”) or a present-time circumstance (“are wide open”). The present-time sense is preferred in vv. 13-14. When used in reference to present-time circumstances, the perfect tense represents a situation occurring at the very instant the expression is being uttered; this is the so-called “instantaneous perfect” (IBHS 488-89 §30.5.1). The root פָּתַח (“to open”) is repeated for emphasis to depict the helpless state of the Assyrian defenses: פָּתוֹחַ נִפְתְּחוּ (patoakh niftekhu, “wide open”).
- Nahum 3:13 tn Or “has consumed.” The Qal perfect אָכְלָה (ʾokhlah) from אָכַל (ʾakhal, “to consume”) refers either to a past-time action (“has consumed”) or a present-time action (“consumes”). The context suggests the present-time sense is preferable here. This is an example of the “instantaneous perfect” which represents a situation occurring at the very instant the expression is being uttered (see IBHS 488-89 §30.5.1).
- Nahum 3:13 tn Heb “your bars.”
- Nahum 3:14 tn Heb “waters of siege.”
- Nahum 3:14 tn Heb “go into the mud.”
- Nahum 3:14 tn Heb “Take hold of the mud-brick mold!”
- Nahum 3:15 sn The expression the fire will consume you is an example of personification. Fire is often portrayed consuming an object like a person might consume food (Lev 6:3; 10:2; 16:25; Num 16:35; Deut 4:24; 5:22; Judg 9:15; 1 Kgs 18:38; 2 Kgs 1:10, 12, 14; 2 Chr 7:1; Isa 5:24; 10:17; 30:27, 30; 33:14; Amos 1:4, 7, 10, 12, 14; 2:2, 5; 5:6).
- Nahum 3:15 tn The verb אָכַל (ʾakhal, “to consume, to devour”) is used twice for emphasis: “the fire will consume you, the sword…will devour you.”sn The expression the sword…will devour you is an example of personification; the sword is frequently portrayed as consuming or devouring a defeated enemy (Deut 32:42; 2 Sam 2:26; 11:25; 18:8; Hos 11:6; Jer 2:30; 12:12); see BDB 37 s.v. אָכַל 4; HALOT 46 s.v. אכל.
- Nahum 3:15 tc The root כָּבֵד (kaved, “be heavy”) is repeated for emphasis: the forms are the Hitpael infinitive absolute הִתְכַּבֵּד (hitkabbed) and Hitpael imperative הִתְכַּבְּדִי (hitkabbedi), both translated here as “Multiply yourself”). The infinitive absolute functions as an imperative (GKC §113.bb, 346). The BHS editors suggest emending the infinitive absolute to another imperative in order to have a finite verb in each line. But perhaps the infinitive absolute functions as an imperative (GKC §113.bb, 346). The LXX omits the first clause suggesting dittography in the Hebrew text.
- Nahum 3:16 tn Or “Increase!” or “You have increased.” The form and meaning of the MT perfect tense verb הִרְבֵּית (hirbet; from רָבָה [ravah], “to increase”) is debated. The LXX translated it as a simple past meaning. However, some scholars argue for an imperatival form or an imperatival nuance due to the presence of the two preceding volitive forms: הִתְכַּבֵּד (hitkabbed) and הִתְכַּבְּדִי (hitkabbedi, “Multiply…multiply!”). For example, the editors of BHS propose emending the perfect tense הִרְבֵּית to the imperative form הַרְבִי (harvi, “multiply!”). K. J. Cathcart (Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic [BibOr], 145) retains the MT perfect form but classifies it as a precative perfect with an imperatival nuance (“increase!”). Some scholars deny the existence of the precative perfect in Hebrew (G. R. Driver, Tenses in Hebrew, 25-26); however, others argue for its existence (IBHS 494-95 §30.5.4).
- Nahum 3:16 tn The words “they are like” are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied in the translation for clarity.
- Nahum 3:16 tn The verb פָּשַׁט (pashat, “to strip off”) refers to the action of the locust shedding its outer layer of skin or sheaths of wings while in the larval stage (BDB 833 s.v.). In a similar sense, this verb is normally used of a person stripping off garments (Gen 37:23; Lev 6:4; 16:23; Num 20:26, 28; 1 Sam 18:4; 19:24; 31:8, 9; 2 Sam 23:10; 1 Chr 10:8, 9; Neh 4:17; Job 19:9; 22:6; Ezek 16:39; 23:26; 26:16; 44:19; Hos 2:5; Mic 2:8; 3:3).
- Nahum 3:17 tn Or “your guards.” The noun מִגְּזָרַיִךְ (miggezarayikh, “your courtiers”) is related to Assyrian manzazu (“courtier”; AHw 2:639.a) or massaru (“guard”; AHw 2:621.a); see HALOT 601 s.v. *מִגְּזָר). The nuance “princes,” suggested by older lexicographers (BDB 634 s.v. מִנְזַר), is no longer considered valid.
- Nahum 3:17 tn The noun טַפְסְרַיִךְ (tafserayikh, “your scribes”) from טִפְסָר (tifsar, “scribe, marshal”) is a loanword from Assyrian tupsarru and Sumerian DUB.SAR (“tablet-writer; scribe; official”); see BDB 381 s.v. טִפְסָר; HALOT 379 s.v. This term is also attested in Ugaritic tupsarru and in Phoenician dpsr. As in Jer 51:27, it is used of military and administrative officials. This term designated military officials who recorded the names of recruits and the military activities of Assyrian kings (see P. Machinist, “Assyria and its Image in the First Isaiah,” JAOS 103 : 736).
- Nahum 3:17 tn Heb “it flees.”
- Nahum 3:17 tc The BHS editors propose redividing the singular MT reading וְנוֹדַד (venodad, “and it flees”) to the plural וְנוֹדְדוּ (venodedu, “and they flee”) due to the difficulty of a singular verb. However, the LXX supports the singular MT reading. The subject is גוֹב (gov, “swarm”), not individual locusts.
- Nahum 3:17 tc The MT reads the noun with third person masculine singular suffix מְקוֹמוֹ (meqomo, “its place”). The BHS editors suggest emending to third person masculine plural suffix מְקוֹמָם (meqomam, “their place”). The MT is supported by the LXX reading, which has a singular suffix. The third person masculine singular suffix is not as awkward as the BHS editors claim—its antecedent is the singular אַרְבֶּה (ʾarbeh, “locust”) and גוֹב גֹבָי (gov govay, “a swarm of locusts”), as reflected by the third person masculine singular verb וְנוֹדַד (translated “it flies away”).
- Nahum 3:17 tc The MT reads אַיָּם (ʾayyam, “Where are they?”); see, e.g., Isa 19:12; DCH 1:202-3 s.v. אֵי; HALOT 40 s.v.). On the other hand, the LXX’s οὐαί αὐτοῖς (ouai autois, “Woe to them!”) seems to reflect a reading of אֶיָּם (ʾeyyam, “Alas to them!”). The BHS editors suggest emending to אֵיכָה (ʾekhah, “Alas!” or “How?”) and join it to v. 18, or אוֹי מַה (ʾoy mah, “Woe! Why…?”) joined to v. 18. HALOT (40 s.v.) suggests the emendation אֵיךָ (ʾekha, “Alas to you!”).tn Heb “Its place is not known—where are they?” The form אַיָּם has been taken in various ways: (1) an interrogative adverb with third person masculine plural suffix (“where are they?”; GKC 296-97 §100.o; BDB 32 s.v. אַי 1.a); (2) an interrogative particle אֵי (ʾey, “where?”) lengthened to אַיָּה (ʾayyah) and written with the enclitic particle ־ם (mem; GKC 295 §100.g), similar to ayyami (“where?”) in Assyrian (CAD 1.1.220); see W. A. Maier, Nahum, 356; R. D. Patterson, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (WEC), 111; T. Longman, “Nahum,” The Minor Prophets, 2:826.
- Nahum 3:18 sn The term shepherd was frequently used in the ancient Near East in reference to kings and other leaders (royal, political, military). Here, the expression your shepherds is an implied comparison (hypocatastasis) referring to the royal/military leadership of Assyria.
- Nahum 3:18 tn The Hebrew term אַדִּירֶיךָ (ʾaddirekha, “your officers”) from the root אַדִּיר (ʾaddir, “high noble, majestic one”) designates “prominent people” in society (Judg 5:13, 25; Jer 14:3; Ps 16:3; Neh 3:5; 10:30; 2 Chr 23:20) and prominent “officers” in the military (Nah 2:6; 3:18); see HALOT 14 s.v.; BDB 12 s.v. אַדִּיר. This is related to Assyrian adaru (“high noble official”).
- Nahum 3:18 tn The MT reads יִשְׁכְּנוּ (yishkenu, “they are settling down; they are lying down”) from שָׁכַן (shakhan, “to settle down, to lie down”). The BHS editors suggest emending to יָשְׁנוּ (yashenu, “they are slumbering”) in order to produce a tighter parallelism with the parallel verb נָמוּ (namu, “they are sleeping”). However, the MT has an adequate parallelism because the verb שָׁכַן is often used in reference to the dead lying down in the grave (Job 4:19; 26:5; Ps 94:17; Isa 26:19; see BDB 1015 s.v. שָׁכַן Qal.2.b). This is a figurative expression (hypocatastasis) for someone dying. Although the LXX misunderstood the syntax of this line, the LXX translation ἐκοίμισε (ekoimise, “he has laid low”) points to a form of the Masoretic verbal root שָׁכַן.
- Nahum 3:18 tn The words “like sheep” are not in the Hebrew text; they are added for clarification of the imagery. The previous line compares Assyria’s leaders to shepherds.
- Nahum 3:19 tc The MT reads the hapax legomenon כֵּהָה (kehah, “relief, alleviation”). On the other hand, the LXX reads ἴασις (iasis, “healing”) which seems to reflect a reading of גֵּהָה (gehah, “cure, healing”). In light of the LXX, the BHS editors suggest emending the MT to גֵּהָה (gehah)—which occurs only once elsewhere (Prov 17:22)—on the basis of orthographic and phonological confusion between Hebrew כ (kaf) and ג (gimel). This emendation would produce the common ancient Near Eastern treaty-curse: “there is no cure for your wound” (e.g., Hos 5:13); see HALOT 461 s.v. כֵּהָה; K. J. Cathcart, “Treaty-Curses and the Book of Nahum,” CBQ 35 (1973): 186; D. Hillers, Treaty-Curses and the Old Testament Prophets, 64-66.tn Heb “There is no relief of your fracture.”
- Nahum 3:19 tn Heb “your injury is fatal.”
- Nahum 3:19 tn Heb “the report of you.”
- Nahum 3:19 tn Heb “will clap their hands over you.”
- Nahum 3:19 tn Heb “For who ever escaped…?”