New English Translation
God Takes Vengeance against His Enemies
2 The Lord is a zealous[c] and avenging[d] God;
the Lord is avenging and very angry.[e]
The Lord takes vengeance[f] against his foes;
he sustains his rage[g] against his enemies.
3 The Lord is slow to anger[h] but great in power;[i]
the Lord will certainly not[j] allow the wicked[k] to go unpunished.
The Divine Warrior Destroys His Enemies but Protects His People
He marches out[l] in the whirlwind and the raging storm;
dark storm clouds billow like dust under his feet.[m]
4 He shouts a battle cry[n] against the sea[o] and makes it dry up;[p]
he makes all the rivers[q] run dry.
Bashan and Carmel wither;[r]
the blossom of Lebanon withers.
5 The mountains tremble before him,[s]
the hills convulse;[t]
the earth is laid waste[u] before him,
the world and all its inhabitants[v] are laid waste.[w]
6 No one can withstand[x] his indignation![y]
No one can resist[z] his fierce anger![aa]
His wrath is poured out like volcanic fire,
boulders are broken up[ab] as he approaches.[ac]
7 The Lord is good[ad]—
indeed,[ae] he is a fortress[af] in time of distress,[ag]
and he protects[ah] those who seek refuge[ai] in him.
8 But with an overwhelming flood[aj]
he will make a complete end of Nineveh;[ak]
he will drive[al] his enemies into darkness.
Denunciation and Destruction of Nineveh
9 Whatever[am] you plot[an] against the Lord, he will completely destroy![ao]
Distress[ap] will not arise[aq] a second time.
10 Surely they will be totally consumed[ar]
like[as] entangled thorn bushes,[at]
like the drink of drunkards,[au]
like very[av] dry stubble.
11 From you, O Nineveh,[aw] one has marched forth who plots evil against the Lord,
a wicked military strategist.[ax]
Oracle of Deliverance to Judah
12 This is what the Lord says:[ay]
“Even though[az] they are powerful[ba]—
and what is more,[bb] even though their army is numerous[bc]—
nevertheless,[bd] they will be destroyed[be] and trickle away![bf]
Although I afflicted you,
I will afflict you no more.[bg]
13 And now,[bh] I will break Assyria’s[bi] yoke bar[bj] from your neck;[bk]
I will tear apart the shackles[bl] that are on you.”[bm]
Oracle of Judgment against the King of Nineveh
14 The Lord has issued a decree against you:[bn]
“Your dynasty will come to an end.[bo]
I will destroy the idols and images in the temples of your gods.
I will desecrate[bp] your grave, because you are accursed!”[bq]
Proclamation of the Deliverance of Judah
15 (2:1)[br] Look! A herald is running[bs] on the mountains!
A messenger is proclaiming deliverance:[bt]
“Celebrate your sacred festivals, O Judah!
Fulfill your sacred vows to praise God![bu]
For never again[bv] will the wicked[bw] Assyrians[bx] invade[by] you;
they[bz] have been completely destroyed.”[ca]
Proclamation of the Destruction of Nineveh
2 (2:2) An enemy who will scatter[cb] you, Nineveh,[cc] has advanced[cd] against you![ce]
Guard[cf] the rampart![cg]
Watch the road!
Prepare yourselves for battle![ch]
Muster your mighty strength![ci]
2 For the Lord is about to restore[cj] the majesty[ck] of Jacob,
as well as[cl] the majesty of Israel,
though[cm] their enemies have plundered them[cn]
and have destroyed their fields.[co]
Prophetic Vision of the Fall of Nineveh
3 The shields of his warriors are dyed red;[cp]
the mighty soldiers are dressed in scarlet garments.[cq]
The chariots[cr] are in[cs] flashing metal fittings[ct]
on the day of battle;[cu]
the soldiers brandish[cv] their spears.[cw]
4 The chariots[cx] race madly[cy] through the streets,
they rush back and forth[cz] in the broad plazas;
they look[da] like lightning bolts,[db]
they dash here and there[dc] like flashes of lightning.[dd]
5 The commander[de] orders[df] his officers;
they stumble[dg] as they advance;[dh]
they rush to the city wall,[di]
and they set up[dj] the covered siege tower.[dk]
6 The sluice gates[dl] are opened;
the royal palace is deluged[dm] and dissolves.[dn]
7 Nineveh[do] is taken into exile[dp] and is led away;[dq]
her slave girls moan[dr] like doves[ds] while they beat[dt] their breasts.[du]
8 Nineveh was[dv] like a pool[dw] of water throughout her days,[dx]
but now[dy] her people[dz] are running away;[ea]
she cries out:[eb] “Stop! Stop!”—
but no one turns back.[ec]
9 Her conquerors cry out:[ed]
“Plunder the silver! Plunder the gold!”
There is no end to the treasure;
riches of every kind of precious thing.
10 Destruction, devastation, and desolation![ee]
Hearts faint, knees tremble;
every stomach churns,[ef] all their faces have turned[eg] pale![eh]
Taunt against the Once-Mighty Lion
11 Where now is the den of the lions[ei]
and the feeding place[ej] of the young lions,
where the lion, lioness,[ek] and lion cub once prowled[el]
and no one disturbed them?[em]
12 The lion tore apart as much prey as his cubs needed
and strangled prey for his lionesses;
he filled his lairs with prey
and his dens with torn flesh.
Battle Cry of the Divine Warrior
13 “I am against you!” declares[en] the Lord of Heaven’s Armies:[eo]
“I will burn your chariots[ep] with fire;[eq]
the sword will devour your young lions.[er]
You will no longer prey upon the land;[es]
the voices of your messengers[et] will no longer be heard.”
Reason for Judgment: Sins of Nineveh
Portrayal of the Destruction of Nineveh
2 The chariot drivers will crack their whips;[ey]
the chariot wheels will shake the ground.[ez]
The chariot horses[fa] will gallop;[fb]
the war chariots[fc] will bolt forward![fd]
3 The charioteers[fe] will charge ahead;[ff]
their swords[fg] will flash[fh]
and their spears[fi] will glimmer![fj]
There will be many people slain;[fk]
there will be piles of the dead
and countless casualties[fl]—
so many that people[fm] will stumble over the corpses.
Taunt against the Harlot City
4 Because[fn] you have acted like a wanton prostitute[fo]—
a seductive mistress who practices sorcery,[fp]
who[fq] enslaves[fr] nations by her harlotry,[fs]
and entices peoples by her sorcery[ft]—
5 “I am against you,” declares the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.[fu]
“I will strip off your clothes![fv]
I will show your nakedness to the nations
and your shame to the kingdoms.
6 I will pelt you with filth;[fw]
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!”[fx]
Nineveh Will Suffer the Same Fate as Thebes
8 You are no more secure[fy] than Thebes[fz]—
she was located on the banks of the Nile;
the waters surrounded her—
her[ga] rampart[gb] was the sea,
the water[gc] was her wall.
9 Cush[gd] and Egypt had limitless strength;[ge]
Put and the Libyans[gf] were among[gg] her[gh] allies.[gi]
10 Yet she went into captivity as an exile;[gj]
even her infants were smashed to pieces[gk] at the head of every street.
They cast lots[gl] for her nobility;[gm]
all her dignitaries were bound with chains.
11 You too will act like drunkards;[gn]
you will go into hiding;[go]
you too will seek refuge from the enemy.
The Assyrian Defenses Will Fail
12 All your fortifications will be like fig trees[gp] with first-ripe fruit:[gq]
If they are shaken,[gr] their figs[gs] will fall[gt] into the mouth of the eater.[gu]
13 Your warriors will be like women in your midst;
the gates of your land will be wide open[gv] to your enemies;
fire will consume[gw] the bars of your gates.[gx]
14 Draw yourselves water for a siege![gy]
Strengthen your fortifications!
Trample the mud[gz] and tread the clay!
Make mud bricks to strengthen your walls![ha]
15 There the fire will consume[hb] you;
the sword will cut you down;
it will devour[hc] you like the young locust would.
The Assyrian Defenders Will Flee
Multiply yourself[hd] like the young locust;
multiply yourself like the flying locust!
16 Increase[he] your merchants more than the stars of heaven!
They are like[hf] the young locust that sheds its skin[hg] and flies away.
17 Your courtiers[hh] are like locusts,
your officials[hi] are like a swarm of locusts!
They encamp in the walls on a cold day,
yet when the sun rises, they[hj] fly away,[hk]
and no one knows where they[hl] are.[hm]
18 Your shepherds[hn] are sleeping, O king of Assyria.
Your officers[ho] are slumbering![hp]
Your people are scattered like sheep[hq] on the mountains,
and there is no one to regather them.
19 Your destruction is like an incurable wound;[hr]
your demise is like a fatal injury.[hs]
All who hear what has happened to you[ht] will clap their hands for joy,[hu]
for no one ever escaped your endless cruelty![hv]
- Nahum 1:1 tn See note at Isa 13:1.
- Nahum 1:1 tn Or “Nahum of Elkosh” (NAB, NRSV).
- Nahum 1:2 tn Heb “jealous.” The Hebrew term קַנּוֹא (qannoʾ, “jealous, zealous”) refers to God’s zealous protection of his people and his furious judgment against his enemies. The root קָנָא (qanaʾ) 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.
- Nahum 1:2 tn The syntax of this line has been understood both as a single clause (NRSV, NASB, NIV) and as two parallel clauses (KJV). The LXX reflects the latter, “God is jealous, and the Lord avenges.” Masoretic accentuation and Hebrew syntax support the former, that is, the accentuation links קַנּוֹא וְנֹקֵם (qannoʾ venoqem, “jealous and avenging”) together. Normal word order suggests that קַנּוֹא וְנֹקֵם (“jealous and avenging”) are attributive adjectives modifying אֵל (ʾel, “God”) and that the Lord is the subject. Another possibility is that the adjectives are a case of hendiadys and should be understood as “The Lord is a zealously avenging God.”
- Nahum 1:2 tn Or “exceedingly wrathful”; Heb “a lord of wrath.” The idiom “lord of wrath” (וּבַעַל חֵמָה, uvaʿal 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.
- Nahum 1:2 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).
- Nahum 1:2 tn The verb נָטַר (natar) is a synonym of נָצַר (natsar) andשָׁמַר (shamar), each including a meaning “to keep, guard.” נָטַר (natar) is used elsewhere of keeping a vineyard (Song 1:6; 8:11-12) and guarding a secret (Dan 7:28). It describes a person bearing a grudge, seeking revenge, and refusing to forgive (Lev 19:18). It is also used in collocation with לְעוֹלָם (leʿolam, “forever, always”) and לָעַד (laʿad, “continually”) to picture God harboring rage against his enemies forever (Jer 3:5, 12; Amos 1:11; Ps 103:9). Contra HALOT (695 s.v.), it does not mean “to control anger” or “to be slow to anger” and is not collocated with אָף (ʾaf, “anger”) as the entry implies (see TWOT 2:576 and NIDOTTE 1581, s.v.). 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.
- Nahum 1:3 tn Heb “long of nose.” The nose, specifically the flaring of the nostrils, represents anger. “Long of nose” means “slow to anger” (Exod 34:6; Num 14:18; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2; Pss 86:15; 103:8; 145:8; Prov 14:29; 15:18; 16:32; Neh 9:17) or restraining anger (Jer 15:15; Prov 25:15). Cf. NCV “The Lord does not become angry quickly.”
- Nahum 1:3 tc The BHS editors suggest emending MT “power” (כֹּחַ, koakh) to “mercy” (חֶסֶד, khesed) as in Exod 34:6; Num 14:18; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2; Ps 103:8; Neh 9:17. However, this is unnecessary, it has no textual support, and it misses the rhetorical point intended by Nahum’s modification of the traditional expression.sn This is an allusion to the well-known statement, “The Lord is slow to anger but great in mercy” (Exod 34:6; Num 14:18; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2; Ps 103:8; Neh 9:17). Nahum subtly modifies this by substituting “great in mercy” with “great in power.” God’s patience at the time of Jonah (Jonah 4:2) one century earlier (ca. 750 b.c.), had run out. Nineveh had exhausted the “great mercy” of God and now would experience the “great power” of God.
- Nahum 1:3 tn Or “he will certainly not acquit [the wicked],” or “he certainly will not declare [them] to be free from punishment.” The accompanying infinitive absolute strengthens the modality of the finite verb making it a stronger assurance, hence “certainly will not.”
- Nahum 1:3 tn The words “the wicked” are not in the Hebrew text but are supplied in the translation; they are implied when this idiom is used (Exod 34:7; Num 14:18). In legal contexts the nuance “the guilty” is most appropriate; in nonlegal contexts the nuance “the wicked” is used.
- Nahum 1:3 tn Heb “His way is in the whirlwind” (so NIV). The noun דַּרְכּוֹ (darko, “his way”) is nuanced here in a verbal sense. The noun דֶּרֶךְ (derekh) often denotes a “journey” (Gen 28:20; 30:36; 45:23; Num 9:10; Josh 9:13; 1 Sam 21:6; 1 Kgs 18:27). The verb דָּרַךְ (darakh) often means “to tread a path” (Job 22:15) and “to march out” (Judg 5:21). The Lord is portrayed as the Divine Warrior marching out to battle (Exod 15:1-12; Deut 33:2; Judg 5:4-5; Pss 18:7-15; 68:4-10, 32-35; 77:16-19; Mic 1:3-4; Hab 3:3-15).
- Nahum 1:3 tn Heb “clouds are the dust of his feet.”
- Nahum 1:4 tn The term גָּעַר (gaʿar) often denotes “reprimand” and “rebuke” (cf. KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV). When it is used in the context of a military attack, it denotes an angry battle cry shouted by a mighty warrior to strike fear into his enemies to drive them away (e.g., 2 Sam 23:16; Isa 30:17; Pss 18:15; 76:6; 80:17; 104:7). For example, the parallel Ugaritic term is used when Baal utters a battle cry against Yamm before they fight to the death. For further study see, A. A. MacIntosh, “A Consideration of Hebrew gʿr,” VT 14 (1969): 474; P. J. van Zijl, “A Consideration of the root gaʿar (“rebuke”),” OTWSA 12 (1969): 56-63; A. Caquot, TDOT 3:49-53.
- Nahum 1:4 sn The “sea” is personified as an antagonistic enemy, representing the wicked forces of chaos (Pss 66:6; 72:8; 80:12; 89:26; 93:3-4; Isa 50:2; Mic 7:12; Hab 3:8; Zech 9:10).
- Nahum 1:4 tn This somewhat unusual use of the preterite follows a participle which depicts characteristic (present-time) action or imminent future action; the preterite depicts the subsequent present or future-time action (see IBHS 561-62 §33.3.5).
- Nahum 1:4 sn The Assyrians waged war every spring after the Tigris and Euphrates rivers dried up, allowing them to cross. As the Mighty Warrior par excellence, the Lord is able to part the rivers to attack Assyria.
- Nahum 1:4 tn The term אֻמְלַל (ʾumlal, “withers”) occurs twice in this verse in MT. The repetition of אֻמְלַל is also supported by the Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpNah). The BHS editors suggest emending the first occurrence of אֻמְלַל (“withers”) to דָּלְלוּ (dalelu, “languishes”) to recover the letter ד (dalet) in the partial acrostic. Several versions do, in fact, employ two different verbs in the line (LXX, Syr, Targum, and Vg). However, the first verb at the beginning of the line in all of the versions reflects a reading of אֻמְלַל. Although several elements of an acrostic are present in Nahum 1, the acrostic is incomplete (only א [alef] to כ [kaf] in vv. 2-8) and broken (several elements are missing within vv. 2-8). There is no textual evidence for a complete, unbroken acrostic throughout the book of Nahum in any ancient Hebrew mss or other textual versions; it is most prudent simply to leave the MT as it stands.
- Nahum 1:5 tn Or “because of him.” The Hebrew preposition מִמֶּנּוּ (mimmennu) is taken in a causal sense (“because of him”) by NASB, NJPS; however, it is taken in a locative sense (“before him”) by KJV, NKJV, NRSV, NIV. On the other hand, the LXX rendered it in a separative sense: ἀπ᾿ αὐτοῦ (ap autou, “from him”). The parallelism between 1:5a and 1:5b seems to favor the locative nuance: “The mountains quake before him (מִמֶּנּוּ), the earth is laid waste before him (מִפָּנָיו, mifanayv).”
- Nahum 1:5 tn Traditionally, “the hills melt.” English versions typically render הִתְמֹגָגוּ (hitmogagu) as “melt” (KJV, NRSV, NIV, NJPS) or “dissolve” (NASB). The LXX renders it ἐσαλεύθησαν (esaleuthēsan, “are shaken”). The Hebrew root has a range of meanings: (1) “to melt,” of courage (Ps 107:26) or troops retreating (“melting away” in fear) in battle (1 Sam 14:16); (2) “to dissolve,” of mountains dissolving due to erosion (Amos 9:13); (3) “to quake, shake apart,” of mountains quaking, swaying backwards and forwards, coming apart, and collapsing in an earthquake (Amos 9:5; Pss 46:6 ; 75:3 ). The latter fits the imagery of v. 5 (violent earthquakes): the earth trembles in fear at the approach of the Divine Warrior (e.g., Hab 3:6).
- Nahum 1:5 tn Or “is upheaved”; or “heaves.” There is debate whether the originally unpointed Hebrew verb וַתִּשָּׂא (vattissaʾ) should be vocalized as וְתִּשָּׂא (vettissaʾ; NASB “is upheaved”; NRSV, NJPS “heaves”) from the root נָשָׂא (nasaʾ, “to lift up”) or as וַתִּשָּׁא (vattishaʾ, “is devastated, laid waste”) from the root שָׁאָה (shaʾah, “to devastate, lay waste,” see HALOT 1367 s.v. 1 שׁאה). The vocalization וְתִּשָּׂא is attested in the Masoretic tradition and the Greek versions: Origen (“was raised up”), Symmachus (“was moved”), and Aquila (“shivered”). However, וְתִּשָּׂא demands an intransitive (“heaves”) or passive (“is upheaved”) sense which is not attested for the Qal stem. The vocalization וַתִּשָּׁא (“is devastated, laid waste”) is supported by the Syriac and Vulgate. The revocalization of the MT וְתִּשָּׂא (“is lifted up”) to וַתִּשָּׁא (“is devastated”) is suggested by the BHS editors and several Hebrew lexicons (HALOT 726 s.v. נשׁא; BDB 670-71 s.v. נָשָׂא). The revocalization involves only the difference between the form שׂ (sin) and שׁ (shin) and is followed in the present translation.
- Nahum 1:5 sn The phrase “the world and all its inhabitants” is used to stress the universal dimensions of God’s revelation of his glory and his acts of judgment (e.g., Pss 33:8; 98:7; Isa 18:3; 26:9, 18; Lam 4:12).
- Nahum 1:5 tn The words “are laid waste” are not in the Hebrew text, but are an implied repetition from the previous line.
- Nahum 1:6 tn Heb “stand before” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV, NLT). The Hebrew verb עָמַד (ʿamad, “stand”) here denotes “to resist, withstand.” It is used elsewhere of warriors taking a stand in battle to hold their ground against enemies (Judg 2:14; Josh 10:8; 21:44; 23:9; 2 Kgs 10:4; Dan 11:16; Amos 2:15). It is also used of people trying to protect their lives from enemy attack (Esth 8:11; 9:16). Like a mighty warrior, the Lord will attack his enemies, but none will be able to make a stand against him; none will be able to hold their ground against him; and none will be able to protect themselves from his onslaught (Pss 76:7 ; 147:17; Mal 3:2).
- Nahum 1:6 tn Heb “Who can stand before his indignation?” The rhetorical question expects a negative answer; it is translated here as an emphatic denial. The Hebrew noun זַעַם (zaʿam, “indignation, curse”) connotes the angry wrath or indignant curse of God (Isa 10:5, 25; 13:5; 26:20; 30:27; Jer 10:10; 15:17; 50:25; Ezek 21:36 HT [21:31 ET]; 22:24, 31; Hab 3:12; Zeph 3:8; Pss 38:4; 69:25; 78:49; 102:11; Lam 2:6; Dan 8:19; 11:36). It depicts anger expressed in the form of punishment (HALOT 276 s.v.; TWOT 1:247).
- Nahum 1:6 tn Heb “Who can rise up against…?” The verb יָקוּם (yaqum, “arise”) is here a figurative expression connoting resistance.
- Nahum 1:6 tn Heb “Who can rise up against the heat of his anger?” The rhetorical question expects a negative answer which is translated as an emphatic denial to clarify the point.
- Nahum 1:6 tn Or “burst into flames.” The Niphal perfect נִתְּצוּ (nittetsu) from נָתַץ (natats, “to break up, throw down”) may denote “are broken up” or “are thrown down.” The BHS editors suggest emending the MT’s נִתְּצוּ (nittetsu) to נִצְּתוּ (nitsetu, Niphal perfect from יָצַת [yatsat, “to burn, to kindle, to burst into flames”]): “boulders burst into flames.” This merely involves the simple transposition of the second and third consonants. This emendation is supported by a few Hebrew mss (cited in BHS apparatus). It is supported contextually by fire and heat motifs in 1:5-6. The same metathesis of נִתְּצוּ and נִצְּתּוּ occurs in Jer 4:26.
- Nahum 1:6 tn Heb “before him” (so NAB, NIV, TEV).
- Nahum 1:7 tn The Masoretic disjunctive accent marker (zaqeph parvum) divides the lines here. Most English versions reflect this line division (KJV, RSV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NKJV). Some extend the line: “Yahweh is better than a fortress” (NJB); “The Lord is good to those who hope in him” (NJPS); and “The Lord is good to those who trust him” (NEB). This issue is complicated by the textual problems in this verse.
- Nahum 1:7 tn The preposition לְ (lamed) probably functions in an emphatic asseverative sense, suggested by D. L. Christensen, “The Acrostic of Nahum Reconsidered,” ZAW 87 (1975): 22. This explains the preceding statement: the Lord is good to his people (1:7a) because—like a fortress—he protects them in time of distress (1:7b).
- Nahum 1:7 tc Some ancient versions read, “The Lord is good to those who trust him.” The MT reads לְמָעוֹז (lemaʿoz, “a fortress”): the noun מָעוֹז (maʿoz, “fortress”) with the preposition לְ (le, see below). However, the LXX reflects the reading לְמֵעִיז (lemeʿiz, “to those who trust [him]”): the Hiphil participle from עוּז (ʿuz, “seek refuge”) with the preposition לְ. The variants involve only different vocalizations and the common confusion of vav (ו) with yod (י). Most English versions follow the traditional Hebrew reading (KJV, RSV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NKJV); however, several others follow the alternate Greek reading (NEB, NJPS). The BHS editors and several other scholars favor the LXX tradition; however, the Masoretic tradition has been defended by others. The Masoretic tradition is supported by the Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpNah). The problem with the LXX reading is the absence of the direct object in the Hebrew text; the LXX is forced to supply the direct object αὐτόν (auton, “him”; for a similar addition of the direct object αὐτόν by the LXX, see Amos 9:12). The main objection to the MT reading לְמָעוֹז (“a fortress”) is that לְ is hard to explain. However, לְ may be taken in a comparative sense (Cathcart: “Yahweh is better than a fortress in time of distress”) or an asseverative sense (Christensen: “Yahweh is good; indeed, a fortress in time of distress”). See K. J. Cathcart, Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic (BibOr), 55; idem, “More Philological Studies in Nahum,” JNSL 7 (1979): 4; D. L. Christensen, “The Acrostic of Nahum Reconsidered,” ZAW 87 (1975): 22. Elsewhere, the Lord is commonly portrayed as a “fortress” (מָעוֹז) protecting his people (Pss 27:1; 28:8; 31:3, 5; 37:39; 43:2; 52:9; Isa 17:10; 25:4; 27:5; Joel 4:16 HT [3:16 ET]; Jer 16:19; Neh 8:10; Prov 10:29).
- Nahum 1:7 sn The phrase “time of distress” (בְּיוֹם צָרָה, beyom tsarah) refers to situations in which God’s people are oppressed by enemy armies (Isa 33:2; Jer 14:8; 15:11; 16:19; Obad 12; Pss 20:2; 37:39). Nahum may be alluding to recent Assyrian invasions of Judah, such as Sennacherib’s devastating invasion in 701 b.c., in which the Lord protected the remnant within the fortress walls of Jerusalem (2 Kgs 18-19; 2 Chr 32; Isa 36-37).
- Nahum 1:7 tn Heb “he knows” or “he recognizes.” The basic meaning of the verb יָדַע (yadaʿ) is “to know,” but it may denote “to take care of someone” or “to protect” (HALOT 391 s.v.; see Gen 39:6; Job 9:21; Ps 31:8). Most English versions render it as “know” here (KJV, RSV, NASB, NKJV) but at least two recognize the nuance “protect” (NRSV, NIV [which reads “cares for”]). It often refers to God protecting and caring for his people (2 Sam 7:20; Ps 144:3). When the subject is a king (suzerain) and the object is a servant (vassal), it often has covenantal overtones. In several ancient Near Eastern languages this term depicts the king (suzerain) recognizing his treaty obligation to protect and rescue his servant (vassal) from its enemies. For example, a letter from Abdi-Ashirta governor of Ammuru to the Egyptian king Amenophis III ends with a plea for protection from the raids of the Mittani: “May the king my lord know [= protect] me” (yi-da-an-ni; EA 60:30-32). Similarly, in the treaty between Muwattallis and Alaksandus, the Hittite suzerain assures his vassal that in case he was attacked, “As he is an enemy of you, even so he is an enemy to the Sun; I the Sun, will know [= “protect”] only you, Alaksandus” (see H. B. Huffmon, “The Treaty Background of Hebrew YADA`,” BASOR 181 (1966): 31-37; idem, “A Further Note on the Treaty Background of Hebrew YADAʿ,” BASOR 184 (1966): 36-38.
- Nahum 1:7 tn Or “those who trust in him” (NIV); NAB “those who have recourse to him.”
- Nahum 1:8 tn Some scholars connect “in an overwhelming flood” (וּבְשֶׁטֶף עֹבֵר, uveshetef ʿover) with the preceding line: “he protects those who trust him in an overwhelming flood.” However, others connect it with the following line: “But with an overwhelming flood he will make a complete end of its [Nineveh’s] site.” D. T. Tsumura (“Janus Parallelism in Nah 1:8, ” JBL 102 : 109-11) suggests that it does double duty and should be read with both lines: “he knows those who trust him in an overwhelming flood, / but with an overwhelming flood he will make a complete end of its [Nineveh’s] site.” Connecting it with the preceding line creates a tight parallelism and a balanced 5+5 metrical count. Connecting it with the following line harmonizes with Nah 2:9 , which describes the walls of Nineveh being destroyed by flood waters, and with historical evidence (Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica, 2.27.1-3; Xenophon, Anabasis, 3.4.12) and modern archaeological evidence (A. T. Olmstead, History of Assyria, 637). This might be an example of intentional ambiguity: God will protect his people from the very calamity that he will use to destroy his enemies.
- Nahum 1:8 tc Heb “her place.” Alternately, some ancient versions read “his adversaries.” The MT reads מְקוֹמָהּ (meqomah, “her place”). This is supported by the Dead Sea Scrolls (מקומה, “her place,” found in 4QpNah) and Symmachus (τῆς τόποῦ αὐτοῦ, tēs topou autou, “her place”). The reading of the LXX (τούς ἐπεγειρουμένους, tous epegeiroumenous, “those who rise up [against Him]”) and Aquila (ἀντισταμενῶν, antistamenōn, “adversaries”) reflect מְקּוֹמיהוּ or מְקִימיהוּ or מְקִּמָיו (“his adversaries”), also reflected in the Vulgate and Targum. Some scholars suggest emending the MT in the light of the LXX to create a tight parallelism between “his adversaries” (מקומיו) and “his enemies” (וְאֹיְבָיו, veʾoyevayv) which is a parallel word pair elsewhere (Deut 28:7; 2 Sam 22:40-41, 49; Mic 7:6; Ps 59:2). Likewise, Tsumura suggests emending the MT because the text, as it stands, does not have a clear parallel word for “his enemies” (וְאֹיְבָיו)—emending the MT’s מְקוֹמָהּ (“her place”) to מקומיו (“his adversaries”) would result in a parallel word (D. T. Tsumura, “Janus Parallelism in Nah 1:8, ” JBL 102 : 109-11). The BHS editors propose emending the MT in favor of the Greek tradition. The English versions reflect both textual traditions—several follow the MT with “her place” and “its site” (KJV, NASB, NIV, NKJV, NJPS), while others adopt the LXX reading and emend the Hebrew, resulting in “his adversaries” (NRSV) or “those who defy him” (NJB). The MT makes sense as it stands, but the proposed emendation is attractive and involves only the common confusion between ה and יו.
- Nahum 1:8 tc The BHS editors propose emending the Masoretic reading יְרַדֶּף (yeraddef, Piel imperfect of רָדַף [radaf], “to chase”) to יֶהְדֹּף (yehdof, Qal imperfect of הָדַף [hadaf], “to thrust away, drive away”). Although הָדַף is used with חֹשֶׁךְ (khoshekh, “darkness”) in Job 18:18 (“he is driven from light into darkness”), the MT makes good sense as it stands, and is supported by the versions. The conjectural emendation has no support and is unnecessary.
- Nahum 1:9 tn Alternately, “Why are you plotting?” or “What are you plotting?” The term מַה (mah) ordinarily functions as the interrogative pronoun “what?” (HALOT 550-51 s.v.; BDB 552-53 s.v.). It is often used in reproachful, ridiculing questions and in accusations with an insinuation of blame, reproach, or contempt; see Gen 4:10; 37:10; 44:15; Josh 22:16; Judg 8:1; 15:11; 20:12; 1 Sam 29:3; 2 Sam 9:8; 1 Kgs 9:13; 2 Kgs 9:22; 18:19). It is more disparaging than מִי (mi; HALOT 551 s.v. מַה). The LXX translates it with the interrogative pronoun τί (ti, “what?”). R. L. Smith (Micah-Malachi [WBC], 76) takes it as the indefinite pronoun “whatever” (see also BDB 553 s.v. מָה 3; GKC 443-44 §137.c; Num 23:3; 1 Sam 19:3; 20:10; 2 Sam 18:22-23, 29; Job 13:13; Prov 25:8). W. A. Maier (Nahum, 186) takes it as the interrogative adverb “why?” (see also BDB 553 s.v. מָה 2.b; Gen 3:13; 12:18; 26:10; Exod 14:15; 17:2; 2 Kgs 6:33; 7:3; Pss 42:6, 12 HT [42:5, 11 ET]; 43:5; 52:3 HT [52:1 ET]; Job 7:21; 15:12; Song 8:4). All three are represented in English versions: “What?” (KJV, NKJV), “Why?” (NRSV, NJPS), and “Whatever” (NASB, NIV).
- Nahum 1:9 tn Less likely, “[What are you] thinking about.” When used with אֶל (ʾel) the verb חָשַׁב (khashav) may be taken (1) in a hostile sense: “What are you plotting against the Lord?” or (2) in a nonhostile sense: “What are you thinking about the Lord?” The hostile sense is clearly intended when it is used in collocation with the direct object רָעָה (raʿah, “evil”; Zech 7:10; 8:17; Pss 35:4; 140:3; Prov 16:9) or when it is followed by the preposition עַל (ʿal; Gen 50:20; 2 Sam 14:13; Jer 11:19; 18:11, 18; 29:11; 48:2; 49:30; Mic 2:3; Nah 1:11; Ps 36:5; Esth 8:3; 9:24, 25; Dan 11:25). It is also used in a hostile sense when followed by the preposition אֶל, as it is here (Jer 49:20; 50:45; Hos 7:15; Nah 1:9). The major lexicons classify this usage in a hostile sense (BDB 363 s.v. חָשַׁב; HALOT 360 s.v. חשׁב). The verb is repeated in Nah 1:11 where it is clearly used in a hostile sense.
- Nahum 1:9 tn Or “The Lord will completely foil whatever you plot against him”; or “Whatever you may think about the Lord, he [always] brings everything to a conclusion.”
- Nahum 1:9 tc The MT reads צָרָה (tsarah, “distress”). This is supported by the LXX. However, the BHS editors propose emending the MT’s צָרָה (“distress”) to צָרָיו (tsarayv, “his adversaries”). Several English versions follow course (NRSV, NJPS); however, the majority of English versions follow the traditional MT reading (KJV, NASB, NIV, NKJV). The term “distress” (צָרָה, tsarah) is repeated from v. 7: God will not only protect his people in time of “distress” (צָרָה) from the Assyrians (v. 7), he will put an end to “distress” (צָרָה) by destroying the Assyrians (v. 9).
- Nahum 1:9 tn The originally unvocalized consonantal form תקום is vocalized in the MT as תָקוּם (taqum, “will arise”) from קוּם (qum, “to arise”). However, the LXX reflects a vocalization of תִקּוֹם (tiqqom, “will take vengeance”) from נָקַם (naqam, “to avenge”). The Masoretic vocalization makes sense and should be retained. The LXX vocalization probably arose under the influence of the three-fold repetition of נקם in Nah 1:2.
- Nahum 1:10 tn The verb אֻכְּלוּ (ʾukkelu, “they will be consumed”) is an example of the old Qal passive perfect third person common plural which was erroneously pointed by the Masoretes as Pual perfect third person common plural. The Qal passive of אָכַל (ʾakhal) occurs several times in the Hebrew Bible, pointed as Pual (e.g., Exod 3:2; Neh 2:3, 13; Isa 1:20; Nah 1:10). For further discussion on the old Qal passive see H. L. Ginsberg, “Studies on the Biblical Hebrew Verb: Masoretically Misconstrued Internal Passives,” AJSL 46 (1929): 53-56; R. J. Williams, “The Passive Qal Theme in Hebrew,” Essays on the Ancient Semitic World, 43-50; Joüon 1:166-67 §58.a; IBHS 373-76 §22.6 (see especially n. 36 on p. 375).
- Nahum 1:10 tn The particle עַד (ʿad) is taken as a comparative of degree (“like”) by many lexicographers (BDB 724 s.v. I.3; HALOT 787 s.v. 5), English versions (NASB, NRSV, NJPS), and scholars (W. A. Maier, Nahum, 192; R. L. Smith, Micah-Malachi [WBC], 76; R. D. Patterson, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah [WEC], 42). Although the comparative sense is rare (1 Sam 11:15; 2 Sam 23:19; 2 Kgs 24:20; 1 Chr 4:27), it is suggested by the similes in v. 10 (see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 57, §312). The comparative sense is reflected in the Greek versions of Symmachus, Aquila, and Theodotion. Although Origen took עַד in its more common spatial sense (“up to”), his approach can be dismissed because he misunderstood the entire line: ὅτι ἕως θεμελίου αὐτοῦ ξερσωθήσεται (hoti heōs themeliou autou xersōthēsetai, “up to his foundation he shall be laid bare”). The KJV takes עַד in its rare temporal sense (“while”; see BDB 725 s.v. II.2). T. Longman suggests a locative sense: “by the entangled thorns they are like drunkards stinking of drink” (“Nahum,” The Minor Prophets, 2:794, 796; see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 56-57, §310). Because of its difficulty, several scholars have resorted to conjectural emendations of the MT: (1) K. J. Cathcart (Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic [BibOr], 61) suggests emending the MT’s עַד to the temporal particle עוֹד (ʿod, “again”); (2) The BHS editors suggest emending the MT’s כִּי עַד (ki ʿad) to הוֹי עִיר (hoy ʿir, “woe to the city!”) which appears in Nah 3:1; (3) The BHS editors suggest the alternate conjectural emendation of יִבְעֲרוּ כְ (yivʿaru ke, “they will burn like…”); (4) H. Junker (Die zwolf kleinen Propheten, 175) suggests emending כִּי עַד (ki ʿad) to כְּיַעַד (keyaʿad, “like a forest”). Although the Masoretic reading is difficult, it is more plausible than any conjectural emendation.
- Nahum 1:10 tc The MT reads סִירִים סְבֻכִים (sirim sevukhim, “entangled thorn bushes”), and is supported by the Dead Sea text from Murabba`at: סירים סבכים (see DJD 2:197). The noun סִירִים (“thorn bushes”) is from סִיר (sir, “thorn, thorn bush,” BDB 696 s.v. II סִיר; HALOT 752 s.v. *סִירָה), e.g., Isa 34:13; Hos 2:8; Eccl 7:6. The Qal passive participle סְבֻכִים (sevukhim) is from סָבַךְ (savakh, “to interweave,” BDB 687 s.v. סָבַךְ; HALOT 740 s.v. סבך), e.g., Job 8:17, which is related to Assyrian sabaku (“to entwine,” AHw 2:999.a) and Arabic sabaka (“to entwine”; Leslau, 51). The MT is supported by several LXX translators, e.g., Symmachus, Aquila, and Theodotion. It is also reflected in Vulgate’s spinarum perplexi (“thorn bushes entangled”). On the other hand, the Syriac Peshitta reflects סָרִים סוֹרְרִים (sarim sorerim, “your princes are rebels”) which points to orthographic confusion and a different vocalization. Similar textual confusion is apparent in Origen: θεμελίου αὐτοῦ ξερσωθήσεται (themeliou autou xersōthēsetai, “his foundation shall be laid bare”) seems to reflect יְסֹדָם יְכָבֵּס (yesodam yekhabbes, “their foundation shall be washed away”) which was caused by orthographic confusion and transposition of consonants. The MT should be retained.sn This simile compares the imminent destruction of Nineveh to the burning of a mass of entangled thorn bushes (Job 8:17). When thorn bushes are entangled they burn quickly and completely ( Eccl 7:6; Isa 34:13).
- Nahum 1:10 tc The MT reading וּכְסָבְאָם סְבוּאִים (ukhesavʾam sevuʾim, “and like the drink of drunkards”) is supported by Symmachus (“and as those drinking their drink with one another”) who is known for his wooden literalness to the Hebrew text, and by Vulgate which reads et sicut vino suo inebriati. K. J. Cathcart revocalizes as וּכְסֹבְאִים סְבֻאִים (ukhesoveʾim sevuʾim, “and like drunkards sodden with drink”; Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic [BibOr], 61). Haldar equates Hebrew סָבָא (savaʾ) with Ugaritic spʾ (“eat”) due to an interchange between ב (bet) and פ (pe), and produces “and as they consume a consuming” (A. Haldar, Studies in the Book of Nahum, 32). Barr argues that the mem (מ) on MT וּכְסָבְאָם (ukhesovʾam) is enclitic, and he translates the line as “and as the drunken are getting drunk” (J. Barr, Comparative Philology, 33). tn The MT’s וּכְסָבְאָם is a noun with masculine plural suffix from סֹבֶא (sove’, “drink, liquor”), meaning “their drink, liquor” (e.g., Hos 4:18). This is supported by Symmachus (“their drink”) and is reflected in the Syriac (“in their drink”). The Masoretic סְבוּאִים (sevuʾim) is the passive participle from סָבָא (savaʾ, “to drink,” BDB 684-85 s.v. סָבָא). This produces “and like their liquor/drink being drunken.” This makes good sense with the following line in which אֻכְּלוּ (’ukkelu, “they will be consumed”) appears. The verb אֻכְּלוּ is frequently used in comparisons of consuming liquor and being consumed like chaff.
- Nahum 1:10 tc The BHS editors propose emending the MT’s מָלֵא (maleʾ, “fully”) to the negative interrogative הֲלֹא (haloʾ, “Has not…?”) and connecting it with the next line: “Has not one plotting evil marched out from you?” However, this emendation is unnecessary because the MT makes sense as it stands, and there is no textual support for the emendation. The MT is supported by the Greek tradition, the Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpNah), and the other versions.tn Or “They will be fully consumed like dried stubble.” The term מָלֵא (“fully”) functions either as: (1) an adjective modifying כְּקַשׁ יָבֵשׁ (keqash yavesh, “like fully dried stubble”) or (2) an adverb modifying אֻכְּלוּ (ʾukkelu, “they will be fully consumed”); see BDB 571 s.v. מָלֵא. The adverbial sense is rare, appearing elsewhere only in Jer 12:6; thus, the adjectival sense is more probable. The Hebrew word order also suggests the adjectival sense because מָלֵא follows כְּקַשׁ יָבֵשׁ (keqash yavesh) rather than אֻכְּלוּ.
- Nahum 1:11 tn The words “O Nineveh” are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied in the translation for clarity. The preceding pronoun is feminine singular, indicating the personified city is in view. See 2:1 (2:2 HT).
- Nahum 1:11 tn Heb “a counselor of wickedness”; NASB “a wicked counselor”; NAB “the scoundrel planner.”
- Nahum 1:12 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.
- Nahum 1:12 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 (vekhen, “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).
- Nahum 1:12 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 (shelemim, 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 : 311-26). Nahum refers to the allies of the Assyrians elsewhere (Nah 3:15-17).
- Nahum 1:12 tn The particle וְכֵן (vekhen, “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 (shelemim, “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!”
- Nahum 1:12 tc The MT reads אִם־שְׁלֵמִים וְכֵן רַבִּים (’im-shelemim vekhen 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 (katarxōn hudatōn pollōn, “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 (vekhen). Similarly, the Syriac reflects אֶל מֹשְׁלֵי מַיִם רַבִּים (ʾel moshele mayim 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.
- Nahum 1:12 tn The particle וְכֵן (vekhen, “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).
- Nahum 1:12 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 : 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.
- Nahum 1:12 tc In v. 12 the MT preserves a string of plural forms followed by a seemingly anomalous singular form: וְעָבָר…נָגֹזּוּ…רַבִּים…שְׁלֵמִים (shelemim…rabbim…nagozzu…veʿavar, “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 (veʿavaru, “and they will pass away”). Several scholars emend the MT to the plural form, noting that the next word (וְעִנִּתִךְ, veʿinnitikh) 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 (ʿavar, “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 : 99-107).
- Nahum 1:12 tn The terms אֲעַנֵּךְ (ʾaʿannekh, “I will [no longer] afflict you”) and וְעִנִּתִךְ (veʿinnitikh, “I afflicted you”) are both derived from the root II עָנָה (ʿanah, “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 (veʿinnitikh loʾ ʾaʿannekh, “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.
- Nahum 1:13 tn The particle וְעַתָּה (veʿattah, “And now”) often introduces a transition in a prophetic oracle (HALOT 902 s.v. 3.a). It often draws a contrast between a past condition (as described in v. 12) and what will happen in the immediate future (as described in v. 13; see, e.g., Gen 11:6; 2 Sam 2:6; 2 Kgs 12:8). See H. A. Brongers, “Bemerkungen zum Gebrauch des adverbialen weʿattah im Alten Testament,” VT 15 (1965): 289-99.
- Nahum 1:13 tn Heb “his”; the referent (Assyria) has been supplied from context.
- Nahum 1:13 tc The BHS editors propose revocalizing the MT מֹטֵהוּ (motehu, “his yoke bar”) to מַטַּהַוּ (mattahu, “his scepter”). The threat of breaking an enemy’s scepter was a common ancient Near Eastern treaty curse (see D. Hillers, Treaty-Curses and the Old Testament Prophets [BibOr], 61). This proposed revocalization has no external support. The MT is supported by the use of the parallel word pair מוֹטָה/מוֹסֵר (motah, “scepter”/moser, “bonds”) elsewhere (Jer 27:2). The term מַטֶּה is never used in parallelism with מוֹסֵר elsewhere.sn The terms yoke bar and shackles are figures of speech (hypocatastasis) for Assyrian subjugation of Judah. The imagery of the yoke bar draws an implied comparison between the yoking of a beast of burden to the subjugation of a nation under a foreign power, i.e., vassaldom (Lev 26:13; Jer 27:2; 28:14; Ezek 30:18; 34:27). This imagery also alludes to the Assyrian use of “yoke” imagery to describe their subjugation of foreign nations to the status of vassal. When describing their subjugation of nations, Assyrian rulers frequently spoke of causing them to “pull my yoke.” Sennacherib subjugated Judah to the Assyrian “yoke” in 701 b.c. when he invaded Judah and forced Hezekiah into a position of Assyrian vassal: “I laid waste the large district of Judah and put the straps of my yoke upon Hezekiah, its king” (“Sennacherib: The Siege of Jerusalem,” lines 13-15, in ANET 288).
- Nahum 1:13 tn Heb “from you”; the word “neck” is supplied in the translation as a clarification for the modern reader who may be less familiar with the imagery of a yoke around the neck of farm animals or draft animals.sn The statement I will break Assyria’s yoke bar from your neck draws an implied comparison (hypocatastasis) between breaking a plowing yoke off the neck of a farming animal and freeing a vassal from the tyranny of an oppressive suzerain through military conquest (Lev 26:13; Isa 58:6; Jer 30:8; Ezek 30:18; 34:27).
- Nahum 1:13 sn The phrase the shackles that are on you draws an implied comparison between the chains and stocks of prisoners or slaves with the burden of international vassaldom to a tyrannical suzerain who demands absolute obedience and requires annual tributary offerings (e.g., Ps 2:3; Isa 52:2; Jer 27:2; 30:8). “Shackles” were the agent of covenantal discipline (e.g., Deut 28:48). Isaiah stated that the Assyrian “yoke” was the Lord’s instrument of discipline (Isa 28:22). The phrase I will tear apart the shackles that are on you draws an implied comparison (hypocatastasis) between removing the iron chains from a prisoner/slave and freeing a vassal from the oppression of a tyrannical suzerain through military conquest (Ps 2:3; Isa 52:2).
- Nahum 1:13 tn Heb “your shackles.”
- Nahum 1:14 tn Heb “has commanded concerning you.” The referent of the second person masculine singular suffix (“you”) probably refers to the Assyrian king (cf. 3:18-19) rather than to the personified city of Nineveh (so NIV). Elsewhere in the book of Nahum, the city of Nineveh is referred to by the feminine rather than masculine gender. Some modern English versions supply terms not in the Hebrew text to indicate the addressee more clearly: NIV “Nineveh”; NLT “the Assyrians in Nineveh.”
- Nahum 1:14 tn Heb “from your name there will no longer be sown.”
- Nahum 1:14 tn The MT reading אָשִׂים קִבְרֶךָ (ʾasim qivrekha, “I will make your grave”) is usually understood as a figure of speech (metonymy of effect) meaning that the Lord will destroy/execute the Assyrian king. On the other hand, the Targum and Syriac treat this as a double-accusative construction—the implied second object of אָשִׂים being מִבֵּית אֱלֹהֶיךָ (mibbet ʾelohekha, “the house [i.e., “temple”] of your gods”): “I will make it [the house (i.e., temple) of your gods] your grave.” Cathcart suggests revocalizing the MT אָשִׂים to a Hiphil imperfect אָשִׁיִם (ʾashiyim) from שָׁמֵם (shamem, “to devastate”): “I will devastate your grave.” Cathcart notes that the destruction of one’s grave, like the threat of no burial, was a common ancient Near Eastern treaty-curse: “Tombs, especially royal tombs, were often protected by curses directed against persons who might violate and desecrate them, and the very curse kings used to have inscribed on their tombs were precisely the curse of no progeny and no resting-place” (K. J. Cathcart, “Treaty-Curses and the Book of Nahum,” CBQ 35 : 180-81). This might reflect the background of the ancient Near Eastern kudurru curses which were made against those who might devastate a royal grave and which were put into effect by the gods of the king (see F. C. Fensham, “Common Trends in Curses of the Near Eastern Treaties and Kudurru-Inscriptions Compared with Maledictions of Amos and Isaiah,” ZAW 75 : 157-59). Despite the fact the king’s grave was allegedly protected by the Assyrian gods, the Lord would nevertheless successfully destroy it, and it would be the Assyrian king who would receive the curse. This approach respects the traditional consonantal text and only involves the revocalization of the MT’s שׂ (sin) to שׁ (shin).
- Nahum 1:14 tn The Hebrew verb קַלֹּוֹתָ (qallota) is usually rendered “you are despised” (e.g., Gen 16:4-5; 1 Sam 2:30). However, it is possible that the Hebrew root קָלַל (qalal) is related to the Assyrian term qalu “accursed” (W. von Soden, “Hebraische Wortforschung,” VTSup 16 : 295).
- Nahum 1:15 sn Beginning with 1:15, the verse numbers through 2:13 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 1:15 ET = 2:1 HT, 2:1 ET = 2:2 HT, etc., through 2:13 ET = 2:14 HT. Beginning with 3:1, the verse numbers in the English Bible and the Hebrew Bible are again the same.
- Nahum 1:15 tn Heb “the feet of a herald.”
- Nahum 1:15 tn Heb “a messenger of peace.” The Hebrew noun translated “peace” is sometimes used in reference to deliverance or freedom from enemy attack or destruction (e.g., Jer 4:10; 6:14; 8:11; 12:5; 28:9; 29:7).
- Nahum 1:15 sn The sacred vows to praise God were often made by Israelites as a pledge to proclaim the mercy of the Lord if he would be gracious to deliver (e.g., Gen 28:20; 31:13; Lev 7:16; Judg 11:30, 39; 1 Sam 1:11, 21; 2 Sam 15:7-8; Pss 22:25 ; 50:14; 56:12 ; 61:5 , 8 ; 65:1 ; 66:13; 116:14, 18; Eccl 5:4 ; Jonah 1:16; 2:9 ). The words “to praise God” are not in the Hebrew, but are added in the translation for clarification.
- Nahum 1:15 tc The LXX reflects the plural יוֹסִיפוּ (yosifu, “they shall [never]”). The MT reads the singular יוֹסִיף (yosif, “he shall [never]”) which is also found in the Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpNah). The subject of the verb is the singular noun בְּלִיַּעַל (beliyya’al, “the wicked one”) which is also misunderstood by the LXX (see below).
- Nahum 1:15 tc The MT reads בְּלִיַּעַל (beliyya’al, “the wicked one”; so ASV, NASB). The LXX reading εἰς παλαίωσιν (eis palaiōsin, “to old age”) mistakenly derived בְּלִיַּעַל from בָּלָה (balah, “to become worn”). There are several places in the book of Nahum where the LXX produced poor translations.tn Heb “the wicked one.” This is a collective singular and has been translated as a plural.
- Nahum 1:15 tn The term “Assyrians” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied from context for clarity. If left unspecified, the prophetic statement could be understood to mean that the wicked [i.e., wicked conquerors in general] would never again invade Judah. Cf. NLT “your enemies from Nineveh.”
- Nahum 1:15 tn Or “pass through you” (NASB); or “march against you”; NCV “attack you.”
- Nahum 1:15 tn Heb “he.” This is in agreement with the singular “wicked one” in the previous line.
- Nahum 1:15 tn Heb “he is completely cut off.”
- Nahum 2:1 tc The MT reads מֵפִיץ (mefits, “scatterer, disperser”), the Hiphil participle of פּוּץ (puts, “to scatter, to disperse”; HALOT 755 s.v. פוּץ, but see BDB 807 s.v. מֵפִיץ, which classifies it as a noun). The Vulgate’s qui dispergat (“one who disperses”) and the LXX’s ἐμφυσῶν (emphusōn, “one who blows hard; one who scatters”) also reflect מֵפִיץ. The BHS editors propose the emendation מַפֵּץ (mappets, “shatterer, hammerer, war club”) e.g., Jer 51:20 and Prov 25:18. This seems to be accepted by NRSV, “a shatterer,” NLT “coming to crush,” and perhaps NIV, “an attacker.” However, the text makes sense as it stands and there is no textual support for the emendation. The theme of exile and dispersion is prominent in the book (Nah 2:7; 3:10-11, 17-18).tn Heb “a scatterer.” The Hebrew term מֵפִיץ (mefits, “scatterer”) is either a collective singular referring to the Babylonian army or a singular of number referring to the Babylonian commander. Singular forms occur elsewhere in the vision of the fall of Nineveh (2:1-10), used in reference to the Babylonian commander (Nah 2:3, 5)
- Nahum 2:1 tn The word “Nineveh” does not occur in the text but has been added to clarify who is being addressed.
- Nahum 2:1 tn Or “has come up.” Used in reference to an army, the verb עָלָה (ʿalah, “to go up”) means “to advance; to march against” (HALOT 829 s.v. 3.d; see 1 Sam 7:7; 1 Kgs 20:22; Isa 7:1; 21:2; Jer 46:9; Joel 1:6; Mic 2:3). Appearing in a prophetic vision, the suffix (perfect) conjugation can denote a future action, but it is reported from the point of view of the vision in which it has been seen, thus the perspective is past.
- Nahum 2:1 tn Heb “against your face”; NASB, NRSV “against you.”
- Nahum 2:1 tn The Qal infinitive absolute נָצוֹר (natsor, from נָצַר [natsar], “to guard”) is used in an imperatival sense as the following string of imperatives suggests. The imperatival use of the infinitive absolute is often used to introduce a series of imperatives with special urgency (e.g., Deut 1:16; 2 Sam 24:12; 2 Kgs 5:10). See IBHS 593-94 §35.5.1; R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 42, §211.
- Nahum 2:1 tc The BHS editors suggest revocalizing the Masoretic noun מְצֻרָה (metsurah, “rampart”) to the noun מַצָּרָה (matsarah, “the watchtower”) from the root נָצַר (natsar, “to watch, guard”). This would create a repetition of the root נָצַר which immediately precedes it: מַצָּרָה נָצוֹר (natsor matsarah, “Watch the watchtower!”). However, the proposed noun מַצָּרָה (“the watchtower”) appears nowhere in the Hebrew Bible. On the other hand, the Masoretic reading מְצֻרָה (“rampart”) and the related noun מָצוֹר (matsor, “rampart”) appear often (Pss 31:22; 60:11; Hab 2:1; Zech 9:3; 2 Chr 8:5; 11:5, 10, 11, 23; 12:4; 14:5; 21:3; 32:10). Thus, the Masoretic vocalization should be preserved. The LXX completely misunderstood this line. The LXX reading (“one who delivers out of tribulation”) has probably arisen from a confusion of the MT noun נָצוֹר (“guard”) with the common verb נָצַר (“deliver”). It also reflects a confusion of MT מְצֻרָה (“road, rampart”) with מִצְּרָה (mitserah, “from distress”).
- Nahum 2:1 tn Heb “Make strong your loins,” an expression which could refer (1) to the practice of tucking the ends of the long cloak (outer garment) into the belt to shorten it in preparation for activities like running, fighting in battle, etc. (cf. NAB, NRSV “gird your loins”); (2) to preparing oneself physically for the onslaught of the enemy (cf. NASB “strengthen your back”); or (3) to a combination of mental and physical preparation for battle (cf. NIV “brace yourselves”).
- Nahum 2:1 tn Heb “Make [your] strength exceedingly firm.”
- Nahum 2:2 tn The verb form שָׁב (shav) may be a perfect or a participle, probably based on the root שׁוּב (shuv, “return, restore”). It has been understood in many ways: “hath turned away” (KJV), “will restore” (NASB, NIV), “is restoring” (NRSV, ESV), or “is about to restore” (R. Smith, Micah–Malachi [WBC] 79). The past and future tense translations both treat the Hebrew form as a perfect, the past tense being the most common for the Hebrew perfect and the future tense based on an understanding of the Hebrew as a “prophetic perfect.” Typically a “prophetic perfect” is part of a report from a point of view after the events have taken place, such as a prophet reporting a vision that he has seen or is unfolding (Num 24:17). From the speaker’s perspective the events of the vision are in the past, though the corresponding events of human history will be in the future. The present tense and near future renderings are common for the participle, the latter especially true in prophecy. The Qal form of the verb is normally intransitive (“return”), but occurs here with the direct object marker. This occurs elsewhere 14 times meaning “restore,” but always with שְׁבוּת or שְׁבִית (shevut or shevit, “fortune” or “captivity”) as in Deut 30:3; Jer 29:14; Ezek 16:53; Joel 3:1; Amos 9:14; Zeph 3:20. This would be the sole example meaning “restore” without the apparently cognate direct object. Still, most scholars derive שָׁב from the root שׁוּב (shuv). W. A. Maier (Nahum, 232) contends, however, that שָׁב is derived from I שָׁבַב (shavav, “to cut off, to destroy, to smite”) which is related to Arabic sabba (“to cut”), Aramaic sibbaʾ (“splinter”), and New Hebrew. Maier admits that this would be the only occurrence of a verb from I שָׁבָב in the OT, but he argues that the appearance of the plural noun שְׁבָבִים (shevavim, “splinters”) in Hos 8:6 provides adequate support. While worth investigating, Maier’s proposal is problematic in relying on cognate evidence that is all late and proposing a rare word to replace a well-known Hebrew term which frequently appears in climactic contexts in prophetic speeches. On the other hand, it is easy to believe that a common word might be misunderstood in place of a rare term. And in this case either the verb or the syntax is rare, though an attested meaning of שׁוּב (shuv, “to restore”) makes good sense in this context. The LXX took it in a 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 (geʾon) 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 כִּי (ki, “for”) would make little sense, saying that the reason the Lord was about to destroy Nineveh was because he had turned away the pride of Judah; however, it makes good sense to say that the Lord would destroy Nineveh because he was about to deliver Judah; and (3) a reference to the Lord turning aside from Judah would be out of harmony with the rest of the book.
- Nahum 2:2 tc The BHS editors propose emending the MT reading גְּאוֹן (geʾon, “majesty; pride”) to גֶּפֶן (gefen, “vineyard”) due to the mention of “their branches” (וּזְמֹרֵיהֶם, uzemorehem) in the following line (so HALOT 169 s.v. גָּאוֹן [2.b]). However, the LXX supports the MT.tn While גְּאוֹן (geʾon) 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).
- Nahum 2:2 tn The preposition כְּ (kaf) on כִּגְאוֹן (kigʾon, “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.
- Nahum 2:2 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.
- Nahum 2:2 tn Heb “plunderers have plundered them.” The Hebrew root בָּקַק (baqaq, “to lay waste, to empty”) is repeated for emphasis: בְקָקוּם בֹּקְקִים (veqaqum boqeqim, “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).
- Nahum 2:2 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.
- Nahum 2:3 tc The MT reads מְאָדָּם (meʾoddam, “reddened”) from אָדֹם (ʾadom, “red”). The LXX read the text as מֵאָדָם (meʾadam, “from man”) confusing the roots אָדָם (“man”) and אָדֹם (“red”).tn The Hebrew term מְאָדָּם (“reddened”) from אָדֹם (“red”) refers to clothes made red with dye (Exod 25:6; 26:14; 35:7, 23; 36:13; 39:34) or made red from bloodshed (Isa 63:2). The parallelism between מְאָדָּם (“reddened”) and מְתֻלָּעִים (metullaʿim, “clad in scarlet colored clothing”) suggests that the shields were dyed prior to battle, like the scarlet dyed uniforms. Nahum 2:1-10 unfolds the assault in chronological sequence; thus, the spattering of blood on the warrior’s shields would be too early in the account (R. D. Patterson, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah [WEC], 65).sn As psychological warfare, warriors often wore uniforms colored blood-red, to strike fear into the hearts of their enemy (see Xenophon, Cyropaedia 6.4.1; Ezek 23:5-6).
- Nahum 2:3 tn The Pual participle מְתֻלָּעִים (metullaʿim, “dressed in scarlet”) from תָּלָע (talaʿ, “scarlet”) is used elsewhere of clothing dyed red or purple (Isa 1:18; Lam 4:5).
- Nahum 2:3 tn The collective singular רֶכֶב (rekhev, “chariot”) refers to all of the chariots in the army as a whole: “chariots; chariotry” (BDB 939 s.v. 1; HALOT 891 s.v. 1). The singular form rarely refers to a single chariot (BDB 939 s.v. 2; HALOT 891 s.v. 3). The collective use is indicated by the plural verb “they race back and forth” (יִתְהוֹלְלוּ, yitholelu) in v. 5 (GKC 462 §145.b). The term רֶכֶב usually refers to war chariots (Exod 14:7; Josh 11:4; 17:16, 18; 24:6; Judg 1:19; 4:3, 7, 13; 5:28; 1 Sam 13:5; 2 Sam 1:6; 8:4; 10:18; 1 Kgs 9:19, 22; 10:26; Jer 47:3; 50:37; 51:21; Ezek 23:24; Nah 2:3, 4, 13).
- Nahum 2:3 tc The MT reads the preposition בְּ (bet, “in, at, with”), but several Hebrew mss read the comparative preposition כְּ (kaf, “like”). The LXX seems to have read the בְּ (bet) but reads the opening clauses differently. Instead of מְתֻלָּעִים (metullaʿim, “those clothed in scarlet”) the LXX probably read מִתְעַלְּלִים (mitʿallelim, “those making sport [with fire],”) which, as here, is typically translated in the LXX with ἐμπαίζω (empaizō, “mock, make sport”). The two prepositions are easily confused visually and the scribe’s understanding of how the object of the preposition functions in the clause could affect which preposition the scribe favored. The MT is the more difficult reading and better explains the origin of the variant since it easier to postulate the scribe would consider the בְּ (bet) to be a mistake. The use of the preposition בְּ is difficult to identify in this case, especially since it is a verbless clause. The KJV accepts the earlier emendation of לַפִּדוֹת (lappidot, “torches”) and renders “the chariots [shall be] with flaming torches.” The NRSV and NIV omit the prepositional phrase, giving “the metal on the chariots flashes.” The NASB supplies a verb “the chariots are enveloped in flashing steel.” It is unlikely to be a bet essentiae, as that use is not metaphorically comparative but points out a quality that the noun it modifies also has. Since the previous two lines describe the adornment of objects, the translation takes this phrase similarly and understands אֵשׁ (ʾesh, “fire”) metaphorically.
- Nahum 2:3 tc The MT reads פְּלָדוֹת (peladot, “steel”; see the following note). The LXX’s αἱ ἡνιάι (hai hēniai, “the reins, bridle”) and Vulgate’s habenai (“reins”) may have confused פְּלָדוֹת (peladot) with כְּלָיוֹת (kelayot, “kidneys, reins[?]”). The BHS editors suggest emending the MT’s פְּלָדוֹת (peladot) to לַפִּדוֹת (lappidot, “torches”) to create the simile כְּאֵשׁ לַפִּדוֹת (keʾesh lappidot, “like torches of fire” or “like flaming torches”) which is reflected in the Syriac Peshitta and Symmachus (so KJV, RSV, NJPS). The problem with this is that לַפִּיד (lappid, “torch”) is masculine in gender, so the plural form is not לַפִּדוֹת but לַפִּדִים (lappidim)—which appears in Nah 2:4 (BDB 542 s.v. לַפִּיד; HALOT 533 s.v. לַפִּיד). Others propose a complete reversal of the consonants to דלפות from the root דָּלַף (dalaf, “to drip, to trickle, to leak, to weep”) and translate כְּאֵשׁ דְלָפוֹת (keʾesh delafot) as “like flickering fire” (so NEB). Against this proposal is the fact that דָּלָף is usually used in reference to water, but it is never used in reference to fire (HALOT 223 s.v. דלף; BDB 196 s.v. דָּלַף).tn Heb “the steel.” The Hebrew term פְּלָדוֹת is a hapax legomenon. The corresponding noun פְּלָדָה (peladah) probably means “metal, steel” (BDB 811 s.v. פְּלָדָה; HALOT 761 s.v. פְּלָדָה), and it is probably related to Arabic puladu, Syriac pldʾ, and early Persian fulad (all of which mean “steel”). This rendering is followed by NASB, NIV, NRSV. The term פְּלָדוֹת (“steel”) probably refers to the metallic pole attachments for the chariot spears, the side armor of the chariots, or the steel scythes fastened to the axle of a chariot. Xenophon described the army of Cyrus in a similar manner; the side armor of the chariots and the breastplates and thigh-pieces of the chariot-horses were “flashing with bronze” (Xenophon, Cyropaedia 6.4.1). On the other hand, Cathcart connects Hebrew פְּלָדָה to Ugaritic paladu, which means “a garment made of linen hair,” and suggests that פְּלָדוֹת הָרֶכֶב (peladot harekhev) refers to the coverings, blankets, or caparisons of chariot horses (K. J. Cathcart, Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic [BibOr], 88). This demands that הָרֶכֶב be nuanced “chariot horses”—a problem when it means “chariots” in Nah 2:4; 3:2.
- Nahum 2:3 tn Heb “on the day of its preparation.” The Hiphil infinitive construct הֲכִינוֹ (hakhino; from כּוּן, kun) means “to prepare, to make ready” (HALOT 465 s.v. כּוּן; BDB 466 s.v. כּוּן). The Hiphil verb is used of preparing weapons and military equipment for the day of battle (2 Chr 26:14; Pss 7:13 [7:14 HT]; 57:6 [57:7 HT]). The third person masculine singular suffix (“its preparation”) is a collective singular, referring to the chariotry as a whole.
- Nahum 2:3 tc Some scholars adopt the variant reading הַפְּרֹשִׁים (happeroshim, “the horses”) and relate הָרְעָלוּ (horʿalu) to Arabic raʿala (“to stand in row and rank”): “the horses stand in row and rank,” that is, at attention. However, it is preferable to retain the MT for the noun, with the verb given its normal Hebrew meaning.tn Heb “the spears quiver”; or “the spears are made to quiver.” Alternately, “the horses quiver” or “the horses shake [with excitement].” The Hophal perfect הָרְעָלוּ (horʿalu, “are made to quiver”) is from רָעַל (raʿal, “to quiver, to shake”) which appears elsewhere only in Hab 2:16 (BDB 947 s.v. רָעַל; HALOT 900 s.v. II רעל); the related noun רַעַל (“reeling”) appears only once (Zech 12:2). This Hebrew root is related to the Aramaic רְעַל (reʿal, “to quiver, to shake”). The action of the spear-shafts quivering is metonymical (effect for cause) to the action of the spear-shafts being brandished by the warriors. In the translation the words “the soldiers” are supplied for clarity.
- Nahum 2:3 tc The MT reads הַבְּרֹשִׁים (habberoshim, “the cypresses”). A variant textual tradition (preserved in several Hebrew mss) reads הַפְּרֹשִׁים (happeroshim, “spears, horses, horsemen”) which is reflected in the LXX and Syriac. The variant noun הַפְּרֹשִׁים is derived either from IV פָּרַשׁ (“horse, horseman”; see BDB 831 s.v. פָּרַשׁ; HALOT 977 s.v. פָּרָשׁ) or II פָּרַשׁ (“spear, staff”) which is related to Akkadian parussu (“spear-staff”; see BDB 831 II פָּרַשׁ). The LXX connects הַבְּרֹשִׁים to IV פָּרַשׁ (“horsemen”) as indicated by its translation οἱ ἱππεῖς (hoi hippeis, “the horsemen”). While some English versions follow the MT (KJV, NASB, NIV, NJPS), others adopt the alternate textual tradition (RSV, NEB, NJB, NRSV).tn Heb “the cypresses”; alternately, “the horses.” The Hebrew noun הַבְּרֹשִׁים (habberoshim, “the cypresses”) is probably from the root בְּרוֹשׁ (berosh, “cypress, fir”) and is a figure of speech (synecdoche of material) in which the thing made (spear-shafts) is intended by the use of the term for the material out of which it is made (cypress wood). See K. J. Cathcart, Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic (BibOr), 89.
- Nahum 2:4 tn Heb “the chariot.” This is a collective use of the singular, as indicated by the plural verb “[they] race madly” (see GKC 462 §145.b).
- Nahum 2:4 tn The Hitpolel imperfect יִתְהוֹלְלוּ (yitholelu, “they rush wildly”) is from the root III הלל (“to be foolish, to be senseless, to be insane”). The Hitpolel stem describes seemingly insane actions: “to pretend to be insane; to act like a madman” (1 Sam 21:14; Jer 25:16; 50:38; 51:7; see HALOT 249 s.v. III הלל). When used in military contexts, it describes the wild, furious action of war-chariots charging forward to attack the enemy (Jer 46:9). The Hitpolel stem is the equivalent to the Hitpael stem for geminate verbs (see IBHS 425-26 §26.1.1). The Hitpolel stem expresses energetic, intense, and rapid action; it gives special energy and movement to the verbal idea (J. Muilenburg, “Hebrew Rhetoric: Repetition and Style,” VTSup 1 : 101).
- Nahum 2:4 tn The Hitpalpel imperfect יִשְׁתַּקְשְׁקוּן (yishtaqshequn, “they rush back and forth”; see GKC 153 §55.g) is from שָׁקַק (shaqaq, “to rush upon; to rush forth”); cf. Prov 28:15; Isa 33:4; Joel 2:9 (HALOT 1009 s.v. I שׁקק). The Hitpalpel is the Hitpael stem for geminate verbs (IBHS 425-26 §26.1.1). The Hitpalpel stem gives special energy and movement to the verbal idea; it connotes intense, furious, and energetic action (e.g., Deut 9:20; Jer 5:22; see J. Muilenburg, “Hebrew Rhetoric: Repetition and Style,” VTSup 1 : 101). The nun ending on יִשְׁתַּקְשְׁקוּן may denote additional energy and emphasis (see IBHS 516-17 §31.7.1).
- Nahum 2:4 tn Heb “Their appearance is like.”
- Nahum 2:4 tn Or “like torches” or “flickering flames.” The Hebrew term לַפִּיד (lappid) occurs 12 times and usually means “torch, flame” (Gen 15:17; Judg 7:16, 20; 15:4, 5; Isa 62:1; Ezek 1:13; Zech 12:6; Dan 10:6), but refers to “lightning bolts” in Exod 20:18 (see HALOT 533 s.v. לַפִּיד; BDB 542 s.v. לַפִּיד). Perhaps the term is a broad reference to shining objects, like torches, flames, and lightning, with the movement of light as part of the word also. Most English versions render this usage as “torches” (KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NJPS). But the parallelism with כַּבְּרָקִים (kabberaqim, “like lightning flashes”) suggests it may be nuanced “like lightning bolts.”
- Nahum 2:4 tn Or “they flash here and there.” The Polel imperfect יְרוֹצֵצוּ (yirotsetsu, “they dash here and there”) is from the root רוּץ (ruts) which means “to run quickly” in reference to men (Gen 18:2; 2 Kgs 23:12; Prov 4:12) and “to gallop” in reference to horsemen (Joel 2:14). The Hiphil stem denotes “to drive off with haste” (Jer 49:19; 50:44). The Polel stem, which is used here, means “to race about swiftly; to flash by speedily; to run to and fro” (HALOT 1208 s.v. רוץ; BDB 930 s.v. רוּץ).
- Nahum 2:4 tn Or simply, “like lightning.” The term “lightning flash” (בָּרָק, baraq) is often used to compare the brightness of an object to the flash of lightning: the glory of Yahweh (Ezek 1:13), the splendor of an angel (Dan 10:6), the glitter of swords (Deut 32:41; Ezek 21:15; Nah 3:3; Hab 3:11), and the gleam of arrowheads (Job 20:25). It is also used as a figure (hypocatastasis) for speed, such as the swift destruction of an enemy (Zech 9:14). Perhaps both images are suggested here: the bright glitter of the chariots (v. 4b) and the speed of the chariots as suggested by the verb “they dash here and there” (יְרוֹצֵצוּ, yerotsetsu, v. 5b).
- Nahum 2:5 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the commander) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Nahum 2:5 tn A Hebrew verb זָכַר (zakar) is likely related to Akkadian zakāru (“to declare, mention, give an order”; see CAD Z 17 s.v. zakāru A 1.c “to give an order”). While the West Semitic zakāru B (“to remember”) appears in Amarna Akkadian documents (CAD Z 22 s.v. zakāru B), the relation of Hebrew cases of זָכַר to Akkadian zakāru A is not entirely clear. The most common gloss for the Hebrew verb is “to remember,” but the dictionaries include meanings like “to mention” (HALOT 270 s.v. זָכַר 1, Concise DCH 100 s.v. זָכַר 1) which appear connected to Akkadian zakāru A. However the root is classified in Hebrew, whether one root, homonyms, or a loan word, this occurrence of זָכַר is well explained by the attested meaning of the cognate verb in Akkadian. The English versions are split regarding how to view the root: “he commands” (NJPS), “he summons” (NIV), “he recounts” (KJV), “he remembers” (NASB), and “he calls” (NRSV).tc The MT reads the Qal imperfect third person masculine singular יִזְכֹּר (yizkor) from זָכַר (zakar); see above note on its meaning. The rarity of this meaning for זָכַר in Hebrew has led to textual variants and several proposed emendations. The LXX reflects the Niphal imperfect third person masculine plural יִזָּכְרוּ (yizzakheru): καὶ μνησθνήσονται οἱ μεγιστᾶντες (kai mnēsthnēsontai hoi megistantes, “And their mighty men will be remembered”; or “will remember themselves”). The BHS editors suggest emending to יִזָּכְרוּ on the basis of the LXX. The BHK editors proposed emending to Pilpel imperfect third person common plural יְכַרְכְרוּ (yekharkheru, “they prance, they whirl”) from II כָּרַר (karar, “to dance”). None of the emendations are necessary once the existence of the homonym (or additional meaning) for זָכַר (“to order”) is recognized.
- Nahum 2:5 tc The MT reads the Niphal imperfect third person masculine plural יִכָּשְׁלוּ (yikkashelu, “they stumble”) from the root כָּשַׁל (kashal, “stumble”). G. R. Driver argues that the MT makes little sense in the portrayal of a successful assault; the motif of stumbling warriors usually connotes defeat (Isa 5:27; Jer 46:6). Driver argues that MT’s יִכָּשְׁלוּ (“they stumble”) arose from metathesis (reversal of consonants) from an original יִשָּׁלְכוּ (yishalekhu, Niphal from שָׁלַךְ [shalakh, “to cast forth”]) which also appears in 1 Kgs 13:24, 25, 28 (“hurled himself,” i.e., rushed headlong). Driver suggests that this is related to Arabic salaka VII (“to rush in”). He notes that the emendation would produce a tighter parallelism with the following noun: יְמַהֲרוּ (yemaharu, “they hasten”). See G. R. Driver, “Linguistic and Textual Problems: Minor Prophets II,” JTS 39 (1938): 270. On the other hand, Armerding argues that the anomalous MT reading יִכָּשְׁלוּ (“they stumble”) can be explained without recourse to textual emendation. The stumbling of the attacking army is caused, not by their weakness, but by the corpses of the Assyrians strewn in their path which obstructs their advance. Armerding suggests that this motif appears in Nah 3:3 (C. E. Armerding, “Nahum,” EBC 7:475).tn Alternately, “they rush forward.”
- Nahum 2:5 tn Or “in their trenches”; or “in their columns”; Heb “in their advance”; or “in their march.” The noun הֲלִיכָה (halikhah, “procession, journey”) is nuanced “march; advance” in a military context (BDB 237 s.v. 1.a; HALOT 246 s.v. 1.a). Similarly, the related verb הָלַךְ (halakh) means “to march, to advance” in battle contexts (Judg 1:10; Hab 1:6). This is related to the Assyrian noun alaktu (“to advance”) which is often used of military advances (CAD 1.1.299). The related Assyrian noun aliktu means “detachment of soldiers” (CAD 1.1.346). HALOT suggests that הֲלִיכָה is related to an Assyrian noun which is a technical military term: “trenches, columns” (HALOT 246 s.v. *הֲלִיכָה). This line could be rendered, “They stumble in their trenches” or “They stumble in their columns.”
- Nahum 2:5 tc The MT reads חוֹמָתָהּ (khomatah, “her wall”). On the other hand, several Hebrew mss, Targum Jonathan, and the Syriac Peshitta omit the mappiq and preserve an alternate textual tradition of the directive -he ending: הוֹמָתָה (“to the wall”). The directive sense is seen in the LXX. Although the MT lacks the directive -he (ה) ending, it is possible that the MT’s הוֹמָתָהּ functions as an adverbial accusative of direction meaning “to her wall.” The adverbial accusative of direction often occurs after verbs of motion (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 13-14, §54; IBHS 169-71 §10.2.2).tn Heb “to her wall,” referring to Nineveh.
- Nahum 2:5 tc The MT reads the Hophal perfect third person masculine singular וְהֻכַן (vehukhan, “and [it] is prepared”). On the other hand, the LXX reading reflects the Hiphil perfect third person common plural וְהֵכִינּוּ (vehekhinnu, “and they will prepare”). Arguing that the active sense is necessary because the three preceding verbs are all active, K. J. Cathcart (Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic [BibOr], 95) suggests emending to the Hiphil infinitive absolute וְהָכִין (vehakhin, “and [they] prepare”). However, the Masoretic form should be retained because it is the more difficult reading that best explains the origin of the LXX reading. The shift from active to passive verbs is common in Hebrew, marking a cause-result sequence (e.g., Pss 24:7; 69:14 ; Jer 31:4; Hos 5:5). See M. Weinfeld, “The Active-Passive (Factitive-Resultive) Sequence of Identical Verbs in Biblical Hebrew and Ugaritic,” JBL 84 (1965): 272-82.tn Heb “the mantelet is prepared.”
- Nahum 2:5 tn Heb “mantelet.” The Hebrew noun סֹכֵךְ (sokhekh, “mantelet”) is a military technical term referring to a large movable shelter used as a protective cover for soldiers besieging a fortified city, designed to shield them from the arrows shot down from the city wall (HALOT 754 s.v.; BDB 697 s.v.). This noun is a hapax legomenon (a word that only occurs once in the Hebrew Bible) and is derived from the verb III סָכַךְ (sakhakh, “to cover; to protect”; TWOT 2:623-24). K. J. Cathcart (Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic [BibOr], 95) suggests that the translation “mantelet” is supported by the use of the verb III סָכַךְ in Ps 140:7 : “Yahweh, my Lord, my fortress of safety; shelter (סַכֹּתָה, sakkotah) my head in the day of arms.” This is reflected in several recent English versions: “wheeled shelters” (NJPS), “protective shield” (NIV), “covering used in a siege” (NASB margin), and “mantelet” (ASV, NAB, NASB, NRSV). Cf. also TEV “the shield for the battering ram.”sn The Hebrew term translated covered siege tower probably does not refer to a battering ram, but to a movable protective tower, used to cover the soldiers and the siege machinery. These are frequently depicted in Neo-Assyrian bas-reliefs, such as the relief of Sennacherib’s siege of Lachish. The Neo-Assyrians used both small, hut-like shelters that could be carried by a few men, as well as larger, tower-like structures rolled on wheels to the top of siege embankments. These mantelets protected the attackers while they built the embankments and undermined the foundations of the city walls to hasten their collapse. Siege towers were equipped with machines designed to hurl stones to smash the fortifications and firebrands to start conflagrations (see A. H. Layard, Nineveh and Its Remains, 2:281-86).
- Nahum 2:6 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 : 47-72; idem, “Studies in Assyrian Geography, Part II: The Northern Canal System,” RA 72 : 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 : 65-83). This scenario seems to be corroborated by the archaeological evidence (A. T. Olmstead, History of Assyria, 637).
- Nahum 2:6 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 : 51).
- Nahum 2:6 tn Or “the palace collapses and crumbles.” The Hophal perfect third person masculine singular וְהֻצַּב (vehutsav) is from either I נָצַב (natsav, “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 natsabu (“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 (vehahekhal namog vehutsav, “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 (gulletah hoʿalatah, “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 third 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 hē hupostasis, “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 (vehammatsav) 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 third person feminine singular וְהֻצְאָה (vehutsʾah) from יָצָא (yatsaʾ, “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” (cf. 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 : 296-98; W. H. F. Saggs, “Nahum and the Fall of Nineveh,” JTS 20 : 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 (gulletah) 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 : 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 (vekhatsov, “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 (vehatsevi, “the Beauty”) from צְבִי (tsevi, “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 : 73-83; T. Longman, “Nahum,” The Minor Prophets, 2:806). (8) R. L. Smith (Micah-Malachi [WBC], 82) derives consonantal והצב from נְצִיב (netsiv, “pillar”; HALOT 716-17 s.v. נְצִיב) which is related to Assyrian nisibi which refers to the statue of a goddess.
- Nahum 2:7 tn The term “Nineveh” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied from context.
- Nahum 2:7 tn The MT reads the Pual perfect third person feminine singular גֻּלְּתָה (gulletah) from גָלָה (galah, “to uncover, to go into exile”; BDB 162-63 s.v. גָלָה; HALOT 191-92 s.v. גלה). There are two basic views of the meaning of גֻּלְּתָה in this verse. One view is that “She is stripped” (see R. L. Smith, Micah-Malachi [WBC], 81). This may describe the exposure of the foundation of a building (Ezek 13:14) or the uncovering of intimate parts of the body (Exod 20:26; Isa 47:3; Ezek 16:36, 57; 23:29; ). This is reflected in the LXX reading ἀπεκαλύφθη (apekaluphthē, “she has been exposed”). This approach is followed by NASB (“she is stripped”). A second view is that “She is taken into exile” (KJV, NIV, NRSV, NJPS). The Qal stem of גָלָה often means “to go into exile” (Judg 18:30; 2 Kgs 24:14; Isa 5:13; 49:21; Jer 1:3; Ezek 39:23; Amos 1:5; 5:5; 6:7; Lam 1:3); the Hiphil often means “to deport exiles” (2 Kgs 15:20; 16:9; 17:6, 11, 26, 28, 33; 18:11; 24:14-15; 25:11; Jer 20:4; 22:12; 24:1; 27:20; 29:1, 4, 7, 14; 39:9; 43:3; 52:15, 28, 30; Ezek 39:28; Amos 1:6; 5:27; Lam 4:22; Esth 2:6; Ezra 2:1; Neh 7:6; 1 Chr 5:6, 26; 1 Chr 5:41 HT [6:15 ET]; 8:6; 2 Chr 36:20); and the Hophal stem always means “to be deported; to be taken into exile” (Jer 40:1, 7; Esth 2:6; 1 Chr 9:1). This makes the best sense in the light of the parallel verb הֹעֲלָתָה (hoʿalatah, “she is led away”) in v. 7 [8 HT] and the description of the fleeing Ninevites in v. 8 [9 HT]. The BHS editors and HALOT suggest that consonantal גלתה be vocalized as Qal perfect third person feminine singular גָּלְתָה (galetah, “she went into exile”) from גָלָה (Qal: “go into exile”). R. D. Patterson suggests vocalizing consonantal גלתה as the noun with third person feminine singular suffix גָּלְתָהּ for גּוֹלְתָהּ (goletah, “her exiles/captives”) and taking the singular form as collective in meaning: “her exiles/captives are carried away” (Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah [WEC], 70). W. H. F. Saggs suggests that גֻלְּתָה is the noun גֻּלָּה (gullah, “column-base”) as in 1 Kgs 7:41-42; 2 Chr 4:12-13 (BDB 165 s.v. גֻּלָּה 2.b; HALOT 192 s.v. גֻּלָּה 1.b) which is related to Assyrian gullatu (“column-base”; CAD 5:128). He renders the phrase וְהֻצַּב גֻּלְּתָה (vehutsav gulletah) as “its column-base[s] is/are dissolved” (see above). He suggests that this provides an excellent parallel to “the palace begins to melt” (וְהַהֵיכָל נָמוֹג, vehahekhal namog). W. H. F. Saggs also proposes that the LXX reflects this picture (“Nahum and the Fall of Nineveh,” JTS 20 : 220-25).
- Nahum 2:7 tn Or “And its column-bases collapse and it goes up [in smoke].” The MT reads the Hophal perfect third person feminine singular הֹעֲלָתָה (hoʿalatah, “she is carried away”) from עָלָה (ʿalah, “to go up”). The Hiphil stem of עָלָה often describes a military commander leading a group of forced workers out of a town (1 Kgs 5:13 [5:27 HT]; 9:15, 21; 2 Chr 8:8); likewise, the Hophal stem may denote “to be led away into exile” (HALOT 830 s.v.; BDB 748 s.v. עָלָה).
- Nahum 2:7 tc The MT reads the Piel participle מְנַהֲגוֹת (menahagot, “sobbing, moaning”) from II נָהַג (nahag, “to moan, to lament”; HALOT 675 s.v.; BDB 624 s.v. II נָהַג). This root is related to Assyrian nagagu (“to cry”; AHw 2:709.b). This harmonizes well with the following cola: “Her maidservants moan like doves, they beat upon their breasts.” This is adopted by several English versions (NASB, NIV, NRSV). On the other hand, an alternate vocalization tradition (represented by several Hebrew mss, Targum Jonathan, LXX, and Vulgate) reads the Pual participle מְנֹהֲגוֹת (menohagot, “forcibly removed”) from the more common root I נָהַג (“to drive away, to lead away”; HALOT 675 s.v. נהג). This root is often used of conquerors leading away exiles or prisoners of war (Gen 31:26; Deut 4:27; 28:37; Isa 20:4; Lam 3:2). This picture is clearly seen in the LXX reading καὶ αἱ δοῦλαι αὐτῆς ἤγοντο (kai hai doulai autēs hēgonto, “and her maidservants were led away”). This textual tradition harmonizes with the imagery of exile in the preceding colon (see translator’s note on the word “exile” in this verse). This approach is adopted by several English versions (KJV, NJPS).tn Or “her maidservants are led away [into exile].”
- Nahum 2:7 tn Heb “like the sound of doves.”
- Nahum 2:7 tn The Poel participle מְתֹפְפֹת (metofefot, “beating continuously”) is from תָּפַף (tafaf, “to beat”; HALOT 1037-38 s.v. תֹּף; BDB 1074 s.v. תָּפַף). Elsewhere it is used of beating timbrels (Ps 68:26; 1 Sam 21:14). The participle describes a circumstance accompanying the main action (“her maidservants moan”) and functions in a continual, repetitive manner (see IBHS 625-26 §37.6; R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 43, §221).
- Nahum 2:7 tc The MT reads מְתֹפְפֹת עַל לִבְבֵהֶן (metofefot ’al livevehen, “beating upon their hearts [= breasts]”). The LXX reading φθεγγόμεναι ἐν καρδίαις αὐτῶν (phthengomenai en kardiais autōn, “moaning in their hearts”) reflects either an alternate textual tradition or simple textual confusion. The Greek participle φθεγγόμεναι seems to reflect either: (1) the Qal participle הֹגוֹת (hogot) from הָגָה (hagah, “to moan”) as reflected in Targum Jonathan and Vulgate or (2) the Poel participle מְנֹהֲגוֹת (menohagot, “moaning”) from II נָהַג (“to moan”) which appears in the previous line, pointing to a transposition of words between the two lines.tn Heb “upon their heart.” The term “their heart” (לִבְבֵהֶן, livevehen) is a figure of speech (synecdoche of the inner organ for the outer body part) representing their breasts/chests (e.g., Dan 4:16 ; see HALOT 516 s.v. לֵבָב; BDB 523 s.v. לֵבָב II.1). The singular noun is used collectively for all the maidservants as a whole, as the plural suffix indicates (see IBHS 113 §7.2.1; R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 7, §2).
- Nahum 2:8 tn Or “is.”
- Nahum 2:8 tn The term “pool” (בְּרֵכָה, berekhah) usually refers to a man-made artificial water reservoir fed by water aqueducts rather than to a natural pond (HALOT 161 s.v.). For example, it is used in reference to man-made water reservoirs for the royal gardens (Eccl 2:6; Neh 2:14); man-made water reservoirs in Jerusalem, some of which were fed by aqueducts (2 Kgs 18:17; 20:20; Isa 7:3; 22:9, 11; 36:2; Neh 3:15, 16); the pool of Gibeon (2 Sam 2:13); the pool of Hebron (2 Sam 4:12); the pool of Samaria (1 Kgs 22:38); and the pools of Heshbon (Song 7:5). The pool of Siloam, built by Hezekiah and fed by the underground aqueduct known as Hezekiah’s Tunnel, is designated by the term בְּרֵכָה in 2 Kgs 20:20 and the Siloam Inscription (line 5).sn Nineveh was like a pool of water. This is an appropriate simile because Nineveh was famous for its artificial pools, many of which serviced the royal gardens. Two rivers also flowed through the city: the Tebiltu and the Khoser.
- Nahum 2:8 tc The MT reads מִימֵי הִיא (mime hiʾ, “from her days”). The form מִימֵי combines the preposition מִן (min, “from”) and the plural construct of יוֹם (yom, “day”). The preposition מִן, used temporally, marks the beginning of a continuous period (“since, from”; see HALOT 597 s.v. מִן 2; BDB 581 s.v. מִן 4.a). The plural of יוֹם (“day”) here denotes “lifetime” (HALOT 400 s.v. יוֹם 6.c). Several scholars suggest that the third person independent pronoun הִיא (hiʾ) functions as a possessive genitive (“her”), a usage attested in Ugaritic, Akkadian, and elsewhere in Hebrew (2 Kgs 9:18; Isa 18:2; Nah 2:12). See K. J. Cathcart, Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic (BibOr), 100-101; IBHS 291 §16.2 n. 9; T. Longman, “Nahum,” The Minor Prophets, 2:807. So the phrase מִימֵי הִיא probably means “from the beginning of her days” or “throughout her lifetime” (cf. 1 Sam 25:28; Job 38:12; see HALOT 400 s.v. יוֹם 6.c; 597 s.v. מִן 2.a; BDB 581 s.v. מִן 4.a). Several English versions adopt this: “throughout her days” (NASB), “from earliest times” (NJPS), and “[Nineveh] of old” (KJV). In contrast to the Masoretic vocalization, the consonantal text מִימֵי הִיא is rendered “her waters” by the LXX and critical scholars. The LXX reading (τὰ ὕδατα αὐτῆς, ta hudata autēs, “her waters”) reflects the alternate vocalization מֵימֶיהָ (memeha, “her waters”). Saggs suggests that the original form was מֵימֶיהָא (memeha’, “her waters”) which he explains as מִימֶי, the plural construct of מָיִם (mayim, “waters”) plus הָא, the third person feminine singular suffix (cf. Ezek 41:15; GKC 107 §32.l); the yod (י) of Masoretic הִיא (hiʾ) is a secondary matres lectionis inserted into wrongly-divided and misunderstood ־הָא (W. H. F. Saggs, “Nahum and the Fall of Nineveh,” JTS 20 : 220-25). These alternative approaches are followed by several English versions: “its water is draining away” (NIV); “whose waters run away” (NRSV); and “its waters are fleeing” (NJB).
- Nahum 2:8 tn This clause is understood as a contrast to the previous and adds “now” to help mark that contrast (cf. NJPS “Now they flee”).
- Nahum 2:8 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the people of Nineveh) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Nahum 2:8 tn Or “fleeing away”; or (maintaining the imagery of the pool of water) “draining away.”
- Nahum 2:8 tn The introductory phrase “she cries out” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.
- Nahum 2:8 tn Or “can turn [them] back.” The Hebrew verb פָּנָה (panah, “to turn”) often describes the fearful flight from an attacking enemy army (Josh 7:12; Judg 20:42, 45, 47; Jer 46:5, 21; 47:3; 48:39; 49:8, 24). Nahum pictures the people of Nineveh fleeing from their attackers; nothing can be done to stop their fearful flight. The Hiphil participle מַפְנֶה (mafneh) may be taken in an intransitive (Jer 46:5, 21; 47:3; 49:24) or transitive sense (Judg 15:4; 1 Sam 10:9; Jer 48:39), i.e., “no one turns back” or “no one can turn [them] back,” respectively (see IBHS 436-43 §27.2).
- Nahum 2:9 tn The phrase “Her conquerors cry out” has been supplied from context.
- Nahum 2:10 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 umevuqah umevullaqah; 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).
- Nahum 2:10 tn Heb “and shaking in all of the loins.”
- Nahum 2:10 tn Heb “gathered.” The Piel perfect קִבְּצוּ (qibbetsu) from קָבַץ (qavats, “to gather”) may be nuanced as gathering something together at a place (HALOT 1063 s.v. קבץ pi. 4) or the privative sense of gathering something away from a place, i.e., “to take away, withdraw” (BDB 868 s.v. קָבַץ Pi.3). Here then (and in Joel 2:6) it means either gathering redness in the face (“every face flushes red [in fear]”) or gathering redness away from the face (“every face grows pale”).
- Nahum 2:10 tn The Hebrew term פָּארוּר (paʾrur) 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 prosōpon pantōn hōs proskauma xutras, “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 “the faces of them all gather blackness.” (2) From פְּאֵר (peʾer, “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 ʿpr 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—paʾrur: A Case of Biblical Paronomasia,” OTWSA 12 : 21-26). The NJPS translation appears to adopt this approach: “all faces turn ashen.”
- Nahum 2:11 tn Or “What has become of the den of the lions?”
- Nahum 2:11 tc The Masoretic form וּמִרְעֶה (umirʿeh, “the feeding ground”) is supported by the Dead Sea Scrolls with ומרעה in 4QpNah. It is also reflected in the LXX reading ἡ νομή (hē nomē, “the pasture”). The BHS editors suggest emending to וּמְעָרָה (umeʿarah, “the cave”), which involves the metathesis of ר (resh) and ע (ʿayin). This proposed emendation is designed to create a tighter parallelism with מְעוֹן (meʿon, “the den”) in the preceding line. However, this emendation has no textual support and conflicts with the grammar of the rest of the line. The feminine noun וּמְעָרָה (umeʿarah, “the cave”) would demand a feminine independent pronoun instead of the masculine independent pronoun הוּא which follows. Nevertheless, several English versions adopt the emendation (NJB, NEB, RSV, NRSV), while others follow the reading of the MT (KJV, NASB, NIV, NJPS).
- Nahum 2:11 tn The meaning of the term לָבִיא (laviʾ) is debated. There are three basic approaches: (1) the noun “lioness,” (2) the Hiphil infinitive construct of בּוֹא (boʾ), “to bring,” shortened from לְהָבִיא (lehaviʾ) to לָבִיא (cf. Jer 39:7; 2 Chr 31:10) and (3) as לבוא, “to enter,” the Qal infinitive construct of בּוֹא (boʾ). The first option has the support of the consonantal text of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 4QpNah and Mur88. Most English versions render לָבִיא as “lioness,” the parallel term for אַרְיֵה (ʾaryeh, “lion”); so RSV, NASB, NIV, NJPS; in contrast, KJV has “old lion.” Indeed, the noun לָבִיא (“lioness” or “lion”; BDB 522 s.v. לָבִיא) occurs frequently in poetic texts (Gen 49:9; Num 23:24; 24:9; Deut 33:20; Isa 5:29; 30:6; Joel 1:6; Job 4:11; 38:39). However if lion and lioness are the subjects of the verb, one would expect the nouns to be joined by the conjunction vav (ו) and the verb to be plural rather than singular. The line, as is, would read “where lion prowled, lioness there cub of a lion”). Furthermore, the term for “lioness” differs in form in the following verse: לִבְאָה (livʾah; see HALOT 515 s.v. *לִבְאָה) not לָבִיא (laviʾ). The grammatical, syntactical, and lexical difficulties of the first approach have led several scholars to the second approach. Because the Hiphil of בּוֹא (boʾ) can depict an animal bringing food to its dependents (cf. 1 Kgs 17:6), they treat the line thus: “where the lion went to bring [food to his] lion cub” (Ehrlich, Haldar, Maier). While the picture of a male lion bringing food to its cubs seems odd zoologically, the next verse presents that exact picture clearly (it is a metaphor). The third approach involves a small change of the consonantal text, from י (yod) to ו (vav) and has the support of the LXX which renders τοῦ εἰσελθεῖν (tou eiselthein) “where the lion went to enter there.” The pesher of 4QpNah employs לבוא (laboʾ) and it is not clear whether this is a literal translation or creative word-play: “Its pesher concerns Demetrius, king of Greece, who sought to enter (לבוא) Jerusalem” (col. 1, line 4). The approach of the LXX is followed by the NRSV “where the lion goes, and the lion’s cubs, with no one to disturb them.”
- Nahum 2:11 tn The verb הָלַךְ (halakh, “to go, to walk”) is occasionally used of animals (1 Sam 6:12). Here it is nuanced “prowled” in the light of the hunting or stalking imagery in vv. 12-13.
- Nahum 2:11 tn Or “and no one frightened [them].” Alternately, reflecting a different division of the lines, “Where the lion [and] lioness [once] prowled // the lion-cub—and no one disturbed [them].”
- Nahum 2:13 tn The term נְאֻם (neʾum) is a fixed formulaic term meaning “oracle” (Isa 14:22-23; 17:3; 22:25; Jer 8:3; 25:29; 31:38; 49:26; Zech 13:2, 7).
- Nahum 2:13 tn Traditionally, “the Lord of hosts” an abbreviation of a longer title “Yahweh, the God of Armies.” The title pictures God as the sovereign king who has at his disposal a multitude of attendants, messengers, and warriors to do his bidding. In some contexts, like this one, the military dimension of his rulership is highlighted. In this case, the title pictures him as one who leads armies into battle against his enemies.
- Nahum 2:13 tc The MT reads the third person feminine singular suffix on a singular noun: רִכְבָּהּ (rikhbah, “her chariot”). However, the BHS editors suggest emending to the second person feminine singular suffix on a plural noun: רִכְבֵּךְ (rikhbekh, “your chariots”) due to the use of second person feminine singular suffixes throughout this verse and the anomaly of the singular noun. On the other hand, the Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpNah) read רובכה (“your abundance”) which is the plene spelling of רֹבְכָה (rovekhah). This reflects the transposition (metathesis) of כ (kaf) and ב (bet) in the consonantal forms רכבה and רבכה. The textual tradition attested at Qumran is reflected in the LXX’s πλῆθος σου (plēthos sou, “your abundance”) which reflects a reading of רֹבְכָה (“your abundance”) as well. It should be noted that the plene form of the second person feminine singular suffix appears elsewhere in the MT of this verse: מַלְאָכֵכֵה (malʾakhekheh, “your messenger”). Although there is good evidence for the alternate traditions, the MT reading may be retained for three reasons: (1) The burning of enemy chariots was a common threat in ancient Near Eastern warfare (see D. R. Hillers, Treaty-Curses and the Old Testament Prophets, 60; K. J. Cathcart, “Treaty-Curses and the Book of Nahum,” CBQ 35 : 182). (2) The singular רֶכֶב (rekhev, “chariot”) is often used collectively to refer to all the chariots of a nation (Exod 14:7; Josh 11:4; 24:6; Judg 4:7, 13; 5:28). (3) The abrupt shift from the second person feminine singular suffix on אֵלַיִךְ (ʾelayikh, “I am against you!”) to the third person feminine singular suffix on רִכְבָּהּ (“her chariot”) is an example of a common poetic/stylistic device: heterosis of second to third person (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 525 [4.5]). The second person feminine singular suffix in the translation above is used simply for smooth literary style. This is a good example of how sensitivity to figures of speech, ancient Near Eastern backgrounds, and syntax can prevent unnecessary textual emendations.
- Nahum 2:13 tn Heb “with smoke.” The term “smoke” (עָשָׁן, ʿashan) is a figure of speech (metonymy of effect for the cause) representing the fire which produces the smoke (Josh 8:19-20; Isa 65:5; cf. Rev 14:11). In the translation this has been replaced with “fire” since most English readers would find the expression “to burn [something] with smoke” unfamiliar.
- Nahum 2:13 tc The MT reads וּכְפִירַיִךְ (ukhefirayikh, “and your young lions”), as reflected by the LXX. The BHS editors emend to וּגִיבֹּרַיִךְ (ugibborayikh, “and your warriors”); this lacks textual support and is unnecessary.sn The Assyrian warriors are pictured as young lions in Nah 2:11-13. The Assyrians often pictured themselves with lion imagery (see D. Marcus, “Animal Similes in Assyrian Royal Inscriptions,” Or 46 : 87).
- Nahum 2:13 tn Heb “I will cut off your prey from the land.”
- Nahum 2:13 tc The MT reading מַלְאָכֵכֵה (malʾakhekheh, “your messengers”) has a very unusual ending: the plural ending of the noun is spelled defectively (short spelling), while the second person feminine singular pronominal suffix is spelled plene (long spelling); see GKC 258 §91.l. It is possible that the final ה (hey) is due to dittography with the first letter of the first word of the next verse, הוֹי (hoy, “Woe!”). On the other hand, the LXX reads τὰ ἔργα σου (ta erga sou, “your deeds”) which reflects מַלְאֲכַיִךְ (malʾakhayikh, “your deeds”)—a confusion of מַלְאָךְ (malʾakh, “messenger”) for מְלָאכָה (melaʾkhah, “deed”) due to the unusual Hebrew ending here.
- 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…?”