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Chapter 3

Ah! The bloody city,
    all lies,
Full of plunder,
    whose looting never stops!(A)
The crack of the whip,
    the rumbling of wheels;
Horses galloping,
    chariots bounding,
Cavalry charging,
    the flash of the sword,
    the gleam of the spear;
A multitude of slain,
    a mass of corpses,
Endless bodies
    to stumble upon!
For the many debaucheries of the prostitute,
    a charming mistress of witchcraft,
Who enslaved nations with her prostitution,
    and peoples by her witchcraft:(B)
[a]I now come against you—
    oracle of the Lord of hosts—
    and I will lift your skirt above your face;
I will show your nakedness to the nations,
    to the kingdoms your shame!(C)
I will cast filth upon you,
    disgrace you and make you a spectacle;
Until everyone who sees you
    runs from you saying,
“Nineveh is destroyed;
    who can pity her?
Where can I find
    any to console you?”

Nineveh’s Inescapable Fate

Are you better than No-amon[b](D)
    that was set among the Nile’s canals,
Surrounded by waters,
    with the river for her rampart
    and water for her wall?
Ethiopia was her strength,
    and Egypt without end;
Put[c] and the Libyans
    were her allies.
10 Yet even she became an exile,
    and went into captivity;
Even her little ones were dashed to pieces
    at the corner of every street;
For her nobles they cast lots,
    and all her great ones were put into chains.
11 You, too, will drink of this;
    you will be overcome;(E)
You, too, will seek
    a refuge from the foe.
12 But all your fortresses are fig trees,
    bearing early figs;[d]
When shaken, they fall
    into the devourer’s mouth.
13 Indeed your troops
    are women in your midst;
To your foes are open wide
    the gates of your land,
    fire has consumed their bars.

14 Draw water for the siege,[e]
    strengthen your fortresses;
Go down into the mud
    and tread the clay,
    take hold of the brick mold!
15 There the fire will consume you,
    the sword will cut you down;
    it will consume you like the grasshoppers.

Multiply like the grasshoppers,
    multiply like the locusts!(F)
16 You have made your traders[f] more numerous
    than the stars of the heavens;
    like grasshoppers that shed their skins and fly away.
17 Your sentries are like locusts,
    and your scribes like locust swarms
Gathered on the rubble fences
    on a cold day!
Yet when the sun rises, they vanish,
    and no one knows where they have gone.

18 Your shepherds slumber,
    O king of Assyria,
    your nobles have gone to rest;
Your people are scattered upon the mountains,
    with none to gather them.
19 There is no healing for your hurt,
    your wound is fatal.
All who hear this news of you
    clap their hands over you;
For who has not suffered
    under your endless malice?


  1. 3:5–6 The punishment for adulterous women.
  2. 3:8 No-amon: “No” was the Egyptian name of the capital of Upper Egypt, called Thebes by the Greeks; its patron deity was Amon. This great city was destroyed by the Assyrians in 663 B.C.
  3. 3:9 Put: a North African people often associated with Egypt and Ethiopia (Jer 46:8–9).
  4. 3:12 Early figs: the refugees from Nineveh who escape to presumably secure fortresses.
  5. 3:14 An ironic exhortation to prepare the city for a futile defense. Go down…brick mold: make bricks for the city walls.
  6. 3:16 Traders: agents of the economic exploitation that sustained and enriched the Assyrian empire.