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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 1–7
Verses 1–7

Here is, I. Nineveh arraigned and indicted. It is a high charge that is here drawn up against that great city, and neither her numbers nor her grandeur shall secure her from prosecution. 1. It is a city of blood, in which a great deal of innocent blood is shed by unrighteous war, or under colour and pretence of public justice, or by suffering barbarous murders to go unpunished; for this the righteous God will make inquisition. 2. It is all full of lies; truth is banished from among them; there is no such thing as honesty; one knows not whom to believe nor whom to trust. 3. It is all full of robbery and rapine; no man cares what mischief he does, nor to whom he does it: The prey departs not, that is, they never know when they have got enough by spoil and oppression. They shed blood, and told lies, in pursuit of the prey, that they might enrich themselves. 4. There is a multitude of whoredoms in it, that is, idolatries, spiritual whoredoms, by which she defiled herself, and to which she seduced the neighbouring nations, as a well-favoured harlot, and sold and ruined nations through her whoredoms. 5. She is a mistress of witchcrafts, and by them she sells families, Nah. 3:4. That which Nineveh aimed at was a universal monarchy, to be the metropolis of the world, and to have all her neighbours under her feet; to compass this, she used not only arms, but arts, compelling some, deluding others, into subjection to her, and wheedling them as a harlot by her charms to lay their necks under her yoke, suggesting to them that it would be for their advantage. She courted them to join with her in her idolatrous rites, to tie them the faster to her interests, and made use of her wealth, power, and greatness, to draw people into alliances with her, by which she gained advantages over them, and made a hand of them. These were her whoredoms, like those of Tyre, Isa. 23:15, 17. These were her witchcrafts, with which she unaccountably gained dominion. And for this that God has a quarrel with her who, having made of one blood all nations of men, never designed one to be a nation of tyrants and another of slaves, and who claims it as his own prerogative to be universal Monarch.

II. Nineveh condemned to ruin upon this indictment. Woe to this bloody city! Nah. 3:1. See what this woe is.

1. Nineveh had with her cruelties been a terror and destruction to others, and therefore destruction and terror shall be brought upon her. Those that are for overthrowing all that come in their way will, sooner or later, meet with their match. (1.) Hear the alarm with which Nineveh shall be terrified, Nah. 3:2. It is a formidable army that advances against it; you may hear them at a distance, the noise of the whip, driving the chariot-horses with fury; you may hear the noise of the rattling of the wheels, the prancing horses, and the jumping chariots; the very noise is frightful, but much more so when they know that all this force is coming with all this speed against them, and they are not able to make head against it. (2.) See the slaughter with which Nineveh shall be laid waste (Nah. 3:3), the sword drawn with which execution shall be done, the bright sword lifted up and the glittering spear, the dazzling brightness of which is very terrible to those whom they are lifted up against. See what havoc these make when they are commissioned to slay: There is a great number of carcases, for the slain of the land shall be many; there is no end of their corpses; there is such a multitude of slain that it is in vain to go about to take the number of them; they lie so thick that passengers are ready to stumble upon their corpses at every step. The destruction of Sennacherib’s army, which, in the morning, were all dead corpses, is perhaps looked upon here as a figure of the like destruction that should afterwards be in Nineveh; for those that will not take warning by judgments at a distance shall have them come nearer.

2. Nineveh had with her whoredoms and witchcrafts drawn others to shameful wickedness, and therefore God will load her with shame and contempt (Nah. 3:5-7): The Lord of hosts is against her, and then she shall be exposed to the highest degree of disgrace and ignominy, shall not only lose all her charms, but shall be made to appear very odious. When it shall be seen that while she courted her neighbours it was with design to ruin their liberty and property, when all her wicked artifices shall be brought to light, then her shame is discovered to the nations. When her proud pretensions are baffled, and her vain towering hopes of an absolute and universal dominion brought to nought, and she appears not to have been so strong and considerable as she would have been thought to be, then to see the nakedness of the land do they come, and it appears ridiculous. Then do they cast abominable filth upon her, as upon a carted strumpet, and make her vile as the offscouring of all things; that great city, which all nations had made court to and coveted an alliance with, has become a gazing-stock, a laughing stock. Those that formerly looked upon her, and fled to her, in hopes of protection from her, now look upon her and flee from her, for fear of being ruined with her. Note, Those that abuse their honour and interest will justly be disgraced and abandoned, and, because miserable, will be made contemptible, and thereby be made more miserable. When Nineveh is laid waste who will bemoan her? Her trouble will be so great, and her sense of it so deep, as not to admit relief from sympathy, or any comforting considerations; or, if it would, none shall do any such good office: When shall I seek comforters for thee? Note, Those that showed no pity in the day of their power can expect to find no pity in the day of their fall. When those about Nineveh, that had been deceived by her wiles, come to be undeceived in her ruin, every one shall insult over her, and none bemoan her. This was Nineveh’s fate, when she was made a spectacle, or gazing-stock. Note, The greater men’s show was in the day of their abused prosperity the greater will their shame be in the day of their deserved destruction. I will make thee an example; so Drusus reads it. Note, When proud sinners are humbled and brought down it is designed that others should take example by them not to lift up themselves in security and insolence when they prosper in the world.