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Nahum 2:3

3. The shield of his mighty men is made red, the valiant men are in scarlet: the chariots shall be with flaming torches in the day of his preparation, and the fir trees shall be terribly shaken.

3. Clypeus fortium ejus rubefactus est, viri potentiae ejus vermiculati (hoc est, rubro etiam colore;) in igne lampadum (vel, taedarum) currus in die expeditionis ejus, et abietes tremefactae sunt.


The Prophet describes here how dreadful the Chaldeans would be when prepared against the Assyrians. He says, The shield of his brave men 225225     גבוריהו, of his heroes, — “heroum.” — Dathius. is made red Some think that their shields were painted red, that blood might not appear; and that the soldiers had on red garments, that they might not be frightened in case they were wounded; and this is what history records of the Lacedemonians. But as the habits of these nations are not much known to us, it is enough for us to know, that their warlike appearance is here described; as though he had said, that the Chaldeans would come against Nineveh with violent and terrible power. Hence he says, that the men of his strength 226226     אנשי-חיל, men of war, — “warriors,” Henderson; “the valiant men.” — Newcome. would be clad in scarlet; he refers no doubt to the color of their dress. Some expound this of the Assyrians, and say that their shame is here designated; but this is too strained. The Prophet, I have no doubt, describes here the Chaldeans, and shows that they would be so armed that even their very appearance would put to flight their enemies, that is, the Assyrians.

For the same purpose he afterwards adds, With fire of torches, 227227     The most satisfactory explanation of this word is what is offered by Parkhurst, and adopted by Henderson. He says that פלד, in Arabic, is to cut, or cut in pieces, and that פלדות may have been the scythes or cutting instruments with which the chariots were armed. Then in eight or nine MSS. The ב, beth, before אש, is כ, caph. If this reading be adopted, and the poetical singular number be retained as to the word chariot, the clause may be thus translated: —
   Like fire are the scythes of the chariot,
In the day of his preparation.

   To which shall be added the line which follows, —

   And the fir-trees (spears) tremulously shake.

   Fir-trees are rendered “cypresses” by Henderson; and Newcome, following the Septuagint, changes to the word into what signifies “horsemen.” The figure is bold, but it is no unusual thing in poetry to call an instrument by the name of the material of which it is made. — Ed.
or lamps, is the chariot in the day of his expedition. The word פלדות, peladut, occurs nowhere else; and the Jews think that the letters are inverted, and that it should be לפידות, as this word is afterwards used by the Prophet in the next verse, and in the same sense. It is certainly evident from the context that either torches or lamps are meant by the Prophet. His chariot then is with the fire of lamps, that is, his chariots drive so impetuously that they appear as flames of fire, when wheels roll with such velocity.

And the fir-trees, he says, are terrible shaken Some translate, “are inebriated” or, “stunned;” and they apply this to the Assyrians, — that their great men (whom they think are here compared to fir-trees, or are metaphorically designated by them) were stunned through amazement. Astonished then shall be the principal men among the Assyrians; for the very sight of their enemies would render them, as it were, lifeless; for the verb רעל, rol, is taken by some in the sense of infecting with poison, or of stupefying. But their opinion is more correct who think that fir-trees are to be taken for lances, though they do not sufficiently express the meaning of the Prophet; for he means, I have no doubt, that such would be the concussion among the lances, that it would be like that of fir-trees, tossed here and there in the forest. For lances, we know, are made of fir-trees, because it is a light wood and flexible, as when any one says in our language, les lances branslent. The lances then trembled, or shook in the hands of the soldiers, as fir-trees shake. Thus we see that the Prophet here continues to describe the terrible appearance of the Chaldeans. Let us go on —

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