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Nahum 2:13

13. Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will burn her chariots in the smoke, and the sword shall devour thy young lions: and I will cut off thy prey from the earth, and the voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard.

13. Ecce Ego ad te dicit Jehova exercituum, et comburam in fumo currum ejus, et leunculos tuos comedet gladius, et excidam e terra praedam tuam, et non audietur amplius vox nunciorum tuorum (aut, dentium molarium.)


To give more effect to what he says, the Prophet introduces God here as the speaker. Behold, he says, I am against thee He has been hitherto, as it were, the herald of God, and in this character gave an authoritative command to the Chaldeans to plunder Nineveh: but when God himself comes forward, and uses not the mouth of man, but declares himself his own decrees, it is much more impressive. This then is the reason why God now openly speaks: Behold, I am, he says, against thee. We understand the emphatical import of the demonstrative particle, Behold; for God, as if awakened from sleep, shows that it will be at length his work, to undertake the cause of his people, and also to punish the world for its wickedness, Behold, I am against thee, he says. We have elsewhere seen a similar mode of speaking; there is therefore no need of dwelling on it here.

I will burn, he says, with smoke her chariots Here by smoke some understand a smoky fire; but the Prophet, I think, meant another thing, — that at the first onset God would consume all the chariots of Nineveh; as though he had said, that as soon as the flame burst forth, it would be all over with all the forces of Nineveh; for by chariots he no doubt means all their warlike preparations; and we know that they fought then from chariots: as at this day there are employed in wars horsemen in armor, so there were then chariots. But the Prophet, by taking a part for the whole, includes all warlike forces: I will burn then the chariots 237237     Jerome renders the clause, “Succendam usque ad fumum — I will burn to smoke” the chariots: and the version of Henderson is the same. But the most natural supposition is, that smoke here is mentioned instead of fire. And so Dathius renders it — “igni — with fire.” — Ed. — How? By smoke alone, that is as soon as the first flame begins to emerge; for the smoke rises before the fire appears or gathers strength: in short, the Prophet shows that Nineveh would be, as it were, in a moment, reduced to nothing, as soon as it pleased God to avenge its wickedness.

He then adds in the third person, And thy young lions shall the sword devour He indeed changes the person here; but the discourse is more striking, when God manifests his wrath in abrupt sentences. He had said, Behold, I am against thee; then, I will burn her chariots, he now hardly deigns to direct his speech to Nineveh; but afterwards he returns to her, and thy young lions shall the sword devour Then God, by speaking thus in broken sentences, more fully expresses the dreadful vengeance which he had determined to execute on the Ninevites. He then says, And I will exterminate from the earth thy prey; that is, it will not now be allowed thee to go on as usual; for I will put a stop to thy inhuman cruelty. Thus prey may be taken for the act itself; or it may be fitly explained of the spoils taken from the nations, for the Ninevites, by their tyrannical ravening, had everywhere plundered; and thus it may be applied to the pillaging of the city. I will then exterminate from the land, that is from thy country, those riches which have been hitherto heaped together as though a lion had been everywhere gathering a prey.

And heard no more shall be the voice of thy messengers They who understand מלאכים, melakim, to be messengers, apply the word to the heralds, by whom the Assyrians were wont to proclaim wars on neighboring nations. As then they sent here and there their heralds to announce war, and as their terrible voice sounded everywhere, the words of the Prophet have this meaning given them, — that God would at length produce silence, so that they should not hereafter disturb all their neighboring countries with the clamor of war. But as this explanation is strained, I am inclined to adopt what others think, — that the grinding teeth are here intended. The word is not written, if it be taken for messengers, according to grammar; it is מלאככה, melakke; there ought not to have been the ה, he at the end, and י, jod, ought to have been inserted before the last letter but one: and if it be deemed as meaning the king, it ought then to have been written מלכך, melkak. All then confess, that the word is not written according to the rule of grammar; and as the Persians call the grinders מלאככה, melakke, we may give this version, which well suits the context, ‘No more shall be heard the sound of grinders.’ For since lions seize the prey with their teeth, 238238     The context undoubtedly favors this rendering. The Septuagint has “τα εργα σοι — thy works,” which cannot consist with the word, “voice,” which precedes, though Newcome, following the Septuagint, renders it, “the fame of thy deeds.” There is but one different reading, except as to points, and that is, מלאככם, “their messenger,” in two copies, and this comes nearest to the received text of any that has been conjectured: and to render “messenger” in the singular number comports better with the usual style of the Prophets, than in the plural. Perhaps the ה may be deemed redundant at the end of the sentence; and then it would be literally, “thy messenger,” taken in a collective sense. — Ed. and also break the bones, and thus make a great noise when they tear an animal or a man with their teeth, this rendering seems to be the most suitable, Heard no more shall be the sound of teeth, that is, heard shall not be the noise made by thy teeth; for when thou now tearest thy prey, thy teeth make a noise. No more heard then shall the noise from that breaking, or the clashing or the crashing of the teeth. But as to the chief point, this is no matter of importance.

The Prophet simply teaches us here that it could not be, but that God would at length restrain tyrants; for though he hides himself for a time, he yet never forgets the groans of those whom he sees to be unjustly afflicted: and particularly when tyrants molest the Church, it is proved here by the Prophet that God will at length be a defender; and hence we ought to consider well these words, Behold, I am against thee For though God addresses these words only to the Assyrians, yet as he points out the reasons why he rises up with so much displeasure against them, they ought to be extended to all tyrants, and to all who exercise cruelty towards distressed and innocent men. But this is more clearly expressed in the following verse.

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