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Nahum 3:1

1. Woe to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not;

1. O urbs sanguinaria! Tota mendacio (vertunt) rapina plena est; non recedit praeda (vel, non recedet praeda.)


The Prophet, as I have said, more clearly expresses here the reason why the vengeance of God would be so severe on the Ninevites, — because they had wholly given themselves up to barbarous cruelty; and hence he calls it the bloody city. Bloody city! he says. The exclamation is emphatical. Though הו, eu, sometimes means Woe; yet it is put here as though the Prophet would have constrained Nineveh to undergo its punishment, O sanguinary city, then, the whole of it is full of כחש cachesh: the word signifies leanness and the Prophet no doubt joins here together two words, which seem to differ widely, and yet they signify the same thing. For פרק, perek, means to lay by; and כחש, cachesh, is taken for a lie or vanity, when there is nothing solid in what is said: but the Prophet, I doubt not, means by both words the spoils of the city Nineveh. It was then full of leanness for it had consumed all others; it was also full of spoils, for it had filled itself. But the meaning of the Prophet is in no way dubious; for at length he adds, Depart shall not the prey; that is as some think, it shall not be withdrawn from the hands of conquerors; but others more correctly think that a continued liberty in plundering is intended, that the Assyrians were constantly employed in pillaging and kept within no bounds.

We hence see that the Prophet now shows why God says, that he would be an adversary to the Ninevites, because he could not endure its unjust cruelty. He bore with it indeed for a time; for he did not immediately execute his judgment; but yet he never forgot his own people.

As, then, God has once declared by the mouth of his Prophet that he would be the avenger of the cruelty which the Assyrians had exercised, let us know that he retains still his own nature; and whatever liberty he may for a time grant to tyrants and savage wild beasts, he yet continues to be a just avenger. It is our duty calmly to bear injuries, and to groan to him; and as he promises to be at length our helper, it behaves us to flee to him, and to ask him to succor us, so that seeing his Church oppressed, and tyrants exercising licentiously their power, he may hasten the time to restrain them. If then we were at all times to continue thus resigned under God’s protection, there is no doubt but that he would be ready even at this day to execute a similar judgment to that which the city Nineveh and its people had to endure.

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