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Nahum 3:5-6

5. Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts; and I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will shew the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame.

5. Ecce Ego ad te, inquit Jehova exercituum, et retegam fimbrias tuas super faciem tuam, et ostendam gentibus nuditatem tuam, et regnis foeditatem tuam:

6. And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a gazingstock.

6. Et projiciam super te sordes (vel, inquinamenta) et ignominia afficiam te, et ponam te quasi stercus (alii vertunt; alii autem, quasi exemplum; dicam postea de ipsa voce.)


The Prophet confirms here what he has said of the fall of Nineveh; but, as it was stated yesterday, he introduces God as the speaker, that his address might be more powerful. God then testifies here to the Assyrians, that they should have no strife or contention with any mortal being, but with their own judgment; as though he said, “There is no reason for thee to compare thy forces with those of the Chaldeans; but think of this — that I am the punisher of thy crimes. The Chaldeans indeed shall come; chariots shall make a noise and horses shall leap, and horsemen shall shake the earth; they shall brandish the flaming swords, and their spears shall be like lightning; but there is no reason for thee to think that the Chaldeans will, of themselves, break in upon thee: for I guide them by my hidden providence, as it is my purpose to destroy thee; and now the time is come when I shall execute on thee my judgment.”

I am, he says, Jehovah of hosts. The epithet צבאות tsabaut, must be referred to the circumstance of this passage; for God declares here his own power, that the Assyrians might not think that they could by any means escape. He then adds, I will disclose thy extremities on thy face He alludes to the similitude which we have lately observed; for harlots appear very fine, and affect neatness and elegance in their dress; they not only put on costly apparel, but also add disguises. Though then this fine dress conceals the baseness of strumpets, yet, were any to take the clothes of a harlot and throw them over her head, all her beauty would disappear, and all men would abhor the sight: to see her concealed parts disclosed would be a base and filthy spectacle. So God declares that he would strip Nineveh of its magnificent dress, that she might be a detestable sight, only exhibiting her own reproach. We now then apprehend the Prophet’s meaning; as though he said, “Nineveh thinks not that she is to perish. — How so? Because her own splendor blinds her: and she has willfully deceived herself, and, by her deceits, has dazzled the eyes of all nations. As then this splendor seems to be a defense to the city Nineveh, I the Lord, he says, will disclose her hidden parts; I will deprive the Assyrians of all this splendor in which they now glory, and which is in high esteem and admiration among other nations.”

And this passage ought to be especially noticed; for, as I have said, true dignity is not to be found in the highest princes. Princes ought, indeed, to seek respect for themselves by justice, integrity, mercy, and a magnanimous spirit: but they only excel in mean artifices; then they shamelessly deceive, lie, and swear falsely; they also flatter, even meanly, when circumstances require; they insinuate themselves by various crafty means, and by large promises decoy the simple. Since then their true dignity is not commonly regarded by princes, this passage ought to be observed, so that we may know that their elevation, which captivates the minds of men, is an abomination before God; for they do not discern things, but are blind, being dazzled by empty splendor.

Disclose, then, he says, will I thy shame He says first, Disclose will I thy fringes on thy face; and then I will show to the nations thy nakedness And the nakedness of great kings is shown to the nations when the Lord executes his vengeance: for then even the lowest of the low will dare to pass judgment, — “He deserved to perish with shame, for he exercised tyranny on his own subjects, and spared not his own neighbors; he never was a good prince; nay, he only employed deceits and perjuries.” When, therefore princes are cast down, every one, however low, becomes a judge, and ascends as it were, the tribunal to burden and load them with reproaches. And hence the Prophet says, in the person of God, Disclose will I thy fringes on thy face, and will show to the nations thy nakedness, and to kingdoms thy filthiness.

He afterwards adds, I will besprinkle thee with filth, or defilements. The Prophet still alludes to the similitude of a harlot, who is well and sumptuously adorned, and by her charms captivates the eyes of all: but when any one takes mire and filth from the middle of the road, and bespatters her with it, there is then no one who will not turn away his eyes from so filthy an object. But we have already explained the import of this. God is indeed said to besprinkle kingdoms with defilements, when he casts them down; for they all begin freely to express their opinion: and those who before pretended great admiration, now rise up and bring forth many reproachful things. Then it is, that the Lord is said to besprinkle great kingdoms with filth and defilements.

He then adds, I will disgrace thee נבל, nubel, is to fall, and it is applied to dead bodies; but it means also to disgrace, as it is to be taken here. I will make thee as the dung Some think רואי, ruai, to be dung, or something fetid: but as it comes from ראה, rae, to see, and is in many parts of Scripture taken for vision or view, they are more correct, in my judgment, who render it thus, I will make thee an example; so Jerome renders it; as though he said, “Thou shalt be a spectacle to all nations.” 241241     The Septuagint favors this meaning, “εις παραδειγμα—for an example.” In this sense Grotius and Piscator take the word. Henderson, with less propriety, renders it “gazingstock,” the word of our version. Newcome translates it “dung,” according to the Rabbins. — Ed. And Nineveh is said to be made an example, because its ruin was more memorable than that of any other which had previously happened. Thou shalt then be a spectacle; that is, the calamity which I now denounce shall attract the observation of all. It afterwards follows —

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