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Nahum 3:8-10

8. Art thou better than populous No, that was situate among the rivers, that had the waters round about it, whose rampart was the sea, and her wall was from the sea?

8. An melior es quam No (id est, Alexandria,) Amon (vertunt quidam, populosum; alii putant esse nomen Regis; an igitur melior es quam Alexandria populosa,) quae habitabat in fluviis? Mare in circuitu ejus, cujus fossa erat mare, et a mari murus ejus;

9. Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was infinite; Put and Lubim were thy helpers.

9. Aethiopia fortitudo ejus et Aegyptus; et nullus finis; Aphrica et Libyae fuerunt in auxilium ejus

10. Yet was she carried away, she went into captivity: her young children also were dashed in pieces at the top of all the streets: and they cast lots for her honourable men, and all her great men were bound in chains.

10. Etiam ipsa in transmigrationem abiit ad captivitatem; etiam parvuli ejus allisi sunt in capite omnium platearum; et super proceres ejus (vel, honorabiles, ad verbum) jecerunt sortem, et magnetes ejus vincti sunt compedibus.


The Prophet, in order to gain credit to his prophecy, produces here the ensample of Alexandria. It is indeed certain, from many testimonies of Scripture, that Alexandria is called No, which was a very ancient city, situated on the confines of Africa, and yet in Egypt. It might, at the same time, be, that the Alexandrians formerly had their own government, at least their own kings: and this is probable; for the Prophet says here, that Egypt and Ethiopia, as well as Africa and the Libyan nations, were the confederates of this city. It may hence then be concluded, that Alexandria was not then a part of Egypt, but had its own government, and was in alliance with the Egyptians, as with the other nations. But as Egypt, after the death of our Prophet, was in part overthrown by the Assyrians, and in part by the Chaldeans, some interpreters think, that the Prophet speaks of a ruin which had not yet taken place. 243243     So does Newcome, but with no countenance from the passage. The verb in the 10th verse which refers to the captivity of No, is in the past tense. Most commentators regard the event as having passed. — Ed. But this would not harmonize with his design; for the Prophet shows here, as in a mirror, that the chief empires fall according to the will of God, and that cities, the richest and the best fortified, come to nothing, whenever it pleases God. Unless, then, the destruction of Alexandria was notorious and everywhere known, the Prophet could not have suitably adduced this example: I therefore doubt not but that Alexandria had been then demolished. It is no matter of wonder that it afterwards returned to its former state and became rich; for the situation of the city was most commodious, not so much on account of the fertility of the land, as on account of its traffic; for ships from the Mediterranean sailed up near to it. It had, indeed, on one side, the lake Marcotis, which is not very healthy; and then the sea fortified it; and Pharos was a neighboring island: but yet the city was inhabited by many, and adorned with splendid buildings; for the advantage of traffic drew together inhabitants from all quarters. It was afterwards built again by Alexander of Macedon. But it is evident enough that it had been already an opulent city: for Alexander did not build a new city but enlarged it. 244244     Opinions differ as to No. Bochart supposed it to be Diospolis, near Mendes, in Lower Egypt. Henderson says, that later commentators are in favor of Thebes, the ancient capital of Upper Egypt. It is of no consequence to the present purpose which it was. It was some celebrated city in Egypt, whose ruin was well known in the Prophet’s time. Both the Rabbins and early Fathers thought that it was what was afterwards called Alexandria. But most probably it was a city which had lost its name and existence from the catastrophe that is here mentioned. — Ed. Let us now come to the words of the Prophet.

Shall it be better to thee than to Alexandria? The word אמון, amun, some render populous; and I am inclined to adopt this meaning, which has been received nearly by the consent of all. Others have supposed it to be the name of a king; but as proof fails them, I leave to themselves their own conjecture. Shall it then be better to thee than to Alexandria? For it stood, he says, between the rivers Alexandria had the Nile, as it were, under its own power; for it was then divided into many parts, so that it intersected the city in various places. So then he says, that Alexandria dwelt between the rivers; for it divided the Nile, as it suited its convenience, into several streams.

Then he says, The sea was around her: for it was surrounded on one side by the sea, and protected by the island Pharos, which had a tower, not only for the sake of defense, but that ships coming in from the Mediterranean, might have a signal, by which they might direct their course straight to the harbor. The sea then was around her; for the sea encircled more than half of the city; and then the lake Mareotis was on the other side to the south. He afterwards adds, And its wall or moat was the sea The word is written with י, iod, חיל, chil; but it means a wall or a moat, though Latins render antemurale — a front-work: for they were wont formerly to fortify their cities with a double wall, as old buildings still show. According to these interpreters חיל, chil, is the inner wall, and so they render its front-work: and there was also an outer wall towards the sea. But we may take חיל, chil, for a moat or a trench; and it is easy to find from other passages that it was a trench rather than a front-work. It is said that the body of Jezebel was torn by dogs in the trench, and the word there is חיל, chil. As to the object of the Prophet, he evidently intended to show, that Alexandria was so well fortified, that Nineveh had no reason to think herself to be in a safer state; for its fortress was from the sea, and also from Ethiopia, on account of the munitions which he has mentioned. Then he speaks of Africa and Egypt, and the Libyan nations, 245245     The original names in this verse are כוש, supposed to be Ethiopia, — מצרים, Egypt, here, either Upper or Lower, — פוט, Put, a country to the west of Lower Egypt, its inhabitants the descendants of Ham, Genesis 10:6, — לובים, Lybians, who occupied the region between Put and Numidia. — Ed. and says in short, that there was no end of her strength; that is, that she could seek the help of many friends and confederates: many were ready to bring aid, even Africa, Ethiopia, and the Lybians.

Yet, he says, she departed into captivity a captive; that is, the inhabitants of Alexandria have been banished, and the city become as it were captive, for its inhabitants were driven here and there. Dashed, he says, have been their little ones at the head of every street The Prophet means, that so great a power as that of Alexandria did not prevent the conquerors to exercise towards her the most barbarous cruelty; for it was a savage act to dash little children against stones, who ought on account of their tender age, to have been spared. There was indeed no reason for raging against them, for they could not have been deemed enemies. But yet the Prophet says that Alexandria had been thus treated; and he said this, that Nineveh might not trust in her strength, and thus perversely despise God’s judgment, which he now denounced on it. He adds, They cast lots on her princess and bound were her great men with fetters In saying that lots were cast, he refers to an ancient custom; for when there was any dispute respecting a captive, the lot was cast: as for instance, when two had taken one man, to prevent contention, it was by lot determined who was to be his master. So then he says that lots were cast on their princes. This usually happened to the common people and to the lowest slaves; but the Prophet says that the conquerors spared not even the princes. They were therefore treated as the lowest class; and though they were great princes, they were led into captivity and bound with chains, in the same manner with the meanest and the lowest of the people. They were not treated according to their rank; and there was no differences between the chief men and the most degraded of the humbler classes; for even the very princes were so brought down, that their lot differed not from that of the wretched; for as common people are usually treated with contempt, so were the chiefs of Alexandria treated by their enemies.

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