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Nahum 3:14-15

14. Draw thee waters for the siege, fortify thy strong holds: go into clay, and tread the morter, make strong the brickkiln.

14. Aquas obsidionis hauri tibi, robora munitiones tuas, ingredere in lutum, calca caementum, fortifica fornacem (vel, laterem; alii vertunt, tene, vel, apprehende.)

15. There shall the fire devour thee; the sword shall cut thee off, it shall eat thee up like the cankerworm: make thyself many as the cankerworm, make thyself many as the locusts.

15. Illic vorabit te ignis, exterminabit te gladius, comedet te quasi bruchus (alii vertunt, quasi bruchum;) multiplicari (ad verbum, vel, multiplicando; est כירק quasi bruchus,) multiplicare quasi locusta.


The Prophet goes on with the same subject, — that the Ninevites would labor in vain, while striving anxiously and with every effort to defend themselves against their enemies. The meaning then is, “That though thou remittest no diligence, yet thou shalt lose all thy labor; for thou wilt not be able to resist the vengeance of God; and thou deceives thyself if thou thinkest that by the usual means thou canst aid thyself; for it is God who attacks thee by the Babylonians. How much soever then thou mayest accumulate of those things which are usually employed to fortify cities, all this will be useless.” Draw for thyself, he says, waters for the siege; that is, lay up provisions for thyself, as it is usually done, and have water laid up in cisterns; strengthen thy fortresses, that is, renew them; enter into the clay for the sake of treading the mortar: fortify, or cement, or join together; the brick-kiln (for what some think that חזק, chezek, means, here is to hold, or to lay hold, is wholly foreign to the Prophet’s meaning:) to fortify then the brick- kiln, that is, the bricks which come forth from the kiln, nothing else than to construct and join them together, that there might be a solid building: for we know that buildings often fall, or are overturned, because they are not well joined together: and he refers to the mode of building which historians say was in use among the Assyrians. For as that country had no abundance of stones, they supplied the defect by bricks. We now then understand the intention of the Prophet.

But he adds, There shall the fire consume thee There is much importance in the adverb of place, there, which he uses: there also, he says, shall the fire eat thee up: for he expresses more than before, when he said, that the Assyrians would weary themselves in vain in fortifying their city and their empire; for he says now, that the Lord would turn to their destruction those things in which they trusted as their defenses; There then shall the fire consume thee We now then see what the Prophet means.

We must at the same time observe, that he mentions water; as though he said, However sparingly and frugally thy soldiers may live, being content with water as their drink, (for it is necessary, when we would firmly resist enemies, to undergo all indulgences, and if needs be to endure want, at least the want of delicate meat and drink,) — though thy soldiers be content with water, and seek not water fresh from the spring or the river, but drink it from cisterns, and though thy fortresses be repaired, and thy walls carefully joined together in a solid structure, by bricks well fitted and fastened, yet there shall the fire consume thee; that is, thy frugality, exertion, and care, not only will avail thee nothing, but will also turn out to thy ruin; for the Lord pronounces accursed the arrogance of men, when they trust in their own resources.

He afterwards adds, Exterminate thee shall the sword; that is, the Lord will find out various means by which he will consume thee. By the fire, then, and by the sword, will he waste and destroy thee. He then says, He will consume thee as the chafer we may read the last word in the nominative as well as in the objective case — He as a chafer will consume thee. If we approve of this rendering, then the meaning would be, — “As chafers in a short time devour a meadow or standing corn, so thy enemies shall soon devour thee as with one mouthful.” We indeed know, that these little animals are so hurtful, that they will very soon eat up and consume all the fruit; and there is in these insects an astonishing voracity. But as the Prophet afterwards compares the Assyrians to chafers and locusts, another sense would be more suitable, and that is, — that God’s judgment would consume the Assyrians, as when rain, or a storm, or a change of season, consumes the chafers; for as these insects are very hurtful, so the Lord also exterminates them whenever he pleases. 248248     Grotius agrees in this view, though Newcome takes the former, explaining, “as the locust,” that is, in a manner equally unsparing. — Ed. He afterwards adds, to be multiplied; which is, as I have said, a verb in the infinitive mood. But the sentence of the Prophet is this, by multiplying as the chafer, to multiply as the locusts: but why he speaks thus, may be better understood from the context; the two following verses must be therefore added —

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