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Nahum 3:19

19. There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?

19. Non est contractio (vel, cicatrix) fracturae tuae; dolore est plena plaga tua; omnes qui audierint famam tuam (id est, de te) percutient manum super te; quia super quem non transiit malitia tua jugiter?


The Prophet shows here more clearly, that when the empire of Nineveh should be scattered, it would be an incurable evil, that every hope of a remedy would be taken away. Though the wicked cannot escape calamity, yet they harbor false expectations, and think that they can in a short time gather new strength. Hence, in order to take from them this hope, the Prophet says, that there would be no contraction of the fracture 251251     אין-כהה לשברך — No stopping or restraining to thy breach. The word is applied to the restraint put on men’s wickedness, 1 Samuel 3:13, and to the checking and restraining of the spread of leprosy, Leviticus 6:28. The breach or breaking was such that there was no stopping of it from becoming entire and complete. The Septuagint gives the meaning—”ουκ εστιν εασις τη συντριβη σου — there is no healing to thy breach.” — Ed. And this is a striking similitude; for he compares the ruin of Nineveh to a wound which cannot be seamed and healed. There is then no contraction; some render it, a wrinkle, but improperly. There is then no contraction: and he adds, Thy stroke is full of pain; 252252     Rather, “grievous is thy stroke.” The verb is נחלה, from חלה, to be languid, and sometimes, to make languid, grievous or afflictive, and then in Niphal, as here, to be grievous. See the same clause in Jeremiah 10:19. As a noun it is rendered “grief” in Isaiah 17:11. — Ed. that is, the pain of thy stroke cannot be allayed. This is one thing, — that the ruin of Nineveh would be irreparable.

Then he says, Whosoever shall hear the report, shall strike the hand on thy account Many give this rendering, They shall clap the hand over thee, or with the hands; and they think that the singular is put for the plural number. But as in Hebrew to strike the hand is a token of consent, it would not be unsuitable to say, that the Prophet means, that wherever the report of this calamity would be heard, all would express their approbation, “See, God has at length proved himself to be the just avenger of so much wickedness.” To strike the hand is said to be done by those who make an agreements or when any one pledges himself for another. 253253     The phrase here used, תקע כף, is found in three other places, Psalm 47:1; Proverbs 17:18; 22:26. In the first it is a symptom of joy; and in the two other places, in the sense here mentioned. — Ed.
As then in giving pledges, and in other compacts, men are said to strike the hand; so also all shall thus give their assent to God’s judgment in this case, “O how rightly is this done! O how justly has God punished these tyrants, these plunderers.” They will then strike the hand on thy account; that is, “This thy ruin will be approved;” as though he said, “Not only before God art thou, Nineveh, accursed, but also according to the consent of all nations.” And thus he intimates, that Nineveh would perish in the greatest dishonor and disgrace. It sometimes happens that an empire falls, and all bewail the event: but God here declares, that he would not be satisfied with the simple destruction of the city Nineveh without adding to it a public infamy, so that all might acknowledge that it happened through his righteous judgment.

He afterwards adds, For upon whom has not thy wickedness passed continually? This is a confirmation of the last clause; and this reason will suit both the views which have been given. If we take the striking of the hand for approbation, this reason will be suitable. — How? For all nations will rejoice at thy destruction, because there is no nation which thou hast not in many ways injured. So also, in token of their joy, all will congratulate themselves, as though they were made free; or they will clap their hands, that is, acknowledge that thou hast been destroyed by the judgment of God, because all had experienced how unjustly and tyrannically thou hast ruled. As then thy wickedness has been like a deluge, and hast nearly consumed all the earth, all will clap or shake their hands at thy ruin.

And he says, continually, to show that God’s forbearance had been long exercised. Hence, also, it appears, that the Assyrians were inexcusable, because, when God indulgently spared them, they did not repent, but pursued their wicked ways for a long course of time. As then to their sinful licentiousness they added perverseness, every excuse was removed. But the Prophet does, at the same time, remind the Israelites, that there was no reason for them to be cast down in their minds, because God did not immediately execute punishment; for by the word תמיד, tamid, he insinuates, that God would so suspend for a time his judgment as to Nineveh, that his forbearance and delay might be an evidence of his goodness and mercy. We hence see that the Prophet here opposes the ardor of men, for they immediately grow angry or complain when God delays to execute vengeance on their enemies.

He shows that God has a just reason for not visiting the wicked with immediate punishment; but yet the time will come when it shall appear that they are altogether past recovery, — the time, I say, will come, when the Lord shall at length put forth his hand and execute his judgment.

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