Nahum 2:1-13 open_in_new
Attack and Conquest of Nineveh
1. Description of the attack begins, and Nineveh is called upon to face the invader.
'He that breaketh in pieces is come up against thee; Guard the watch, look out upon the way, Gird up the loins, gather together thy strength.' Nahum 2:2 seems misplaced, as it interrupts the sense. It should perhaps come after Nahum 1:15.
3-10. Poetic picture of the sack of the city. It dwells upon, (1) The approach of the hostile army in brilliant, terrible splendour, with flashing shields, furious horses and onrush of chariots. The general impression is vivid, though some of the details have become indistinct. (3. Shall be with flaming torches] RV 'flash with steel.' Fir trees] RV 'spears.') (2) The attack upon the city. Here again individual features are uncertain: e.g. we are not sure whether Nahum 2:5 refers to the besiegers or the besieged. Recount his worthies] i.e. call up his bravest warriors. Defence] (RV 'mantelet') is a word difficult of interpretation; it may refer to the movable roof which protected the battering-ram. It is not easy to give a precise explanation of the phrase, 'The gates of the river are opened,' but it is clear that the great city is attacked and its inhabitants thrown into confusion. The actual siege was spread over a long period: here it is sketched with a few sharp strokes and represented in a few memorable scenes. (3) The carrying away captive of the queen and her maidens; the flight of the people and the spoiling of the city. (a) Huzzab is obscure; we must take it to mean the queen of the city, or amend the text. RM has 'It is decreed: she is uncovered,' etc. Tabering] i.e. beating, it. 'drumming.' A taber was a small drum. (b)
8. The phrase translated of old is very awkward in the original. It may have arisen through dittography; in that case we interpret 'Nineveh is like a pool of water,' whose waters rush away where the dam is broken down: thus do the inhabitants of the conquered city flee away.
9, 10. Then all its rich treasures and its magnificent adornments are given to the spoil. All who had any hope or interest in the doomed city are confounded and put to shame.
11. The prophet exults over the downfall of Nineveh. In this stern ironical question the prophet implies that Nineveh has vanished completely; it is vain to seek for it. Thus does he express his full confidence in its utter destruction.
12. This destruction is justified by pointing to the selfish, cruel career of the Assyrian empire.
13. An oracle of Jehovah containing a strong assurance of the judgment that is due and cannot be escaped.