on Nahum 1 :2
God is jealous - For his own glory.
And - revengeth - His justice; by the destruction of his enemies.
And is furious - So powerful in the manifestations of his judgments, that nothing can stand before him.
He reserveth wrath - Though they seem to prosper for a time, and God appears to have passed by their crimes without notice, yet he reserveth - treasureth up - wrath for them, which shall burst forth in due time.
on Nahum 1 :2
Then, Naham too recites that character of mercy recorded by Moses, "The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power" Nahum 1:3. But anger, although slow, comes, he adds, not the less certainly on the guilty; "and will not at all clear the guilty" Nahum 1:3. The iniquity is full. As a whole, there is no more room for repentance. Nineveh had had its prophet, and had been spared, and had sunk back into its old sins. The office of Nahum is to pronounce its sentence. That sentence is fixed. "There is no healing of thy bruise" Nahum 3:19. Nothing is said of its ulterior conversion or restoration. On the contrary, Nahum says, "He will make the place thereof an utter desolation" Nahum 1:8.
The sins of Nineveh spoken of by Nahum are the same as those from which they had turned at the preaching of Jonah. In Jonah, it is, "the violence of their hands" Jonah 3:8. Nahum describes Nineveh as "a dwelling of lions, filled with prey and with ravin, the feeding-place of young lions, where the lion tore enough for his whelps" Nahum 2:11-12; "a city of bloods, full of lies and robbery, from which the prey departeth not" Nahum 3:1.
But, amid this mass of evil, one thing was eminent, in direct antagonism to God. The character is very special. It is not simply of rebellion against God, or neglect of Him. It is a direct disputation of His Sovereignty. Twice the prophet repeats the characteristic expression, "What will ye devise against the Lord?" "devising evil against the Lord;" and adds, "counselor of evil" Nahum 1:11. This was exactly the character of Sennacherib, whose wars, like those of his forefathers, (as appears from the cuneiform inscriptions . There were religious wars, and Sennacherib blasphemously compared God to the local deities of the countries, which his forefathers or himself had destroyed Isaiah 36:18-20; Isaiah 37:10-13. Of this enemy Nahum speaks, as having "gone forth;" out of thee (Nineveh) hath gone forth Nahum 1:11 one, devising evil against the Lord, a counselor of Belial. This was past.
Their purpose was inchoate, yet incomplete. God challenges them, "What will ye devise so vehemently against the Lord?" Nahum 1:9. The destruction too is proximate. The prophet answers for God, "He Himself, by Himself is already making an utter end" Nahum 1:9. To Jerusalem he turns, "And now I will break his yoke from off thee, and will break his bonds asunder" Nahum 1:13. Twice the prophet mentions the device against God; each time he answers it by the prediction of the sudden utter destruction of the enemy, while in the most perfect security. "While they are intertwined as thorns, and swallowed up as their drink, they are devoured as stubble fully dry" Nahum 1:10; and, "If they are perfect" Nahum 1:12, unimpaired in their strength, "and thus many, even thus shall they be mown down." Their destruction was to be, their numbers, complete. With no previous loss, secure and at ease, a mighty host, in consequence of their prosperity, all were, at one blow, mown down; "and he (their king, who counseled against the Lord) shall pass away and perish."
"The abundance of the wool in the fleece is no hindrance to the shears," nor of the grass to the sythe, nor of the Assyrian host to the will of the Lord, After he, the chief, had thus passed away, Nahum foretells that remarkable death, in connection with the house of his gods; "Out of the house of thy gods I will cut off the graven image and the molten image: I will make thy grave" Nahum 1:14. There is no natural construction of these words, except, "I will make it thy grave" . Judah too was, by the presence of the Assyrian, hindered from going up to worship at Jerusalem. The prophet bids to proclaim peace to Jerusalem; "keep thy feasts - for the wicked shall no more pass through thee." It was then by the presence of the wicked, that they were now hindered from keeping their feasts, which could be kept only at Jerusalem.
The prophecy of Nahum coincides then with that of Isaiah, when Hezekiah prayed against Sennacherib. In the history 2 Kings 19:4, 2 Kings 19:22-28, and in the prophecy of Isaiah, the reproach and blasphemy and rage against God are prominent, as an evil design against God is in Nahum. In Isaiah we have the messengers sent to blaspheme Isaiah 37:4, Isaiah 37:23-29; in Nahum, the promise, that "the voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard." Isaiah prophesies the fruitlessness of his attempt against Jerusalem Isaiah 37:33-34; his disgraced return; his violent death in his own land Isaiah 37:7; Nahum prophesies the entire destruction of his army, his own passing away, his grave. Isaiah, in Jerusalem, foretells how the spontaneous fruits of the earth shall be restored to them 2 Kings 19:29; Isaiah 37:30, and so, that they shall have possession of the open corn-country; Nahum, living probably in the country, foretells the free access to Jerusalem, and bids them to (Nahum 1:15; Nahum 2:1 (Nahum 2:2 in Hebrew)) keep their feasts, and perform the vows, which, in their trouble, they had promised to God. He does not only foretell that they may, but he enjoins them to do it.
The words (Nahum 2:2 (verse 3 in Hebrew)), "the emptiers have emptied them out and marred their vine branches," may relate to the first expedition of Sennacherib, when, Holy Scripture says, he "came up against all the fenced cities of Judah and took them," and Hezekiah gave him "thirty talents of gold and 300 talents of silver" 2 Kings 18:13-14; Isaiah 36:1. Sennacherib himself says , "Hezekiah, king of Judah, who had not submitted to my authority, forty-six of his principal cities, and fortresses and villages depending upon them of which I took no account, I captured, and carried away their spoil. And from these places I captured and carried off as spoil 200, 150 people," etc. This must relate to the first expedition, on account of the exact correspondence of the tribute in gold, with a variation in the number of the talents of silver, easily accounted for .
In the first invasion Sennacherib relates that he besieged Jerusalem. : "Hezekiah himself I shut up in Jerusalem his capital city, like a bird in a cage, building towers round the city to fence him in, and raising banks of earth against the gates, so as to prevent escape." It is perhaps in reference to this, that, in the second invasion, God promises by Isaiah; "He shall not come into this city, and shall not shoot an arrow there; and shall not present shield before it, and shall not cast up bank against it" Isaiah 37:33. Still, in this second invasion also, Holy Scripture relates, that "the king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem unto king Hezekiah with a great army" Isaiah 36:2; 2 Kings 18:17. Perhaps it is in regard to this second expedition, that God says, "Though I have afflicted thee, I will affict thee no more" Nahum 1:12; i. e., this second invasion should not desolate her, like that first. Not that God absolutely would not again afflict her, but not now. The yoke of the Assyrian was then broken, until the fresh sins of Manasseh drew down their own punishment.
Nahum then was a prophet for Judah, or for that remnant of Israel, which, after the ten tribes were carried captive, became one with Judah, not in temporal sovereignty, but in the one worship of God. His mention of Basan, Carmel and Lebanon alone, as places lying under the rebuke of God, perhaps implies a special interest in Northern Palestine. Judah may have already become the name for the whole people of God who were left in their own land, since those of the ten tribes who remained had now no separate religious or political existence. The idol-center of their worship was gone into captivity.
The old tradition agrees with this as to the name of the birthplace of Nahum, "the Elkoshite." "Some think," says Jerome , "that Elcesaeus was the father of Nahum, and, according to the Hebrew tradition, was also a prophet; whereas Elcesi is even to this day a little village in Galilee, small indeed, and scarcely indicating by its ruins the traces of ancient buildings, yet known to the Jews, and pointed out to me too by my guide." The name is a genuine Hebrew name, the "El," with which it begins, being the name of God, which appears in the names of other towns also as El'ale, Eltolad, Elteke Eltolem. The author of the short-lived Gnostic heresy of the Elcesaites, called Elkesai, elkasai, elxai, elxaios, Elkasaios , probably had his name from that same village. Eusebius mentions Elkese, as the place "whence was Nahum the Elkesaean." Cyril of Alexandria says, that Elkese was a village somewhere in Judaea.
On the other hand "Alcush," a town in Mosul, is probably a name of Arabic origin, and is not connected with Nahum by any extant or known writer, earlier than Masius toward the end of the 16th century , and an Arabic scribe in 1713 . Neither of these mention the tomb. "The tomb," says Layard , "is a simple plaster box, covered with green cloth, and standing at the upper end of a large chamber. The house containing the tomb is a modern building. There are no inscriptions, nor fragments of any antiquity near the place." The place is now reverenced by the Jews, but in the 12th century Benjamin of Tudela supposed his tomb to be at Ain Japhata, South of Babylon. Were anything needed to invalidate statements more than 2000 years after the time of Nahum, it might suffice that the Jews, who are the authors of this story, maintain that not Jonah only but Obadiah and Jephthah the Gileadite are also buried at Mosul .
Nor were the ten tribes placed there, but "in the cities of the Medes" 2 Kings 17:6. The name Capernaum, "the village of Nahum," is probably an indication of his residence in Galilee. There is nothing in his language unique to the Northern tribes. One very poetic word Nahum 3:2; Judges 5:22, common to him with the song of Deborah, is not therefore a "provincialism," because it only happens to occur in the rich, varied, language of two prophets of North Palestine. Nor does the occurrence of a foreign title interfere with "purity of diction" . It rather belongs to the vividness of his description.
The conquest of No-Ammon or Thebes and the captivity of its inhabitants, of which Nahum speaks, must have been by Assyria itself. Certainly it was not from domestic disturbances ; for Nahum says, that the people were carried away captive Nahum 3:10. Nor was it from the Ethiopians ; for Nahum speaks of them, as her allies Nahum 3:9. Nor from the Carthaginians ; for the account of Ammianus , that "when first Carthage was beginning to expand itself far and wide, the Punic generals, by an unexpected inroad, subdued the hundred-gated Thebes," is merely a mistaken gloss on a statement of Diodorus, that "Hanno took Hekatompylos by siege;" a city, according to Diodorus himself , "in the desert of Libya." Nor was it from the Scythians ; for Herodotus, who alone speaks of their maraudings and who manifestly exaggerates them, expressly says, that Psammetichus induced the Scythians by presents not to enter Egypt ; and a wandering predatory horde does not besiege or take strongly-fortified towns.
There remain then only the Assyrians. Four successive Assyrian Monarchs Sargon, his son, grandson and great grandson, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon, Asshur-bani-pal, from 718 b.c. to about 657 b.c., conquered in Egypt . The hostility was first provoked by the encouragement given by Sabacho the Ethiopian (Sab'e in the cuneiform inscriptions, S b k, in Egyptian), the So of Holy Scripture , to Hoshea to rebel against Shalmaneser 2 Kings 17:4. Sargon, who, according to his own statement, was the king who actually took Samaria , led three expeditions of his own against Egypt. In the first, Sargon defeated the Egyptian king in the battle of Raphia ; in the second, in his seventh year, he boasts that Pharaoh became his tributary ; in a third, which is placed three years later, Ethiopia submitted to him .
on Nahum 1 :2
1:2 Jealous - For his own glory. Revengeth - As supreme governor, who by office is bound to right the oppressed, and to punish the oppressor.