on Nahum 3 :13
Thy people - are women - They lost all courage, and made no resistance. O vere Phrygiae, neque enim Phryges: "Verily, ye are Phrygian women, not Phrygian men." So said Numanus to the Trojans. Virg., Aen. ix.
on Nahum 3 :13
Behold, thy people in the midst of thee are women - Fierce, fearless, hard, iron men, such as their warriors still are portrayed by themselves on their monuments, they whom no toll wearied, no peril daunted, shall be, one and all, their whole "people, women." So Jeremiah to Babylon, "they shall become, became, women" Jeremiah 50:37; Jeremiah 51:30. He sets it before the eyes. "Behold, thy people are women;" against nature they are such, not in tenderness but in weakness and fear. Among the signs of the Day of Judgment, it stands, "men's hearts failing them for fear" Luke 21:26. Where sin reigns, there is no strength left, no manliness or nobleness of soul, no power to resist. "In the midst of thee," where thou seemest most secure, and, if anywhere, there were hope of safety. The very inmost self of the sinner gives way.
To thine enemies - (This is, for emphasis, prefixed) not for any good to thee, but "to thine enemies shall be set wide open the gates of thy land," not, "thy gates," i. e., the gates of their cities, (which is a distinct idiom), but "the gates of the land" itself, every avenue, which might have been closed against the invader, but which was "laid open." The Easterns, as well as the Greeks and Latins . See further Liddell and Scott, loc. cit.) the πύλαι τῆς Κιλικίας καὶ τῆς Συρίας pulai tēs Kilikias kai tēs Surias, Xen. Anab. i. 4. 14, the "Amsnicae Pylae" (Q. Curt. iii. 20). Pliny speaks of the "portae Caucasiae" (H. N. vi. 11) or "Iberiae" (Albaniae Ptol. v. 12.) Ibid. 15), used the word "gate" or "doors" of the mountain passes, which gave an access to a land, but which might be held against an enemy. In the pass called "the Caucasian gates," there were, over and above, doors fastened with iron bars . At Thermopylae or, as the inhabitants called them, Pylae , "gates," the narrow pass was further guarded by a wall . Its name recalls the brilliant history, how such approaches might be held by a devoted handful of men against almost countless multitudes. Of Assyria, Pliny says , "The Tigris and pathless mountains encircle Adiabene." When those "gates of the land" gave way, the whole land was laid open to its enemies.
The fire shall devour thy bars - Probably, as elsewhere, the bars of the gates, which were mostly of wood, since it is added expressly of some, that they were of the iron Psalm 107:16; Isaiah 14:2 or brass 1 Kings 4:13. : "Occasionally the efforts of the besiegers were directed against the gate, which they endeavored to break open with axes, or to set on fire by application of a torch - In the hot climate of S. Asia wood becomes so dry by exposture to the sun, that the most solid doors may readily be ignited and consumed." It is even remarked in one instance that the Assyrians "have not set fire to the gates of this city, as appeared to be their usual practice in attacking a fortified place."
So were her palaces buried as they stood, that the traces of prolonged fire are still visible, calcining the one part and leaving others which were not exposed to it, uncalcined. : "It is incontestable that, during the excavations, a considerable quantity of charcoal, and even pieces of wood, either half-burnt or in a perfect state of preservation, were found in many places. The lining of the chambers also bears certain marks of the action of fire. All these things can be explained only by supposing the fall of a burning roof, which calcined the slabs of gypsum and converted them into dust. It would be absurd to imagine that the burning of a small quantity of furniture could have left on the walls marks like these which are to be seen through all the chambers, with the exception of one, which was only an open passage. It must have been a violent and prolonged fire, to be able to calcine not only a few places, but every part of these slabs, which were ten feet high and several inches thick. So complete a decomposition can be attributed but to intense heat, such as would be occasioned by the fall of a burning roof.
"Botta found on the engraved flag-stones scoria and half-melted nails, so that there is no doubt that these appearances had been produced by the action of intense and long-sustained beat. He remembers, beside, at Khorsabad, that when he detached some bas-reliefs from the earthy substance which covered them, in order to copy the inscriptions that were behind, he found there coals and cinders, which could have entered only by the top, between the wall and the back of the bas-relief. This can be easily understood to have been caused by the burning of the roof, but is inexplicable in any other manner. What tends most positively to prove that the traces of fire must be attributed to the burning of a wooden roof is, that these traces are perceptible only in the interior of the building. The gypsum also that covers the wall inside is completely calcined, while the outside of the building is nearly everywhere untouched. But wherever the fronting appears to have at all suffered from fire, it is at the bottom; thus giving reason to suppose that the damage has been done by some burning matter falling outside. In fact, not a single bas-relief in a state to be removed was found in any of the chambers, they were all pulverized."
The soul which does not rightly close its senses against the enticements of the world, does, in fact, open them, and death is come up into our windows Jeremiah 9:21, and then "whatever natural good there yet be, which, as bars, would hinder the enemy from bursting in, is consumed by the fire," once kindled, of its evil passions.
on Nahum 3 :13
3:13 Are women - Were very cowards. The gates - The strong frontiers. Wide open - Either through fear or treachery. Thy bars - With which the gates were shut and strengthened.