on Nahum 3 :8
Art thou better than populous No - No-Ammon, or Diospolis, in the Delta, on one branch of the Nile. This is supposed to be the city mentioned by Nahum; and which had been lately destroyed, probably by the Chaldeans.
The waters round about it - Being situated in the Delta, it had the fork of two branches of the Nile to defend it by land; and its barrier or wall was the sea, the Mediterranean, into which these branches emptied themselves: so that this city, and the place it stood on, were wholly surrounded by the waters.
on Nahum 3 :8
Art thou better - More populous or more powerful, "than the populous No?" rather than No-Ammon, so called from the idol Ammon, worshiped there. No-Ammon, (or, as it is deciphered in the Cuneiform Inscriptions, Nia), meaning probably "the portion of Ammon" , was the sacred name of the capital of Upper Egypt, which, under its common name, Thebes, was far-famed, even in the time of Homer, for its continually accruing wealth, its military power, its 20,000 chariots, its vast dimensions attested by its 100 gates .
Existing earlier, as the capital of Upper Egypt, its grandeur began in the 18th dynasty, alter the expulsion of the Hyksos, or Semitic conquerors of Egypt. Its Pharaohs were conquerors, during the 18th to 20th dynasties, 1706-1110 b.c. - about six centuries. It was then the center of a world empire. Under a disguised name , its rulers were celebrated in Geek story also, for their worldwide conquests. The Greek statements have in some main points been verified by the decipherment of the hieroglyphics. The monuments relate their victories in far Asia, and mention Nineveh itself among the people who paid tribute to them. They warred and conquered from the Soudan to Mesopotamia. A monument of Tothmosis I((1066 b.c.) still exists at Kerman, between the 20th and 19th degrees latitude, boasting, in language like that of the Assyrian conquerors; "All lands are subdued, and bring their tributes for the first time to the gracious god" . "The frontier of Egypt," they say , "extends Southward to the mountain of Apta (in Abyssinia) and Northward to the furthest dwellings of the Asiatics." The hyperbolic statements are too undefined for history , but widely-conquering monarchs could alone have used them. : "At all periods of history, the possession of the country which we call Soudan (the Black country) comprising Nubia, and which the ancients called by the collective name of Kous (Cush) or Aethiopia, has been an exhaustless source of wealth to Egypt. Whether by way of war or of commerce, barks laden with flocks, corn, hides, ivory, precious woods, stones and metals, and many other products of those regions, descended the Nile into Egypt, to fill the treasures of the temples and of the court of the Pharaohs: and of metals, especially gold, mines whereof were worked by captives and slaves, whose Egyptian name noub seems to have been the origin of the name Nubia, the first province S. of Egypt." "The conquered country of Soudan, called Kous in the hieroglyphic inscriptions, was governed by Egyptian princes of the royal family, who bore the name of 'prince royal of Kous.'"
But the prophet's appeal to Nineveh is the more striking, because No, in its situation, its commerce, the sources of its wealth, its relation to the country which lay between them, had been another and earlier Nineveh. Only, as No had formerly conquered and exacted tribute from all those nations, even to Nineveh itself, so now, under Sargon and Sennacherib, Nineveh had reversed all those successes, and displaced the Empire of Egypt by its own, and taken No itself. No had, under its Tothmoses, Amenophes, Sethos, the Ousertesens, sent its messengers Nahum 2:13, the leviers of its tribute, had brought off from Asia that countless mass of human strength, the captives, who (as Israel, before its deliverance, accomplished its hard labors) completed those gigantic works, which, even after 2000 years of decay, are still the marvel of the civilized world. Tothmosis I, after subduing the Sasou, brought back countless captives from Naharina (Mesopotamia); Tothmosis III, in 19 years of conquests, (1603-1585 b.c.) "raised the Egyptian empire to the height of its greatness. Tothmosis repeatedly attacked the most powerful people of Asia, as the Routen (Assyrians?) with a number of subordinate kingdoms, such as Asshur, Babel, Nineveh, Singar; such as the Remenen or Armenians, the Zahi or Phoenicians, the Cheta or Hittites, and manymore. We learn, by the description of the objects of the booty, sent to Egypt by land and sea, counted by number and weight, many curious details as to the industry of the conquered peoples of central Asia, which do honor to the civilization of that time, and verify the tradition that the Egyptian kings set up stelae in conquered countries, in memory of their victories. Tothmosis III. set up his stele in Mesopotamia, 'for having enlarged the frontiers of Egypt.'" Amenophis too is related to have "taken the fortress of Nenii (Nineveh)." : "He returned from the country of the higher Routen, where he had beaten all his enemies to enlarge the frontiers of the land of Egypt" : "he took possession of the people of the South, and chastised the people of the North:" "at Abd-el-Kournah" he was represented as "having for his footstool the heads and backs of five peoples of the S. and four peoples of the North (Asiatics)." : "Among the names of the peoples, who submitted to Egypt, are the Nubians, the Asiatic shepherds, the inhabitants of Cyprus and Mesopotamia." : "The world in its length and its breadth" is promised by the sphinx to Tothmosis IV. He is represented as "subduer of the negroes."
Under Amenophis III, the Memnon of the Greeks , "the Egyptian empire extended Northward to Mesopotamia, Southward to the land of Karou." He enlarged and beautified No, which had from him the temple of Louksor, and his vocal statue , "all people bringing their tributes, their children, their horses, a mass of silver, of iron and ivory from countries, the roads whereto we know not." The king Horus is saluted as "the sun of the nine people; great is thy name to the country of Ethiopia" ; "the gracious god returns, having subdued the great of all people." Seti I((or Sethos) is exhibited , as reverenced by the Armenians, conquering the Sasou, the "Hittites, Naharina (Mesopotamia), the Routen (Assyrians?) the Pount, or Arabs in the South of Arabia, the Amari or Amorites, and Kedes, perhaps Edessa." Rameses II, or the great (identified with the Pharaoh of the Exodus ), conquered the Hittites in the North; in the South it is recorded , "the gracious god, who defeated the nine people, who massacred myriads in a moment, annihilated the people overthrown in their blood, yet was there no other with him."
The 20th Dynasty (1288-1110 b.c.) began again with conquests. : "Rameses III. triumphed over great confederations of Libyans and Syrians and the Isles of the Mediterranean. He is the only king who, as the monuments shew, carried on war at once by land and sea." Beside many names unknown to us, the Hittites, Amorites, Circesium, Aratus, Philistines, Phoenicia, Sasou, Pount, are again recognized. North, South East and West are declared to be tributary to him, and of the North it is said , "The people, who knew not Egypt, come to thee, bringing gold and silver, lapis-lazuli, all precious stones." He adorned Thebes with the great temple of Medinet-Abou and the Ramesseum . The brief notices of following Rameses' speak of internal prosperity and wealth: a fuller account of Rameses XII speaks of his "being in Mesopotamia to exact the annual tribute," how "the kings of all countries prostrated themselves before him, and the king of the country of Bouchten (it has been conjectured, Bagistan, or Ecbatana) presented to him tribute and his daughter." : "He is the last Pharaoh who goes to Mesopotamia, to collect the annual tributes of the petty kingdoms of that country."
On this side of the Euphrates, Egypt still retained some possessions to the time of Necho, for it is said, "the king of Babylon had taken from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates all that pertained to the king of Egypt" 2 Kings 24:7. Thebes continued to be embellished alike by "the high priests of Ammon," who displaced the ancient line , and kings of the Bubastite Dynasty, Sesonchis I or Sisak , Takelothis II , and Sesonchis III . The Ethiopian dynasty of Sabakos and Tearko or Tirhaka in another way illustrates the importance of No. The Ethiopian conquerors chose it as their royal city. There, in the time of Sabakos, Syria brought it tribute ; there Tirhaka set up the records of his victories ; and great must have been the conqueror, whom Strabo put on a line with Sesostris .
Its site marked it out for a great capital; and as such the Ethiopian conqueror seized it. The hills on either side retired, encircling the plain, through the center of which the Nile brought down its wealth, connecting it with the untold riches of the south. : "They formed a vast circus, where the ancient metropolis expaneled itself On the West, the Lybian chain presents abrupt declivities which command this side of the plain, and which bend away above Bab-el-molouk, to end near Kournah at the very bank of the river. On the East, heights, softer and nearer, descend in long declivities toward Louksor and Karnak, and their crests do not approach the Nile until after Medamout, an hour or more below Karnak." The breadth of the valley, being about 10 miles , the city (of which, Strabo says , "traces are now seen of its magnitude, 80 stadia in length") must have occupied the whole. : "The city embraced the great space, which is now commonly called the plain of Thebes and which is divided by the Nile into two halves, an Eastern and a Western, the first bounded by the edge of the Arabian wilderness, the latter by the hills of the dead of the steep Libyan chain."
The capital of Egypt, which was identified of old with Egypt itself , thus lay under the natural guardianship of the encircling hills which expanded to receive it, divided into two by the river which was a wall to both. The chains of hills, on either side were themselves fenced in on East and West by the great sand-deserts unapproachable by an army. The long valley of the Nile was the only access to an enemy. It occupied apparently the victorious army of Asshurbanipal "a month and ten days" to march from Memphis to Thebes. : "At Thebes itself there are still remains of walls and fortifications, strong, skillfully constructed, and in good preservation, as there are also in other Egyptian towns above and below it. The crescent-shaped ridge of hills approaches so close to the river at each end as to admit of troops defiling past, but not spreading out or maneuvering. At each of these ends is a small old fort of the purely Egyptian, i. e., the ante-Hellenic period. Both above and below there are several similar crescent sweeps in the same chain of hills, and at each angle a similar fort."
All successive monarchs, during more centuries than have passed since our Lord came, successively beautified it. Everything is gigantic, bearing witness to the enormous mass of human strength, which its victorious kings had gathered from all nations to toil for its and their glorification. Wonderful is it now in its decay, desolation, death; one great idol-temple of its gods and an apotheosis of its kings, as sons of its gods. : "What spires are to a modern city, what the towers of a cathedral are to the nave and choir, that the statues of the Pharaohs were to the streets and temples of Thebes. The ground is strewn with their fragments; the avenues of them towered high above plain and houses. Three of gigantic size still remain. One was the granite statue of Rameses himself, who sat on the rightside of the entrance to his palace. - The only part of the temple or palace, at all in proportion to him, must have been the gateway, which rose in pyramidal towers, now broken down and rolling in a wild ruin down to the plain."
It was that self-deifying, against which Ezekiel is commanded to prophesy; "Speak and say; thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself" Ezekiel 29:3. : "Everywhere the same colossal proportions are preserved. Everywhere the king is conquering, ruling, worshiping, worshiped. The palace is the temple. The king is priest. He and his horses are ten times the size of the rest of the army. Alike in battle and in worship, he is of the same stature as the gods themselves. Most striking is the familiar gentleness, with which, one on each side, they take him by each hand, as one of their own order, and then, in the next compartment, introduce him to Ammon, and the lion-headed goddess. Every distinction, except of degree, between divinity and royalty is entirely leveled."
Gigantic dimensions picture to the eye the ideal greatness, which is the key to the architecture of No. : "Two other statues alone remain of an avenue of eighteen similar or nearly similar statues, some of whose remnants lie in the field behind them, which led to the palace of Amenophis III, every one of the statues being Amenophis himself, thus giving in multiplication what Rameses gained in solitary elevation." : "Their statues were all of one piece." Science still cannot explain, how a mass of nearly 890 tons of granite was excavated at Syene, transported and set up at Thebes, or how destroyed .
Nozrani, In Egypt and Syria, p. 278: "The temper of the tools, which cut adamantine stone as sharply and closely as an ordinary scoop cuts an ordinary cheese, is still a mystery." Everything is in proportion. The two sitting colossi, whose "breadth across the shoulders is eighteen feet, their height forty-seven feet, fifty-three above the plain, or, with the half-buried pedestal, sixty feet, were once connected by an avenue of sphinxes of eleven hundred feet with what is now 'Kom-el-Hettan,' or 'the mound of sand-stone,' which marks the site of another palace and temple of Amenophis III.; and, to judge from the little that remains, it must have held a conspicuous rank among the finest monuments of Thebes. All that now exists of the interior are the bases of its columns, some broken statues, and Syenite sphinxes of the king, with several lionheaded figures of black granite" .
The four villages, where are the chief remaining temples, Karnak, Luksor, Medinet-Abou, Kournah, form a great quadrilateral , each of whose sides is about one and a half mile, and the whole compass accordingly six miles. The avenue of six hundred sphinxes, which joined the temple of Luksor with Karnak must have been one and a half mile long : one of its obelisks is a remarkable ornament of Paris. Mostly massiveness is the characteristic, since strength and might were their ideal. Yet the massive columns still preserved, as in the temple of Rameses II , are even of piercing beauty . And for the temple of Karnak! Its enclosure, which was some two miles in circumference , bears the names of Monarchs removed from one another, according to the Chronology, by above two thousand years . : "A stupendous colonnade, of which one pillar only remains erect, once extended across its great court, connecting the W. gate of entrance with that at its extremity. The towers of the Eastern gate are mere heaps of stones, poured down into the court on one side and the great hall on the other; giant columns have been swept away like reeds before the mighty avalanche, and one hardly misses them. And in that hall, of 170 feet by 329 feet, 134 columns of colossal proportions supported its roof; twelve of them, 62 feet high and about 35 in circumference, and on each side a forest of 66 columns, 42 feet 5 in. in height. Beyond the center avenue are seen obelisks, gateways and masses of masonry; every portion of these gigantic ruins is covered with sculpture most admirably executed, and every column has been richly painted."
Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, p. xli.: "Imagine a long vista of courts and doorways and colonnades and halls; here and there an obelisk shooting up out of the ruins, and interrupting the opening view of the forest of columns. - This mass of ruins, some rolled down in avalanches of stone, others perfect and painted, as when they were first built, is approached on every side by avenues of gateways. East and West, North and South, these vast approaches are found. Some are shattered, but in every approach some remain; and in some can be traced, beside, the further avenues, still in parts remaining by hundreds together, avenues of ram-headed sphinxes. Every Egyptian temple has, or ought to have, one of those grand gateways, formed of two sloping towers, with the high perpendicular front between." Then, over and above, is "their multiplied concentration. - Close before almost every gateway in this vast array were the colossal figures, usually in granite, of the great Rameses, sometimes in white and red marble, of Amenophis and of Thothmes. Close by them, were pairs of towering obelisks, which can generally be traced by pedestals on either side. - You have only to set up again the fallen obelisks which lie at your feet; to conceive the columns, as they are still seen in parts, overspreading the whole; to reproduce all the statues, like those which still remain in their august niches, to gaze on the painted wails and pillars of the immense ball, which even now can never be seen without a thrill of awe, and you have ancient Thebes before you."
on Nahum 3 :8
3:8 Thou - O Nineveh. No - It is supposed this was what we now called Alexandria. Art thou greater, stronger, and wiser? Yet all her power was broken, her riches spoiled, and her glory buried in ruins. Rampart - The defence of its walls on one side. Her wall - A mighty, strong wall, built from the sea landward.