Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Burden, or threat. (Worthington) — Septuagint, “assumption,” (Haydock) when the prophet saw in spirit the impending ruin. (Theodoret) — Allegorically, Nahum is “the comforter” of the just, shewing that God will avenge their cause against Ninive, “the beautiful,” and destroy the world, (kosmos, which also means “beautiful,”) after which the saints shall reign in eternal glory. (Worthington) — We have described Ninive, Jonas i. (Calmet) — It was overturned first in the year of the world 3257, and again in the year 3378. (Usher) — Elcesite. Some think that Elcesai was the father of Nahum; but most suppose that it was a village Galilee. (Calmet)
Ver. 2. The Lord. The six following verses (Haydock) tend to excite attention. (Calmet)
Ver. 3. Cleanse. Literally, “cleansing, he will not make innocent.” (Haydock) — The same expression is rendered, No man of himself is innocent before thee, Exodus xxxiv. 7. (Calmet) — Septuagint, “the innocent he will not deem innocent.” (Haydock) — No man is perfect in God’s sight, (Calmet) though they may appear to be such to others. (Haydock) — None can escape punishment, if he be treated with rigour. De Dieu translates, “he will not utterly evacuate,” or destroy, which seems very correct, Jeremias xxx. 11., and Numbers xiv. 18. — Dust. He walks upon them as we do on dry land.
Ver. 4. Desert, as at the Red Sea, Psalm cv. 9. — Languisheth. The most fruitful places produce nothing, when God is angry.
Ver. 5. Made. Septuagint, “shaken.” — Quaked. Hebrew and Septuagint, “risen.” (Calmet)
Ver. 6. Like fire. Septuagint, “melts kingdoms.”
Ver. 7. Hope. Septuagint, “fear.” He approves of his faithful servants. (Haydock)
Ver. 8. Thereof; viz. of Ninive. (Challoner) — This is connected with Ver. 1. (Haydock) — Ninive was taken by the waters of the Tigris overflowing, at the first siege. (Diod. ii.; Athen. xii.) — The like might happen at the second, though profane authors be silent. (Calmet) — Many think that the flood means great armies, Isaias viii. 7. (Forer.; Vatable) — Septuagint, “He will utterly destroy: those who rise up and his enemies, darkness,” &c. (Haydock) — Chaldean, The.[Theodotion?] and Aq.[Aquila?] adopt the same sense, but Symmachus, &c., agree with us. (Calmet)
Ver. 9. Affliction. Septuagint add, “for the same thing, or together.” (Haydock) — Many hence infer, that those who have been slain by God, like the Sodomites, &c., will not be condemned to hell. (Origen, i. Ezec.; St. Jerome.; St. Thomas Aquinas, 3. p. q. 59. a. 5.) — But this principle cannot be always correct. (Calmet) — Their temporal suffering might usher in eternal ones. (St. Gregory, Mor. xviii. 12.) — Ninive shall perish; so that a second blow will not be requisite, 1 Kings xxvi. 8. (Drusius) (Calmet)
Ver. 10. Dry. The Assyrians, feasting in the hopes that they would speedily become masters of Jerusalem, were cut off in one night. (Worthington) — God’s enemies cannot escape; as when a thorn bush has taken fire, all must perish, Psalm lvii. 10., and Isaias ix. 18. (Calmet)
Ver. 11. Forth. Some understand this of Sennacherib. But as his attempt against the people seems to have been prior to the prophecy of Nahum, we may better understand it of Holofernes. (Challoner) — One. Septuagint, “a most wicked thought against the Lord, devising opposition.” (Haydock) — We may render, “hath come,” &c., alluding to Sennacherib and Rabsaces, Isaias xxxvi. 18. and xxxvii. 23. (Calmet)
Ver. 12. Perfect. That is, however strong or numerous their forces may be, they shall be cut off, and their prince or leader shall pass away and disappear. (Challoner) — If there were many just at Ninive, or among the Jews, (Calmet) a moderate chastisement would suffice. (Haydock) — The latter have been afflicted; now their enemies shall suffer. Septuagint have read otherwise: (Calmet) “the Lord, reigning over the great waters; thus shall they be divided, and thou shalt be heard of no more.” (Haydock)
Ver. 13. Asunder. Ezechias was tributary to Assyria, 4 Kings xviii. 14. After the fall of Ninive, its yoke was removed. (Calmet)
Ver. 14. Commandment. That is, a decree concerning thee, O king of Ninive, thy seed shall fail, &c. (Challoner) — His son Asarhaddon succeeded; but soon the line was extinct. (Worthington) — No alarm shall be spread by thee. — Grave. Sennacherib was slain in the temple: (Isaias xxxvii. 38.; Calmet) or the idols were deemed unclean by the victors. (Eurip.[Euripides?] Troad.) (Haydock)
Ver. 15. Peace. Sentinels were established on the hills. — Festivals. St. Jerome quotes the Book of Paralipomenon as saying (Calmet) that the Jews could not observe the Passover in the first month. But they did it in the second, after they knew that Sennacherib was slain, 2 Paralipomenon xxxii. (Haydock) — This passage does not, however, appear at present in Scripture, and it could not speak of the second month (Calmet) following Nisan, (Haydock) as the king was slain forty-five days (Tobias i. 22.; Greek, 55.) after his return to Ninive; and some time must have elapsed before he could get thither, and the news arrive in Judea. (Calmet) — Belial; the wicked one, viz. the Assyrian. (Challoner)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The majesty of God, his goodness to his people, and severity to his enemies.
1 The *burden of Ninive. The book of the vision of Nahum, the Elcesite.
2 The Lord is a jealous God, and a revenger: the Lord is a revenger, and hath wrath: the Lord taketh vengeance on his adversaries, and he is angry with his enemies.
3 The Lord is patient, and great in power, and will not cleanse and acquit the guilty. The Lord’s ways are in a tempest, and a whirlwind, and clouds are the dust of his feet.
4 He rebuketh the sea, and drieth it up: and bringeth all the rivers to be a desert. Basan languisheth and Carmel: and the flower of Libanus fadeth away.
5 The mountains tremble at him, and the hills are made desolate: and the earth hath quaked at his presence, and the world, and all that dwell therein.
6 Who can stand before the face of his indignation? and who shall resist in the fierceness of his anger? his indignation is poured out like fire: and the rocks are melted by him.
7 The Lord is good, and giveth strength in the day of trouble: and knoweth them that hope in him.*
8 But with a flood that passeth by, he will make an utter end of the place thereof: and darkness shall pursue his enemies.
9 What do ye devise against the Lord? he will make an utter end: there shall not rise a double affliction.
10 For as thorns embrace one another: so while they are feasting and drinking together, they shall be consumed as stubble that is fully dry.
11 Out of thee shall come forth one that imagineth evil against the Lord, contriving treachery in his mind.
12 Thus saith the Lord: Though they were perfect: and many of them so, yet thus shall they be cut off, and he shall pass: I have afflicted thee, and I will afflict thee no more.
13 And now I will break in pieces his rod with which he struck thy back, and I will burst thy bonds asunder.
14 And the Lord will give a commandment concerning thee, that no more of thy name shall be sown: I will destroy the graven and molten thing out of the house of thy God, I will make it thy grave, for thou art disgraced.
15 *Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, and that preacheth peace: O Juda, keep thy festivals, and pay thy vows: for Belial shall no more pass through thee again, he is utterly cut off.
1: Year of the World about 3264, Year before Christ 740.
7: 2 Timothy i. 9.
15: Isaias lii. 7.; Romans x. 15.