Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Face, O Juda. Septuagint, “who blows on thy face, (Genesis ii. 7.) freeing from misery.” Here St. Jerome’s Greek copy ends the chapter. (Haydock) — Watch. Behold Nabopolassar is about to attack thy enemies. Some think that Nahum addresses Ninive ironically. (Calmet) — Nabuchodonosor wasted all the environs, and then took the city (Worthington) after his other conquests. (Calmet) — But his father is here denoted. (Haydock)
Ver. 2. Pride, &c. He hath punished Jacob for his pride; and therefore Ninive must not expect to escape. Or else, rendering the pride of Jacob means rewarding, that is, punishing Ninive for the pride they exercised against Jacob. (Challoner) — After the Assyrians had seized the ten tribes, they became more insolent, and are therefore punished. (Worthington) — The haughty Phul, &c., had invaded the Israelites, and had taken them into captivity. This God will now resent, (Calmet) though he justly chastised his people by them. (Haydock)
Ver. 3. Mighty men. He speaks of the Chaldeans and Medes sent to destroy the Ninivites. (Challoner) — This is the common opinion. Yet it seems rather that the Ninivites are designated, as they were asleep and stumbled, &c. (Calmet) — Stupified. That is, they drive on furiously, like men intoxicated with wine. (Challoner) — Hebrew, “the fir-tree shall be shaken,” or poisoned. Psalm cxix. 4. Septuagint read better, (Calmet) “their horsemen shall be in a hurry, or in confusion.” (Haydock) — The armour was kept very shining, and the soldiers of Cyrus were clothed in purple, like himself. (Xen. iii.) — Yet this availed nothing, while the men were asleep or confounded. (Calmet)
Ver. 4. Streets. The Ninivites are disordered at the enemy’s approach. (St. Jerome)
Ver. 5. Muster. Literally, ” remember” (Haydock) the ancient heroes, Salmanasar, &c. (Calmet) — Stumble, by running hastily on. (Challoner) — Prepared to defend the city. (Haydock) — All this represents a city surprised. It attempts to defend itself; but God renders all efforts vain. (Calmet)
Ver. 6. Gates; floodgates or channel of the Tigris overflowing, chap. i. 8. — Temple. Septuagint,” palace.”
Ver. 7. Soldier. Hebrew hutsab, (Haydock) “the station” or guard; the queen, or the statue of the idol, with the women (Calmet) who prostituted themselves in its honour. (Sanct. xxxi.) — Ninive and its dependances are taken. (Grotius)
Ver. 8. Waters: multitudes, (Apocalypse xvii. 15.) and riches; (Calmet) or the flood bursting upon them makes them flee. (Haydock) — The citizens run away when the enemy had made a breach, as water does when the dam is broken down; and though some more valiant will exhort them to tarry, they will not succeed, nor save the city. (Worthington)
Ver. 10. Kettle. In mourning they blacken their face. (Tav. Perse.)
Ver. 11. Lions. The kings of Assyria had plundered various nations, (Haydock) and had brought the spoils to Ninive. But all shall be lost. (Worthington) — These princes followed no law but their own will. — The lion, Nabopolassar, or his son: though it seems rather to relate to the Assyrian monarchs. (Calmet)
Ver. 13. Chariots. Septuagint, “multitude.” Some wild beasts were thus suffocated in their dens. (Theodoret) — More, like that of the impious Rabsaces, 4 Kings xviii. 17. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
God sends his armies against Ninive to destory it.
1 He is come up that shall destroy before thy face, that shall keep the siege: watch the way, fortify thy loins, strengthen thy power exceedingly.
2 For the Lord hath rendered the pride of Jacob, as the pride of Israel: because the spoilers have laid them waste, and have marred their branches.
3 The shield of his mighty men is like fire, the men of the army are clad in scarlet, the reins of the chariot are flaming in the day of his preparation, and the drivers are stupified.
4 They are in confusion in the ways, the chariots jostle one against another in the streets: their looks are like torches, like lightning running to and fro.
5 He will muster up his valiant men, they shall stumble in their march: they shall quickly get upon the walls thereof: and a covering shall be prepared.
6 The gates of the rivers are opened, and the temple is thrown down to the ground.
7 And the soldier is led away captive: and her bond-women were led away mourning as doves, murmuring in their hearts.
8 And as for Ninive, her waters are like a great pool, but the men flee away. They cry: Stand, stand, but there is none that will return back.
9 Take ye the spoil of the silver, take the spoil of the gold: for there is no end of the riches of all the precious furniture.
10 She is destroyed, and rent, and torn: the heart melteth, and the knees fail, and all the loins lose their strength: and the faces of them all are as the blackness of a kettle.
11 Where is now the dwelling of the lions, and the feeding place of the young lions, to which the lion went, to enter in thither, the young lion, and there was none to make them afraid?
12 The lion caught enough for his whelps, and killed for his lionesses: and he filled his holes with prey, and his den with rapine.
13 Behold I come against thee, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will burn thy chariots even to smoke, and the sword shall devour thy young lions: and I will cut off thy prey out of the land, and the voice of thy messengers shall be heard no more.*
13: Micheas vii. 11.