Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Blood. Nemrod established his power by shedding blood, Genesis x. Ninus, who built Ninive, and his successors were also bloody. After 1200 years the empire decayed under Sardanapalus, as historians agree. Yet it continued longer, according to the Scriptures and Ribera, till the Chaldeans destroyed it, when it had subsisted about 1440 years. It was even possessed of great power after the return of the Jews from Babylon, as Eusebius, St. Augustine, Ven. Bede, &c., write. (Worthington) — Depart. Septuagint, “be touched.” (Haydock) — He continues the metaphor of the lion seizing its prey. Here the last chapter should end.
Ver. 2. The noise. He has described the forces of Ninive, now he specifies those of Cyaxares and Nabopolassar.
Ver. 4. Harlot. Ninive is cruel and impure, engaging others in idolatry and witchcraft. (Calmet) — Sold, forcing them to adopt her manners, Romans vii. 14.
Ver. 7. Bemoan. Literally, “shake his head:” the latter words are not in [the] Hebrew. (Haydock) — Some supply, move his lips: but head will answer as well. This is a sign of derision or of pity, Job xlii. 11., and Matthew xxvii. 39. (Calmet)
Ver. 8. Populous Alexandria. No-Amon. A populous city of Egypt, destroyed by the Chaldeans, and afterwards rebuilt by Alexander, and called Alexandria. Others suppose No-Amon to be the same as Diospolis. (Challoner) — This seems preferable, as it was amidst waters and near the Mediterranean. Profane historians take little notice of it, as it was greatly reduced. Bochart fixes upon Memphis, others upon the temple of Ammon. But these were too remote from the sea. (Calmet) — The former was however near the Nile, (Haydock) which is sometimes called a sea. (Calmet) — St. Jerome thinks that Alexandria stood on the ruins of No. (Worthington) — Yet of this we have no proof. It is thought that Nahum alludes to the devastation caused by Nabuchodonosor. As Juda however was still in his kingdom, it seems rather that Assaraddon, (Isaias xx.) or his predecessor, Sennacherib, (Calmet) laid waste this city, 4 Kings xviii. 21. (Usher, Year of the world 3292.)
Ver. 9. Ethiopia; Chus, in Arabia, not far from Diospolis.
Ver. 10. Captivity. It was afterwards re-established and taken by Nabuchodonosor. (Calmet) — Fetters, or stocks. (Haydock)
Ver. 11. Drunk, and be chastised by God, Ezechiel xxiii. 32. — From, to escape.
Ver. 14. Water. This was a necessary precaution, 2 Paralipomenon xxxii. 3. — Brick, to repair the breaches.
Ver. 15. Locust. Yet all will be in vain. Thy numbers will be cut off as easily as locusts.
Ver. 16. Away. Thus did the merchants, at the approach of the enemy.
Ver. 17. Guards. Hebrew, “crowned” princes. — Little. Hebrew, “satraps are like great locusts, which,” &c. St. Jerome has read (Calmet) toppic instead of taphseraic, (Haydock) which [the] Septuagint neglect. Thapsar denotes an officer, Jeremias li. 27. (Calmet) — Of locusts. The young locusts. (Challoner)
Ver. 18. Slumbered. They have not guarded the flock. (Calmet)
Ver. 19. Hidden. Hebrew and Septuagint, “irremediable,” (Haydock) — No one pities thy wound, Chaldean. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The miserable destruction of Ninive.
1 Wo *to thee, O city of blood, all full of lies and violence: rapine shall not depart from thee.
2 The noise of the whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, and of the neighing horse, and of the running chariot, and of the horsemen coming up:
3 And of the shining sword, and of the glittering spear, and of a multitude slain, and of a grievous destruction: and there is no end of carcasses, and they shall fall down on their dead bodies.
4 Because of the multitude of the fornications of the harlot that was beautiful and agreeable, and that made use of witchcraft, that sold nations through her fornications, and families through her witchcrafts.
5 Behold I come against thee, saith the Lord of hosts: *and I will discover thy shame to thy face, and will shew thy nakedness to the nations, and thy shame to kingdoms.
6 And I will cast abominations upon thee, and will disgrace thee, and will make an example of thee.
7 And it shall come to pass that every one that shall see thee, shall flee from thee, and shall say: Ninive is laid waste: who shall bemoan thee? whence shall I seek a comforter for thee?
8 Art thou better than the populous Alexandria, that dwelleth among the rivers? waters are round about it: the sea is its riches: the waters are its walls.
9 Ethiopia and Egypt were the strength thereof, and there is no end: Africa and the Libyans were thy helpers.
10 Yet she also was removed and carried into captivity: her young children were dashed in pieces at the top of every street, and they cast lots upon her nobles, and all her great men were bound in fetters.
11 Therefore thou also shalt be made drunk, and shalt be despised: and thou shalt seek help from the enemy.
12 All thy strong holds shall be like fig-trees with their green figs: if they be shaken, they shall fall into the mouth of the eater.
13 Behold thy people in the midst of thee are women: the gates of thy land shall be set wide open to thy enemies, the fire shall devour thy bars.
14 Draw thee water for the siege, build up thy bulwarks: go into the clay, and tread, work it and make brick.
15 There shall the fire devour thee: thou shalt perish by the sword, it shall devour thee like the bruchus: assemble together like the bruchus, make thyself many like the locust.
16 Thou hast multiplied thy merchandises above the stars of heaven: the bruchus hath spread himself and flown away.
17 Thy guards are like the locusts: and thy little ones like the locusts of locusts which swarm on the hedges in the day of cold: the sun arose, and they flew away, and their place was not known where they were.
18 Thy shepherds have slumbered, O king of Assyria, thy princes shall be buried: thy people are hid in the mountains, and there is none to gather them together.
19 Thy destruction is not hidden, thy wound is grievous: all that have heard the fame of thee, have clapped their hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?
1: Ezechiel xxiv. 9.; Habacuc ii. 12.
5: Isaias xlvii. 3.