Nahum 1:12 MEANING

Nahum 1:12
(12) Thus saith the Lord.--Better, Thus saith Jehovah, Though they be of unimpaired strength and ever so numerous, yet just in that state shall they be cut down, and he [viz., the evil counsellor of Nahum 1:11] shall pass away. Though I have afflicted thee [Jerusalem], I will afflict thee no more. Destruction comes upon the Assyrian army in the very hour of prosperity, while unscathed and complete in numbers (2 Kings 19:32-33). Pass away: so in Psalms 48 (a composition generally thought to refer to this very catastrophe), "For lo, the kings were assembled: they passed away together."

Verses 12-15. - § 4. The destruction of Nineveh is emphatically announced, and Zion is depicted as rejoicing at the news of its ruin, and celebrating her feasts in safety. Verse 12. - Thus saith the lord. An expression used to introduce a solemn declaration. Though they (the Assyrians) be quiet. Shalem has this meaning elsewhere, as Genesis 34:21; but this is unsuitable here, where it must be translated, "in full strength," "unimpaired," "complete," like the thorn hedge in ver. 10. Vulgate, Si perfecti fuerint. Though they be unbroken in strength, and likewise (on that account) many in number. Septuagint, Τάδε λέγει Κύριος κατάρχων ὑδάτων πολλῶν, "Thus saith the Lord, ruling over many waters." So the Syriac and Arabic. Jerome interprets "the waters" to mean the heavenly powers (Psalm 148:4). Yet thus (though such is their state) shall they be cut down. The verb is used of the mowing of a fold or the shearing of sheep, and implies complete destruction. When he shall pass through; better, and he shall pass away. The number is changed, but the same persons are meant, spoken of as one to show their insignificance and complete annihilation. Septuagint "Thus shall they be dispersed [διασταλήσουται: dividentur, Jerome], and the report of thee shall no more be heard therein." The following clause is not translated. Though I have afflicted thee. The Lord addresses Judah, referring to the oppression of Judaea by the Assyriaus in the times of Ahaz and Hezekiah (2 Kings 16:18; 2 Chronicles 28:20, etc.; 32.). I will afflict thee no more; according to the promise in ver. 9. This is further confirmed in what follows.

1:9-15 There is a great deal plotted against the Lord by the gates of hell, and against his kingdom in the world; but it will prove in vain. With some sinners God makes quick despatch; and one way or other, he will make an utter end of all his enemies. Though they are quiet, and many very secure, and not in fear, they shall be cut down as grass and corn, when the destroying angel passes through. God would hereby work great deliverance for his own people. But those who make themselves vile by scandalous sins, God will make vile by shameful punishments. The tidings of this great deliverance shall be welcomed with abundant joy. These words are applied to the great redemption wrought out by our Lord Jesus and the everlasting gospel, Ro 10:15. Christ's ministers are messengers of good tidings, that preach peace by Jesus Christ. How welcome to those who see their misery and danger by sin! And the promise they made in the day of trouble must be made good. Let us be thankful for God's ordinances, and gladly attend them. Let us look forward with cheerful hope to a world where the wicked never can enter, and sin and temptation will no more be known.Thus saith the Lord, though they be quiet, and likewise many,.... The Assyrian army under Sennacherib before Jerusalem, though they were quiet and secure and thought themselves out of all danger; not at all fearing that the besieged would sally out against them they being so numerous, and therefore betook themselves to sleep and rest:

yet thus shall they be cut down; or "shorn" (l); as the wool is shorn off the back of a sheep with sheers; or grass or corn is mowed with a scythe; or else as the hair of a man's head and beard are shaved with a razor; which sometimes was done, not only in a way of ignominy and contempt, as David's servants were served by Hanun, 2 Samuel 10:4; but as a token of servitude; hence those words of the poet (m),

"after thou art a servant, dost thou let thy hair grow?''

upon which it is observed (n), that it belongs to freemen to let the hair grow; and so the philosopher says (o), to let the hair grow, or to nourish it, is commendable with a Lacedemonian, for it is a sign of liberty; for it is not for him who lets his hair grow to do any servile work; and it was usual with conquerors to shave the conquered, and such as were carried captives (p), which some think is referred to in Deuteronomy 32:42; and render the latter clause of that verse,

"and there shall be captivity, by reason of the head of nakedness of the enemy;''

that is, there should be captives whose heads should be made bare, or shaved by the enemy the conqueror (q); hence the king of Assyria, when a conqueror, is compared to a sharp razor, that should shave the head, and feet, and beard, even all sorts of people, Isaiah 7:20; but now he and his army should be shaved themselves; that is, conquered, slain, or taken captives, and become slaves, and treated with contempt; all which may be taken into the sense of this phrase, and serve to illustrate it:

when he shall pass through; when the angel should pass through the camp of the Assyrians, then were they cut down by him in great numbers, a hundred and fourscore and five thousand slain at once, 2 Kings 19:35;

though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more: or "any longer" (r); though the Lord had afflicted the people of the Jews by the Assyrian king, the rod of his anger, again and again, yet after this he would afflict them no more by him; for otherwise they were afflicted afterwards, yet not by the Assyrians, but by the Babylonians, Syrians, and Romans, Some understand this, as before, of the Ninevites and Assyrians, that should be utterly destroyed at once, and their affliction should not be a second time; see Nahum 1:9; so Abarbinel: or, "I will not hear thee any more" (s); as he did formerly, when they repented at the preaching of Jonah.

(l) "tonsi", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (m) Aristophanes in Avibus, p. 584. (n) Scholia Graec. in ib. (o) Aristotel. Rhetor. l. 1. c. 9. (p) "Tonsa comas imo Barathri claudere recessu", Claudian in Ruffin. l. 1. prope finem. Vid. Barthium in ib. (q) Lydius de Re Militari, l. 6. c. 6. p. 237. (r) "non ultra", Pagninus, Montanus; "non amplius", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius. (s) "non exaudiam te amplius", Burkius.

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