Nahum 2 - Outline of Nahum (Book Notes menu page)
III. The LORD's Action against Nineveh, Nahum 2:1-13
1. Her Defence is Futile. 2:1,2
2. Her Destruction is Detailed 2:3-9
3. Her Desolation is Permanent 2:10-13
1. He that dasheth in pieces is come up before thy face:
keep the munition, watch the way, make [thy] loins strong, fortify [thy] power mightily.
2 For the LORD hath turned away the excellency of Jacob, as the excellency of Israel:
for the emptiers have emptied them out, and marred their vine branches.
'He that dasheth in pieces' refers to the Medo-Babylonian forces, which destroyed Nineveh in 612 BC,
under the leadership of Cyaxerxes and Nabopolassar (the father of Nebuchadnezzar). The LORD used Babylon as His instrument of judgment upon surrounding nations, including Assyria (eg., Jer 25:9; Hab 1:5-11).
...keep the munition... fortify thy power...-
In the face of Babylonian aggression, Assyria is warned to prepare their defenses. Yet, their most thorough preparations would be futile, because the LORD was determined to destroy them completely (Nah 1:14).
...for the LORD hath turned away the excellency of Jacob... the emptiers have emptied them out...-
Here is the cause for Assyria's judgment. The LORD had used them as His instrument to judge Israel (to break the branches of His 'vine,' Isa 5:1-7). But Assyria's disregard for the LORD, and the atrocities, which they committed against Israel, demanded justice (Isa 10:5-15). The remainder of Isaiah ch.10 looks to the future destruction of 'the Assyrian' (the Antichrist) during the future Day of the LORD.
3 The shield of his mighty men is made red, the valiant men [are] in scarlet:
the chariots [shall be] with flaming torches in the day of his preparation,
and the fir trees shall be terribly shaken.
4 The chariots shall rage in the streets,
they shall justle one against another in the broad ways:
they shall seem like torches, they shall run like the lightnings. scarlet...-
Mentioned, here, in the context of preparation for war, these colors are not referring to the bloody result of battle. The Babylonian army used the color red, on shields and uniforms, to heighten their opponents' sense of fear. (See Eze 23:14, where Judah was impressed by their uniforms. 'Vermilion' is an intense scarlet red.)
...chariots... with flaming torches... rage in the streets... jostle one against another...
The Assyrians were on the cutting edge of chariot warfare technology. Torches made them ready for night battle.
     They would intentionally drive their chariots to jostle against the side of an opponent's chariot, in order to break the opponent's wheel, with blades which protruded from the sides of their own wheels.
     Contrary to the claims of some sensationalist prophecy teachers, verse 4 has nothing to do with modern automobiles in bumper to bumper traffic. This is a description of chariot combat on the streets of Nineveh's suburbs, as the Babylonian forces advanced toward the wall of the city.
...the fir trees shall be... shaken...
This probably refers to the rattling of wooden weapons, such as spears, clubs and arrows.
5 He shall recount his worthies: they shall stumble in their walk;
they shall make haste to the wall thereof, and the defence shall be prepared.
6 The gates of the rivers shall be opened, and the palace shall be dissolved.
7 And Huzzab shall be led away captive, she shall be brought up,
and her maids shall lead [her] as with the voice of doves, tabering upon their breasts.
8 But Nineveh [is] of old like a pool of water: yet they shall flee away.
Stand, stand, [shall they cry]; but none shall look back.
9 Take ye the spoil of silver, take the spoil of gold:
for [there is] none end of the store [and] glory out of all the pleasant furniture.
he shall recount his worthies...
As the battle rages outside the city wall, the Assyrian king calls for and receives reports and counsel from generals and noblemen.
But 'they shall stumble...' Their strategy will fail, and the course of battle will go against them.
...they shall make haste to the wall...
They will rush to the wall in response to a trouble report, and to ensure that their defenses are still in place. But they will be disheartened by what they see.
...the gates of the rivers shall be opened...
According to the Greek historian, Diodorus Siculus, the siege of Nineveh was at a time of unusually heavy rains, which flooded the Tigris River and a smaller tributary which flowed through the city. The flooding undermined a section of the city wall, which collapsed, allowing the Babylonian soldiers entrance to the city.
...and the palace shall be dissolved {lit., caused to melt}...
Upon recognizing that the city had fallen, the king of Nineveh, Sardinopolis, gathered his wives and treasures to himself, into the palace, and burned it down upon them (considering that a better fate than to fall into his enemy's hands).
...and Huzzab shall be led away captive...
Huzzab {'that which stands,' from HB=natsab, to stand} is used here as a derogatory name for Nineveh, which considered itself an impregnable city. Her people would be led away as captives, 'with the voice of doves' {ie., 'mourning' as the 'mourning doves'} and 'tabering' {ie., beating, drumming} upon their chests in the agony of defeat.
...Nineveh is as a pool of water...
The city is flooded by the river... and the soldiers, like water, unable to stand, 'flee away.'
...Stand, stand, shall they cry...
Assyrian commanders shout orders to their men to hold their ground. But they flee, without looking back. It is every man for himself... and the city falls.
...take ye the spoil... there is no end of the store and glory...
Assyria had accumulated wealth beyond measure, by means of its conquests of surrounding nations, including Israel, and also due to the taxation of subjugated nations, including Judah. According to Diodorus Siculus, the treasures of Nineveh were divided between the Medes and the Babylonians.
10 She is empty, and void, and waste:
and the heart melteth, and the knees smite together,
and much pain [is] in all loins, and the faces of them all gather blackness.
With the city spoiled and in ruins, the Assyrian survivors tremble in terror for the fate that awaits them. The Assyrians, who were known and hated for their mistreatment of the peoples they conquered, cowered in dreadful anticipation that they would be treated with the same brutality.
11. Where [is] the dwelling of the lions, and the feedingplace of the young lions,
where the lion, [even] the old lion, walked, [and] the lion's whelp,
and none made [them] afraid?
12 The lion did tear in pieces enough for his whelps, and strangled for his lionesses,
and filled his holes with prey, and his dens with ravin.
Where is the dwelling of the lions...?
The lion was a symbol of Assyrian power. Lions were prolifically depicted on stone monuments and in wall engravings. But now, the 'young lions' (its soldiers) lay slain. The lions' den (Nineveh), which had once enriched itself through the destruction of other nations, was no where to be found. In fact, Nineveh was so thoroughly destroyed, that its exact location was not positively identified until exploratory excavations in 1850 AD.
13 Behold, I [am] against thee, saith the LORD of hosts,
and I will burn her chariots in the smoke,
and the sword shall devour thy young lions:
and I will cut off thy prey from the earth,
and the voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard.
Behold, I am against thee... I will burn... I will cut off...- (also see Nah 3:5,6)
The destruction of Nineveh was the work of the LORD, not as men might see it, the work of Babylon.
So it was, when He slew the Assyrian army that threatened Jerusalem, in Hezekiah's day.
So, it will be when He slays the Assyrian, in the Day of the LORD (Isa 31:8,9).
...I will burn her chariots in {ie., into} smoke...-
God's people are comforted by His work of judgment upon their enemies. Psa 46:8-11
...the voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard...
Not long after Assyria had taken captive the northern kingdom of Israel, the messengers of Nineveh had reproached the LORD, at Jerusalem. 2Kin 19:22,23; 2Chr 32:9-19
     Although the LORD God of Israel had been merciful to Nineveh, and had sent His messenger, Jonah, they had rejected the light which they had previously received, and turned against Him. There was nothing left for them but darkness (Nah 1:8,9; Mat 6:23).
...I am against thee, saith the LORD of hosts...
There is no standing against Him.
The fall of Nineveh provides a preview of the LORD's wrath in the Day of the LORD, when He will judge the nations that have come against His people Israel. Jer 51:20,24-25; Eze 38:3; 39:1

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