Imágenes de páginas

not deliver; and that which thou deliverest 16 I For the statutes of "Omri are kept, will I give up to the sword.

and all the works of the house of Ahab, 15 Thou shalt "sow, but thou shalt not and ye walk in their counsels; that I should reap; thou shalt tread the olives, but thou make thee a 'desolation, and the inhabitants shalt not anoint thee with oil; and sweet thereof an hissing: therefore ye shall bear wine, but shalt not drink wine.

the reproach of my people. 14 Deut. 28. 38. Hag. 1. 6. 15 Or, ha doth much keep the, &c. 18 1 Kings 16. 25, 26. 17 1 Kings 16. 30, &c. 18 Or, astonishment.

Verse 7. “ Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,” &c.—We may refer the reader back to the considerations on human sacrifice stated under Jer. xx. 5; where we have supposed that the horrid custom originated in the impression that the life of the most valuable creature must needs be most acceptable to the gods. This verse announces a principle of the practice-a reason for it-not distinct from, nor adverse to, that which we have considered, but connected with and involved in it. We are told that such sacrifices were sometimes intended to be expiatory-were sacrifices of atonement. A father offered his first-born, or his other children, for his transgression-for the sin of his soul. No one conversant with the principles and practice of heathenism can be unaware that common animal sacrifices were often regarded as expiatory. In the heathen poets, the gods are continually requiring from particular persons, or bodies of men, sacrifices at their shrines, to appease their anger and atone for offences committed against them: and in these and other ancient writings, where a person sees cause to fear that by some act he has incurred the displeasure of some god, he hastens, as soon as he can, to offer a sacrifice to appease the incensed deity. This being the case, it follows, on the principle alleged in the previous note, that when men became familiar with human sacrifices, the life most precious to the offerer himself was deemed to furnish the most acceptable and prevailing atonement for his offences. And. to a father, the most precious lives were those of his children; and of his children, that of the first-born above all. And as even men the most besotted in superstition could not, we should suppose, be induced frequently to offer such costly sacrifices without a powerful constraining motive, we may perhaps believe that when we read of such sacrifices, we are always to understand them rather as sacrifices of atonement than as free-will offerings. This might be clearer if our information were more complete: but the ancient writers, and the moderns also, usually mention the custom in general terms. without stating on what principle it proceeded : but when they happen to do so, it generally proves that the horrid sacrifice was made to pacify an incensed god, or to atone for the past offences of a nation, city, family, or individual. Indeed it is surprising to what an extent this principle has operated, among nations in every respect most different from each other, not merely in the East, but also in America and the regions of the Northern Sea. To illustrate this, one or two examples may suffice. When we learn from Eusebius that the Phænicians sacrificed children once a year to Saturn, may we not, under the view suggested by the prophet, understand that the day on whico this was done had a similar object with the Day of Atonement among the Hebrews; and that the design of the horrid rites then performed was to atone for the offences of the past year? The famous sacrifice of Iphigenia, with the consent of her father, seems a very striking illustration of the subject, if taken in the version of Æschylus. The sacrifice was avowedly one of expiation—to atone for the offence which the goddess avenged by tempests and contrary winds, which kept the Argive Heet from sailing. The victim was her demand ; and nothing is more instructive as to the real character of such transactions than the grief and horror which the demand inspired, and which attended and followed the consummation. From this we may gather, that the offerers might, as is alleged, consider it a duty to seem cheerful, and even joyous, but that their real feelings were agonized and their hearts rent at the inevitable necessity which their "dark idólatries " lay upon them. In this instance the father did not, as the mother bitterly alleges that he did,

“Think no more his tender child to spare Than a young lamb from fleecy pastures torn

From out the midst of his unnumber'd sheep." But rather, when the prophet announced the fatal demand, "The sons of Atreus, starting from their thrones,

My child, the idol-treasure of my house! Dash'd to the ground their sceptres, nor withheld

Must I, her father, all bedabbled o'er
The bursting tears that dew'd their warrior cheeks ; In streaming rivers of her virgin gore,
And thus exclaiming spoke the elder king:

Stand by the altar with polluted hands ?
.O heavy, fatal doom! to disoley!

O woe! woe! woe!
O heavy, fatal doom! my child to slay !

Where shall I turn me?'

Agamemnon.-SYMMONS. The whole of this powerful tragedy is most instructive, as to the ideas, feelings, and practices connected with such sacrifices as the inspired prophet mentions: but we cannot advert to them further, or refer to the other examples which press upon our recollection.

gleanings of the vintage: there is no clus. CHAPTER VII.

ter to eat: my soul desired the firstripe I The church, complaining of her small number, 3

fruit. and the general corruption, 5 putteth her confi- 2 The 'Sgood man is perished out of the dence not in man, but in God. 8 She triumpheth earth: and there is none upright among over her enemies. 14 God comforteth her by promises, 16 by confusion of the enemies, 18 and by hunt every man his brother with a net.

men: they all lie in wait for blood; they his mercies.

3.1 That they may do evil with both Woe is me! for I am as 'when they have hands earnestly, the prince asketh, and the gathered the summer fruits, as the grape- judge asketh for a reward; and the great I Heb. the zu:herings of summer.

3 Or, godly, or, merciful.

l'sal. 12. 1. Isa. 57. I.


man, he uttereth his mischievous desire : so thee from Assyria, "and from the fortified they wrap it up.

cities, and from the fortress even to the 4 The best of them is a brier : the most river, and from sea to sea, and from mounupright is sharper than a thorn hedge: the tain to mountain. day of thy watchmen and thy visitation 13 "Notwithstanding the land shall be cometh: now shall be their perplexity. desolate because of them that dwell therein,

5 Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not for the fruit of their doings. confidence in a guide: keep the doors of 14 "Feed thy people with thy rod, the thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bo- flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily som.

in the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let 6 For 'the son dishonoureth the father, them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the the daughter riseth up against her mother, days of old. the daughter in law against her mother in 15 According to the days of thy coming law; a man's enemies are the men of his own out of the land of Egypt will I shew unto house.

him marvellous things. 7 Therefore I will look unto the LORD; 1 16 9 The nations shall see and be conwill wait for the God of my salvation: my founded at all their might: they shall lay God will hear me.

their hand upon their mouth, their ears shall 8 Rejoice not against me, O mine ene- be deat. my: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in 17 They shall lick the dust like a serdarkness, the LORD shall be a light unto pent, they shall move out of their holes like

Tóworms of the earth : they shall be afraid of 9 I will bear the indignation of the Lord, the LORD our God, and shall fear because because I have sinned against him, until he of thee. plead my cause, and execute judgment for 18 Who is a God like unto thee, that me: he will bring me forth to the light, and "pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the I shall behold his righteousness.

transgression of the remnant of his heritage ? 10 "Then she that is mine enemy shall he retaineth not his anger for ever, because see it, and shame shall cover her which said he delighteth in mercy. unto me, "Where is the LORD thy God? 19 He will turn again, he will have commine eyes shall behold her: now "shall she passion upon us; he will subdue our iniquibe trodden down as the mire of the streets. ties; and thou wilt cast all their sins into

Il In the day that thy 'walls are to be the depths of the sea. built, in that day shall the decree be far re- 20 Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, moved.

and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast 12 In that day also he shall come even to sworn unto our fathers from the days of old. • Hebthe mischief of his soul,

• Or, And thou will see her that is mine enemy, and

cover her with shame. 7 Psal 19. 10, and 115.2. Joel 2. 17. 8 Heb. she shall be for a freading down.

11 Or, After that it hath been. 14 Or, rule. 13 Psal. 72. 9. ** Or, creeping things Verse 1, " My soul desired the firstripe fruit.”—From a note on this by Sir John Chardin, quoted by Harmer, from his MS.. he appears to have thought it might be illustrated by the fact that the Turks and Persians are remarkably fond of eating their fruits as soon as they approach to ripeness, and before they are perfectly ripe ; this being more particularly true of the Persians, who eat almonds, melons, plums, &c. before they are ripe ; and that with less injurious consequences than may be imagined -perhaps from the great dryness of their atmosphere. To this we may add, as helping to explain the frequent allusions in Scripture to the eating of fruit, that the Orientals, when fruits are in Leason, consume such enormous quantities as would astonish an Englishman, who probably does not consume in a whole month as much crude fruit as a Persian will eat in a single day.

4. Brier.”—The original word (p chedek) is translated" thorn” in Prov. xv. 19, where the words Da PT. chedtek mesuku, occur in juxta-position, but are separated in the passage before us. They intimate to us that it was sometimes the practice to make fences of some thorny shrub, to check the progress of aggressors. Among the most thorny shrubs found in Palestine are the Paliurus aculeatus and the Zizyphus spina Christi, either of which, if used as 8 rampart for defence, would answer the purpose, as the thorns are sharp and hooked, and the branches long and pliant, so as to catch hold and stick to the clothes and body in the most painful and vexatious manner possible. These two shrubs, as has been said on other occasions, belong to the natural order or family Rhamnce, of which the type is the buckthorn of our hedges.

* Matt. 10. 21, 35. 36. Luke 12. 63.

Amos 9. 11, &e. 10 Or, even to.

15 Exod. 31. 6,7.



[ocr errors]


and who can 'abide in the fierceness of his

anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and The majesty of God in goodness to his people, and the rocks are thrown down by him. severity against his enemies.

7 The Lord is good, a 'strong hold in the day of trouble, and he knoweth them

that trust in him. HE bur- 8 But with an overrunning flood he will den of Ni- make an utter end of the place thereof, and neveh. The darkness shall pursue his enemies. book of the 9 What do ye imagine against the LORD? vision of he will make an utter end: affliction shall Nahum the not rise up the second time. Elkoshite. 10 For while they be folden together as

2 'God thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkis 'jealous, ards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully and

the dry. LORD

re- 11 There is one come out of thee, that vengeth; imagineth evil against the LORD, 'a wicked the LORD counsellor. revengeth, 12 Thus saith the LORD; Though they

and is fu- be quiet, and likewise many, yet thus shall rious; the LORD will take vengeance on his they be 'cut down, when he shall pass adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his through. Though I have afflicted thee, I enemies.

will afflict thee no more. 3 The LORD is 'slow to anger, and great 13 For now will I break his yoke from off in power, and will not at all acquit the thee, and will burst thy bonds in sunder. wicked: the Lord hath his way in the whirl- 14 And the Lord hath given a commandwind and in the storm, and the clouds are ment concerning thee, that no more of thy the dust of his feet.

name be sown: out of the house of thy gods 4 He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it will I cut off the graven image and the moldry, and drieth up all the rivers : Bashan ten image: I will make thy grave; for thou languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of art vile. Lebanon languisheth.

15 Behold upon the mountains the feet 5 The mountains quake at him, and the of him that bringeth good tidings, that pubhills melt, and the earth is burned at his lisheth peace! Ở Judah, "keep thy solemn presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked therein.

shall no more pass through thee; he is ut6 Who can stand before his indignation ? | terly cut off. 1 Or, The LORD is a jealous God, and a revenger, &c. * Exod. 90.5. 3 Heb. that hath fury. • Exod. 34. 6, 7. * Heb. stand up

* Or, strength.

7 Heb. & counsellor of Belial. Or, if they would have been at peace, so should they have been many, and so should they have

been shorn, and he should have passed away. 10 Isa. 52. 7. Rom. 10. 15.

11 Heb. Jeast. Nahux.—This prophet is described in the first verse as the “Elkoshite," but it has been disputed whether this des cription is derived from his parentage or the place of his birth. The latter seems the most probable conclusion. Jerome says that there was in his days a village called Helkesi. It was so much fallen to ruin that the traces of the old buildings could scarcely be distinguished ; but it was known to the Jews, and was shown to him by one who went about the country with him. This was in Galilee ; and if this was the birth-place of Nahum, another instance is offered, in addition to that of Jonah, that the Jews were in the wrong in alleging that “ Out of Galilee ariseth no prophet."

The prophecy of Nahum, which entirely relates to the judgment of God against Assyria, contains strong internal evidence of being written between the subversion of the kingdoin of Israel and the destruction of Nineveh, with the


9 Heb. shorn.

18 Heb. Belial

overthrow of the proud empire of which that city was the metropolis. The particular time in this long interval is legg easily determined: but probability seems in favour of its being placed rather in the early than in the latter part; if not very soon, or immediately, after the desolation of Israel. The style of Nahum is thus characterized by Bishop Lowth:-- None of the minor prophets seem to equal Nahum in boldness, ardour, and sublimity. His prophecy too forms a regular and perfect poem ; the exordium is not merely magnificent, it is truly majestic: the preparation for the destruction of Nineveh, and the description of its downfal and desolation, are expressed in the most lively colours, and are bold and luminous in the highest degree.”

Verse 10. While they are drunken...they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry.”—In the ancient writers there is con siderable discrepancy with respect to the names of the persons who acted the more prominent parts in that last scene of Assyrian history which is the subject of the present prophecy. They however substantially agree, in the circumslances of that great event, with one another, and with the inspired prophets. And as the circumstances are alone mentioned by the latter. without any names being given, and as circumstantial corroborations are of the most interest and importance, we shall limit our notices to thein, without opening any discussion about the names of the principal persons. We shall follow the account of Diodorus, which is not only the most complete and connected which remains to us, but is proved to be generally accurate by the remarkable illustration which it affords to, and receives from, the prophecies of Scripture.

In the present verse the prophet intimates that a great destruction should befal the Assyrians while they were in a condition of drunkenness. Accordingly, Diodorus informs us, that on the advance of the allied forces of the Medes and Babylonians, the king of Assyria marched against them, and obtained signal victories over them in three successive battles. The revolted tributaries began to think of abandoning their enterprise in despair, when they received Dews of the advance of a powerful army out of Bactria, to the king's assistance. This force. after some parleying, they succeeded in persuading to make common cause with themselves, against the king whom they came to assist. Meanwhile the Assyrian monarch, ignorant of the revolt of the Bactrians, and elated by his former successes, abandoned himselt to revelry and sloth, and was chiefly intent on preparing wine and victuals in abundance to feast his army. The allied revolters, being apprised by deserters of the intemperance and security of the adverse army, attacked their camp suddenly, in the night, in the midst of their revelry and drunkenness ; and being in excellent order, while the camp was in the most disordered and helpless condition imaginable, and altogether unprovided for defence, they easily broke into the camp. and made a prodigious slaughter of the Assyrians. The survivors were glad to escape with their king into the city. As this was the first great blow, in these closing transactions, which the Assyrians received --and was indeed the severest of all that preceded the final overthrow-we may reasonably conclude it to ce the same event to which the prophet refers.

41 lions,

shall lead her as with the voice of doves, taCHAPTER II.

bering upon their breasts. The fearful and victorious armies of God against 8 But Nineveh is "of old like a pool of Nineveh.

water : yet they shall flee away. Stand, 'He that dasheth in pieces is come up be- stand, shall they cry; but none shall 'look fore thy face: keep the munition, watch the back. way, make thy loins strong, fortify thy power 9 Take ye the spoil of silver, take the inightily.

spoil of gold: "for there is none end of the Ž 'For the LORD hath turned away *the store and glory out of all the ''pleasant furexcellency of Jacob, as the excellency of Is- niture. rael: for the emptiers have emptied them 10 She is empty, and void, and waste : out, and marred their vine branches. and the heart melteth, and the knees smite

3 The shield of his mighty men is made together, and much pain is in all loins, and red, the valiant men are 'in scarlet : the the faces of them all gather blackness. the day of his preparation, and the fir trees and the feedingplace of the young lions, shall be terribly shaken.

where the lion, even the old lion, walked, 4 The chariots shall rage in the streets, and the lion's whelp, and none made them they shall justle one against another in the afraid ? broad

ways: 'they shall seem like torches, 12 The lion did tear in pieces enough for they shall run like the lightnings.

his whelps, and strangled for his lionesses, 5 He shall recount his 'worthies : they and filled his holes with prey, and his dens shall stumble in their walk; they shall make with ravin. haste to the wall thereof, and the defence 13 Behold, I am against thee, saith the shall be prepared

LORD of hosts, and I will burn her chariots 6 The gates of the rivers shall be opened, in the smoke, and the sword shall devour and the palace shall be dissolved.

thy young lions: and I will cut off thy prey 7 And Huzzab shall be "led away cap- from the earth, and the voice of thy messentive, she shall be brought up, and her maids gers shall no more be heard. 101, The disperser, or, hammer.

3 Or, the pride of Jacob as the pride of Israel. * Or, dyed scarlet. 5 Or, fiery torches. 16 Or, Thnt which was established, or, there was a stand made.

1% Or, from the days that she hath been

is Heb. vessels of desire. VOL JIL


2 Isa. 10. 12.
& Heb, their shoro. 7 Or, gallants. 8 Hel. covering, or, coverer.

11 Or, discovered.
13 Or, cause them to turn. I* Or, and their infinite store, &c.

Or, molten.

18 Isa. 13. 7, 8.

2 Q

Verse 5. The defence shull be prepared.” – In this and the two preceding verses, we have a very animated description of the preparations for defence. In like manner we find the defensive preparations particularly mentioned by Divdorus. When the king found himselt shut up within the walls of the town, he was by no means discouraged, int took the most active and well-advised measures for the defence. The town was well stored with necessaries, and the lofty and strong walls seemed to defy any force the besiegers could bring to bear agairist them. Yet not feeliog too confident or secure, the king sent off' a great part of his treasures, together with his children, to the care of his intimate friend Cotta, the governor of Paphlagonia ; and despatched posts into all the provinces of the kingdom, to raise soldiers and procure every possible assistance. Having thus marle every arrangement for the defence which prudence or courage could suggest. the king resolved to abide the siege till the expected aid from the provinces should arrive. So well were his measures taken, and such the strength and resources of the place, that n. thing of any consequence was effected for two years by the besiegers, beyond the keeping the besieged confined to the city, and making some abortive assaults upon the walls. But the end came at last, and in the manner which the prophet repeatedly declares.

6. The gates of the river shall be opened.”—Compare this with ch. i. 8. Both passages mark very distinctly the agency of an inundation in opening the way to the besiegers of Nineveh. And most remarkably was this accumplished. We are told by Diodorus that in his plans for the defence of the city, the king of Assyria was greatly encouraged by an ancient prophecy, That Ninereh should nerer be taken until the rirer became its enemy. But that after the allied revolters had besieged the city for two years without effect, there occurred a prodigious inundation of the Tigris, when the stream overflowed its banks, and rose up to the city and swept away about twenty furlongs of its great wall, When the king heard this expected fulfilment of the old prediction. he was filled with consternation and despair: he gaie up all for lost ; and that he might not fall into the hands of his enemies, he caused a large pile of wood to be raised in his palace, and heaping thereon all his gold, silver, and apparel, and collecting his eunuchs and concubines, caused the pile to be set on fire, whereby all these persons, with himself, his treasures, and his palace, were utterly consumed. - It claims to be noticed that the prophet mentions fire, as well as water, among the agents employed in the destruction of Nineveh (ch. iii. 13. 15).

As Diodorus does not specify the time of the year in which the inundation of the Tigris took place, we are ieit in doubt hy which of the causes which still periodically operate in swelling its stream, and which sometimes occasion it to overflow its bank in particular places, it was produced. In autumn it is swollen by rains, and in spring by the melting of the snows in the mountains of Armenia. As the latter cause, more abundantly than the former

, replenishes the channel of the river, and more frequently occasions inundations, it was probably by this that the proud walls of No neveh were thrown down. A similar circumstance occurred a few years since to the greatest city, Bagdad, that now exists on the same river. While the inhabitants were expecting a siege, the river overflowed its banks, producing one of the most extensive and destructive river-inundations that history records. In one night a large part of the city wall, with a great numer of the houses, were overthrown by the irruption of the waters, thousands of the sleeping inhabitants being overwhelmed in the ruins. In this case, however, the extent of the inundation around the city, and the length of time which it took to subside, allowed opportunity for the repair of the wall before the hostile army could approach.

7. Huzzab.”—This word (287) has been very differently understood. Of the numerous alternatives which have been suggested the following are the principal:--The queen of Nineveh ; Nineveh itself represented as a queen; a female idol; the warriors; the host; the foundation ; the fortress, &c. These diversities are obtained by alterations in, or additions to the present reading; by derivations from different roots; and by reading in a different connection ; as well as by different apprehensions of the word as it stands. The interpretation - fortress," which Newcome and Boothroyd prefer, requires the word to end verse 6 rather than to begin verse 7 ; and the last clause of the former and the first of the latter will then read thus: “ The palace shall be dissolved, und the fortress. She shall be led away cap tive,” &c. As we are strongly persuaded that verse 7 describes Nineveh as a captive queen brought before the conqueros, we do not object to the interpretation we have quoted, since it disposes of the doubtful word in verse 6, and leaves this conclusion open for verse 7, where we suppose a new circumstance to be taken up, only connected generally with the preceding verse. The present description may then be understood to represent Nineveh as a queen (or, if we will, the queen of Nineveh), led before the conqueror, attended by her maidens, who are described as mourning like doves and smiting upon their breasts. The act of smiting is strongly expressed, as in our version, by “tabering," from the action of a performer on the tabret. This remarkable expression has been duly noticed by various expositors, who have however overlooked two circumstances which add to the force of the allusion,- one is, that tambourines are used exclusively by females in the East; and the other, that such are the instruments employed by the women who wail for the dead.

9. Take ye the spoil of silver ... of gold.—Diodorus describes the conquerors of Nineveh as greatly enriched by the spoils of gold and silver, collected from the ashes of the funeral pile and the rubbish of the burnt palace of the Assyrian king.


of their corpses; they stumble upon their

corpses : The miserable ruin of Nineveh.

4 Because of the multitude of the whoreWoe to the bloody city! it is all full of doms of the wellfavoured harlot, the mistress lies and robbery : the prey departeth not; of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through

2 The noise of a whip, and the noise of her whoredoms, and families through her the rattling of the wheels, and of the prans

prans- witchcrafts. ing horses, and of the jumping chariots. 5 Behold, I am against thee, saith the

3 The horseman lifteth up both the Lord of hosts; and I will discover thy skirts bright sword and the glittering spear; and upon thy face, and I will shew the nations there is a multitude of slain, and a great thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy number of carcases; and there is none end shame. 1 Heb. city of Iloods. 3 Heb. the flame of the sword, and the lightning of the

Isa. 47. 3. Ezek. 16. 37

* Ezek. 24. 9. Hab. 2. 12.


« AnteriorContinuar »