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not deliver; and that which thou deliverest will I give up to the sword.

15 Thou shalt "sow, but thou shalt not reap; thou shalt tread the olives, but thou shalt not anoint thee with oil; and sweet wine, but shalt not drink wine.

16 For "the statutes of "Omri are kept, and all the works of the house of "Ahab, and ye walk in their counsels; that I should make thee a "desolation, and the inhabitants thereof an hissing: therefore ye shall bear the reproach of my people.

15 Or, he doth much keep the, &c.

16 1 Kings 16. 25, 26. 171 Kings 16. 30, &c. 18 Or, astonishment.

14 Deut. 28. 38. Hag. 1. 6. 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 Phoenicians sacrificed children once a year to Saturn, may we not, under the view suggested by the prophet, understand that the day on whica 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 Eschylus. 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 fleet 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 idolatries" 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,

Dash'd to the ground their sceptres, nor withheld
The bursting tears that dew'd their warrior cheeks;
And thus exclaiming spoke the elder king:

'O heavy, fatal doom! to disobey!

O heavy, fatal doom! my child to slay!

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.

CHAPTER VII.

I The church, complaining of her small number, 3 and the general corruption, 5 putteth her confidence not in man, but in God. 8 She triumpheth over her enemies. 14 God comforteth her by pro

mises, 16 by confusion of the enemies, 18 and by

his mercies.

My child, the idol-treasure of my house!
Must I, her father, all bedabbled o'er
In streaming rivers of her virgin gore,
Stand by the altar with polluted hands?
O woe! woe! woe!
Where shall I turn me?'"

WOE is me! for I am as 'when they have gathered the summer fruits, as the grape

1 Heb. the gatherings of summer.

gleanings of the vintage: there is no cluster to eat my soul desired the firstripe fruit.

2 The ''good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among hunt every man his brother with a net. men: they all lie in wait for blood; they

3 That they may do evil with both hands earnestly, the prince asketh, and the judge asketh for a reward; and the great

Or, godly, or, merciful.

Psal. 12. 1. Isa. 57. 1.

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18 Who is a God like unto thee, that "pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.

19 He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

20 Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.

Heb. the mischief of his soul. 5 Matt. 10. 21, 35. 36. Luke 12. 53. • Or, And thou wilt see her that is mine enemy, and cover her with shame. 7 Psal 79. 10, and 115. 2. Joel 2. 17. 8 Heb. she shall be for a treading down. 9 Amos 9. 11, &c. 10 Or, even to. 11 Or, After that it hath been. 12 Or, rule. 13 Psal. 72. 9. 14 Or, creeping things. 15 Exod. 34. 6, 7.

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 season, 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 (chedek) is translated “thorn" in Prov. xv. 19, where the words

chedtek mesuka, 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 a 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 Rhamned, of which the type is the buckthorn of our hedges.

NA HUM.

CHAPTER I.

and who can "abide in the fierceness of his

are

The majesty of God in goodness to his people, and anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and by him. 7 The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.

severity against his enemies.

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T

HE burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite. 2 God is jealous, and the LORD vengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his

re

enemies.

3 The LORD is 'slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.

4 He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth.

5 The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell

therein.

6 Who can stand before his indignation?

8 But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies.

9 What do ye imagine against the LORD? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time.

10 For while they be folden together as thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry.

11 There is one come out of thee, that imagineth evil against the LORD, 'a wicked counsellor.

12 Thus saith the LORD; "Though they be quiet, and likewise many, yet thus shall they be cut down, when he shall pass through. Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more.

13 For now will I break his yoke from off thee, and will burst thy bonds in sunder.

14 And the LORD hath given a commandment concerning thee, that no more of thy name be sown out of the house of thy gods will I cut off the graven image and the molten image: I will make thy grave; for thou art vile.

15 Behold upon the "mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, "keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.

Exod. 20.5.

1 Or, The LORD is a jealous God, and a revenger, &c. 3 Heb. that hath fury. 4 Exod. 34. 6, 7. 5 Heb. stand up. Or, strength. 7 Heb. a 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. 9 Heb. shorn. 10 Isa. 52. 7. Rom. 10. 15. 11 Heb. feast. 12 Heb. Belial

NAHUM.-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 kingdom of Israel and the destruction of Nineveh, with the

overthrow of the proud empire of which that city was the metropolis. The particular time in this long interval is less 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 circumstances 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 them, 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 news 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 be the same event to which the prophet refers.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

1 Or, The disperser, or, hammer.

Jacob as the pride of Israel. Or, dyed scarlet. 5 Or, fiery torches.
8 Heb. covering, or, coverer.
9 Or, molten.

2 Isa. 10. 12. 3 Or, the pride of 6 Heb. their show. 7 Or, gallants. 10 Or, That which was established, or, there was a stand made. 11 Or, discovered. 18 Or, from the days that she hath been. 13 Or, cause them to turn. 14 Or, and their infinite store, &c. 15 Heb. vessels of desire. 18 Isa. 13. 7, 8. VOL. IL 2 Q

297

Verse 5. "The defence shall 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 Diodorus. When the king found himself shut up within the walls of the town, he was by no means discouraged, but 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 against them. Yet not feeling 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 made 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 encou raged by an ancient prophecy, That Nineveh should never be taken until the river 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 unexpected fulfilment of the old prediction, he was filled with consternation and despair: he gave 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 iert in doubt by 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 raius, 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 Nineveh 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 number 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 (2) 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, and the fortress. She shall be led away captive," &c. As we are strongly persuaded that verse 7 describes Nineveh as a captive queen brought before the conqueror, 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 usel exclusively by females in the East; and the other, that such are the instruments employed by the women who wail for the dead.

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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.

1 Heb. city of loods.

CHAPTER III.

The miserable ruin of Nineveh.

1

WOE to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery: the prey departeth not;

2 The noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, and of the pransing horses, and of the jumping chariots.

3 The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the glittering spear; and there is a multitude of slain, and a great number of carcases; and there is none end Ezek. 24 9. Hab. 2. 12. 3 Heb. the flame of the sword, and the lightning of the spear.

of their corpses; they stumble upon their

corpses:

4 Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the well favoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts.

5 Behold, I am against thee, saith the LORD of hosts; and 'I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will shew the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame.

4 Isa. 47. 3. Ezek. 16, 37

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