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Nahum Chapter Three


Nahum 3

Chapter Contents

The sins and judgments of Nineveh. (1-7) Its utter destruction. (8-19)

Commentary on Nahum 3:1-7

(Read Nahum 3:1-7)

When proud sinners are brought down, others should learn not to lift themselves up. The fall of this great city should be a lesson to private persons, who increase wealth by fraud and oppression. They are preparing enemies for themselves; and if the Lord sees good to punish them in this world, they will have none to pity them. Every man who seeks his own prosperity, safety, and peace, should not only act in an upright, honourable manner, but with kindness to all.

Commentary on Nahum 3:8-19

(Read Nahum 3:8-19)

Strong-holds, even the strongest, are no defence against the judgments of God. They shall be unable to do any thing for themselves. The Chaldeans and Medes would devour the land like canker-worms. The Assyrians also would be eaten up by their own numerous hired troops, which seem to be meant by the word rendered "merchants." Those that have done evil to their neighbours, will find it come home to them. Nineveh, and many other cities, states, and empires, have been ruined, and should be a warning to us. Are we better, except as there are some true Christians amongst us, who are a greater security, and a stronger defence, than all the advantages of situation or strength? When the Lord shows himself against a people, every thing they trust in must fail, or prove a disadvantage; but he continues good to Israel. He is a strong-hold for every believer in time of trouble, that cannot be stormed or taken; and he knoweth those that trust in Him.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Nahum


Nahum 3

Verse 1

[1] Woe to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not;

The prey — Extortion and rapine.

Verse 3

[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 of their corpses; they stumble upon their corpses:

The horsemen — The Chaldeans and their confederates.

Verse 4

[4] Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the wellfavoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts.

The whoredom — The idolatries, which were multiplied by the many people that served the Assyrian idols. And whoredoms literally understood, did undoubtedly abound, where wealth, luxury, ease, and long continuance of these were to be found.

Well-favoured — Glorious in their state and government, and in the splendor of their idols, temples, and sacrifices.

Of witchcrafts — Bewitching policies; or it may be taken for witchcrafts or necromances, which abounded among the Assyrians.

That selleth — That dispose of them as imperiously, and absolutely as men do slaves.

And families — This may intimate the seducing of some particular and eminent families to an hereditary service of the Assyrian idols, or to witchcrafts, in which the devil imitated God's institution, in taking a family to his service.

Verse 5

[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.

Discover — l will strip thee naked, and deal with thee as inhuman soldiers deal with captive women.

Verse 7

[7] And it shall come to pass, that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her? whence shall I seek comforters for thee?

Shall flee — With loathing and abhorrence.

Will bemoan — Whose bowels will be moved for her that had no bowels for any one.

Verse 8

[8] Art thou better than populous No, that was situate among the rivers, that had the waters round about it, whose rampart was the sea, and her wall was from the sea?

Thou — O Nineveh.

No — It is supposed this was what we now called Alexandria. Art thou greater, stronger, and wiser? Yet all her power was broken, her riches spoiled, and her glory buried in ruins.

Rampart — The defence of its walls on one side.

Her wall — A mighty, strong wall, built from the sea landward.

Verse 9

[9] Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was infinite; Put and Lubim were thy helpers.

Her strength — Furnishing soldiers and warlike assistance.

It was infinite — There was no end to their confidence and warlike provisions.

Put — Or the Moors, who lie westward of Alexandria.

Lubim — The people that inhabited that which is now called Cyrene.

Verse 11

[11] Thou also shalt be drunken: thou shalt be hid, thou also shalt seek strength because of the enemy.

Thou also — Thou shalt drink deep of the bitter cup of God's displeasure.

Hid — Thou shalt hide thyself. O Nineveh, as well as Alexandria.

Shalt seek — Shalt sue for, and intreat assistance.

Verse 12

[12] All thy strong holds shall be like fig trees with the firstripe figs: if they be shaken, they shall even fall into the mouth of the eater.

Ripe figs — Whose weight and ripeness will bring them quickly to the ground.

Shaken — If but lightly touched.

Verse 13

[13] Behold, thy people in the midst of thee are women: the gates of thy land shall be set wide open unto thine enemies: the fire shall devour thy bars.

Are women — Were very cowards.

The gates — The strong frontiers.

Wide open — Either through fear or treachery.

Thy bars — With which the gates were shut and strengthened.

Verse 14

[14] Draw thee waters for the siege, fortify thy strong holds: go into clay, and tread the morter, make strong the brickkiln.

Draw thee waters — Fill all thy cisterns, and draw the waters into the ditches.

Tread the mortar — Set thy brick-makers on work to prepare store of materials for thy fortifications.

Verse 15

[15] There shall the fire devour thee; the sword shall cut thee off, it shall eat thee up like the cankerworm: make thyself many as the cankerworm, make thyself many as the locusts.

There — In the very fortresses.

Eat thee — As easily as the canker-worm eats the green herb.

Many — They are innumerable; be thou so if thou canst; all will be to no purpose.

Verse 16

[16] Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven: the cankerworm spoileth, and flieth away.

The canker-worm spoileth — So these are like the canker-worms, which spoil wherever they come, and when no more is to be gotten, flee away.

Verse 17

[17] Thy crowned are as the locusts, and thy captains as the great grasshoppers, which camp in the hedges in the cold day, but when the sun ariseth they flee away, and their place is not known where they are.

Thy crowned — Thy confederate kings and princes.

Captains — Commanders and officers are for number, like locusts and grasshoppers; but 'tis all for shew, not for help.

In the cool day — While the season suits them.

The sun — When trouble, war, and danger, like the parching sun, scald them.

Is not known — Thou shalt never know where to find them.

Verse 18

[18] Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria: thy nobles shall dwell in the dust: thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth them.

Thy shepherds — Thy rulers and counsellors.

Slumber — Are remiss, heartless, or dead.

No man gathereth — No one will concern himself to preserve thy dispersed ones.

Verse 19

[19] There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?

Shall clap the hands — Insulting and rejoicing.

Thy wickedness — Thy tyranny, pride, oppression and cruelty; treading down and trampling upon them.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on Nahum



03 Chapter 3


Verses 1-19

Verse 10

Nahum 3:10

Yet was she carried away, she went into captivity.


These were certainly close environments; but whence had they come? From still closer ones, like those of pride and enervating habits among a luxurious people; from neglect of the higher demands of the spiritual life; from living too much on the lower plane, which prophets in all ages have warned against. It did not require miraculous power then to discern what causes would be sure to produce disintegration of a city or nation. It does not require any superhuman gift to-day. Every clear seeing mind knows that dissipation will make nations and individuals weak and easily overcome. Certain courses will tend to strengthen and fortify; opposite courses will produce final disaster. There is no power enduring and sufficient but the power of the Spirit; and if this be neglected there remains, of course, nothing with which to repel invasions. This is true of a single individual, or of many united. Not the force from without, but the weakness within, should cause apprehension. We have often seen good work done in overcoming environments. Hard, crushing, discouraging environments do not hinder brave spirits. There have been crises in the world’s history when the massed power of dauntless spirit has finally swept away seemingly immovable environment. It is not in the nature of our surroundings to hold us caged for ever, or even for this life. There are no chains for the free spirit. Let us beware of the chains of pride, resentment, envy, of criticism and complaint, and break those that we can break. (Mrs. E. M. Hickok.)

Verse 17

Nahum 3:17

Which camp in the hedges in the cold day.

Locusts affected by the cold

Paxton and others have remarked that there is much difficulty in this passage; but to anyone who has attentively watched the habits of the locusts it is not only plain, but very striking. In the evenings, as soon as the air became cool, at Aheih, they literally camped in the hedges and loose stone walls, covering them over like a swarm of bees settled on a bush. There they remained until the next day’s sun waxed warm, when they again commenced to march. One of the days on which they were passing was quite cool, and the locusts scarcely moved at all from their camps, and multitudes remained actually stationary until the next morning. Those that did march crept along very heavily, as if cramped and stiff; but in a hot day they hurried forward in a very earnest, lively manner. It is an aggravation of the calamity if the weather continues cool; for then they prolong their stay, and do far more damage. (Thomson’s “Land and Book.”)

──The Biblical Illustrator