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James Comper Gray.

The Biblical museum : a collection of notes, explanatory, homiletic, and illustrative, on the Holy Scriptures, especially designed for the use of ministers, Bible students, and Sunday school teachers (Volume 10) online

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In that nice court, how no rash word escapes,
But e'en extravagant thoughts are all set down ;
Thus the poor penitents with fear approach
The reverend shrines, and thus for mercy bow ;
Thus melting, too, they wash the hallow'd earth,
And groan to be forgives.



NAHUM.



frttrobucitott.



I. Author. Nahum, == "consolation." The Elkoshite, born, as some
think, at Elkosh in Galilee ; or as others believe, at the Assyrian Elkosh, on
the east of the Tigris, and near Nineveh. In the latter case. Nahum must
have been one of the children of the captivity. The former is most probably
the correct view. Henderson produces several passages in which phrases occur
similar to those in Isaiah, and hence infers that Nahum being- contemporary
with Isaiah must have lived near him. and have borrowed from his writings.
II. Time. B.C. 720 — 698. III. Style. Nahum s composition must be
placed high among those of the Minor Prophets. He evinces great poetic
power, his^ language is pure, his images beautifully appropriate. IV. Theme.
Rightly to understand Nahum, compare it with Jonah, of which it is a con-
tinuation and supplement. The two prophecies form connected parts of the
same moral history ; the remission of God's judgments being illustrated in
Jonah, and the execution of them in Nahum. The devoted city had one
denunciation more given a few years later, by Zephaniah (ii. 13), and shortly
afterwards — B.C. 606 — the whole were fulfilled. — Angus.



Synopsis.



(According to Home.)

One entire poem, which, opening with a sub-
lime description of the justice and power of
God, tempered by long-suffering and go d-
ness i. 1—8

Foretells the destruction of Sennacherib's



forces and the subversion of the Assyrian
Empire 9—12

Together with the deliverance of Hezekiah and
the death of Senuacherib 13 — 15

The destruction of Nineveh is thsn predicted,

and described with singular minuteness

ii. — iii.



Nineveh, the destruction of which was foretold by the Prophet, was at that
time the capital of a great and flourishing empire. It was a city of vast
extent and population ; and was the centre of the principal commerce of the
world. Its wealth, however, was not altogether derived from trade. It was a
"bloody city," "full of lies and robbery" (iii. 1). It plundered the neigh-
bouring nations ; and is compared by the Prophet to a family of lions, which
" fill their holes with prey and their dens with ravin " (ii. 11, 12). At the same
time it was strongly fortified ; its colossal walls, a hundred feet high, with
their fifteen hundred towers, bidding defiance to all enemies. Yet so totally
was it destroyed, that, in the second century after Christ, not a vestige re-
mained of it, and its very site was long a matter of uncertainty. — Angu*.



Cap. i. 1-3.]



NAHUM.



209



CHAPTER THE FIRST.

1 — 3. (1) burden, or prophetic doom. Nineveh, see the
earlier mission of Jonah to this city." Nahum, meaning-, con-
solution. A Prophet not otherwise known. Elkoshite, poss. a
village in Galilee.* (2) jealous, Ex. xx. 5. revengeth,
better, a vengeth. furious, better, ; ' He that hath fury." c re-
serveth . . enemies, holdeth it till His own appointed times.
(3) slow to anger, Ex. xxxiv. 6, 7. way . . feet, comp. Ps.
xviii. 7, xcvii. 2. " Large as the clouds are He treads on them,
as a man would on the small dust."

God's forbearance (v. 3). — It seems as if the Prophet meant,
God is slow to anger because He is great in power. This leads
us to think of — I. His exquisite sensibility. II. His abhorrence
of sin. III. His provocation by the world. IV. His right to do
whatever He pleases.*

Nijieveh. — To a brief record of the creation of the ante-
diluvian world, and of the dispersion and the different settle-
ments of mankind after the deluge, the Scriptures of the Old
Testament add a full and particular history of the Hebrews for
the space of fifteen hundred years, from the days of Abraham to
the era of the last of the Prophets. While the historical part of
Scripture thus traces, from its origin, the history of the world,
the prophecies give a prospective view which reaches to its end.
And it is remarkable that profane history, emerging from fable,
becomes clear and authentic about the very period when sacred
history terminates, and when the fulfilment of these prophecies
commences, which refer to other nations besides the Jews.
Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, was for a long time an extensive
and populous city. Its walls are said, by heathen historians, to
have been a hundred feet in height, sixty miles in compass, and
to have been defended by fifteen hundred towers, each two
hundred feet high. Although it formed the subject of some of
the earliest of the prophecies, and was the very first which met
its predicted fate, yet a heathen historian, in describing its
capture and destruction, repeatedly refers to an ancient prediction
respecting it. Diodorus Siculus relates that the king of Assyria,
after the complete discomfiture of his army, confided in an old
prophecy that Nineveh would not be taken unless the river
should become the enemy of the city ; that after an ineffectual
siege of two years, the river, swollen with long-continued and
tempestuous torrents, inundated part of the city, and threw
down the wall for the space of twenty furlongs ; and that the
king, deeming the prediction accomplished, despaired of his
safety, and erected an immense funeral pile, on which he heaped
his wealth, and with which himself, his household, and palace,
were consumed. The book of Nahum was avowedly prophetic
of the destruction of Nineveh : and it is there foretold, " that
the gates of the river shall be opened, and the palace shall be
dissolved." " Nineveh of old, like a pool of water — with an
overflowing flood He will make an utter end of the place thereof."
The historian describes the facts by which the other predictions
of the Prophet were as literally fulfilled. He relates that the
king of Assyria, elated with his former victories, and ignorant

VOL. X. O.T. O



a Dr. Prideaux
places the taking
of Nineveh in
the twenty-ninth
year of king
Josiah.

b "According to
S. Jerome, El-
Kosh was a
village in Galilee,
and his tomb was
shown at Beiho-
gabra near Em-
maus. But as
his prophecies
were written
after the cap-
tivity of the ten
tribes, the tra-
dition which
points to his
death in an
Assyrian village
may have some
probability.
Layard visited a
village called
Alkosh, which
contains a so-
called tomb of
Nahum." — Bib.
Things.

c " One who, if
He pleases, can
most readily
give effect to His
fury." — Grotius.

v. 1. F. D.

Maurice, Kings
and Pro. 342.

v. 3. S. Chamock,
iii. 414 ; L. Alter-
buiy, i. 247 ; A.
Shanks, 385 ; Dr.
G. Croft, ii. 184.

d Br. Thomas.

" There never
was a saint yet
that grew proud
of his fine fea-
thers, but, what
the Lord plucked
them out foy-and-
by ; there never
yet was an angel
that had pride in
his heart, but he
lost his wing-.
and fell into
CJ e h e n n a, as
Satan and those



210



KAHUM.



[Cap. i, 4-0.



fallen angels did ;
and there shall
never be a saint
who indulges
self-oonceit and
pride and self-
confidence, but
the Lord will
spoil his glories,
and trample his
honours in the
mire, and make
him cry out yet
again, Lord,
have mercy upon
me, less than the
least of all saints,
and the « very
chief of sin-
ners.' " — Spur-
ffeon.

e Keith.

a "There is not
thing in the

world so bloom-
ing that God
cannot change it
when He is
wroth." -Fausset.
b " As Hannibal
burst asunder {
the Alpine rocks [
by fire to make a |
passage for his
army. " — Grotius.
c Dr. H. Bonar.

u The develop-
ments of pride
are numerous
and often unsus-
pected as to their
real character.
The love of dress
and display ; the
undue deference
to the opinions
of others, which
leads us to adopt
forms of speech
and modes of
action foreign to
our usages; the
man-fearing spi-
rit which imposes
silence in refer-
ence to our re-
ligion in social
circles, and par-
ticularly the sen-
timent which ig-
nores all physical
manifestations in
connection with
religious expe-
rience—these are
all the offshoots
of the one great
principle — pride
of heart."— & H.
Piatt.



of the revolt of the Bactrians, had abandoned himself to
scandalous inaction ; had. appointed a time of festivity, and
supplied his soldiers with abundance of wine ; and that the
general of the enemy, apprised by deserters of their negligence
and drunkenness, attacked the Assyrian army while the whole of
them were fearlessly giving way to indulgence, destroyed a great
part of them, and drove the rest into the city. The words of the
Prophet were hereby verified : " While they be f olden together as
thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkards, they shall be
devoured as stubble full dry." The Prophet promised much
spoil to the enemy : " Take the spoil of silver, take the spoil of
gold ; for there is no end of the store and glory out of all the
pleasant furniture." And the historian affirms that many talents
of gold and silver, preserved from the fire, were carried to
Ecbatana. According to Nahum, the city was not only to be
destroyed by an overflowing flood, but the fire also was to devour
it ; and. as Diodorus relates, partly by water, partly by fire, it was
destroyed.'

4—6. (4) rebuketh the sea, Ex. xiv. 21. Bashan, etc,
comp. Am. i. 2, iv. 1. Lebanon, see Is. xxxiii. 9." (5) is
burned, or is heaved ; lifts itself up, as with earthquake. (6)
poured . . fire, as in a volcanic eruption, rocks . . down,* or
burst asunder. Referring to the great convulsions of nature.

The anger and the goodness (vv. 6, 7). — I. Jehovah's anger — 1.
Righteous ; 2. Terrible ; 3. Real ; 4. Inexorable. II. Jehovah's
goodness — 1. Sincere ; 2. Powerful ; 3. Watchful ; 4. Un-
changing. Improvement : — (1) In the great day of His wrath
who shall be able to stand ? (2) He is longsuffering to usward,
not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to
repentance."

Nineveh. — The utter and perpetual destruction and desolation
of Nineveh were foretold : " The Lord will make an utter end of
the place thereof. Affliction shall not rise up the second time.
She is empty, void, and waste. The Lord will stretch out His
hand against the north, and destroy Assyria, and will make
Nineveh a desolation, and dry like a wilderness. How is she
become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in ! " In the
second century, Lucian, a native of a city on the banks of the
Euphrates, testified that Nineveh was utterly perished ; that
there was no vestige of it remaining ; and that none could tell
where once it was situated. This testimony of Lucian, and the
lapse of many ages during which the place was not known
where it stood, render it at least somewhat doubtful whether the
remains of an ancient city, opposite to Mosul, which have been
described as such by travellers, be indeed those of ancient
Nineveh. It is, perhaps, probable that they are the remains of
the city which succeeded Nineveh, or of a Persian city of the
same name, which was built on the banks of the Tigris by the
Persians subsequently to the year 230 of the Christian era, and
demolished by the Saracens in 632. In contrasting the then
existing great and increasing population, and the accumulating
wealth of the proud inhabitants of the mighty Nineveh, with
the utter ruin that awaited it, — the word of God (before whom
all the inhabitants of the earth are as grasshoppers) by Nahum
was — " Make thyself many as the canker-worm, make thyself
many as the locusts. Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above



Cap. L 7-10.]



NAHDM.



211



the stars of heaven : the canker-worm spoileth, and flieth away.
Thy crowned are as the locusts, and thy captains as the great
grasshoppers, which camp in the hedges in the cold day : but j
when the sun riseth, they flee away ; and their place is not known
where they are," or were. Whether these words imply that even i
the site of Nineveh would in future ages be uncertain or un- 1
known ; or, as they rather seem to intimate, that every vestige i
of the palaces of its monarchs, of the greatest of its nobles, and
of the wealth of its numerous merchants, would wholly dis- !
appear ; the truth of the prediction cannot be invalidated under
either interpretation. The avowed ignorance respecting Nineveh.
and the oblivion which passed over it, for many an age, conjoined
with the meagreness of evidence to identify it, still prove that
the place was long unknown where it stood, and that, even now.
it can scarcely with certainty be determined. And if the only j
Bpot that bears its name, or that can be said to be the place
where it was, be indeed the site of one of the most extensive of
cities on which the sun ever shone, and which continued for
many centuries to be the capital of Assyria — the " principal
mounds," few in number, which " show neither bricks, stones,
nor other materials of building, but are in many places over-
grown with grass, and resemble the mounds left by intrenchments
and fortifications of ancient Roman camps," and the appearances
of other mounds and ruins less marked than even these, extend-
ing for ten miles, and widely spread, and seeming to be "the
wreck of former buildings," show that Nineveh is left without
one monument of royalty, without any token whatever of its
splendour or wealth ; that their place is not known where they
were ; and that it is indeed a desolation — " empty, void, and
waste," its very ruins perished, and less than the wreck of what
it was. " Such an utter ruin," in every view, " has been made
of it ; and such is the truth of the Divine predictions." d

7—10. (7) gopd, in the sense of being gracious and long-
Buffering, stronghold, Pr. xviii. 10. knoweth, so as to cave
for." (8) flood, the frequent fig. for Divine judgments, the
place, or her place : i.e. Nineveh.* (9) affliction, or the stroke.
It should be so complete as to need no renewal. Once should
suffice. (10) folden . . thorns, wh. bundled together may seem
to make an impregnable hedge, devoured, by fire. c

Darkness pursuing sinners (v. 8).— I. A sinner is an enemy to
God. 1. He hates God ; 2. He tries to injure God; 3. He tries
to make away with God. II. God means to deal with these His
enemies. 1. There is darkness in store for them ; 2. This dark-
ness is from God ; 3. This darkness shall pursue them ; 4. Every
enemy of God must expect this.'

Nineveh.— Nineveh affords another example of a remarkable
prophecy and its fulfilment. Consider what is well known of
the history, condition, and character of this "exceeding great
city," and then compare the following prophecies with its pre-
sent state (Nah. i. 8, 10, ii. 6-9, iii. 13—17 ; Zeph. n. 13-15),
and remember that Zeplwniah wrote one hundred years alter
Nahum. and fifty years before the event he predicted, when as
yet there were no signs of decay in that empire city of the Last.
" The account of the Prophet," says Dr. Angus, " when compared
with the narrative of the historian (Diodorus Siculus), reads
more like history than prophecy. Lucian, who flourished in |
o 2



"What if a body
might have all
the pleasures in
the world for ask-
ing? Who would
so unman himself
as, by accepting
them, to desert
his soul, and be-
come a perpetual
slave to his
senses ? "-Seneca.
" As the rivers of
fresh water run
their course with
a hasty current
to fall in the salt
sea, so the posting
sun of all worldly
pleasures, after a
short gleam and
vain glistering,
sets in the ocean
of endless sor-
row."— Bolton.

" Though sages
may pour out
their wisdom's
treasure, there
is no sterner
moralist than
pleasure. "-Byron.

d Keith.



a Ps. 1. 6 ; 2 Tl
ii. 19.

b " The populous
imperial city
should become a
perpetual desola-
tion, according
to the vivid pre-
diction of another
prophet. Zeph. ii.
13, 14, 15."— Spk.
Com.

c " These thorns,
esp. the kind
called bellan, wh.
covers the whole
country, and is
that wh. is thus
burned, to clear
the ground, are
so folden toge
ther as to be
utterly insepar-
able, and being
united by thou-
sands of small
intertwining
branches, when
the torch is ap-
plied they flash
and flame in-



212



NAHUit.



reap, ii 1, 2.



stantly like stub-
ble fully dry." —
Thomson.
v.7. J. Milner, ii.
47; E. Cooper, v.
60.

d Dr. H. Bonar.
e Dr. Thompson.

a Is. xxxvi. 14 —
20.

b " This was ful-
filled in the
murder of Sen-
nacherib, in the
house of Nisroch
his god, by the
hand of his own
sons. 2 Ki. xix.
37."— Words-
worth.

" The roses of
pleasure seldom
last long enough
to adorn the brow
of hini who plucks
them, and they
are the only roses
which do not re-
tain their sweet-
ness after they
have lost their
beauty. ' ' — Blair.

C Dr. D-wight.



a Lit. "The ham-
mer is come up
against thee."
See Je. i. 23.



b Reference is to
the evils inflicted
on Sennacherib's
first invasion of
Palestine.



" Pleasure must
first have the
warrant that it
is without sin ;
And then the
measure that it
Is without ex-
cess."— Adams.



200 A.D., and was a native of that region, affirms that it had
utterly perished, and there was no footstep of it remaining. For
many years the veiy site of it was unknown, and only latterly
have the researches of Layard and Botta made the frequenters
of some European museums familiar with a few of the relics of
this vast metropolis of ancient Assyria, exhumed from '• an ex-
tended waste, interspersed sparingly with heaps of rubbish."*

11 — 15. (11) one . . thee, either Sennacherib or Kabshakeh."
wicked counsellor, Heb. " a counsellor of Beliah." ( 1 2) quiet,
in their confidence of easily overrunning: the land of Judaea, and
seizing Jerusalem, cut down, Is. xvii. 12 — 14. no more, by
the hand of the Assyrian. (13) break . . sunder, camp.
Ge. xxvii. 40 ; Le. xxvi. 13 ; Is. x. 27. Poss. Hezekiah had
become tributary to Sennacherib, his overthrow was Hezekiah's
deliverance. (14) concerning thee, i.e. Sennacherib. None
of his family were to succeed him. make thy grave, or there,
in the house of thy idol, thy grave.* (15) mountains, etc.,
comp. Is. lii. 7. Here the language expresses the general rejoicing,
and sense of safety, after the overthrow of Sennacherib's army,
keep . . feasts, this they could not do while the enemy was in
the land, no more, never again ; for the Aperian empire was
soon after destroyed.

A preacher of good tidings. — The tidings which this glorious
person published, are tidings brought to rebels against their
Saviour and their God. They are tidings to prodigals and out-
casts, who were destined to wander for ever, who had no place
of rest where they might lay their heads. They are tidings from
heaven, the world of peace, of hope, and of joy. They are tidings
from God, — the parent, the Saviour, — whom they had offended,
and to whom it was their infinite interest to be reunited. They
are tidings of renewed holiness, to beings given over to endless
sin ; of peace and reconciliation, to beings consigned to eternal
alienation ; and of eternal life, to beings sequenced to die for
ever."



CHAPTER TEE SECOND.

1, 2. (1) dasheth in pieces, or the scatterer ; a poetical
name for the besieger, who should destroy the kingdom of
Assyria, whose capital was Nineveh. a keep, etc., do all you can,
in your self-confidence : you will need it all, and yet all will be
in vain. The advice is ironical. (2) turned away, prob.
meaning, "The Lord hath returned upon Assyria His pride
against Jacob." emptiers, or Assyrian spoilers. vine
branches, Ps. lxxx. 8—16.*

Example of the watclicare of God. — David Zeisberger was
travelling with several Christian Indians. They went to sleep,
one night, in a room where several barrels of gunpowder were
stored, grains of which were scattered about the floor. The host
urged them not to take a candle into the room, but yielded, on a
promise of the utmost caution. The missionaries went to sleep.
A traveller who had the candle in special charge forgot to
extinguish it. In the morning, Zeisberger called out one of his
brethren, and said, " Had we not had the eye of Him upon us
who never slumbereth nor sleepeth, we should all have been this



Cap. ii. 3-7.]



NAHUM.



213



night precipitated into eternity. I slept soundly, being extremely | " Pleasure soon
fatigued, and was in my first sleep, when I felt as if some one exlia usts us and
roused me. I sat up, and saw the wick of the candle hanging itS( j lf also ; b,lt
down on one side, in a flame, and on the point of falling Into aoes^'-^K*
the straw, which I was just in time to prevent. I could not fall
asleep asrain, but lay awake silently thanking the Lord for the
extraordinary preservation we had experienced."

3—5. (3) made red, in the Nineveh monuments, the shields
and dresses of the warriors are generally painted red.« in
scarlet, the Oriental military cloak, flaming torches or
flashings, as of steel.* Eeferring to the flashing light, and burn-
ing sparks, from the swiftly driven chariots, fir trees, or
spears made of fir wood. (4) rage, or be driven furiously,
justle/ or run to and fro. (5) worthies, marg. gallants,
nobles, they . . wall, the Ninevites, hurrying to the wall, shall
Bee the towers for the rams, and other preparations for the siege. rf

A martial bearing. — According to the Delhi Gazette, a con-
stable at Jubbulpore, in giving evidence before a magistrate the
other day, gave a clear definition of his idea of a " martial bear-
ing,*' which is probably not inaccurate as regards many of our
soldiers in that country. The constable, having apprehended
some men as deserters, was asked by the magistrate, " What led
you to suppose that they were deserters ? " " Their martial bear-
ing," replied the constable. " What," inquired the magistrate,
"do you mean by their martial bearing?" "They were very
free," said the constable, " with their money, were drunk, swore
a great deal, and wanted to fight." "And that," rejoined the
magistrate. " is your definition of martial bearing 1 " " Yes, sir,"
was the reply.

6, 7. (6) rivers, the streams and canals fed by the Tigris.
As these led into the city, their seizure was of the utmost advan-
tage to the enemy, dissolved, with fear and terror. (7)
Huzzab, the word means a " strong and impregnable fortress,"
and is prob. a poetical name for Nineveh. But some trans, the
word and the sentence thus, " It is determined," etc. led cap-
tive, Is. xlvii. 2, 3. maids . . dove3, or "with dove-like
plaints." a tabering, beating on their breasts, as sign of distress
and grief.

The crystal palace (v. 6). — I. The palace. 1. Called the crystal
palace, made of glass, describe ; 2. Had a royal origin, but there
is a building of God. II. What is to become of it ? It shall be
dissolved, so shall we all, and what then?*

Arab princesses. — When D'Arvieux was in the camp of the
great emir, his princess was visited by other Arab princesses.
The last that came, whose visit alone he describes, was mounted,
he says, on a camel, covered with a carpet, and decked with
flowers : a dozen women marched in a row before her, holding
the camels halter with one hand ; they sung the praises of their
mistress, and songs which expressed joy, and the happiness of
being in the service of such a beautiful and amiable lady. Those
who went first, and were more distinct from her person, came
in their turn to the head of the camel, and took hold of the
halter, which place, as being the post of honour, they quitted to
others, when the princess had gone a few paces. The emir's '
wife sent her women to meet her, to whom the halter was '



a "The ancients
dyed their bulls-
bide shields red,
partly to strike
terror into the
enemy, chiefly
lest the blood
from wounds wh.
they might re-
ceive should be
perceived and
give confidence
to him."— Calvin.

b Fuerst.

r Orjnstle,T?rench,
jouster, jouter t
from jouste, a
tilt. To run or
strike against.

d Some apply
this v. to the
anxious efforts
made by the de-
fenders of the
city.



a Is. xxxviii. 14,
lix. 11.

b J. East, M.A.

"In the depraved
nature of man,
pride is the
radical reigning
sin that first
lives and last

dies A man

may visibly de-
spise the pomp
and vanities c.f
the world, and
this may raise
his esteem in the
minds of real
saints ; and the
outward practice
of goodness will
be productive of
the praise of
goodness in



Online LibraryJames Comper GrayThe Biblical museum : a collection of notes, explanatory, homiletic, and illustrative, on the Holy Scriptures, especially designed for the use of ministers, Bible students, and Sunday school teachers (Volume 10) → online text (page 34 of 64)