הֹוי עִיר דָּמִים כֻּלָּהּ כַּחַשׁ פֶּרֶק מְלֵאָה לֹא יָמִישׁ טָרֶף׃ 3:1
Nahu. 3:1 Alas, city of blood!
All of it of deception!
Prey can not depart.
קֹול שֹׁוט וְקֹול רַעַשׁ אֹופָן וְסוּס דֹּהֵר וּמֶרְכָּבָה מְרַקֵּדָה׃ 3:2
Nahu. 3:2 A sound! A whip!
And another sound!
Rattling of wheel,
and horse galloping,
and chariot bouncing!
פָּרָשׁ מַעֲלֶה וְלַהַב חֶרֶב וּבְרַק חֲנִית וְרֹב חָלָל וְכֹבֶד פָּגֶר וְאֵין קֵצֶה לַגְּוִיָּה (יִכְשְׁלוּ) [וְכָשְׁלוּ] 3:3 בִּגְוִיָּתָם׃
Nahu. 3:3 Horseman ascends, with flashing sword and glistening spear.
And a multitude of slain and a corpse heap,
that there is no limit to body.
They must stumble among their corpses.
As I’ve translated this verse, there is no error (as indicated by the word in the parentheses). It is thought that the yad (which makes the verb imperfect in tense) should be a vav (as shown in the spelling in the brackets) and the verb would then be perfect in tense. The last line reads in most bibles as “and they stumble ....” The odd thing about this correction is that, because the vav would be inverting, the verb would still be translated as if it were in the imperfect tense. So my translation seems accurate in any case and, as I’ve said, there is no error.
מֵרֹב זְנוּנֵי זֹונָה טֹובַת חֵן בַּעֲלַת כְּשָׁפִים הַמֹּכֶרֶת גֹּויִם בִּזְנוּנֶיהָ וּמִשְׁפָּחֹות בִּכְשָׁפֶיהָ׃ 3:4
Nahu. 3:4 “Because of the multitude of fornications of the well favored harlot,
mistress of witchcraft, selling nations with her harlotries,
and families with her witchcraft,
הִנְנִי אֵלַיִךְ נְאֻם יְהוָה צְבָאֹות וְגִלֵּיתִי שׁוּלַיִךְ עַל־פָּנָיִךְ וְהַרְאֵיתִי גֹויִם מַעְרֵךְ וּמַמְלָכֹות קְלֹונֵךְ׃ 3:5
Nahu. 3:5 behold, I am against you,”
declares the Lord of hosts,
“and I will remove your skirts over your face
and show the nations your nakedness
and the kingdoms your disgrace.”
וְהִשְׁלַכְתִּי עָלַיִךְ שִׁקֻּצִים וְנִבַּלְתִּיךְ וְשַׂמְתִּיךְ כְּרֹאִי׃ 3:6
Nahu. 3:6 “And I will cast detestable things upon you,
and treat you with contempt,
and I will set you as dung.”
וְהָיָה כָל־רֹאַיִךְ יִדֹּוד מִמֵּךְ וְאָמַר שָׁדְּדָה נִינְוֵה מִי יָנוּד לָהּ מֵאַיִן אֲבַקֵּשׁ מְנַחֲמִים לָךְ׃ 3:7
Nahu. 3:7 “And it shall be, anyone looking at you
shall flee from you and say,
‘Nineveh is devastated; who will grieve for her?
From where can I find comforters for you?’”
הֲתֵיטְבִי מִנֹּא אָמֹון הַיֹּשְׁבָה בַּיְאֹרִים מַיִם סָבִיב לָהּ אֲשֶׁר־חֵיל יָם מִיָּם חֹומָתָהּ׃ 3:8
Nahu. 3:8 Are you better situated than No-amon,
that sat among the rivers, water surrounding her,
whose rampart was the sea, water her wall?
No-amon was a city in Egypt that was thought to be impregnable. But it was destroyed fifty years before the fall of Nineveh. The city No was called Thebes by the Greeks. The city’s temples have been excavated and attract a stream of visitors.
כּוּשׁ עָצְמָה וּמִצְרַיִם וְאֵין קֵצֶה פּוּט וְלוּבִים הָיוּ בְּעֶזְרָתֵךְ׃ 3:9
Nahu. 3:9 Ethiopia was power -- and Egypt -- that was without limit,
Put and Lubim were among your helpers.
Put and Lubim were territories or cities in Ethiopia and Egypt, respectively.
גַּם־הִיא לַגֹּלָה הָלְכָה בַשֶּׁבִי גַּם עֹלָלֶיהָ יְרֻטְּשׁוּ בְּרֹאשׁ כָּל־חוּצֹות וְעַל־נִכְבַּדֶּיהָ יַדּוּ גֹורָל 3:10 וְכָל־גְּדֹולֶיהָ רֻתְּקוּ בַזִּקִּים׃
Nahu. 3:10 Yet she went into exile,
departed in captivity.
Her children also were to be dashed to pieces
at the beginning of all the streets.
And they had cast lots over all her honorable ones,
and all her great ones were bound by chains.
גַּם־אַתְּ תִּשְׁכְּרִי תְּהִי נַעֲלָמָה גַּם־אַתְּ תְּבַקְשִׁי מָעֹוז מֵאֹויֵב׃ 3:11
Nahu. 3:11 You also shall be drunk;
you may be concealed;
you also may seek refuge from the enemy.
כָּל־מִבְצָרַיִךְ תְּאֵנִים עִם־בִּכּוּרִים אִם־יִנֹּועוּ וְנָפְלוּ עַל־פִּי אֹוכֵל׃ 3:12
Nahu. 3:12 All your strongholds shall be fig trees with first fruits;
if they are shaken,
then they would fall to the mouth of the eater.
הִנֵּה עַמֵּךְ נָשִׁים בְּקִרְבֵּךְ לְאֹיְבַיִךְ פָּתֹוחַ נִפְתְּחוּ שַׁעֲרֵי אַרְצֵךְ אָכְלָה אֵשׁ בְּרִיחָיִך׃ 3:13
Nahu. 3:13 Behold, your people are women in your midst;
the gates of your land are open wide to your enemies;
the fire consumes your defenses.
מֵי מָצֹור שַׁאֲבִי־לָךְ חַזְּקִי מִבְצָרָיִךְ בֹּאִי בַטִּיט וְרִמְסִי בַחֹמֶר הַחֲזִיקִי מַלְבֵּן׃ 3:14
Nahu. 3:14 Draw for yourself the water of Egypt!
Harden your fortresses!
Go into the clay and tread in the mortar!
Sustain the brick mold!
שָׁם תֹּאכְלֵךְ אֵשׁ תַּכְרִיתֵךְ חֶרֶב תֹּאכְלֵךְ כַּיָּלֶק הִתְכַּבֵּד כַּיֶּלֶק הִתְכַּבְּדִי כָּאַרְבֶּה׃ 3:15
Nahu. 3:15 There the fire will consume you,
the sword will cut you off;
it will devour you like a caterpillar.
Make yourself as numerous as the caterpillar!
Make yourself as numerous as the locust!
It’s fascinating to me how Nahum conveys subtle messages in his use of grammar, possibly more so than any other prophet with the possible exception of Ezekiel. As one of several otherwise unmentioned examples, in this verse he uses the same singular imperative twice which I translate as the phrase “Make yourself as numerous ...” in the last two English lines. The first time it is masculine in gender, but the second time it is feminine. My guess is that he is first addressing the men of the city as one body and then the women as one body. As I remarked in Chapter 1, Nahum is supremely succinct in his poetry.
הִרְבֵּית רֹכְלַיִךְ מִכֹּוכְבֵי הַשָּׁמָיִם יֶלֶק פָּשַׁט וַיָּעֹף׃ 3:16
Nahu. 3:16 You have multiplied your traders
more than the stars of the sky;
the caterpillar has stripped off and flies away.
מִנְּזָרַיִךְ כָּאַרְבֶּה וְטַפְסְרַיִךְ כְּגֹוב גֹּבָי הַחֹונִים בַּגְּדֵרֹות בְּיֹום קָרָה שֶׁמֶשׁ זָרְחָה וְנֹודַד וְלֹא־נֹודַע 3:17 מְקֹומֹו אַיָּם׃
Nahu. 3:17 Your princes are like a locust swarm,
and your officials like a horde of grasshoppers,
camping in walls on a cold day;
the sun bursts forth, and it flies away,
and where its place is, is not known.
נָמוּ רֹעֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ אַשּׁוּר יִשְׁכְּנוּ אַדִּירֶיךָ נָפֹשׁוּ עַמְּךָ עַל־הֶהָרִים וְאֵין מְקַבֵּץ׃ 3:18
Nahu. 3:18 Your shepherds slumber, king of Assyria;
your great ones rest;
your people are scattered upon the mountains,
and there is no gatherer.
אֵין־כֵּהָה לְשִׁבְרֶךָ נַחְלָה מַכָּתֶךָ כֹּל שֹׁמְעֵי שִׁמְעֲךָ תָּקְעוּ כַף עָלֶיךָ כִּי עַל־מִי לֹא־עָבְרָה רָעָתְךָ 3:19 תָּמִיד׃
Nahu. 3:19 There is no healing for your fracture,
too grievous is your wound.
All those hearing your story clap hands over you,
for upon whom has your wickedness not continually passed?
Nahum’s one and only theme is the coming destruction of Nineveh, a single-minded prophecy. But his poetry speaks for itself, and may be the primary reason (only?) for the book’s inclusion in the bible. Once again, as with other prophets, we find no evidence in his book that Nahum prophesied aloud to anyone. For all we know, he may have done nothing more than write this book.
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