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Exposition of the Old and New Testament, by John Gill, [1746-63], at

Nahum Introduction


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This book is called, in the Vulgate Latin version, "the Prophecy of Nahum"; and in the Syriac and Arabic versions, "the Prophecy of the Prophet Nahum"; and in Nah 1:1; it is called "the Book of the Vision of Nahum"; which is very singular; and from whence we learn of what place this prophet was; but of this more will be said on that verse. His name signifies "consolation": and though the subject of his prophecy chiefly relates to the destruction of the Assyrian empire, and of Nineveh, the chief city of it; yet this was a comfort to the people of the Jews, that an enemy so powerful, and who was so troublesome to them, and whom they dreaded, should one day be destroyed. In what age Nahum lived is not said; and writers very much disagree about it. Some make him to be the most ancient of all the prophets; who suppose him to prophesy of the destruction of Nineveh, before the reigns of Joash king of Judah, and Jehu king of Israel, as Huetius (a) observes; and others bring him down as low, placing him after Ezekiel, in the times of Zedekiah, Clemens of Alexandria (b); neither of which is likely. The Jewish chronologers (c) generally make him to live in the times of Manasseh, and so Abarbinel; but Josephus (d), with more probability, puts him in the times of Jotham; though perhaps what the greater number of interpreters give into may be most correct; as that he lived in the times of Hezekiah, and was contemporary with Isaiah, Hosea, Amos, and Micah; and that this prophecy was delivered out after the ten tribes were carried captive by the king of Assyria, which was in the sixth year of Hezekiah, and before Sennacherib's invasion of Judea, and siege of Jerusalem, which was in the fourteenth year of his reign; and which is thought to be referred to in the "first" chapter of this prophecy. Mr. Whiston (e) places him in the year of the world A. M. 3278, or 726 B.C.; and says that he foretold the destruction of Nineveh an hundred fifteen years before it came to pass, so says Josephus (f). How long this prophet lived, and where he died, and was buried, is uncertain. Pseudo-Epiphanius (g) says he died and was buried in Begabar. Isidore (h) says it was in Bethafarim; both which are to be corrected by Dorotheus, who calls the place Bethabara, as Huetius (i) observes; the same where John was baptizing, Joh 1:28; but Benjamin of Tudela (k) says his grave was to be seen in a place called Einsiphla, in the land of Chaldea; and speaks of a synagogue of this prophet in the province of Assyria (l); but on these things we cannot depend. Of the authority of this prophecy there need be no doubt, as appears from the inscription of the book, the sublimity and majesty of the style, and its agreement with other prophets; see Nah 1:15; compared with Isa 52:7; and the accomplishment of the prophecies contained in it, which respect the ruin of the Assyrian empire, and particularly Nineveh, the metropolis of it; the cause of which were their sins and transgressions, the inhabitants thereof were guilty of, and are pointed at in it.

(a) Demonstr. Evangel. prop. 4. p. 298. (b) Strom. l. 1. p. 329. (c) Seder Olam Rabbi, c. 10. p. 55. &. Zuta, p. 105. Juchasin, fol. 12. 2. Tzemach David, fol. 15. 1. Shalshelet Hakabala, fol. 12. 1. (d) Antiqu. l. 9. c, 11. sect. 3. (e) Chronological Tables, cent. 8. (f) Antiqu. l. 9. c. 11. sect. 3. (g) De Proph. Vit. & Inter. c. 17. (h) De Vit. & Mort. Sanct. c. 46. (i) Ut supra. (Demonstr. Evangel. prop. 4. p. 298.) (k) Itinerarium, p. 30. (l) Ibid. p. 62.

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