Nahum 3:8

8 Art thou better than populous[a]* 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?

Nahum 3:8 Meaning and Commentary

Nahum 3:8

Art thou better than populous No
Or No Amon, a city in Egypt so called, not because the kings of Egypt were nursed and brought up there, as Jarchi and Abarbinel; see ( Proverbs 8:30 ) but from Ham the son of Noah, whose land Egypt was; or from Jupiter Ammon, worshipped there. No Amon signifies the mansion or palace of Ham, or Hamon; the Egyptians, as Herodotus says F8, call Jupiter by the name of Ammon. The Targum interprets it of Alexandria the great, a city so called long after this, when it was rebuilt by Alexander the great; so Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, understand it: others take Diospolis or Thebes to be meant, famous in Homer F9 for its hundred gates; though some think this was not the number of the gates of the city, but of the temples in it; and others are of opinion that these were so many palaces of princes F11. The city was built by Osiris; or, according to others, by Busiris, and seems more likely to be the place here meant; since here was a temple dedicated to Jupiter, called by the Egyptians Ammon, as Diodorus Siculus F12 relates, and was a very large and populous city. Indeed, according to the above historian, it was in compass but a seventeen and a half miles F13; which is to be understood of the city when first built, and before it was enlarged; for it must have been a great deal larger in later times, if we may judge of it by its ruins. Strabo F14, who was an eyewitness of them quickly after its last destruction by Cornelius Gallus, says, the footsteps of its largeness were seen fourscore furlongs in length, or ten miles; and even this was but small, in comparison of what it was before it was destroyed by Cambyses, when it is said to reach four hundred and twenty furlongs, or fifty two miles and a half F15. It was the metropolis of all Egypt; and formerly the whole country was called after its name, as Herodotus


FOOTNOTES:

F16 observes. The accounts given of its inhabitants are incredible, and particularly of the soldiers it sent out; according to the epitaph of Rhampses, seven hundred thousand soldiers dwelt in it; which number Diodorus Siculus F17 gives to all the people in Egypt; but, though it may seem too large for Thebes, must be too little for all Egypt; especially if what Agrippa in Josephus F18 says is right, that Egypt, from Ethiopia and the borders of India to Alexandria, had no less than 7,500,000 inhabitants: however, if Pomponius Mela F19 may be credited, when it was necessary, the hundred palaces in Thebes could each of them send out ten thousand armed men, or, as some say, twenty thousand; and if what Diodorus Siculus F20 affirms is true, that twenty thousand chariots used to go out from thence to war, this shows it to have been a very populous city indeed, and might well be called "populous" No; but now it is utterly destroyed, first by the Assyrians and Babylonians, then by the Persians, and last of all by the Romans; the first destruction must be here referred to, if this city is designed. Strabo
F21 says in his time it was only inhabited in villages; and Juvenal F23 speaks of it as wholly lying in ruins; and Pausanias F24, making mention of it with other cities which abounded with riches, says they were reduced to the fortune of a middling private man, yea, were brought to nothing. It is now, or what is built on the spot, or near it, called Luxxor, or Lukorcen F25. Some F26 think the city Memphis is meant, so Vitringa on ( Isaiah 19:5 ) . (See Gill on Ezekiel 30:14), (See Gill on Ezekiel 30:15), this was for many ages the metropolis of all Egypt. Strabo F1 calls it a large and "populous" city, and full of men, and second to Alexandria in his time. The compass of it, when first built, was eighteen and three quarter miles F2; but now there is no more remaining of it than if there had never been such a city; nay, it is not easy to say where it once stood: now Nineveh is asked, or its inhabitants, if it could be thought that their city was in a better and safer condition than this city; it might indeed, according to the account of it by historians, and as in the prophecy of Jonah, be larger, and its inhabitants more numerous; but not better fortified, which seems to be the thing chiefly respected, as follows: that was situate among the rivers;
the canals of the river Nile: [that had] the waters round about it:
a moat on every side, either naturally or artificially: whose rampart [was] the sea, [and] her wall [was] from the sea?
which agrees with Alexandria, according to the description of it by Strabo F3, Solinus F4, and Josephus F5, which had two seas on each side of it; the Egyptian sea on the north, and the lake Mareotis on the south, as well as had the canals of the Nile running into it from various parts; and is represented as very difficult of access, through the sea, rivers, and marshy places about it; and, besides, might have a wall towards the sea, as by this account it should seem, as well as the sea itself was a wall and rampart to it: and this description may also agree with Diospolis or Thebes, which, though more inland, yet, as Bochart F6 observes, it had, as all Egypt had, the two seas, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, and the canals of the Nile, which might be said to be as a rampart to it. So Isocrates F7 says of all Egypt, that it is fortified with an immortal wall, the Nile, which not only affords a defence, but sufficient food, and is insuperable and inexpugnable; nor is it unusual, as to call rivers and lakes seas, so particularly the Nile, and its canals; see ( Isaiah 11:15 ) ( 18:1 ) ( Ezekiel 32:2 ) , and in the Alcoran the Nile is often called a sea F8. There is another Diospolis in Egypt, near Mendes, which, as Strabo F9 says, had lakes about it; but this, being a more obscure place, is not likely to be intended here; though Father Calmet F11 is of opinion that it is here meant; it being situated in the Delta, on one of the arms of the Nile, between Busiris to the south, and Mendes to the north. The description seems to agree better with Memphis, whose builder Uchoreus, as Diodorus Siculus F12 says, chose a very convenient place for it, where the Nile divided itself into many parts, and made the Delta, so called from its figure; and which he made wonderfully strong, after this manner: whereas the Nile flowed round the city, being built within the ancient bed of it, and at its increase would overflow it; he cast up a very great mound or rampart to the south, which was a defence against the swell of the river, and was of the use of a fortress against enemies by land; and on the other parts all about he dug a large and deep lake, which received a very great deal of the river, and filled every place about the city but where the mound (or rampart) was built, and so made it amazingly strong; whence the kings after him left Thebes, and had their palace and court here; and so Herodotus, who makes Menes to be the builder of it, says {m}, that without the city he caused lakes to be dug from the river to the north, and to the west, for to the east the Nile itself bounded it; and Josephus F14, who also makes Minaeus, or Menes, the first Pharaoh, to be the builder of it, speaks of that and the sea together, as if not far off each other: now, if a city so populous, and so well fortified by art and nature, as each of these were, was taken, and its inhabitants carried captive, Nineveh could not depend on her numbers or situation for safety, which were not more or better than this.
F8 L. 2. sive Euterpe, c. 42.
F9 Iliad. 9. ver. 381.
F11 Vid. Mela de Situ Orbis, l. 1. c. 9. Diodor. Sicul. l. 1. p. 43.
F12 Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 14, 42. Ed. Rhodoman.
F13 Ibid. p. 42.
F14 Geograph. l. 16. p. 561, Ed. Casaubon.
F15 See the Universal History, vol. 1. p. 396.
F16 Euterpe, sive l. 2. c. 15.
F17 Ut supra, (Bibliothec. l. 1.) p. 27.
F18 De Bello Jud. l. 2. c. 16. sect. 4.
F19 De Situ Orbis, l. 1. c. 9.
F20 Ut supra, (Bibliothec. l. 1.) p. 43. Vid. Homer, ut supra. (Iliad. 9. ver. 381.)
F21 Ut supra. (Geograph. l. 16. p. 561, Ed. Casaubon.)
F23 "Vetus Theba centum jacet obruta portis", Satyr. 15. l. 6.
F24 Arcadica, sive l. 8. p. 509. Ed. Hanau.
F25 Norden's Travels in Egypt and Nubia, vol. 2. p. 61, 62.
F26 So Hillerus, Onomast. Sacr. p. 571, 572. & Burkius in loc.
F1 Geograph. l. 17. p. 555.
F2 Diodor. Sicul. Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 46.
F3 Geograph. l. 17. p. 545.
F4 Polyhistor. c. 45.
F5 De Bello Jud. l. 2. c. 16. sect. 4.
F6 Phaleg. l. 1. c. 1. col. 6, 7.
F7 Busiris, p. 437.
F8 Vid. Schultens in Job xiv. 11.
F9 Geograph. l. 17. p. 551.
F11 Dictionary, in the word "Diospolis".
F12 Ut supra. (Diodor. Sicul. Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 46.)
F13 Euterpe, sive l. 2. c. 99.
F14 Antiqu. l. 8. c. 6. sect. 2. & l. 2. c. 10. sect. 1.

Nahum 3:8 In-Context

6 And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a gazingstock.
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?
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?
9 Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was infinite; Put and Lubim were thy helpers.
10 Yet was she carried away, she went into captivity: her young children also were dashed in pieces at the top of all the streets: and they cast lots for her honourable men, and all her great men were bound in chains.

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. populous...: or, nourishing, etc: Heb. No Amon