1At this moment on the mountains
the footsteps of one bearing good news,
of one announcing peace!a
Celebrate your feasts, Judah,
fulfill your vows!
For never again will destroyers invade you;*
they are completely cut off.
The Attack on Nineveh
2One who scatters has come up against you;*
guard the rampart,
Watch the road, brace yourselves,
marshal all your strength!
3* The LORD will restore the vine of Jacob,
the honor of Israel,
Because ravagers have ravaged them
and ruined their branches.
4The shields of his warriors are crimsoned,
the soldiers clad in scarlet;
Like fire are the trappings of the chariots
on the day he prepares for war;
the cavalry is agitated!
5The chariots dash madly through the streets
and wheel in the squares,
Looking like torches,
bolting like lightning.
6His picked troops are called,
ranks break at their charge;
To the wall they rush,
their screen* is set up.
7The river gates* are opened,
the palace is washed away.
8The mistress is led forth captive,
and her maidservants* led away,
Moaning like doves,
beating their breasts.
9Nineveh is like a pool
whose waters escape;
but none turns back.b
10“Plunder the silver, plunder the gold!”
There is no end to the treasure,
to wealth in every precious thing!
11Emptiness, desolation, waste;
melting hearts and trembling knees,
Churning in every stomach,
every face turning pale!c
12Where is the lionesses’ den,
the young lions’ cave,
Where the lion* went in and out,
and the cub, with no one to disturb them?d
13The lion tore apart enough for his cubs,
and strangled for his lionesses;
He filled his lairs with prey,
and his dens with torn flesh.
14I now come against you—
oracle of the LORD of hosts—
I will consume your chariots in smoke,
and the sword will devour your young lions;
Your preying on the land I will bring to an end,
the cry of your lionesses will be heard no more.
* [2:1] For never again will destroyers invade you: prophets are not always absolutely accurate in the things they foresee. Nineveh was destroyed, as Nahum expected, but Judah was later invaded by the Babylonians and (much later) by the Romans. The prophets were convinced that Israel held a key place in God’s plan and looked for the people to survive all catastrophes, always blessed by the Lord, though the manner was not always as they expected; the “fallen hut of David” was not rebuilt as Am 9:11 suggests, except in the coming of Jesus, and in a way far different than the prophet expected. Often the prophet speaks in hyperbole, as when Second Isaiah speaks of the restored Jerusalem being built with precious stones (Is 54:12) as a way of indicating a glorious future.
* [2:2] One who scatters has come up against you: the enemy is about to crush Nineveh, dispersing and deporting its people (v. 8; 3:18).
* [2:3] This verse does not fit its context well; it may have been the conclusion for the preceding section and have once followed v. 1, or it may be a later scribal addition.
* [2:6] Their screen: that is, a mantelet, a movable military shelter protecting the besiegers.
* [2:7] River gates: a network of canals brought water into Nineveh from the Tigris and Khosr Rivers on which the city was located.
* [2:8] Mistress…and her maidservants: either the queen of Nineveh with the ladies of her court, or the city of Nineveh itself, pictured as a noblewoman (3:4).
* [2:12] The lion: the king of Assyria.