流人血的城 THE CITY OF BLOOD (Nahum 那鴻書 3:1-19)

祈禱: 主啊, 我多謝你, 因你是有憐憫、有恩典的神, 不輕易發怒、並有豐盛的慈愛和誠實。

PRAYER:  O Lord, I thank you, because you are a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

釋義:  那鴻稱呼尼尼微是「血城」,因為這城的最大特色是血▬流人的血。以「血」一個字來描寫這城,十分生動和貼切。

INSIGHT:  Nahum called Nineveh the “city of blood”, because the most distinguished feature of this city was – shedding people’s blood.  The word “blood” described this city in a very vivid and appropriate manner.

本章首三節正確地說出亞述人的實況。他們素來以窮兵黷武、極盡兇殘而臭名遠播。例如,他們會把戰俘剝皮或活活燒死,弄瞎他們的眼睛,割去他們的鼻子、耳朵或手指。《神祇、墳墓、學者》說:「在人類歷史上,尼尼微人留下的是戰爭和暴行的血腥記錄,他們濫殺無辜,肆意搶掠,作威作福,欺淩弱小,發動戰爭,濫用暴力,君主兇殘無道,施行血腥統治,結果他們受一些比他們更兇殘的對手所滅。」

The first three verses of this chapter tell the actual situation of the Assyrians. They were notorious for being extremely brutal. For example, they would skin or burn to death prisoners of war, blind their eyes, and cut off their noses, ears, or fingers.  The book  “Gods, Graves, and Scholars; The Story of Archaeology “ notes:  “In human history, the Nineveans have left bloody records of war and atrocities. They indiscriminately killed innocent people, plunder, prey on and bullied the weak, and when they waged war they were violent and abusive, their king displayed horrific levels of cruelty , and as a result they were destroyed by some of their more brutal  and ferocious opponents. “

雖然那鴻說預言的時候, 亞述國勢如日中天, 似乎牢不可破, 但是世界並沒有不滅的國, 尤其是神已說「我與你為敵」(二13)。那鴻就以亞述攻陷埃及的事跡為鑑(8~10):

Although, the Assyrian Empire seemed invincible during the times of Nahum’s  prophesy, there is not one kingdom in the world that is indestructible, especially when God said, “I am against you” (2:13).  Nahum used the story of the Assyrian attack on Egypt as a lesson to prove that point (v. 8-10).

亞述王亞述巴尼帕在主前663年曾遠征到埃及的底比斯,那時底比斯被稱為挪(城),意思是唯一的城。又因為底比斯的「城神」是「亞們」,故稱為挪亞們。在亞述王遠征的時候,那時的古實,即今之蘇丹管轄,聯合了弗及路比族(利比亞)等附近國家,當然也包括了埃及本身的力量組成 聯軍來抵抗。當時這支軍隊是非常龐大的,底比斯還有地理之便,遠處的防線地中海,城又座落在尼羅河的許多條支流的中間,這些都是天然的防線。然而終究還是不敵,打敗以後,人民逃亡,許多人都被擄。甚至嬰孩被亞述殘酷的軍人摔死在十字路口;一些貴族由遠征軍的領袖以抽籤的方式來決定他們是屬於誰家的命運;很多大人物都被鎖著擄去。

The king of Assyria, Ashurbanipal, expeditioned to Thebes in Egypt in 663 BC. At that time Thebes was called Nowe or Nuwe (“City of Amon”), named for its chief god.  During the Assyrian expedition, Cush at that time, which is now under the jurisdiction of Sudan, Put and Lybia were among her allies, and of course it included the Egyptian forces to form a coalition of forces.  At that time, the army was very large.  Thebes was strategically located by the Mediterranean Sea.   It was built largely on the alluvial plains of the Nile Valley which follows a great bend of the Nile. The city was laid in a northeast-southwest axis parallel to the contemporary river channel.  These were natural lines of defense.    Yet, regardless of its strategical location, the city was defeated.  It was taken captive and went into exile.  Her infants were dashed to pieces at every street corner. Lots were cast for her nobles, and all her great men were put in chains.

這些畫面對亞述人是非常熟悉的,他們曾不斷提起這些事來誇耀他們的戰功。但是那鴻指出, 亞述人該自問,你們現在較之當年的底比斯又如何呢? 

These images are very familiar to the Assyrians, who have boasted repeatedly about their outstanding military conquests. But Nahum points out to the Assyrians that they should ask themselves this question:  “How do we compare to Thebes now?”

底比斯的失敗是敗在亞述人的手裏,但最主要的是上帝的懲罰;同樣地,上帝也要懲罰亞述。亞述要遭遇到相同的厄運。

Thebes was defeated at the hands of the Assyrians, but mainly, it was God’s punishment.  Assyrian was going to suffer the same fate.

那鴻書的信息相當灰暗、嚴厲, 盡顯神公義的審判。但本書應與早一百多年、同是預言尼尼微滅亡的約拿書一起讀。兩位先知異口同聲說神是「不輕易發怒」(拿四2鴻一3), 尼尼微不同的結果繫於對神審判信息的回應: 約拿時的尼尼微「後悔」行差踏錯, 神就「後悔」不降所說的災。聖經清楚告訴我們: 「主耶和華說:我指我的永生起誓,我斷不喜悅惡人死亡,惟喜悅惡人轉離所行的道而活。以色列家啊,你們轉回,轉回吧!離開惡道,何必死亡呢?」(結卅三11)只要我們真誠認罪, 即或是第七十個七次, 神也必定再接納我們。

The message of the book of Nahum was rather bleak and harsh, showing God’s righteous judgment.  But this book should be read together with the book of Jonah which was written more than 100 years before where it prophesied about the demise of Nineveh.  Both prophets agreed with each other when they said that God was “slow to anger” (Jonah 4:2; Nahum 1:3).  Nineveh’s different results depended on how they responded to God’s message of judgement:  The Nineveh during Jonah’s time “repented” and turned from their evil ways, then God “relented” and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.  The Bible tells us clearly:  “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11)  As long as we sincerely confess our sins, even when we sin seventy times seven, God will for sure accept us again.  

by 洪同勉牧師 Rev. Tommy Hung

Gods, graves, and scholars; the story of archaeology / by C. W. Ceram. Translated from the German by E. B. Garside and Sophie Wilkins. New York : Knopf, 1967.