21Nineveh, you are under attack!
The power that will shatter you has come.
Prepare the defences!
Guard the road!
Prepare for battle!2(The LORD is about to restore the glory of Israel, as it was before her enemies plundered her.)
3The enemy soldiers carry red shields
and wear uniforms of red.
They are preparing to attack!
Their chariots flash like fire!
Their horses2.3 Some ancient translations horses; Hebrew cypresses. prance!
4Chariots dash wildly through the streets,
rushing to and fro through the city squares.
They flash like torches
and dart about like lightning.
5The officers are summoned;
they stumble as they press forward.
The attackers rush to the wall
and set up the shield for the battering ram.
6The gates by the river burst open;
the palace is filled with terror.
7The queen is taken captive;
her servants moan like doves
and beat their breasts in sorrow.
8Like water from a broken dam
the people rush from Nineveh!2.8 Probable text Like water… Nineveh; Hebrew unclear.
“Stop! Stop!” the cry rings out —
but no one turns back.
9Plunder the silver!
Plunder the gold!
The city is full of treasure!
10Nineveh is destroyed, deserted, desolate!
Hearts melt with fear;
knees tremble, strength is gone;
faces grow pale.
11Where now is the city
that was like a den of lions,
the place where young lions were fed,
where the lion and the lioness would go
and their cubs would be safe?
12The lion killed his prey
and tore it to pieces for his mate and her cubs;
he filled his den with torn flesh.
13“I am your enemy!” says the LORD Almighty. “I will burn up your chariots. Your soldiers will be killed in war, and I will take away everything that you took from others. The demands of your envoys will no longer be heard.”
31Doomed is the lying, murderous city,
full of wealth to be looted and plundered!
2Listen! The crack of the whip,
the rattle of wheels,
the gallop of horses,
the jolting of chariots!
swords flash, spears gleam!
Corpses are piled high,
dead bodies without number —
men stumble over them!
4Nineveh the whore is being punished.
Attractive and full of deadly charms,
she enchanted nations and enslaved3.4 enslaved; or seduced. them.
5The LORD Almighty says,
“I will punish you, Nineveh!
I will strip you naked
and let the nations see you,
see you in all your shame.
6I will treat you with contempt
and cover you with filth.
People will stare at you in horror.
7All who see you will shrink back.
They will say, ‘Nineveh lies in ruins!
Who has any sympathy for her?
Who will want to comfort her?’ ”
8Nineveh, are you any better than Thebes, the capital of Egypt? She too had a river to protect her like a wall — the Nile was her defence. 9She ruled Ethiopia3.9 Ethiopia: See Word List. and Egypt, there was no limit to her power; Libya was her ally. 10Yet the people of Thebes were carried off into exile. At every street corner their children were beaten to death. Their leading men were carried off in chains and divided among their captors.
11Nineveh, you too will fall into a drunken stupor! You too will try to escape from your enemies. 12All your fortresses will be like fig trees with ripe figs: shake the trees, and the fruit falls right into your mouth! 13Your soldiers are like women, and your country stands defenceless before your enemies. Fire will destroy the bars across your gates. 14Draw water to prepare for a siege, and strengthen your fortresses! Trample the clay to make bricks, and get the brick moulds ready! 15No matter what you do, you will still be burnt to death or killed in battle. You will be wiped out like crops eaten up by locusts.
You multiplied like locusts! 16You produced more merchants than there are stars in the sky! But now they are gone, like locusts that spread their wings and fly away. 17Your officials are like a swarm of locusts that stay in the walls on a cold day. But when the sun comes out, they fly away, and no one knows where they have gone!
18Emperor of Assyria, your governors are dead, and your noblemen are asleep for ever! Your people are scattered on the mountains, and there is no one to bring them home again. 19There is no remedy for your injuries, and your wounds cannot be healed. All those who hear the news of your destruction clap their hands for joy. Did anyone escape your endless cruelty?