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1Ah! The bloody city,
Full of plunder,
whose looting never stops!a
2The crack of the whip,
the rumbling of wheels;
the flash of the sword,
the gleam of the spear;
A multitude of slain,
a mass of corpses,
to stumble upon!
4For the many debaucheries of the prostitute,
a charming mistress of witchcraft,
Who enslaved nations with her prostitution,
and peoples by her witchcraft:b
5* I now come against you—
oracle of the LORD of hosts—
and I will lift your skirt above your face;
I will show your nakedness to the nations,
to the kingdoms your shame!c
6I will cast filth upon you,
disgrace you and make you a spectacle;
7Until everyone who sees you
runs from you saying,
“Nineveh is destroyed;
who can pity her?
Where can I find
any to console you?”
that was set among the Nile’s canals,
Surrounded by waters,
with the river for her rampart
and water for her wall?
9Ethiopia was her strength,
and Egypt without end;
Put* and the Libyans
were her allies.
10Yet even she became an exile,
and went into captivity;
Even her little ones were dashed to pieces
at the corner of every street;
For her nobles they cast lots,
and all her great ones were put into chains.
11You, too, will drink of this;
you will be overcome;e
You, too, will seek
a refuge from the foe.
12But all your fortresses are fig trees,
bearing early figs;*
When shaken, they fall
into the devourer’s mouth.
13Indeed your troops
are women in your midst;
To your foes are open wide
the gates of your land,
fire has consumed their bars.
14Draw water for the siege,*
strengthen your fortresses;
Go down into the mud
and tread the clay,
take hold of the brick mold!
15There the fire will consume you,
the sword will cut you down;
it will consume you like the grasshoppers.
Multiply like the grasshoppers,
multiply like the locusts!f
16You have made your traders* more numerous
than the stars of the heavens;
like grasshoppers that shed their skins and fly away.
17Your sentries are like locusts,
and your scribes like locust swarms
Gathered on the rubble fences
on a cold day!
Yet when the sun rises, they vanish,
and no one knows where they have gone.
18Your shepherds slumber,
O king of Assyria,
your nobles have gone to rest;
Your people are scattered upon the mountains,
with none to gather them.
19There is no healing for your hurt,
your wound is fatal.
All who hear this news of you
clap their hands over you;
For who has not suffered
under your endless malice?
* [3:8] No-amon: “No” was the Egyptian name of the capital of Upper Egypt, called Thebes by the Greeks; its patron deity was Amon. This great city was destroyed by the Assyrians in 663 B.C.
* [3:12] Early figs: the refugees from Nineveh who escape to presumably secure fortresses.
* [3:14] An ironic exhortation to prepare the city for a futile defense. Go down…brick mold: make bricks for the city walls.
* [3:16] Traders: agents of the economic exploitation that sustained and enriched the Assyrian empire.
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