Open main menu

Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/736

This page needs to be proofread.




by the vn-itpr in (ho siiminor of 100:?, and it is undor- stood that it is now to be followed up by cither the establishment of a permanent post there or by periodi- cal visits of Oblate missionaries. As to the eastern branch of the tribe, they have been more or less within reach of the priests of the Mackenzie valley. To this day, however, both cast and west of the Rockies the tribe can be pointed out as one of the least civilized of the North .Vmerican Indians.

Soc l)ibIiography to D^N^s. H.\REa, and Loucheux; MoKirE, The Xali'ani- ami iheir Ijanguage in Transactions o{ the Canailian Inslilule iToronto. 1903).


Naharro, BARTOLOiafi de Torres. See Torres


Nahum, one of the Prophets of the Old Testament, the seventh in the traditional list of the twelve Minor Prophets.

N.\ME. — The Hebrew name, probably in the in- tensive form, Nahhum (Gesenius-Kautzsch, "Heb. Gramra.", §84b, g), signifies primarily " full of conso- lation or comfort", hence "consoler" (St. Jerome, conxol(ilor), " comforter". The name Xahum was ap- parently of not rare occurrence. Indeed, not to speak of a certain Nahum listed in the Vulgate and Douay Version (II, vii, 7) among the companions of Zoro- babcl, and whose name seems to have been rather Re- hum (I Esd., ii, 2; Heb. has Rehum inboth places), St. Luke mentions in his genealogy of Our Lord a Nahum, son of Ilcsli and father of Amos (iii, 2,5); the Mishna al-so occasionally refers to Nahum the Mede, a famous rabbi of the second century (Shabb., ii, 1, etc.), and another Nahum who was a scribe or copyist {Peah, ii, C); inscriptions show likewise the name was not un- common among Phoenicians (Gesenius, "Monum. Phoen.", 1.33; Boeckh, "Corp. Inscript. Gra?c.", II, 25, 26; "Corp. Inscript. Semitic", I, 123 a'b').

The Prophet. — The little we know touching the Prophet Nahum must be gathered from his book, for nowhere else in tlie canonical Scriptures does his name occur, and e.\tracanonical Jewish writers are hardly less reticent. The scant positive information vouch- safed by these sources is in no wise supplemented by the worthless stories concerning the Prophet put into circulation by legend-mongers, and which may be found in Carpzov's "Introd. ad lib. canon. Bibliorum Vet. Test." (Ill, 386 sqq.). We will deal only with what may be gathered from the canonical Book of Nahum, the only available first-hand document at our disposal. From its title (i, 1), we learn that Nahum was an Elce-site (so D. V.; A. V., Elkoshite; Heb., 'L"p?X) . On the true import of this statement commen- tators have not always been of one mind. In the pro- logue to his commentary of the book, St. Jerome informs us that some understood 'Elqoshite as a pat- ronymic indication: "the son of Elqosh" ; he, however, holds the commonly accepted view that the word 'El- qoshite shows that the Prophet was a native of Elqosh.

But even understood in this way, the intimation given by the title is di.sputed by biblical scholars. Where, indeed, should this Elqosh, nowhere else re- ferred to in the Bible, be sought? (1) Some have tried to identify it with 'Al(|flsh, 27 miies north of Mossul, wlicre the tomb of Nahum is still shown. According to this opinion, Nahum was bom in Assyria, which w-ould explain his perfect acciuaintance with the topography and cu.stoms of Ninive exhibited in the book! But such an acquaintance may have been .acquired other- wise; and it is a fact that the tr.adition connecting the Prophet Nahum witli tliat place cannot be traced back beyond the sixteenth century, a.s has been conclusively proven by Assemani. This opinion is now generally abandoned by scholars. (2) Still more recent and hardily more credible is the view advocated by Hitzig and Knobel, who hold that Elqosh was the old name of the town called Capharnaum (i. e., "the village of Nahum") in the first century: a Galilean origin, they

claim, would well account for certain slight peculiari- ties of the Prophet's diction that smack of jirovincial- ism. Apart frum the .somewhat iirccarious etymol- ogy, it may be objected against this idcMlihcation that CaphariKiuiii, however well known a i)lacc it was at llie New Testament period, is never mentioned in ear- lier times, anil, for all we know, may have been founded at a relatively recent date; moreover, the priests and the Pharisees would most likely have asserted less emphatically "that out of Galilee a prophet riseth not" (John, vii, .52) had Capharnaum been associated with our Prophet in i\\r jiojiular mind. (:•;) Still, it is in Galilee that St. Jerome located the birtliplace of Nahum ("Comment, in Nah." in P. L., XXV, 1232), supposed to be Elkozeh, in N. Gahlee; but "out of Galileo doth a prophet rise? " might we ask again. (4) The author of the "Lives of the Prophets" long attrib- uted to St. Epiphanius tells us "Elqosh was beyond Beth-Gabre, in the tribe of Simeon" (Greek text in P. G., XLIII, 400; Syriac text in Nestle, "Syrische Grammatik, Clircstdiiiathia", 09). He unquestion- ably means that Ekiosli was in the neighbourhood of Beth-Gabre (Beit Jihrhi), the ancient Eleutheropolis, on the borders of Juda and Simeon. This view has been adopted in the Roman Martyrology (1 Decem- ber; " Begabar" is no doubt a corrupt spelling of Beth- Gabre), and finds more and more acceptance with modern scholars.

The Book. — Contents. — The Book of Nahum con- tains only three chapters and may be divided into two distinct parts: the one, including i and ii, 2 (Heb., i-ii, 1-3), and the other consisting of ii, 1, 3-iii (Heb., ii, 2, 4-iii). The first part is more undetermined in tone and character. After the twofold title indicating the subject-matter and the author of the book (i, 1), the writer enters upon his subject by a solemn affirmation of what he calls the Lord's jealousy and revengeful- ness (i, 2, 3), and a most forceful description of the fright which seizes all nature at the aspect of Yahweh coming into judgment (i, 3-6). Contrasting admira- bly with this appalling picture is the comforting as- surance of God's loving-kindness towards His true and trustful servants (7-8); then follows the announce- ment of the destruction of His enemies, among whom a treacherous, cruel, and god-ridden city, no doubt Ninive (although the name is not found in the text), is singled out and irretrievably doomed to everlasting ruin (8-14) ; the glad tidings of the oppressor's fall is the signal of a new era of glory for the people of God (i, 15;ii, 2;Heb., ii, 1,3).

The second part of the book is more directly than the other a "burden of Ninive"; some of the features of the great Assyrian city are described so accurately as to make all doubt impossible, even if the name Ninive were not explicitly mentioned in ii, 8. In a first section (ii), the Prophet dashes off in a few bold strokes three successive sketches: we behold the ap- proach of the besiegers, the assault on the city, and, within, the of its defenders to the walls (ii, 1, 3-5; Heb., ii, 2, 4-6) ; then the protecting dams and sluices of the Tigris being burst open, Ninive, panic-stricken, has become an easy prey to the victor: her most sa- cred places are profaned, her vast treasures plundered (6-9; Heb. : 7-10) ; and now Ninive, once the den where the lion hoarded rich spoils for his whelps and his lion- esses, has been swept awav forever by the mighty hand of the God of hosts (l"0-;13; Heb., 11-13). The second section (iii) develops with new details the same theme. The bloodthirstincss, greed, and crafty and insidious policy of Ninive are the cause of her over- throw, most graphically depicted (1-4); complete and shameful will be her downfall and no one will utter a word of pity (5-7). As No-.A.mmon was mercilessly crushetl, so Ninive likewise will empty to the dregs the bitter cup of the Divine vengeance (8-11). In vain does she trust in her strongholds, her warriors, her preparations for a siege, and her officials and scribes