“I am, and there is none besides me.” The people of Nineveh proudly boasted that they lived in the most exalted city on earth, but pride goes before a fall, and it certainly did in their case. It is one thing to be blessed by where you live, but it is quite another to think that somehow makes you better than others.
“will hiss and wave his hand in contempt.” The people who pass by Nineveh will show utter contempt for it. The actions of hissing and waving the hand in contempt, as a person does today when they are over something, done with it, almost “flipping it off,” shows how the feelings and actions of people are “very human” and have not changed in over 2,500 years. We today still hiss at villains and “wave off” people and situations we have contempt for. Some modern translations have “shake the fist” (ESV; NAB; NIV), but “wave the hand” it the more literal translation of the Hebrew text. Nevertheless, both actions can demonstrate contempt.