The Book of Micah The Book of Habakkuk


Nahum was a native of Elkoshai, a little village of Galilee, whose ruins were still in being in the time of St. Jerome.

The particular circumstances of the life of Nahum are altogether unknown. His prophecy consists of three chapters, which make up but one discourse, wherein he foretells the destruction of Nineveh. He describes it in so pathetic a manner that he seems to have been upon the spot to declare to the Ninevites the destruction of their city.

We are inclined to be of St. Jerome's opinion, that he foretold the destruction of Nineveh in the time of Hezekiah, and after the war of Sennacherib in Egypt. Nahum speaks plainly of the taking of No-Ammon, a city of Egypt; of the haughtiness of Rabshakeh; of the defeat of Sennacherib; and he speaks of them as things that were past. He supposes that the Jews were still in their own country, and that they there celebrated their festivals. He speaks of the Captivity, and of the dispersion of the ten tribes. All these evidences convince us that Nahum cannot be placed before the fifteenth year of Hezekiah, since the expedition of Sennacherib against this prince was in the fourteenth year of his reign.

Nahum 1:1. When Did Nahum Prophesy?

"The date of Nahum's activities has to be deduced from certain statements made in the prophecy. In Chapter 3:8-10 reference is made to the destruction of the city of No-Amon, the Egyptian Thebes, as an already accomplished fact. We know Thebes was captured by Assurbanipal, the Assyrian, in 663 BC. Therefore, Nahum's prophecy must have been written after that date. And since Nahum's prophecy deals with the coming destruction of Nineveh, we know it must have been written before 612 BC, the date of her downfall. We may date Nahum's ministry with some degree of probability, therefore, between the years 663 BC and 612 BC." (Sidney B. Sperry, The Voice of Israel's Prophets, p. 353)

Nahum 1:1-14. The Prophecies of Nahum Were Written in Superb Hebrew Poetry

"Nahum was a poet. When he saw in vision the end of Assyria, he poured forth in unrestrained and picturesque Hebrew the relief felt by his people. In many ways his poetry vents the wrath, sighs the relief, and bespeaks the hope of all who have been oppressed when the oppressions at last have ceased and the oppressor is no more. But Nahum was also a prophet; and he saw in Assyria's downfall an example of the hand of God in justice reaping with a vengeance all the enemies of good, while He preserves in mercy and with patience those who try to do good ...

"Envisioning the overthrow of this cruel and mighty empire, whose kings in their own records boast of the captives they have maimed, the realms they have subjected and the treasures they have confiscated, Nahum tells how the doom of the mighty and the wicked is decreed, deserved, and done.

"His book begins with an acrostic, with one strophe (stanza) for each of the first fifteen letters of the Hebrew alphabet, with two alterations of the sequence. The first seven strophes (verses 2-5 in English) emphasize God's power over nature and over His enemies; but the third (verse 3a) interrupts to tell of His goodness and justice. The second seven strophes emphasize His power over all enemies and evils, but again tells by contrast in the third of the series (verse 7) of His goodness and His mercy to those who take refuge in Him. The fifteenth and final strophe (verse 10) provides a summary and a transition to the next subject to be treated: the castigation of Nineveh.

"Assyria and Judah are alternately addressed in the next poem (verses 11-14); the one is to be punished and the other to be redeemed. It concludes with a hopeful verse, speaking of a peaceful age in terms that seem to herald the Messianic age when all oppressors shall have ceased." (Ellis T. Rasmussen, "Nahum, a Poet-Prophet," Instructor, Aug. 1962, insert between pp. 270-71)

Nahum 1:1-15. What did Nahum speak of?

Nahum 1:2-10. The Second Coming

Nahum employed imagery usually associated with the Savior's Second Coming to depict Assyria's future devastation. Assyria would be as easily burned as dry stubble in a field. Here is yet another example of the prophetic dualism so common in the Old Testament.

Nahum 1:11-13. "A Wicked Counselor"

Still prophesying of Judah's future, Nahum spoke of one very "wicked counsellor" whose yoke upon Judah, probably a large yearly tribute (see 2 Kings 17:14), was to be broken. Sennacherib, king of Assyria, had invaded Judah with a force of nearly two hundred thousand men. The prophecy foretold that Sennacherib would die shortly, and the house of his gods would become his grave (see Nahum 1:14). While he was worshiping in the temple dedicated to the god Nisrock, Sennacherib's two sons, Adrammelech and Sharazer, murdered their father as Nahum had prophesied (see 2 Kings 19:37).

Nahum 2:1-8. What would happen to Nineveh?

Nahum 2:1-13. What is this destruction a type of?

Nahum 2:11-13. "I Am against Thee"

In these verses Nahum wrote a taunting hymn of grief at the fall of Nineveh. "Where," he asked, "is the dwelling of the lions, and the feeding place of the young lions?" (v. 11). This is like saying, Where are those ferocious ones who once discomfited and attacked my people? "I will cut off thy prey from the earth, and the voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard" (v. 13).

Nahum 3:1-7. "Woe to the Bloody City"

These verses pronounce the worst of woes on Nineveh, "the bloody city" (v. 1). She was a harlot, wicked in the extreme, and her punishments were merited because she was a "mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms" (v. 4). In other words, she not only turned to wickedness herself but exported that wickedness to many others through her power and influence.

Nahum 3:1-19. What was foretold?

Nahum 3:8-11. "Art Thou Better?"

As other wicked cities had met destruction, so would Nineveh. She was no better than the Egyptian city, No-Amon (Thebes), which was earlier destroyed by Assurbanipal, king of Assyria. Neither of the allies of Thebes, Ethiopia or Libya, had been able to protect her. Nineveh, too, would "seek strength" in allies and find none.

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