TO CHAPTER 1 GO
TO CHAPTER 2 GO
TO CHAPTER 3
Introduction to Nahum
Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian kingdom (not to be confused
with Syria), originally built by Nimrod (Gen 10:11). Assyria crops
up a number of times in Scripture and so it is important that
we understand something of this nation and especially its capital
against which Nahum prophesies.
a nation it started developing about 800BC and really started
expanding in the 700s BC, destroying Samaria and the northern
kingdom of Israel in 722BC. As such it had been used as God's
tool of judgment. Nineveh had been established as its capital
In the Scriptures we come across a number of Assyrian kings: Tiglath-Pileser
invaded the northern kingdom about 740BC (2 Kings 15:19), Shalmaneser
attacked the northern kingdom and eventually carried them all
off in 722BC (2 Kings 17:3,6). Sennacherib attacked Judah in 710BC
(2 Kings 18:13). Jonah had announced its destruction earlier
(Jon 3:4), but the people repented and the destruction was temporarily
averted. Not long after that, however, Nineveh reverted to its
extreme wickedness, brutality and pride. The brutality reached
its peak under Ashurbanipal (669-627), the last great ruler of
the Assyrian empire. After his death, Assyria's influence and
power waned rapidly until 612, when Nineveh was overthrown. Nahum's
Significance: So much for history, now the word of the
Lord that came some eighteen years beforehand. Nahum probably
prophesied about 630BC and as we just noted, it
was destroyed in 612BC , and that is the main feature
of this little prophetic book.
City: Nineveh was
a great city with great walls that stretched over 7 miles round
and had the water of rivers surrounding and protecting her. The
Medes, Persians and Scythians came against it but the walls were
too great for them. After a 3 month siege heavy rains raised the
river levels to such an extent that they broke into the city and
the walls collapsed. Nineveh fell by an act of God – just as He
Nahum 1: Warnings to Nineveh, encouragement to Judah
Comments: This first chapter, after simply having stated
its goal, first extols the Lord [v.2-10], speaking of His character
and activity, and then moves to speak more directly to Judah (to
encourage) and Nineveh (to warn). The Lord is going to bring an
end to Assyria's activity that has affected Judah.]
Clear goal of the prophecy: Nineveh, capital of Assyria
prophecy concerning Nineveh.
The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.
ONE: v.2-10: About the Lord
He will declare three things about the Lord: 1. That God is jealous
is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD takes vengeance and is
filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and vents
his wrath against his enemies.
Jealousy implies love & concern; here it will be
for Israel but first he simply declares this characteristic: God
will NOT ignore those who have made themselves His enemy and He
will deal with them in His jealousy for His people.]
The second thing: 2. God is slow to anger but He will act
LORD is slow to anger but great in power; the LORD will
not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and
the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.
rebukes the sea and dries it up; he makes all the rivers run dry.
Bashan and Carmel wither and the blossoms of Lebanon fade.
mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth
trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it.
can withstand his indignation? Who can endure his fierce anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before
Although He seems slow to get angry and act [see also
2 Pet 3:9] He WILL bring justice on the guilty in the form of
destructive judgments. Thus none [however proud, we might imply]
will be able to withstand Him when He has set His mind on justice
The third thing: 3. God is good and a refuge for those who trust
is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who
trust in him,
with an overwhelming flood he will make an end
of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness.
they plot against the LORD he will bring to an end; trouble will
not come a second time.
will be entangled among thorns and drunk from their wine; they
will be consumed like dry stubble.
The first thing is that those who turn to Him and trust
Him will find He is a refuge. The second thing is that He will
be a refuge against enemies and because Assyria has become an
enemy He will bring down Nineveh, their capital. Note especially
TWO: v.11-15: About Nineveh's Fall & Judah's Freedom
Pride from a king [presumably] brings rebellion against God [the
heart of sin]
you, Nineveh, has one come forth
who plots evil against the LORD and devises wicked plans.
The Lord Speaks to Judah: Judgment on Nineveh, Freedom for Judah
is what the LORD says: “Although they have allies and are numerous,
they will be destroyed and pass away. Although I have afflicted
you, Judah, I will afflict you no more.
I will break their yoke from your neck and tear your shackles
The Lord Speaks to Nineveh; Because of your idolatry, you will
LORD has given a command concerning you, Nineveh:
“You will have no descendants to bear your name. I will destroy
the images and idols that are in the temple of your gods. I will
prepare your grave, for you are vile.”
The Lord speaks to Judah: Peace is coming so celebrate your festivals
there on the mountains, the feet of one who brings good news,
who proclaims peace! Celebrate your festivals, Judah,
and fulfill your vows. No more will the wicked invade you; they
will be completely destroyed.
The Lord moves on to confront Nineveh's leader [the
king] who has turned against God. He then turns back to Judah
to reassure then that however strong Assyria and their various
alliances may appear, He will destroy them and lift off the burden
that they had been to Judah. He turns back to rebuke Nineveh,
warning that the destruction against them, and all their idol
worship, will be terminal. So He turns back to Judah and reassures
them that peace is being declared over them and they will rest
Comments: The chapter does three things:
Extol the Lord who is jealous for His people [v.2] and who, although
He appears to be slow in acting against enemies, will come and
deliver Judah [v3-6], because He is a refuge for those who turn
to Him and trust Him and He will deal with Nineveh [v.7-13].
Brings hope & encouragement to Judah saying how the Lord will
remove their oppressor [v.8] and He will remove their shackles
[v.12,13] so they may know peace and the freedom to celebrate
their festivals without interruption once again [v.15].
Brings a severe warning to Nineveh that the Lord will destroy
her with a great flood [v.8 – see Introduction] and He will do
this because they have turned against Him [v.11] and turned to
idol worship [v.14].
is a remarkable clarity in purpose and detail here.]
Nahum 2: Nineveh's End under a magnifying glass
Comments: The descriptions of Nineveh's end as continued
An enemy attack on Nineveh is coming and she will fall
attacker advances against you, Nineveh. Guard the fortress, watch
the road, brace yourselves, marshal all your strength!
LORD will restore the splendor of Jacob like the splendor of Israel,
though destroyers have laid them waste and have ruined their vines.
shields of the soldiers are red; the warriors are clad in scarlet.
The metal on the chariots flashes on the day they are made ready;
the spears of juniper are brandished.
chariots storm through the streets, rushing back and forth through
the squares. They look like flaming torches; they dart about like
summons her picked troops, yet they stumble on their way. They
dash to the city wall; the protective shield is put in place.
river gates are thrown open and the palace collapses.
The warning is that an enemy is coming against Nineveh
and that will result in Judah being restored. The picture of the
enemy army plundering the city, once the walls are breached, is
graphic and even Nineveh's elite troops will stumble and flee
before the enemy. The breach will be caused by the river flooding.
Nineveh's people will be taken away
is decreed that Nineveh be exiled and carried away. Her female
slaves moan like doves and beat on their breasts.
is like a pool whose water is draining away. “Stop! Stop!” they
cry, but no one turns back.
the silver! Plunder the gold! The supply is endless, the wealth
from all its treasures!
is pillaged, plundered, stripped! Hearts melt, knees give way,
bodies tremble, every face grows pale.
The picture of the disaster continues with the emphasis
turning to the people of Nineveh being carried away and the city
being emptied of its occupants, rather like a pool of water that
is draining away. The words ‘pillaged, plundered, stripped', show
the extent of the overwhelming nature of this disaster for Nineveh.]
Their reputation for aggression & violence will become a past
now is the lions' den, the place where they fed their young, where
the lion and lioness went, and the cubs, with nothing to fear?
lion killed enough for his cubs and strangled the prey for his
mate, filling his lairs with the kill and his dens with the prey.
am against you,” declares the LORD Almighty. “I will burn up your
chariots in smoke, and the sword will devour your young lions.
I will leave you no prey on the earth. The voices of your messengers
will no longer be heard.”
They had once been like young lions, bred for violence
but the Lord will deal with them in such a way that all of that
will be past history.]
Comments: The chapter is full of graphic warning. An
enemy is coming to attack them [ see
Introduction] [v.1] so they will cease coming against God's people
and Judah can be restored [v.2]. The enemy will enter and plunder
the city [v.3,4] and their own soldiers will be helpless against
them [v.5] and this will happen because the protective river around
them will breach the walls [v.6]. So great will be this conquest
that their people will be taken away [v.7,8] and the wonderful
city plundered of all its valuables [v.9,10]. Their reputation
for being warriors will be a thing of past history [v.11-13].
The prophecy leaves no room for doubt in its devastating clarity.]
Nahum 3: Rejoicing over Nineveh's downfall
Comments: Even more descriptions of the extent, cause
and nature of the downfall of the city.]
The defeat will be of catastrophic magnitude
to the city of blood, full of lies, full of plunder, never without
crack of whips, the clatter of wheels, galloping horses and jolting
cavalry, flashing swords and glittering spears! Many casualties,
piles of dead, bodies without number, people stumbling over the
The enemy coming into the breached city is graphic and
The Reason for this will be exposed – their powerless idolatry
because of the wanton lust of a prostitute, alluring, the mistress
of sorceries, who enslaved nations by her prostitution and peoples
by her witchcraft.
am against you,” declares the LORD Almighty. “I will lift your
skirts over your face. I will show the nations your nakedness
and the kingdoms your shame.
The cause of all of this is the idolatry and occult
following that exists in this great city. One might suggest that
it has reached such a degree as to possibly spread across and
contaminate the whole empire so as to require the Lord's restraining
intervention before that can happen.]
Their power and greatness will be turned to contempt & mockery
will pelt you with filth, I will treat you with contempt and make
you a spectacle.
who see you will flee from you and say, ‘Nineveh is in ruins—who
will mourn for her?' Where can I find anyone to comfort you?”
A city once proud and haughty in its might, will be
so broken down that it becomes a spectacle to passersby. Historical
records suggest that within a few years of its downfall all that
was left was an almost unidentifiable mound of ruins.]
The will be shown no better than Egypt
you better than Thebes, situated on the Nile, with water around
her? The river was her defense, the waters her wall.
and Egypt were her boundless strength; Put and Libya were among
she was taken captive and went into exile. Her infants were dashed
to pieces at every street corner. Lots were cast for her nobles,
and all her great men were put in chains.
too will become drunk; you will go into hiding and seek refuge
from the enemy.
Thebes in Egypt had water
as their defence, they had alliances with other nations and had
felt secure; look at what happed to them! Thebes had fallen in
664/663. The same thing is going to happen to you!]
All your fighting resources are inadequate for what is coming
your fortresses are like fig trees with their first ripe fruit;
when they are shaken, the figs fall into the mouth of the eater.
at your troops— they are all weaklings. The gates of your land
are wide open to your enemies; fire has consumed the bars of your
Your siege provisions will be inadequate
water for the siege, strengthen your defenses! Work the clay,
tread the mortar, repair the brickwork!
the fire will consume you; the sword will cut you down— they will
devour you like a swarm of locusts. Multiply like grasshoppers,
multiply like locusts!
Your merchants & warriors will all be stripped away
have increased the number of your merchants till they are more
numerous than the stars in the sky, but like locusts they strip
the land and then fly away.
guards are like locusts, your officials like swarms of locusts
that settle in the walls on a cold day— but when the sun appears
they fly away, and no one knows where.
Your economy & people will go
of Assyria, your shepherds slumber; your nobles lie down to rest.
Your people are scattered on the mountains with no one to gather
can heal you; your wound is fatal. All who hear the news about
you clap their hands at your fall, for who has not felt your endless
Nothing they have – none of their various resources
- will be sufficient to ward off the destruction and downfall
of the empire that is coming.
chapter almost mocks and derides Assyria as the prophecy heaps
one negative after another on the previous pictures and warnings
of the coming destruction. The enemy will get into the city [v.1-3],
their idolatry has raised God's anger against them [v.4,5], He
will make Nineveh a ruin and a source of mockery [v.6,7], and
just as Egypt was brought down, so will they [v.8-11]. Their defenses
and troops will prove inadequate [v.12,13], as will their ability
to withstand a siege [v.14,15] and the backbone of their empire,
their economy, their merchants, and their warriors, will all melt
away [v.16,17], so the king should take heed of this warning,
for his people will be scattered and nothing can heal the weak
state of morale of the nation which WILL fall. [v.18,19]
we observed in the Introduction, Ashurbanipal (669-627) was the
last great ruler of the Assyrian empire. [There were lesser kings].
After his death in 627, Assyria's influence and power waned rapidly
until 612, when Nineveh was overthrown. If our
dating is correct Nahum probably prophesied about 630BC and the
king still had three years to live and so the warning comes to
him. The city fell and was destroyed in 612BC, just eighteen years
after Nahum prophesied.
was under siege from invaders for three months before she fell
but fall she did, exactly as Nahum prophesied in 1:8, 2:6 and
then 3:8, three little indicators of how this mighty city, the
capital of this declining but still proud nation, is going to
fall because of the river flooding and breaching the walls which
the surrounding army had not managed to penetrate. The Lord spoke
it, and it happened exactly as He indicated. A challenging book,
as short and as limited as it is!]