The Book Of NAHUM
Nahum addresses the afflicted community of Judah to announce the demise
of Assyria and its capital Nineveh. The community of Judah, along with
many other countries, has suffered from Assyrian tyranny and violence.
The question of whether or not anyone can escape the cruelty of Assyria
is answered by God's standing against Assyria. The destruction of
Assyria is announced through speeches formally addressed to the king of
Assyria and Nineveh, but the actual audience is Judah. Both the past
affliction that Judah has experienced and the coming destruction of
Assyria are the work of God, as well as the usual ebb and flow of
turbulent political forces.
The book asserts that oppressive violence is not enduring in the face of
God's opposition to it. God is involved in the ebb and flow of history
to provide refuge, even from God's own wrath.
The book is written after the Assyrian destruction of Thebes (3:8-10).
How much after is not clear. The successful revolt of Babylon in 626
B.C.E. marks the beginning of the unraveling of the Assyrian empire. The
destruction of Nineveh in 612 B.C.E. marks the end. It is common to
presume that the book was written close to the latter date.
The book of Nahum announced the imminent destruction of the Assyrian
empire and its capital Nineveh. Assyria had been a yoke on Judah's neck,
a condition that was understood to be the Lord's affliction of Judah
(1:12). That affliction was declared to be at an end; Assyria/Nineveh
will face the consequence of its own destructive impact on peoples it
The reader should take the posture of one both afflicted by the Lord and
by violent political forces. If the affliction of the Lord is not
factored in, the appropriation of the book can become a self-serving
tirade against enemies. Even Judah must face the indignation of the Lord
(1:6), but, unlike the situation for Assyria/Nineveh, for Judah the
Lord is also a refuge. For contemporary readers, there are destructive
forces equivalent to Assyria/Nineveh. The question all readers must face
is whether they see themselves in Assyria/Nineveh or in Judah. The
latter are promised deliverance from the very forces that up to this
point have also been instruments of God's action. The former must face
the end of its destructive impunity.
AUTHOR: Richard W. Nysse, Professor of Old Testament
The Book Of NAHUM
1 The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.
2 God is
jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the
LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for
LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit
the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and
the clouds are the dust of his feet.
rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers:
Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth.
mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at
his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.
6 Who can
stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of
his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown
down by him.
7 The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.
8 But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies.
9 What do ye imagine against the LORD? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time.
while they be folden together as thorns, and while they are drunken as
drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry.
11 There is one come out of thee, that imagineth evil against the LORD, a wicked counsellor.
saith the LORD; Though they be quiet, and likewise many, yet thus shall
they be cut down, when he shall pass through. Though I have afflicted
thee, I will afflict thee no more.
13 For now will I break his yoke from off thee, and will burst thy bonds in sunder.
the LORD hath given a commandment concerning thee, that no more of thy
name be sown: out of the house of thy gods will I cut off the graven
image and the molten image: I will make thy grave; for thou art vile.
upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that
publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for
the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.
1 He that
dasheth in pieces is come up before thy face: keep the munition, watch
the way, make thy loins strong, fortify thy power mightily.
2 For the
LORD hath turned away the excellency of Jacob, as the excellency of
Israel: for the emptiers have emptied them out, and marred their vine
shield of his mighty men is made red, the valiant men are in scarlet:
the chariots shall be with flaming torches in the day of his
preparation, and the fir trees shall be terribly shaken.
chariots shall rage in the streets, they shall justle one against
another in the broad ways: they shall seem like torches, they shall run
like the lightnings.
shall recount his worthies: they shall stumble in their walk; they shall
make haste to the wall thereof, and the defence shall be prepared.
6 The gates of the rivers shall be opened, and the palace shall be dissolved.
Huzzab shall be led away captive, she shall be brought up, and her maids
shall lead her as with the voice of doves, tabering upon their breasts.
8 But Nineveh is of old like a pool of water: yet they shall flee away. Stand, stand, shall they cry; but none shall look back.
9 Take ye
the spoil of silver, take the spoil of gold: for there is none end of
the store and glory out of all the pleasant furniture.
10 She is
empty, and void, and waste: and the heart melteth, and the knees smite
together, and much pain is in all loins, and the faces of them all
is the dwelling of the lions, and the feedingplace of the young lions,
where the lion, even the old lion, walked, and the lion's whelp, and
none made them afraid?
lion did tear in pieces enough for his whelps, and strangled for his
lionesses, and filled his holes with prey, and his dens with ravin.
I am against thee, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will burn her
chariots in the smoke, and the sword shall devour thy young lions: and I
will cut off thy prey from the earth, and the voice of thy messengers
shall no more be heard.
1 Woe to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not;
2 The noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, and of the pransing horses, and of the jumping chariots.
horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the glittering spear: and
there is a multitude of slain, and a great number of carcases; and there
is none end of their corpses; they stumble upon their corpses:
of the multitude of the whoredoms of the wellfavoured harlot, the
mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and
families through her witchcrafts.
I am against thee, saith the LORD of hosts; and I will discover thy
skirts upon thy face, and I will shew the nations thy nakedness, and the
kingdoms thy shame.
6 And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a gazingstock.
7 And it
shall come to pass, that all they that look upon thee shall flee from
thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her? whence shall I
seek comforters for thee?
thou better than populous No, that was situate among the rivers, that
had the waters round about it, whose rampart was the sea, and her wall
was from the sea?
9 Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was infinite; Put and Lubim were thy helpers.
was she carried away, she went into captivity: her young children also
were dashed in pieces at the top of all the streets: and they cast lots
for her honourable men, and all her great men were bound in chains.
11 Thou also shalt be drunken: thou shalt be hid, thou also shalt seek strength because of the enemy.
thy strong holds shall be like fig trees with the firstripe figs: if
they be shaken, they shall even fall into the mouth of the eater.
thy people in the midst of thee are women: the gates of thy land shall
be set wide open unto thine enemies: the fire shall devour thy bars.
14 Draw thee waters for the siege, fortify thy strong holds: go into clay, and tread the morter, make strong the brickkiln.
shall the fire devour thee; the sword shall cut thee off, it shall eat
thee up like the cankerworm: make thyself many as the cankerworm, make
thyself many as the locusts.
16 Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven: the cankerworm spoileth, and fleeth away.
crowned are as the locusts, and thy captains as the great grasshoppers,
which camp in the hedges in the cold day, but when the sun ariseth they
flee away, and their place is not known where they are.
shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria: thy nobles shall dwell in the
dust: thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth
is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the
bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy
wickedness passed continually?