NAHUM, BOOK OF
This book is a prophetic “pronouncement against Nineveh,” the capital of the Assyrian Empire. This Bible book was written by Nahum the Elkoshite. (Na 1:1) The historical fulfillment of that prophetic pronouncement testifies to the authenticity of the book. Sometime after the Egyptian city of No-amon (Thebes) suffered humiliating defeat in the seventh century B.C.E. (3:8-10), the book of Nahum was committed to writing, being completed before Nineveh’s foretold destruction came in 632 B.C.E.—See ASSYRIA; NINEVEH.
Harmony With Other Bible Books. The book of Nahum agrees fully with the rest of the Scriptures in describing Jehovah as “a God exacting exclusive devotion,” “slow to anger and great in power,” but by no means withholding punishment. (Na 1:2, 3; compare Ex 20:5; 34:6, 7; Job 9:4; Ps 62:11.) “Jehovah is good, a stronghold in the day of distress. And he is cognizant of those seeking refuge in him.” (Na 1:7; compare Ps 25:8; 46:1; Isa 25:4; Mt 19:17.) These qualities are clearly manifest in his delivering the Israelites from Assyrian oppression and executing vengeance against bloodguilty Nineveh after a considerable period of forbearance.
Noteworthy, too, are the similarities between Nahum chapter 1 and Psalm 97. The words of Isaiah (10:24-27; 30:27-33) regarding Jehovah’s judgment against Assyria parallel, to an extent, Nahum chapters 2 and 3.—Also compare Isa 52:7; Na 1:15; Ro 10:15.
Historical Background. Although assured that the conspiracy of Syrian King Rezin and Israelite King Pekah would fail in the attempt to depose him as king (Isa 7:3-7), faithless Ahaz of Judah unwisely appealed to Assyrian King Tiglath-pileser III (Tilgath-pilneser) for aid. Eventually this move “caused him distress, and did not strengthen him,” for Judah came under the heavy yoke of Assyria. (2Ch 28:20, 21) Later, Ahaz’ son and successor to the throne, Hezekiah, rebelled against Assyrian dominance. (2Ki 18:7) Thereafter the Assyrian monarch Sennacherib invaded Judah and seized one fortified city after another, this resulting in extensive desolation of the land. (Compare Isa 7:20, 23-25; 8:6-8; 36:1, 2.) The next Judean king, Manasseh, was captured by Assyrian army chiefs and taken to Babylon (then under Assyrian control).—2Ch 33:11.
Since Judah had thus suffered long under the heavy hand of Assyria, Nahum’s prophecy regarding Nineveh’s imminent destruction was good news. As if Assyria had already experienced its downfall, Nahum wrote: “Look! Upon the mountains the feet of one bringing good news, one publishing peace. O Judah, celebrate your festivals. Pay your vows; because no more will any good-for-nothing person pass again through you. In his entirety he will certainly be cut off.” (Na 1:15) No longer would there be any interference from the Assyrians; nothing would hinder the Judeans from attending or celebrating the festivals. The deliverance from the Assyrian oppressor would be complete. (Compare Na 1:9.) Also, all other peoples hearing about Nineveh’s destruction would “clap their hands,” or rejoice, over her calamity, for the city’s badness had brought much suffering to them.—3:19.
The military aggressiveness of the Assyrians made Nineveh a “city of bloodshed.” (Na 3:1) Cruel and inhuman was the treatment meted out to captives of her wars. Some were burned or skinned alive. Others were blinded or had their noses, ears, or fingers cut off. Frequently, captives were led by cords attached to hooks that pierced the nose or lips. Truly Nineveh deserved to be destroyed for her bloodguiltiness.
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HIGHLIGHTS OF NAHUM
A pronouncement against Nineveh, the capital of Assyria
Written sometime before Nineveh was destroyed in 632 B.C.E.
Jehovah executes vengeance upon his adversaries (1:1-6)
Jehovah requires exclusive devotion; though he is slow to anger, he does not hold back punishment when deserved
No one can stand against the heat of his anger; before him the seas dry up, mountains rock, the hills melt, the earth heaves
Execution of the wicked affords relief for those hoping in Jehovah (1:7–3:19)
Jehovah is a protective stronghold for those relying on him, but he will exterminate the enemy
Good news will be announced to Judah; the “good-for-nothing person” will be cut off, and true worship will be carried on without hindrance
Jehovah will regather his own, but Nineveh will be laid waste, and her war chariots burned
The bloodguilty city is to be plundered as a punishment for her sins; nothing can save her, her warriors have become as women
The stroke inflicted on the king of Assyria has become unhealable