by Ken Cayce

Ken Cayce All rights reserved.


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Nahum Explained

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Book of Nahum Explained

Title: The book's title is taken from the prophet-of-God's oracle against Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. Nahum means "comfort" or "consolation" and is a short form of Nehemiah ("comfort of Yahweh"). Nahum is not quoted in the New Testament, although there may be an allusion to (Nahum 1:15 in Romans 10:15; Isaiah 52:7).

Author - Date: The author of the prophecy is named simply "Nahum the Elkoshite" (1:1), and all that is known of the prophet is gleaned from this prophecy. Probably the identity of the prophet is obscured so his message can be prominent. Nahum's mission was to comfort the kingdom of Judah, following the destruction of Israel by Assyria, by announcing God's coming judgment on Nineveh, the capital of Assyria.

The purpose of Nahum's prophecy is twofold:

(1) To deliver a message of judgment and destruction against Nineveh; and

(2) To give comfort to Judah, so recently ravaged by Assyria.

Since Assyria is doomed, it will constitute a threat no longer.

With no mention of any kings in the introduction, the date of Nahum's prophecy must be implied by historical data. The message of judgment against Nineveh portrays a nation of strength, intimating a time not only prior to her fall (in 612 B.C.), but probably before the death of Ashurbanipal (in 626 B.C.), after which Assyria's power fell rapidly.

Being occupied with the doom on Nineveh, Nahum does not date his prophecy according to any of the kings of Israel or Judah. He probably ministered during the reign of Hezekiah. This would certainly fit if (1:9-13), is understood as a vivid description of Sennacherib's invasion of Judah and siege of Jerusalem. The only historical citation that can be identified with certainty is the references to "No" (No-amon, i.e., Egyptian Thebes), which was destroyed by Assyria (in 663 B.C.; 3:8-10).

Nahum's mention of the fall of No-amon, also called Thebes (3:8-10, in 663 B.C.), at the hands of Ashurbanipal, appears to be fresh in their minds and there is no mention of the rekindling that occurred ten years later, suggesting a mid-seventh century B.C. date during the reign of Manasseh (695-642 B.C.; compare 2 Kings 21:1-18).

Attempts to identify the location of Elkosh have been unsuccessful. Suggestions include Al-Qosh, situated in northern Iraq; thus, Nahum would have been a descendant of the exiles taken to Assyria (in 722 B.C.), Capernaum or a location in southern Judah (1:15). It may be identified with Capernaum (Kaphar Nahum, literally, "Village of Nahum"), which was renamed in honor of its most famous citizen. Probably then, Nahum was born in Galilee, but during Israel's defection moved to Judah and in Jerusalem took up his ministry in behalf of Judah against Nineveh. His birthplace or locale is not significant to the interpretation of the book.

Historical Setting: The place from which the prophet ministered is best understood as Jerusalem, which so recently had experienced near destruction by Sennacherib, king of Assyria. Its siege and divine intervention is briefly described (in 1:9-13).

The significance of the writing prophets was not their personal lives; it was their message. Thus, background information about the prophet from within the prophecy is rare. Occasionally one of the historical books will shed additional light. In the case of Nahum, nothing is provided except that he was an Elkoshite (1:1), referring either to his birthplace or his place of ministry.

The prophet cites Nineveh's destruction of No-amon and points out that if God did not spare that city, then He certainly would not spare Nineveh, for Nineveh is not better than Thebes (3:11-15a). Thus, it can be determined with certainty that the prophecy was written after the destruction of Thebes, which it records, and before the destruction of Nineveh which it predicts. Nineveh was destroyed (in 612 B.C.).

Background - Setting: A century after Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah, she returned to idolatry, violence, and arrogance (3:1-4). Assyria was at the height of her power, having recovered from Sennacherib's defeat (701 B.C.), at Jerusalem (Isa. 37:36-38). Her borders extended all the way into Egypt. Esarhaddon had recently transplanted conquered peoples into Samaria and Galilee (in 670 B.C.; 2 Kings 17:24; Ezra 4:2), leaving Syria and Palestine very weak. But God brought Nineveh down under the rising power of Babylon's king Nabopolassar and his son, Nebuchadnezzar (612 B.C.). Assyria's demise turned out just as God had prophesied.

The prophecy of Nahum is dominated by a single idea, the doom of Nineveh. In describing this doom, Nahum writes lyric poetry of the highest quality. It has been called the most poetical of all the prophetic writings, and certainly is the most severe in tone of any of the Minor Prophets.

Historical - Theological Themes: Nahum forms a sequel to the book of Jonah, who prophesied over a century earlier. Jonah recounts the remission of God's promised judgment toward Nineveh, while Nahum depicts the later execution of God's judgment. Nineveh was proud of her invulnerable city, with her walls reaching 100 feet high and with a moat 150 feet wide and 60 feet deep; but Nahum established the fact that the sovereign God (1:2-5), would bring vengeance upon those who violated His law (1:8, 14; 3:5-7). The same God had a retributive judgment against evil which is also redemptive, bestowing His loving kindnesses upon the faithful (1:7, 12-13, 15; 2:2). The prophecy brought comfort to Judah and all who feared the cruel Assyrians. Nahum said Nineveh would end "with an overflowing flood" (1:8); and it happened when the Tigris River overflowed to destroy enough of the walls to let the Babylonians through. Nahum also predicted that the city would be hidden (3:11). After its destruction (in 612 B.C.), the site was not rediscovered (until 1842 A.D.).


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Nahum 1
Nahum 2
Nahum 3

Nahum 1

Nahum Chapter 1

Nahum 1:1 "The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite."

Nahum 1:2 "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 his enemies."

Nahum 1:3 "The 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."

Nahum 1:4 "He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth."

Nahum 1:5 "The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein."

Nahum 1:6 "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."

Nahum 1:7 "The LORD [is] good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him."

Nahum 1:8 "But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies."

Nahum 1:9 "What do ye imagine against the LORD? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time."

Nahum 1:10 "For while [they be] folden together [as] thorns, and while they are drunken [as] drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry."

Nahum 1:11 "There is [one] come out of thee, that imagineth evil against the LORD, a wicked counsellor."

Nahum 1:12 "Thus 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."

Nahum 1:13 "For now will I break his yoke from off thee, and will burst thy bonds in sunder."

Nahum 1:14 "And 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."

Nahum 1:15 "Behold 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."

Nahum 2

Nahum Chapter 2

Nahum 2:1 "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."

Nahum 2:2 "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 branches."

Nahum 2:3 "The 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."

Nahum 2:4 "The 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."

Nahum 2:5 "He shall recount his worthies: they shall stumble in their walk; they shall make haste to the wall thereof, and the defense shall be prepared."

Nahum 2:6 "The gates of the rivers shall be opened, and the palace shall be dissolved."

Nahum 2:7 "And 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."

Nahum 2:8 "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."

Nahum 2:9 "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."

Nahum 2:10 "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 gather blackness."

Nahum 2:11 "Where [is] the dwelling of the lions, and the feeding place of the young lions, where the lion, [even] the old lion, walked, [and] the lion's whelp, and none made [them] afraid?"

Nahum 2:12 "The 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."

Nahum 2:13 "Behold, 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."

Nahum 3

Nahum Chapter 3

Nahum 3:1 "Woe to the bloody city! it [is] all full of lies [and] robbery; the prey departeth not;"

Nahum 3:2 "The noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, and of the prancing horses, and of the jumping chariots."

Nahum 3:3 "The 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:"

Nahum 3:4 "Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the well favored harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts."

Nahum 3:5 "Behold, I [am] against thee, saith the LORD of hosts; and I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will show the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame."

Nahum 3:6 "And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a gazingstock."

Nahum 3:7 "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?"

Nahum 3:8 "Art 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?"

Nahum 3:9 "Ethiopia and Egypt [were] her strength, and [it was] infinite; Put and Lubim were thy helpers."

Nahum 3:10 "Yet [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 honorable men, and all her great men were bound in chains."

Nahum 3:11 "Thou also shalt be drunken: thou shalt be hid, thou also shalt seek strength because of the enemy."

Nahum 3:12 "All 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."

Nahum 3:13 "Behold, 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."

Nahum 3:14 "Draw thee waters for the siege, fortify thy strong holds: go into clay, and tread the mortar, make strong the brickkiln."

Nahum 3:15 "There 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."

Nahum 3:16 "Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven: the cankerworm spoileth, and fleeth away."

Nahum 3:17 "Thy 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]."

Nahum 3:18 "Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria: thy nobles shall dwell [in the dust]: thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth [them]."

Nahum 3:19 "[There 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?"