Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3

Unlike some of the other prophets, Nahum does not tell us when this prophecy was given to him. And neither does he identify himself beyond the phrase, “Nahum the Elkoshite,” found in the first verse of Chapter 1. Most of this book deals with the LORD’S displeasure with Nineveh , the capitol city of the Assyrians. Once or twice he mentions Judah , but his main topic is the LORD’S anger against Nineveh .

Chapter 1

(Verses 1 through 6)  The burden of Nineveh . The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite. 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. 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. He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel , and the flower of Lebanon languisheth. 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. 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 declares that this is the burden of Nineveh . This may seem a little strange, inasmuch as most of the prophecies are directed to the LORD’S people, and Nineveh is a Gentile metropolis. Yet this is definitely addressed to Nineveh . And the prophet begins to tell Nineveh just how great the LORD is, and how dangerous He is when aroused to anger. Although He is slow to anger, He is very powerful, and when aroused, He will take vengeance upon His enemies and His adversaries. This is to call Nineveh ’s attention to what she can expect, because He is angered at her. And there is no escape, for He will not acquit the wicked. He is so great that He has His way in the whirlwind and the storm. In this statement, the whirlwind is not only what we commonly call a whirlwind, that only picks up light chaff, and carries it round and round up in the air. He is also referring to the tornado and hurricane. Both are actually whirlwinds, although of gigantic proportions. The LORD has His way in them. They can do nothing except that which He will permit. And He can, and does, use them to do His will. The clouds amount to no more than “the dust of His feet.” As a man walks along a very dusty road he is likely to stir up a little dust that might be considered a little cloud of dust. So as the LORD passes by He may stir up clouds. At His rebuke even the rivers dry up, and the sea also. Remember His bringing His people dry shod across both the Red Sea and the Jordan river . The mountains so fear Him that they quake at His presence, the hills melt, and the earth is burned by His presence. In fact the whole world and all its inhabitants shall fear Him. Since He is thus so great, who can stand before His indignation, or abide the fierceness of His anger? When He pours out His fury even the rocks are thrown down by Him. So what hope has a city, or a man, to escape when He sends judgment upon it, or him?


(Verses 7 through 11) The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him. But with an overrunning flood He will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue His enemies. What do ye imagine against the LORD? He will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time. For while they be folden together as thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry. There is one come out of thee that imagineth evil against the LORD, a wicked counsellor.


Verse 7 seems oddly placed, but needs little explanation. Nahum is declaring that although the LORD is so great, and when aroused will be a danger with which His enemies cannot cope, He is good. And He is also a strong place of refuge in the day of trouble. He also knows them that trust in Him. Not only does He have knowledge of them, but He also gives recognition to them. Yet when He sends forth His judgments, there will be no mercy in them. He will make an utter end of His enemies, and their place of abode. Those who imagine evil against Him shall be beaten down so that they will not rise up to afflict His people a second time. They shall be destroyed as fire destroys dry stubble. And there is one that has come out of Nineveh that has imagined evil against the LORD. That one gives wicked advice. So he can expect no mercy of the LORD.


(Verses 12 and 13) Thus saith the LORD; Though they be quiet, and likewise many, yet thus will they be cut down, when He shall pass through. Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more. For I now will break his yoke from off thee, and will burst thy bonds in sunder.


 This seems to be a changing of the address of this speech from Nineveh to Judah . The LORD tells Judah that even if these enemies, as many of them as there are, should settle down, and remain quiet, they would still be cut down, when He passes through. This has already been established, and will not be changed. He says that although He has afflicted Judah , He will not afflict them any more. Instead He will break off from Judah the yoke of the Assyrian oppressor, and set them free. The LORD did not permit the Assyrians to carry Judah away captive, although they did take Israel , and did much damage to Judah at the same time. Later Judah was taken captive by the Babylonians. And still later Jerusalem was destroyed, and the Jews scattered by the Romans. So the promise that the LORD will afflict Judah no more, evidently, looks forward to the time of the final restoration of Jerusalem . But it is sure of fulfillment at the appointed time.


(Verse 14) And the LORD hath given 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.


This is, of course addressed to Nineveh . The LORD has already issued His commandment concerning her. And He will destroy both the name and the idols of Nineveh . He declared, “I will make thy grave.” That is, He will bury her. The reason for this is that “thou art vile.” She had no redeeming features. And He would have no mercy on her.

Chapter 2

(Verses 1 and 2) 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. 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.


“He that dasheth in pieces” is, unquestionably, the LORD. For Nahum has already told us, in Chapter 1, verse 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.” He then is the One Who has come up before the face of Nineveh . He calls upon Nineveh to strengthen herself in every way that she can. She thinks she is great, because she has emptied out Israel , and marred the branches of her vine. But the truth of the matter is that the LORD turned away the excellency of Jacob. That is, He permitted Nineveh to overcome Israel , and take them captive. It was not by the greatness of the Assyrians that they took Israel captive, but by the permission of the LORD. Now, because of the haughtiness of the Assyrians, the LORD will destroy them. So let them put on their greatest strength to meet the judgment He is sending upon them


(Verses 3 through 8) 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. 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. He shall recount his worthies: they shall stumble in their walk; they shall make haste to the wall thereof, and the defence shall be prepared. The gates of the rivers shall be opened, and the palace shall be dissolved. 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. 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.


Thus the prophet describes the fall of Nineveh . The inhabitants thereof shall put up a valiant fight. The war chariots shall be running with great speed throughout the city, even bumping into one another in their haste. Their mightiest men will be set for the defense of the city. But it will all be of no avail. The river, Tigris , had always been considered as a wall of defense for the city. But “the gates of the rivers shall be opened.” That is, instead of the river’s being a protection for the city, it will be crossed by the invaders, and become like a gate for them to enter. Then the palace will be “dissolved,” or broken open, and the queen shall be taken into captivity. All of her maids will be making a great lament, but they will be as helpless as doves. In the end, Nineveh will be as she was of old, “like a pool of water.” And everyone that can will flee away. They will be calling upon one another to stand, and defend the city; but none will obey the call, or even look back.


(Verses 9 through 12) 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. 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. Where 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? 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.


This is a comparison of Nineveh ’s condition after the judgment of the LORD is meted out to her, and as she was before. The mention of lions is not used in reference to the lions of the forest, but to the men of Nineveh , who considered themselves as “lions among men.” Her spoilers are told to take all the spoil of silver and gold. There is so much of it that it seems there is no end to it. With this done she is left empty and void. She is in such great fear that her heart melts, her knees knock together, her loins are filled with pain, and her face is blackened with sorrow. Before this terrible calamity she was provided with everything she could need. What a terrible contrast!


(Verse 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: I will cut off thy prey from the earth, and the voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard.


Thus the LORD declares His purpose to completely destroy Nineveh . She will have neither men nor weapons left with which to defend herself. And, further, she will not even have any messengers left by whom she might send for help. Their voices will no more be heard.


Chapter 3

(Verses 1 through 7) Woe to the bloody city! It is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not; the noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of wheels, and the prancing of horses, and the jumping of chariots. The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the glittering spear: and there is a multitude of the slain, and a great number of carcases; and there is none end of their corpses; they stumble upon their corpses: because 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. Behold, 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. And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a gazingstock. 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 her?


This is a simple description of just how wicked, violent, and filthy Nineveh was in the sight of the LORD. Very little could be said that would explain this any more clearly than it is written. When the LORD says, in verse 6, “I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make the vile,” the meaning is that He will make known to the other nations just how filthy and vile she is. And when He shall send upon her this judgment, she will have no friends left that will mourn for her, or that will try to comfort her.


(Verses 8 through 10) 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? Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was infinite; Put and Lubim were thy helpers. 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 honourable men, and all her great men were bound in chains.


The LORD asks Nineveh if she is better than No, a great city that has already been brought to destruction. No even had some mighty helpers, Ethiopia , Egypt , Put, and Lubim. Also the sea was her defense on one side, and her wall was built from the sea on one side all the way around to the sea on the other side. Yet she was destroyed, and even her young children were dashed to pieces. (This is indeed a terrible thing. But it was not uncommon in that day.) And all her great men were carried away captive, with her conquerors even casting lots for her honorable men. So, since Nineveh is no better than No, how can she expect to escape?


(Verses 11 through 15) Thou also shalt be drunken: thou shalt be hid, thou also shalt seek strength because of the enemy. 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. 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. Draw thee waters for the siege, fortify thy strong holds: go into clay, and tread the mortar, make strong the brickkiln. 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.


The LORD continues to tell Nineveh that there is no way she can escape, or win the battle. All her people are as women. This is in reference to the fact that the men were the ones who usually did the fighting. Although we know that women are sometimes able to fight for their defense as well as men, they were never considered a fighting force. And for a man to be considered as a woman was to be considered a coward. So in this battle all Nineveh ’s people will be cowards, and the walls of the city will be no protection for them, but will be as if the gates were wide open. The fire shall devour all of their defense. The LORD calls upon them to make every possible preparation for this battle. Yet it shall be of no avail for them. Even if their population were so great as to be as the cankerworms, or the locusts, they would not be able to prevail. Their doom is sealed, and will not be changed.


(Verses 16 through 19) Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven: the cankerworm spoileth, and flieth away. 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. 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. There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap their hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?


Thus the LORD declares that all these merchants and captains that Nineveh has set up for her wealth and protection, those whom she has multiplied to such a great number that they are, in that respect, as cankerworms or grasshoppers, will act just as grasshoppers. Although they may camp around in the hedges while it is cold, they will fly away as soon as the sun warms the day, and neither they nor the place where they had been can be found. So it will be with all those upon whom Nineveh depends. As soon as the trouble starts, they will all be gone. They will be scattered over the mountains, and none can gather them. Wounds and bruises can sometimes be healed, but there is no healing for the wound of Nineveh . Not only so, but everyone who hears of the judgment sent upon her will applaud it, because all have suffered at her hands.


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