Nahum 1-3

Thursday Evening Bible Study

June 1, 2006



The book was written by the prophet Nahum.

He lived after the fall of the northern kingdom.
The book is about the future destruction of the Assyrian Empire, and specifically the capital city of Nineveh.

Important Dates: (slideshow)

760 BC

The prophet Jonah lived around 760 BC, about forty years before the destruction of the northern kingdom. Jonah had been sent by God to warn the people of Nineveh of God’s judgment on them and they responded to his message and repented. It’s not been about a hundred years later, and the people of Nineveh have gone back to their evil ways.
Somehow the message of God didn’t get transmitted from one generation to the next.

722 BC

The Assyrians would wipe out the northern kingdom in 722 BC.

701 BC

They would attack the southern kingdom and lay siege to Jerusalem in 701 BC.

650 BC

This book was thought to have been written some time between the years 663-612 BC.

612 BC

The city of Nineveh is destroyed by the Babylonians and Medes.

Nahum 1

1:1-15 God’s nature

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

Nineveh – the ancient city of Nineveh is located in modern Iraq, near the city of Mosul. It sat at the junction of the Tigris and Khoser rivers. It is first mentioned in Genesis 10 as one of the cities built by the ancient man known as “Nimrod”, who also built the city of Babel, or, Babylon.

Its early importance came from it being the home to a statue of the goddess Ishtar. Supposedly the statue had healing powers.

In Jonah’s day, it was not yet the capital of the Assyrian empire. Sennacherib made it the capital of the Assyrian Empire around 700 BC.

Nahum = “comfort”

Elkoshite‘Elqoshiy – “God the ensnarer”; Thought to mean a resident of the city of Elkosh. The location is not known for certain, though some have suggested that it might have been the same as the village of Capernaum.

Capernaum is thought to be related to the Hebrew words “capher” and “nahum”, meaning “village of comfort”. Some have suggested it was named after the prophet, “the village of Nahum”.

Capernaum is a small town located on the Sea of Galilee.

It was thought to have been the home town of Peter, Andrew, James, and John.
It was the home base for Jesus’ ministry in the Galilee area. He did many miracles there.
It was in Capernaum that Jesus cast a demon out of a man in the synagogue (Mark 1:21-27)
It was in Capernaum that the paralytic was lowered through the roof by his friends and Jesus healed him (Mark 2:1-12)
It was in Capernaum where Jesus told Peter to throw a hook and line into the water, and Peter caught a fish with a coin in it’s mouth and paid their taxes (Mat. 17:24-27)
When Jesus was in Cana, He simply spoke a word and a man’s son was healed in Capernaum (John 4:46).
But Capernaum was also condemned by Jesus for its lack of repentance:
(Mat 11:23 NKJV) "And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.


Pay attention

The city of Nineveh had been visited by the prophet Jonah. They responded by turning their lives around.
But then it seems that it only lasted for one generation. Now, a hundred years later, the city if facing God’s judgment.
The city of Capernaum had been visited by Jesus Himself.
Even though some people responded, it seems that for the most part the city did not respond.

Until recently, the city disappeared over the centuries.

When God gives a warning, we ought to pay attention and take Him seriously.
The FDA is considering additional warnings on beer and alcohol bottles, such as:
·        WARNING: consumption of alcohol may make you think you are whispering when you are not.
·        WARNING: consumption of alcohol is the leading cause of inexplicable rug burns on the forehead.
·        WARNING: consumption of alcohol may lead you to think people are laughing WITH you.
·        WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may cause an influx in the time-space continuum, whereby small (and sometimes large) gaps of time may seem to literally “disappear”.
·        WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may actually CAUSE pregnancy.
It all sounds a little silly. Until it starts happening to you.
I don’t want you to be afraid of God. But I’d love it if we all became a little more afraid of sin.

:2 God is jealous, and the LORD avenges; The LORD avenges and is furious. The LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies;

The Assyrians had not been very kind to the nation of Israel. God is reminding His people that He will look out for them.

:3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power,

slow to anger


Taste God’s patience

Enjoy it.
Sometimes we get to thinking that God must get angry quickly like we do.
We think it’s all over and that God could never love us again.
Think again. If you are still breathing, it’s not too late for God’s mercy.


Don’t waste God’s patience

Don’t abuse it
Some can take this the wrong way.

They think that because God isn’t wiping them out, that perhaps He doesn’t mind us doing this sin.

In reality, He is just very slow at getting angry.

Some may think that they have a few more days before they really need to deal with their problem.

:3  And will not at all acquit the wicked. The LORD has His way In the whirlwind and in the storm, And the clouds are the dust of His feet.

:4 He rebukes the sea and makes it dry, And dries up all the rivers. Bashan and Carmel wither, And the flower of Lebanon wilts.

Bashan was known for lush pastures for cattle.

Carmel was known for its vineyards.

Lebanon was known for its green forests.

The idea is that the land of Israel knew all about God’s judgment.

:5 The mountains quake before Him, The hills melt, And the earth heaves at His presence, Yes, the world and all who dwell in it.

:6 Who can stand before His indignation? And who can endure the fierceness of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire, And the rocks are thrown down by Him.

When the Assyrian commander came up to lay siege to Jerusalem, he issued this warning:

(2 Ki 18:35 NKJV) 'Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their countries from my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?'"

In reality, no one can stand before God.

:7 The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble;

All the time.  God is good.

:7 And He knows those who trust in Him.


God knows you

I think there’s something in all of us that wants to know that we’re important, that we matter.
We may find ourselves in situations where we want certain people to “know” us, to “recognize” us.  And it’s disappointing when it doesn’t happen.
But God knows you.  He knows your name.
You aren’t lost in the shuffle.

:8 But with an overflowing flood He will make an utter end of its place, And darkness will pursue His enemies.

There will be a flood involved in the destruction of Nineveh.

:9 What do you conspire against the LORD? He will make an utter end of it. Affliction will not rise up a second time.

When God finishes off a nation, they aren’t going to come back. There will be no need for any more judgment because it will be complete.

:10 For while tangled like thorns, And while drunken like drunkards, They shall be devoured like stubble fully dried.

:11 From you comes forth one Who plots evil against the LORD, A wicked counselor.

It seems that this is talking about the fellows that came up against Jerusalem in 701 BC.

The Assyrian king’s name was Sennacherib, and the general who delivered the message was named Rabshakeh:

(2 Ki 18:28-32 NKJV) Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out with a loud voice in Hebrew, and spoke, saying, "Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! {29} "Thus says the king: 'Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he shall not be able to deliver you from his hand; {30} 'nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, "The LORD will surely deliver us; this city shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria."' {31} "Do not listen to Hezekiah; for thus says the king of Assyria: 'Make peace with me by a present and come out to me; and every one of you eat from his own vine and every one from his own fig tree, and every one of you drink the waters of his own cistern; {32} 'until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive groves and honey, that you may live and not die. But do not listen to Hezekiah, lest he persuade you, saying, "The LORD will deliver us."

Do you hear the wickedness in the things that are spoken?
The people are being told that there is no hope for them – that they must surrender to the Assyrians. The people are being told that God can’t help them.
Wicked counsel = God can’t help you.

:12 Thus says the LORD: "Though they are safe, and likewise many, Yet in this manner they will be cut down When he passes through. Though I have afflicted you, I will afflict you no more;

The Assyrians may think they have a big army and lots of allies, but they will still be cut down.

To His own people God says that He is done with afflicting them.

:13 For now I will break off his yoke from you, And burst your bonds apart."

:14 The LORD has given a command concerning you: "Your name shall be perpetuated no longer. Out of the house of your gods I will cut off the carved image and the molded image. I will dig your grave, For you are vile."

God speaks to this “evil counselor” and says he will be cut off. This is what happened to Sennacherib:

(2 Ki 19:37 NKJV) Now it came to pass, as he was worshiping in the temple of Nisroch his god, that his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat. Then Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.

He was murdered in the temple of his idols.

:15 Behold, on the mountains The feet of him who brings good tidings, Who proclaims peace! O Judah, keep your appointed feasts, Perform your vows. For the wicked one shall no more pass through you; He is utterly cut off.

The Babylonians and the Medes would sack Nineveh in 612 BC. This was good news to the nation of Judah.

the wicked one – almost sounds like antichrist

Could it be that Sennacherib is a picture of the antichrist?

Nahum 2

Chapters 2-3 The Destruction of Nineveh

:1 He who scatters has come up before your face. Man the fort! Watch the road! Strengthen your flanks! Fortify your power mightily.

Nahum describes the scene of Nineveh’s destruction. The watchman shouts out the warning.

Nineveh was conquered by Cyaxares the Mede and Nabopolassar the Babylonian.

:2 For the LORD will restore the excellence of Jacob Like the excellence of Israel, For the emptiers have emptied them out And ruined their vine branches.

Israel may have been taken into captivity, but they will be back.

Assyria on the other hand will not be back once it’s been destroyed.

Only one nation is important in God’s eyes – Israel.

:3 The shields of his mighty men are made red, The valiant men are in scarlet. The chariots come with flaming torches In the day of his preparation, And the spears are brandished.

shields … made red – The Babylonians and Medes made their shields red by overlaying them with copper

chariots … flaming torches

(NLT) Watch as their glittering chariots move into position,

They attached metal “scythes” at right angles to their axles, making them “flash”.

:4 The chariots rage in the streets, They jostle one another in the broad roads; They seem like torches, They run like lightning.

Sounds like traffic at rush hour!


A police officer pulls a guy over for speeding and has the following exchange:
Officer: May I see your driver’s license?
Driver: I don’t have one. I had it suspended when I got my 5th DUI.
Officer: May I see the owner’s card for this vehicle?
Driver: It’s not my car. I stole it.
Officer: The car is stolen?
Driver: That’s right. But come to think of it, I think I saw the owner’s card in the glove box when I was putting my gun in there.
Officer: There’s a gun in the glove box?
Driver: Yes sir. That’s where I put it after I shot and killed the woman who owns this car and stuffed her in the trunk.
Officer: There’s a BODY in the TRUNK?!?!?
Driver: Yes, sir.
Hearing this, the officer immediately called his captain.  The car was quickly surrounded by police, and the captain approached the driver to handle the tense situation:
Captain: Sir, can I see your license?
Driver: Sure. Here it is.
It was valid.
Captain: Who’s car is this?
Driver: It’s mine, officer. Here’s the owner’ card.
The driver owned the car.
Captain: Could you slowly open your glove box so I can see if there’s a gun in it?
Driver: Yes, sir, but there’s no gun in it.
Sure enough, there was nothing in the glove box.
Captain: Would you mind opening your trunk? I was told you said there’s a body in it.
Driver: No problem.
Trunk is opened; no body.
Captain: I don’t understand it. The officer who stopped you said you told him you didn’t have a license, stole the car, had a gun in the glovebox, and that there was a dead body in the trunk.
Driver: Yeah, I’ll bet he told you I was speeding, too

:5 He remembers his nobles; They stumble in their walk; They make haste to her walls, And the defense is prepared.

The Assyrian king moves to get his defenses ready.

:6 The gates of the rivers are opened, And the palace is dissolved.

Apparently Sennacherib built a dam with flood gates on the Khoser river which flowed through the city. At the beginning of the siege, the enemy closed the gates and the river was backed up into reservoirs. When they opened the flood gates, the water flooded the city and destroyed the palace.

:7 It is decreed: She shall be led away captive, She shall be brought up; And her maidservants shall lead her as with the voice of doves, Beating their breasts.

The Assyrians were famous for conquering nations and leading them off into captivity. Now it’s their turn.

:8 Though Nineveh of old was like a pool of water, Now they flee away. "Halt! Halt!" they cry; But no one turns back.

:9 Take spoil of silver! Take spoil of gold! There is no end of treasure, Or wealth of every desirable prize.

Nineveh was filled with the spoils of all the nations that it had plundered. Now it would be plundered as well.

:10 She is empty, desolate, and waste! The heart melts, and the knees shake; Much pain is in every side, And all their faces are drained of color.

:11 Where is the dwelling of the lions, And the feeding place of the young lions, Where the lion walked, the lioness and lion's cub, And no one made them afraid?

:12 The lion tore in pieces enough for his cubs, Killed for his lionesses, Filled his caves with prey, And his dens with flesh.

:13 "Behold, I am against you," says the LORD of hosts, "I will burn your chariots in smoke, and the sword shall devour your young lions; I will cut off your prey from the earth, and the voice of your messengers shall be heard no more."

Assyria is pictured as once fierce lions that are about to be captured. Assyrian sculptures often have lions.

messengers – the Assyrians sent their officials throughout the world to collect tribute. No longer.

There are still people who claim to be the descendants of the ancient Assyrians, but they are no longer a world power.  And Nineveh is no more.

Nahum 3

:1 Woe to the bloody city! It is all full of lies and robbery. Its victim never departs.

bloody city

Nineveh earned this title by her “atrocious practice of cutting off hands and feet, ears and noses, gouging out eyes, lopping off heads, and then binding them to vines or heaping them up before city gates [and] the utter fiendishness by which captives could be impaled or flayed alive through a process in which their skin was gradually and completely removed” (Maier, The Book of Nahum: A Commentary, p. 292)[1]

:2 The noise of a whip And the noise of rattling wheels, Of galloping horses, Of clattering chariots!

The Medes and Babylonians riding through the city.

:3 Horsemen charge with bright sword and glittering spear. There is a multitude of slain, A great number of bodies, Countless corpses; They stumble over the corpses;

:4 Because of the multitude of harlotries of the seductive harlot, The mistress of sorceries, Who sells nations through her harlotries, And families through her sorceries.

This reminds me of the prophecy of the destruction of a future Babylon in Revelation 17:

(Rev 17:4-5 NKJV) The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. {5} And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

Both the Assyrians and the Babylonians worshipped the same female goddess, “Ishtar”, considered the “Queen of Heaven”.

She was considered both the goddess of love and the goddess of war.

She was seductive and brought lovers in, but then she destroyed her lovers.

She was known in the land of Israel as “Ashtarte”, “Ashtoreth”, or “Asherah”, and mentioned in the Old Testament as the “groves”.

(Judg 3:7 NKJV) So the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD. They forgot the LORD their God, and served the Baals and Asherahs (KJV – “groves”).
(1 Ki 18:19 NKJV) "Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table."

Does the worship of Asherah take place today in any form?

:5 "Behold, I am against you," says the LORD of hosts; "I will lift your skirts over your face, I will show the nations your nakedness, And the kingdoms your shame.

I guess this is appropriate for a harlot, exposing her.

:6 I will cast abominable filth upon you, Make you vile, And make you a spectacle.

:7 It shall come to pass that all who look upon you Will flee from you, and say, 'Nineveh is laid waste! Who will bemoan her?' Where shall I seek comforters for you?"

:8 Are you better than No Amon That was situated by the River, That had the waters around her, Whose rampart was the sea, Whose wall was the sea?

:9 Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, And it was boundless; Put and Lubim were your helpers.

:10 Yet she was carried away, She went into captivity; Her young children also were dashed to pieces At the head of every street; They cast lots for her honorable men, And all her great men were bound in chains.

:8 Are you better than No Amon …

The taunt sounds a little familiar. It’s the kind of taunt the Assyrians would use with those they were fighting against:

(2 Ki 18:33-34 NKJV) 'Has any of the gods of the nations at all delivered its land from the hand of the king of Assyria? {34} 'Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim and Hena and Ivah? Indeed, have they delivered Samaria from my hand?

“No Amon” was the ancient city of Thebes, located in upper Egypt on the Nile river.

It was similar to Nineveh, sitting on “the waters”.
The Assyrians sacked Thebes in 663 BC. This helps us in the dating of the book – it had to be written after 663 BC.
They would do no better when their day of judgment would come.


Reaping and Sowing

The same taunts the Assyrians used are now coming back to them.
The same judgment that they brought on the nations they conquered – leading to captivity, plunder, destruction – will now come upon them.
(Mat 7:1-2 NKJV) "Judge not, that you be not judged. {2} "For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.
I see this replayed in so many of our lives over and over again.
The way you treat others will come back to you.

If you are harsh and critical of others, you will find people being harsh and critical towards you.

You may be surprised that people could be as harsh and critical at such a nice person like you, but it will happen.

If you would listen to the words coming out of your mouth about other people – your comments, your criticism, your “judgments” on people – are they harsh or merciful?  Critical or gracious?

I am finding that if I will work at being kind and merciful towards others, I will find the same treatment coming my way.

It’s not absolute.  There will always be mean people.  But it’s something that works over the majority of your life.

:11 You also will be drunk; You will be hidden; You also will seek refuge from the enemy.

hidden – after the fall of Nineveh, some parts of the city were later inhabited by people but not like it used to be. By the year 1500 AD, it had disappeared altogether. For years Bible critics used to say that Nineveh was a fable and that no such places existed. Then in 1842, the archaeologists discovered the ruins of the city, the walls, and a huge library.

:12 All your strongholds are fig trees with ripened figs: If they are shaken, They fall into the mouth of the eater.

:13 Surely, your people in your midst are women! The gates of your land are wide open for your enemies; Fire shall devour the bars of your gates.

The men in the city would be weak like women.

:14 Draw your water for the siege! Fortify your strongholds! Go into the clay and tread the mortar! Make strong the brick kiln!

Go ahead and try to prepare. It won’t help you.

:15 There the fire will devour you, The sword will cut you off; It will eat you up like a locust. Make yourself many; like the locust! Make yourself many; like the swarming locusts!

fire will devour – archaeologists have found that much of the destruction of Nineveh came from fire.

make yourself many – try and multiply to get ready for the invasion, it won’t help you

:16 You have multiplied your merchants more than the stars of heaven. The locust plunders and flies away.

:17 Your commanders are like swarming locusts, And your generals like great grasshoppers, Which camp in the hedges on a cold day; When the sun rises they flee away, And the place where they are is not known.

The military will flee.

:18 Your shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria; Your nobles rest in the dust. Your people are scattered on the mountains, And no one gathers them.

shepherds – the political officials, they’ll be asleep at the wheel.

:19 Your injury has no healing, Your wound is severe. All who hear news of you Will clap their hands over you, For upon whom has not your wickedness passed continually?

The world will be thrilled to hear that Nineveh has fallen.


Hope of judgment

There is a lot that stinks in this world.  There are a lot of things that just aren’t right and just aren’t fair.
But there will be a day when God makes things right.
For the Jews, they were suffering under the oppression of the Assyrians.
But there would be a day when God would take care of the Assyrians.
God will take care of it.
(Rom 12:17-21 NKJV)  Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. {18} If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. {19} Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. {20} Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head." {21} Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Sometimes we feel we need to take things into our own hands.  We feel that no one will look out for us if we don’t.

The truth is that God will take care of us.  God will handle the “vengeance”.

We need to work at peace and doing good.


Ted Engstrom insightfully writes:

Cripple him, and you have a Sir Walter Scott.  Lock him in a prison cell, and you have a John Bunyan.  Bury him in the snows of Valley Forge, and you have a George Washington.  Raise him in abject poverty and you have an Abraham Lincoln.  Strike him down with infantile paralysis, and he becomes Franklin Roosevelt.  Burn him so severely that the doctors say he’ll never walk again, and you have a Glenn Cunningham—who set the world’s one mile record in 1934. Deafen him and you have a Ludwig van Beethoven.  Have him or her born black in a society filled with racial discrimination, and you have a Booker T. Washington, a Marian Anderson, a George Washington Carver.  Call him a slow learner, “retarded,” and write him off as uneducable, and you have an Albert Einstein.

As one man summed it up:  Life is about 20% in what happens to us and 80% in the way we respond to the events.

You don’t have to respond with evil.  God will take care of it.  Hope in it.

[1]John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-c1985). 1:1502.