Though only three chapters long, Nahum’s description of the fall and destruction of Nineveh, the capital of ancient Assyria, captures the imagination. Nahum 1 reveals God had determined to judge Nineveh for the sins of the Assyrian nation. Nahum 2 is a prophetic description of the siege of Nineveh, and its fall. Nahum 3 states the reasons for God’s judgment against Nineveh.
Nahum 2 – The Destruction of Nineveh
Nahum prophetically warned an enemy [Babylon] would attack Nineveh, “dasheth [it] in pieces,” scattering and dispersing its people (2:1). The prophet seemed to mock the futility of defending the city, and implored the people to, “Keep the munition [walls], watch the way, make thy loins [themselves] strong, fortify thy power mightily” (2:1).
Nahum remembered how Assyria had plundered (“emptied” and “marred”) Judah and Israel, but with the fall of Nineveh, some of “the excellency [splendor; glory] of Jacob… [and] Israel,” would be restored (“turned away”). (2:2)
The Terror of Babylon’s Invasion (2:3-5)
The bloodshed of the battle is graphically portrayed as Nahum described the shields and garments of Babylon’s “mighty” and “valiant men” stained red with blood (2:3a). Chariots, described as bearing “flaming torches,” most likely described ancient “scythed chariots” enhanced with steel blades. The chariots of Babylon would race through the streets of the city, jostling “one against another in the broad ways” (2:4).
The Assyrian king unsuccessfully summoned men to the city walls for his “worthies” (warriors), who did “stumble [and stagger] in their walk” (2:5), perhaps being drunken when they were summoned.
The Fall of Nineveh (2:6-13)
History chronicles how the Tigris River overflowed its banks, and weakened the foundation of the walls of Nineveh. Nahum prophesied, “6The gates of the rivers shall be opened, And the palace shall be dissolved” (2:6). Scholars suggest that “Huzzab” was the name of the queen of Babylon, and she and her maids were led away, beating their breasts in anguish (2:7). As prophesied, when the Tigris flooded the city, Nineveh became “old like a pool of water,” and the people of the city fled, and none looked back (2:8).
As Assyria had spoiled other nations, she was herself spoiled of gold and silver (2:9). The once glorious city would be “empty, and void, and waste” (2:9). A reference to “young lions” [a symbol of Assyria and Babylon] was probably a description of young Assyrian soldiers who would perish in the battle with Babylon (2:11-12)
God had determined Nineveh’s days, considered her wickedness, and declared: “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 2:13).
Nahum 3 – The Cause for God’s Judgment
The Sins of Nineveh (3:1)
Nahum 3 gives a vivid picture of Nineveh’s destruction and the slaughter of its inhabitants. With a terrifying pronouncement, Nahum declared: “1Woe to the bloody city! It is all full of lies and robbery; The prey departeth not” (3:1).
The Invasion and Slaughter of Nineveh (3:3-4)
The terror of battle is described as Babylon’s chariots raced through the city: “2The noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, And of the pransing [dashing] horses, and of the jumping chariots” (3:2). No doubt, the iron wheels mortally rolled over so many bodies there was no “end of their corpses” (3:3).
God’s Contempt for the Sins of Nineveh (3:4-17)
Assyria had become like the goddess the people worshiped– “Ishtar,” the goddess of war and sexual fertility (3:4). They were a godless, immoral, warring, and merciless people. God declared, “I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, And I will shew the nations thy nakedness, And the kingdoms thy shame” (3:5). Figuratively speaking, the LORD would pull Nineveh’s skirt over her face, and the nations of the world would mock and reproach her (3:5-7). No one would mourn the fall of that city, and there would be none to comfort her.
Like other great cities, the Assyrians believed Nineveh was impregnable. Nahum declared, that city would fall as had “No” (the ancient city of Egypt known as Thebes, that was once the capital of northern Egypt, 3:8). None had been able to save “No” (Thebes), though that city had an alliance with Ethiopia, Egypt, “Put” (descendants of Ham’s son, Genesis 10:6), and “Lubim” (believed to have been Libya). All had been conquered by Assyria, and soon Nineveh would go the way of those great cities (3:9-11).
Like ripe figs fall to the ground when shaken by the wind, the walls of Nineveh would fall to Babylon (3:12). The men of the city would become as women (3:13a), and the waters of the Tigris would weaken the defenses of the city (3:14). Following the flood waters, fire and the swords of Babylon would devour the inhabitants of Nineveh like locusts that prey upon the countryside (3:15-17).
Closing thoughts – The fate of Nineveh was sealed, and her king and nobles, like sleeping shepherds, had failed the people (3:18). The wickedness, idolatry, and immorality of the people had moved the city beyond God’s patience, and the evil they had committed against others would soon befall that great city (3:19).
Make no mistake, the morality of a nation determines its destiny. When a people have a passion for righteousness they are blessed; however, sin inevitably humiliates a people, and eventually destroys a nation.
Proverbs 14:34 – “Righteousness [moral uprightness] exalteth [elevates] a nation: but sin is a reproach[shame] to any people.”
Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith