Scripture reading – Nahum 2; Nahum 3

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Nahum’s description of the fall and destruction of Nineveh, the capital of ancient Assyria, captures the imagination. Nahum 1 revealed God was 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 2:1-2) 

Nahum prophetically warned that an enemy [Babylon and the Medes] would attack Nineveh and “dasheth [it] in pieces,” scattering and dispersing its people (Nahum 2:1). The prophet implored the people to “Keep the munition [city walls], watch the way, make thy loins [themselves] strong, fortify thy power mightily” (Nahum 2:1).

Nahum remembered how Assyria plundered (“emptied” and “marred”) Judah and Israel, but the fall of Nineveh raised within him the hope that some of “the excellency [splendor; glory] of Jacob… [and] Israel” would be restored (“turned away,” Nahum 2:2).


The Terror of Babylon’s Invasion (Nahum 2:3-5)

The bloodshed of the siege and battle for Nineveh was graphically portrayed as Nahum described the shields and garments of Babylon’s “mighty” and “valiant men” stained red with blood (Nahum 2:3a). Chariots, portrayed as bearing “flaming torches,” most likely described ancient “scythed chariots” whose wheels were enhanced with steel blades. The prophet foretold the chariots of Babylon would race through the city streets “like the lightnings,” jostling “one against another in the broad ways” (Nahum 2:4).

The Assyrian king would summon to the city walls his “worthies” (warriors). Yet, they did “stumble [and stagger] in their walk” (perhaps being drunken when they were summoned, Nahum 1:5).

The Fall of Nineveh

The Fall of Nineveh (Nahum 2:6-12)

Nahum prophesied, “The gates of the rivers shall be opened, And the palace shall be dissolved” (Nahum 2:6). History chronicles that the Tigris River did overflow its banks and weakened the walls of Nineveh. Scholars suggest that “Huzzab” was the queen of Nineveh. Nahum foretold that she and her maids would be led away, beating their breasts in anguish (Nahum 2:7). When the Tigris flooded Nineveh, the city became, in the prophet’s words, “old like a pool of water.” The people fled, and none looked back (Nahum 2:8).

Assyria had spoiled other nations, and now she was herself to be spoiled of gold and silver (Nahum 2:9). Nahum prophesied that the once glorious city would be “empty, and void, and waste” (Nahum 2:9). Because the lion was a symbol of both Assyria and Babylon, the reference to “young lions” was probably a description of young Assyrian soldiers who perished in the battle with Babylon (Nahum 2:11-12).


Why did this judgment befall Nineveh and Assyria? (Nahum 2:13)

God is just, and when He considered the wickedness of Assyria and its oppression of Israel and Judah, He 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).


Closing thought for Nahum 2

Whether as an individual, a corporation, or a nation, it is a terrible thing when God sets His face against you for judgment. In the words of the writer of Hebrews, It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).


Nahum 3


The Sins of Nineveh (Nahum 3:1)

Nahum 3 described vividly Nineveh’s destruction and the slaughter of its inhabitants. With a terrifying pronouncement, Nahum declared, “Woe to the bloody city! It is all full of lies and robbery; The prey departeth not” (Nahum 3:1).


The Invasion and Slaughter of Nineveh (Nahum 3:3-4)

Nahum foretold the terror of battle when Babylon’s chariots raced through the city. We read, “The noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, And of the pransing [dashing] horses, and of the jumping chariots” (Nahum 3:2). The wheels of the chariots rolled over so many bodies that there was no “end of their corpses” (Nahum 3:3).

God’s Contempt for Nineveh’s Sins

God’s Contempt for Nineveh’s Sins (Nahum 3:4-11)

The primary goddess of Assyria was “Ishtar,” the goddess of war and sexual fertility. Nahum described Ishtar as “the wellfavored harlot, The mistress of witchcrafts, That selleth nations through her whoredoms, And families through her witchcrafts” (Nahum 3:4).

The Assyrians were like the one they worshipped, an immoral, warring, and ruthless people. Because of their wickedness, the LORD declared, “I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, And I will shew the nations thy nakedness, And the kingdoms thy shame” (Nahum 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 (Nahum 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, however, declared that the city would fall as had “No” (the ancient city of Egypt known as Thebes, which was once the capital of northern Egypt, Nahum 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). Assyria had conquered the great cities of her day, but soon, Nineveh would go the way of the others (Nahum 3:9-11).


The Downfall of Nineveh (Nahum 3:12-17)

As ripe figs fall to the ground when shaken by the wind, the walls of Nineveh would fall to Babylon (Nahum 3:12). The great warriors of the city would become as women (Nahum 3:13a), and the waters of the Tigris would weaken Nineveh’s defenses (Nahum 3:14). Fire and the swords of Babylon would devour the inhabitants of Nineveh like locusts that prey upon the countryside (Nahum 3:15-17).


Closing thoughts

The fate of Nineveh was sealed, and her king and nobles, like sleeping shepherds, had failed the people (Nahum 3:18). The wickedness, idolatry, and immorality of the people had moved the city beyond God’s patience. The evil they committed against others would soon befall them (3:19). 

Make no mistake: A nation’s morality determines its destiny. When 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 © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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