Nahum 1 (day 901) 19 June 2012
1: Nahum is thought to be a Judean prophet whose oracle was given in the years preceding the fall of Nineveh in 612 B.C. The Assyrian empire had begun to collapse after the death of Ashurbanipal about 627 B.C., and the prophet gives a word from God during that time when the people of Judah must certainly have been anxious about what might happen. The location of Elkosh is unknown, but is thought to have been somewhere in southern Judah.
2-5: The beginning of the oracle characterizes God as the terrible and terrifying jealous ruler of creation before whose presence even the mountains shake and the world heaves.
6-11: No one can stand before the wrath of God. Verse 7 is obviously spoken as a comfort to Nahum’s fellow citizens. The “you” in verse 9 is plural and most likely refers to Israel (as it clearly does in verse 12-13). No-amon is Thebes in Egypt, which was taken and sacked by the Assyrians under Ashurbanipal some fifty years before as a result of an attempt by the Egyptians to push the Assyrians out of their country. The individual mentioned in verse 11 is impossible to identify, but could easily be a reference to all or any of the rulers of Assyria who invaded Israel and Judah.
12-13: These verses are best understood as being addressed to Israel and/or Judah.
14: This verse, on the other hand, seems clearly meant for Nineveh.
15: As the Assyrian empire crumbles, the prophet sees Judah receiving a messenger of good news that peace is near. The “wicked” (Assyria) will never again invade Judah. A celebration is called for.
Nahum 2 (day 902) 20 June 2012
1: Nineveh fell in 612 B.C. at the hands of an alliance of Babylonians, Medes, Cimmerians and Scythians. Nahum challenges the Assyrians to defend themselves, believing their defense will be in vain.
2: Nahum sees the approaching destruction of Nineveh and the collapse of the Assyrian Empire as a sign that God will restore Israel and Judah to their former greatness.
3-10: He paints a picture of the siege and conquest of Nineveh. Nineveh was sacked and burned and the populace killed or exiled into slavery by the Babylonians and Medes.
11-13: Assyrian art often depicts lion hunts with kings and royals in pursuit of the noble beasts. In these verses Nahum turns the tables: the Assyrians are themselves the lions that are being hunted, and Nineveh the lion’s den that is being devastated by the scarlet clad army.
Nahum 3 (day 903) 21 June 2012
1-7: Nahum pictures the ruin of Nineveh in vivid language that brings out sight and sound for the reader. In verse 4 Nineveh is likened to a prostitute, though the text is not clear in exactly how Nineveh’s actions would draw one to that simile, but God’s punishment of Nineveh is pictured as the public defilement of a prostitute by exposing her nakedness in broad daylight and covering her with “filth,” which probably means animal and/or human waste.
8-11: Thebes, a prominent Egyptian city on the Nile about 500 miles from the Mediterranean, was ransacked by the Assyrians in 633 B.C. Nahum is drawing a comparison between Nineveh and Thebes, and prophesying that Nineveh will suffer the same fate.
12-13: Nahum points to a weakened empire that is ready to fall at the next attack of the Babylonians and Medes.
14-17: The deteriorating condition of the empire is described as a fence on which a swarm of locusts has settled and then moved on. The locusts are the merchants which up to now have been cultivated by a greed-ridden society, but when the collapse of Assyria comes the merchants will move on to other markets and will be of no help to the city.
18-19: The oracle ends. A corrupt nation comes to an end because its leaders, its shepherds, were corrupt. The wound is mortal. Nineveh will suffer the same fate as the nations that have ceased to exist because of Assyrian cruelty.