The Book of Nahum

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The Book of Nahum

  • Author: Nahum
  • Place Written: Judah
  • When Written: c. 650-620 B.C.E.


A pronouncement against Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum[1] of Elkosh.

God’s Wrath Against Nineveh

Jehovah is a jealous and avenging God;
    Jehovah is avenging and wrathful;
Jehovah takes vengeance on his adversaries
    and reserves wrath for his enemies.
Jehovah is slow to anger and great in power,
    but by no means will Jehovah hold back punishment.
His way is in whirlwind and storm,
    and the clouds are the dust of his feet.
He rebukes the sea and makes it dry;
    he dries up all the rivers;
Bashan and Carmel wither;
    the bloom of Lebanon withers.
The mountains quake before him;
    the hills melt;
the earth heaves before his face,
    the world and all who dwell in it.

Who can stand before his indignation?
    Who can endure the heat of his anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire,
    and the rocks are shattered before him.
Jehovah is good,
    a stronghold in the day of trouble;
he knows[2] those who take refuge in him.

Nineveh to be Exterminated
But with an overflowing flood
he will make a complete end of her place,[3]
    and will pursue his enemies into darkness.
What do you plot against Jehovah?
    He will make a complete end;
    trouble will not rise up a second time.
10 For they are like entangled thorns,
    like those who are drunken with their drink;
    they are consumed like stubble fully dried.
11 From you came one
    who plots evil against Jehovah,
    giving worthless counsel.

12 Thus says Jehovah,
“Though they are at full strength and numerous,
    they will be cut down and pass away.
Though I have afflicted you,[4]
    I will afflict you no more.
13 And now I will break his yoke from off you
    and will tear your bonds in two.”

14 Jehovah has commanded concerning you:[5]
    “No more shall your name be perpetuated;
from the house of your gods I will cut off
    the carved image and the metal image.
I will make your grave, for you are contemptible.”[6]

15 Behold, upon the mountains, the feet of him
    who brings good news,
    who publishes peace!
Keep your feasts, O Judah;
    fulfill your vows,
for never again shall the worthless[7] pass through you;
   he is cut off completely.[8]


The Destruction of Nineveh

One who scatters has come up against you.[9]
    Guard the fortifications;[10]
    watch the road;
dress for battle;
    collect all your strength.

For Jehovah is restoring the majesty of Jacob
    as the majesty of Israel,
for devastators have devastated them
    and ruined their branches.

The shields of his mighty men are dyed red;[11]
    his soldiers are clothed in scarlet.
The iron[12] fittings of his war chariots flash like fire
    in the day he prepares them;
    the cypress spears are brandished.
The chariots race madly through the streets;
    they rush to and fro through the squares;
they gleam like torches;
    they flash like lightning.
He remembers his officers;
    they stumble as they march,
they hasten to the wall;
    the siege tower is set up.
The gates of the river are opened;
    and the palace is dissolved.
It has been decreed: She is exposed,
    her slave girls lamenting,
moaning like doves
    and beating their breasts.[13]
Nineveh has been from of old like a pool of water
    but now they are fleeing.
“Stand still! Stand still!” they cry,
    but none turns back.
Plunder the silver!
    plunder the gold!
There is no end of the treasure
    or of the wealth of all precious things.

10 She is empty, desolate, devastated!
    Hearts melt and knees tremble;
anguish is in all hips;
    all faces grow pale![14]
11 Where is the lions’ den,
    the feeding place of the young lions,
where the lion and lioness prowled,
    and the lion’s cub, with none to disturb them?
12 The lion tore enough for his cubs
    and strangled prey for his lionesses;
he filled his lair with prey
    and his dens with torn carcass.

13 Behold, I am against you, declares Jehovah of armies,[15] and I will burn her[16] 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 no longer be heard.


Woe to the City of Bloodshed

Woe to the city of bloodshed,
    All of her is deception and plunder
    never without prey.
The crack of the whip, and rumble of the wheel,
    galloping horse and bounding chariot!
Horsemen charging,
    flashing sword and glittering spear,
multitude of the slain,
    heaps of corpses,
no end to the dead bodies,
    they stumble over the dead bodies!
All for the many acts of prostitution of the prostitute,
    the charming one, the mistress of sorceries,
who betrays nations with her prostitution,
    and families by her sorceries.

Behold, I am against you,
    declares Jehovah of armies,[17]
    and will lift up your skirts over your face;
and I will make nations look at your nakedness
    and kingdoms at your shame.
I will throw filth on you
    and treat you with contempt
    and make you a spectacle.
And it will come about that all who look at you will shrink from you and say,
“Nineveh is devastated; who will grieve for her?”
    Where shall I seek comforters for you?

Nineveh to Fall Like No-amon

Are you better than No-amon[18]
    which sat by the Nile canals,
waters surrounded her,
    whose rampart was the sea,
    whose wall was of the sea?
Ethiopia[19] was her strength;
    Egypt too, and that without limit;
    Put and the Libyans were her[20] helpers.

10 Yet she became an exile;
    she went into captivity;
her children were dashed in pieces
    at the head of every street;
for her honored men lots were cast,
    and all her great men were bound in chains.
11 You also will be drunken;
    you will go into hiding;
you will seek a refuge from the enemy.
12 All your fortresses are like fig trees
    with first-ripe fruits;
if shaken they fall
    into the mouth of the eater.

Nineveh’s Fall Inescapable
13 Look, your troops
    are like women in your midst.
The gates of your land
    are wide open to your enemies;
    fire has consumed your bars.

14 Draw water for the siege;
    strengthen your forts;
go into the clay;
    tread the mortar;
    take hold of the brick mold!
15 There will the fire consume you;
    the sword will cut you off.
    It will devour you like the locust.
Multiply yourselves like the young locust;
    multiply like the locusts!
16 You increased your merchants
    more than the stars of the heavens.
    The young locust strips off its skin and flies away.

17 Your guards are like the locust,
    your officers like a locust swarm
settling on the fences
    in a day of cold,
when the sun rises, they fly away;
    no one knows where they are.

18 Your shepherds are sleeping,
    O king of Assyria;
    your nobles slumber.
Your people are scattered on the mountains
    with none to gather them.
19 There is no easing your hurt;
    your wound is beyond healing.
All who hear the news about you
    clap their hands over you.
For upon whom has not come
    your relentless cruelty?

[1] Meaning Comforter

[2] Or takes care of, or is mindful of

[3] That is, Nineveh’s; LXX VG AR “his adversaries”

[4] That is, Judah

[5] That is, Assyria

[6] MT LXX SYR end chap. 1 here.

[7] Or wicked

[8] AT LXXBr VG end chap. 1 here.

[9] That is, Nineveh

[10] LXX “delivering from affliction”

[11] LXX “from among men” instead of “dyed red”

[12] LXX VG “reins”

[13] Lit hearts

[14] LXX AT VG “the face of all is like the blackening of an earthen pot”

[15] Jehovah of armies: (Heb. jhvh tsaba) literally means an army of soldiers, or military forces (Gen. 21:22; Deut. 20:9). It can also be used figuratively, “the sun and the moon and the stars, all the armies of heaven.” (Deut. 4:19) In the plural form, it is also used of the Israelites forces as well. (Ex. 6:26; 7:4; Num. 33:1; Psa. 44:9) However, the “armies” in the expression “Jehovah of armies” is a reference to the angelic forces primarily, if not exclusively.

[16] MT “her” AT LXX SYR Vgc “your”

[17] See 2:13 fn.

[18] That is, Thebes

[19] LXX VG “Ethiopia” MT SYR “Cush”

[20] MT AT VG “your” LXX “her”

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