Today, we are going to cover the book of Nahum. It is an interesting little book and one that is filled with great lessons for us. For those who don’t know, Nahum is the second part of the story that began in Jonah. Jonah was sent to Nineveh (Assyrian capital) to preach and they repented. 150 years later, Nahum spoke about the very same people and the very same place with a new message for Israel. The Lord’s message for Israel was that Nineveh is going to fall. As a result, Israel is going to be vindicated by God.
We don’t know a lot about Nahum. We know his name means “comfort” and conveys the idea that God meant this message as a comfort for His people. For Nineveh, this was a message of doom and gloom, but for Israel, it was a comfort. God is promising that their long-time enemy, the Assyrians, are finally going to be punished by God. We know that Nahum was from Elkosh, but we don’t know where that is.
Some facts from the book help us place a date on the book. Nahum refers to the fall of Thebes as a well-known occurrence (Nah. 3:8-10). History says that the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal took the city (of Thebes) in 664/663 B.C. Nahum also predicts the fall of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, as a future event. Again, we know from history that Nineveh fell to a coalition of Medes and Babylonians in 612 B.C. Thus, the book had to be composed somewhere between 664 and 612.
In fact, we can narrow this date down a little further. The book implies that Nineveh and Assyria were still at or near the zenith of their power (Nahum 1:12; 2:11-13; 3:1, 4) and that Judah was still firmly under their control. Assyria remained strong until 640 B.C., then it began to weaken, and rapidly decline, set in after the death of Ashurbanipal (who died in 627 B.C.). Josiah, king of Judah (640-609 B.C.) had begun his religious reform (2 Chron. 34:3) around the same time that Ashurbanipal died. Thus, we can conclude that Nahum was likely written somewhere between 664 and 627, probably around 630 B.C.
The basic message of Nahum is “Nineveh, the arrogant capital of Assyria, will be destroyed.” Nineveh was so completely destroyed that in 331 B.C., Alexander the Great fought the battle of Arbela on the site of the former city and had no idea that a city was there. The once proud city of at least 500,000 people was gone forever.
While it may seem like Nahum is void of any teachings about God, nothing could be further from the truth. In chapter 1, Nahum paints a picture of a loving God who cares for his own people. Nahum 1:7 describes the Lord as knowing those who take refuge in him. Nahum 1:13 says that God has promised the end of Assyria. His sovereignty is also clearly laid forth in this book. The Lord is sovereign over all nations and people. He is over the clouds, nature itself, and are but dust at his feet (Nah. 1:3). Perhaps the most important point made in Nahum is that God doesn’t deal with people in wrath, not always. His wrath is real but it’s for those who oppose him. For those who follow him, he is tender and loving.
Let me encourage you to take some time and read this great little book. I am certain you will enjoy it but more importantly, it will be good for you.