Christian Churches of God
Commentary on Nahum
(Edition 1.0 20141004-20141004)
Nahum is the last of the seven pre-captivity prophets being the last of the second group of three. Jonah was concerned with Nineveh as was Nahum. Zephaniah was related but to a lesser degree.
Commentary on Nahum
Nahum is the seventh book of the group of Twelve Prophets. His name means comfort or compassion (cf. Isa. 57:18). He comes from Elkosh which is a town of SW Judah where the tribe of Simeon had settled, close to the Philistine and Egyptian borders, between Beit Jibrin and Gaza. G. Nestle identifies it with Kessijeh a little SW of Beit Jibrin U. Cassuto however identifies it with Umm Lagish halfway between Beit Jibrin and Gaza and this accords with Epiphanius (cf. Interp. Dict. of the Bible, art. ‘Nahum,’ Book Of, Vol. 3, p. 498, col. 1).
Most scholars agree that the earliest possible date for the writing is 663 BCE at the fall of Thebes to Assyria. The latest possible date is the fall of Nineveh in 612 BCE. The Neo-Babylonian state was founded by Nabopolassar in 625 BCE and, mobilising the Babylonian forces, he marched up the Euphrates to Qablinu where he inflicted on the Assyrian Army a massive defeat. The Medes began attacking from the East and in 614 they took and sacked the city of Asshur. Nabopolassar made an alliance then with their king. Together the Medes and Chaldeans continued attacking until Nineveh fell in 612 BCE. 625 BCE is the most probable date for both Nahum and Zephaniah at the discovery of the Scroll of the Law ready for the restoration of Josiah in the 18th year of his reign. Thus it was at the beginning of the consolidation of the Babylonians which were to be used to destroy Assyria.
Bullinger believes that the villain of 1:11 is actually Rab-shekeh of 2Kings 18:26-28 the seemingly apostate Jew that became a senior officer or political officer of Sennacherib and he held a deadly animosity to Yahovah of Israel. Bullinger dated the writing to the 14th year of Hezekiah and thus in the year 704/3 BCE. This is probably too early but it is after the fall of Israel.
As usual those detractors of Biblical inspiration and prophecy attempt to date some or all of the work to a date after the fall of Nineveh but most responsible scholars date Nahum to before the fall but many years after the prophecy of Jonah and at a similar time to that of Zephaniah. Most acknowledge it is a work of poetic genius (Interp. Dict., ibid. p. 499).
Nahum identifies the Assyrian system with Sun Cults and the cosmic adversaries of the Baal and Mother Goddess systems of the northern oppressors and the battles identified in the Biblical system and the festivals of the idolaters.
After the superscription in 1:1 there is delivered an alphabetic acrostic hymn which describes a theophany whose poetry is somewhat lost in the translation. The hymn extends to at least verse 9 and each line begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet from Aleph to Nuwn the 14th letter equating to n. Other scholars have tried to get the acrostic to reach from the next letter all the way to Nah in 2:3 or 2:4. The better solution is to have it follow the first half of the Hebrew Alphabet from Aleph to Nuwn and at the very most to Sawmek.
Assyria had made Israel a tributary state from its capture of Damascus and it then removed Israel in 722 to the north above the Araxes and influenced Judah from then on and had its God and the Mother Goddess system of Baal and Ashtoreth or Easter/Ishtar inflicted on both Israel and Judah over an extensive period. So much so that Jonah was sent to them and their practices were forbidden through the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah all the way down to Zephaniah and beyond.
In 1:2-13; 2:1,3 there is a promise to Judah and in 1:10-11 and perhaps 14; and in 2:2 we see the beginning of the threat to Assyria. However, the hymn is a direct warning to the entire creation and the identification of those saved being those who take refuge in God.
The deities of the Assyro-Babylonians of the Sun and Mystery cults will be removed. The nations to the north from Bashan and Carmel and their rivers from Lebanon are to be dried up. Their systems will be punished.
Nahum Chapter 1
 An oracle concerning Nin'eveh. The book of the vision of Nahum of Elkosh.  The LORD is a jealous God and avenging, the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies.  The LORD is slow to anger and of great might, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty. 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 fades.  The mountains quake before him, the hills melt; the earth is laid waste before him, the world and all that dwell therein.  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 broken asunder by him.  The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.  But with an overflowing flood he will make a full end of his adversaries, and will pursue his enemies into darkness.  What do you plot against the LORD? He will make a full end; he will not take vengeance twice on his foes.  Like entangled thorns they are consumed, like dry stubble.  Did one not come out from you, who plotted evil against the LORD, and counseled villainy?
God then continues with the promise that the yoke of the Assyrian system and the Assyro- Babylonian Sun Cults and Mother Goddess system of the Baal and Ashtoreth or Easter Ishtar systems will be destroyed and all their temples will have these idols and their accoutrements removed from their temples and destroyed.
 Thus says the LORD, "Though they be strong and many, they will be cut off and pass away. Though I have afflicted you, I will afflict you no more.  And now I will break his yoke from off you and will burst your bonds asunder."  The LORD has given commandment about you: "No more shall your name be perpetuated; from the house of your gods I will cut off the graven image and the molten image. I will make your grave, for you are vile."  Behold, on the mountains the feet of him who brings good tidings, who proclaims peace! Keep your feasts, O Judah, fulfil your vows, for never again shall the wicked come against you, he is utterly cut off.
Thus we see here that the adversary will no longer have his name perpetuated. God will make his grave for he is vile. This is a Messianic text as we see from the following verse which says: Behold on the mountains the feet of him who brings good tidings. This is a Messianic acrostic following the texts of Isaiah and Jeremiah.
Chapter 2 then deals with the restoration of Jacob as the majesty of Israel. Now Israel went into captivity to the Assyrians in 722 BCE thus they have to be restored in the Last Days for this to take effect.
Nahum Chapter 2
 The shatterer has come up against you. Man the ramparts; watch the road; gird your loins; collect all your strength.  (For the LORD is restoring the majesty of Jacob as the majesty of Israel, for plunderers have stripped them and ruined their branches.)  The shield of his mighty men is red, his soldiers are clothed in scarlet. The chariots flash like flame when mustered in array; the chargers prance.  The chariots rage in the streets, they rush to and fro through the squares; they gleam like torches, they dart like lightning.  The officers are summoned, they stumble as they go, they hasten to the wall, the mantelet is set up.  The river gates are opened, the palace is in dismay;  its mistress is stripped, she is carried off, her maidens lamenting, moaning like doves, and beating their breasts.  Nin'eveh is like a pool whose waters run away. "Halt! Halt!" they cry; but none turns back.  Plunder the silver, plunder the gold! There is no end of treasure, or wealth of every precious thing.  Desolate! Desolation and ruin! Hearts faint and knees tremble, anguish is on all loins, all faces grow pale!  Where is the lions' den, the cave of the young lions, where the lion brought his prey, where his cubs were, with none to disturb?  The lion tore enough for his whelps and strangled prey for his lionesses; he filled his caves with prey and his dens with torn flesh.  Behold, I am against you, says the LORD of hosts, and I will burn your 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 more be heard.
It is argued that this text refers to and was fulfilled in 612 BCE. However Israel was not restored and was far north of the Araxes and Judah was to go into captivity and the Temple destroyed in 597 BCE. This time is far into the future and long after the fall of the Assyrians and their system and at the coming of the Messiah. In that aspect it agrees with the others of the Twelve Prophets and concerns the Last Days.
Nahum Chapter 3
 Woe to the bloody city, all full of lies and booty -- no end to the plunder!  The crack of whip, and rumble of wheel, galloping horse and bounding chariot!  Horsemen charging, flashing sword and glittering spear, hosts of slain, heaps of corpses, dead bodies without end -- they stumble over the bodies!  And all for the countless harlotries of the harlot, graceful and of deadly charms, who betrays nations with her harlotries, and peoples with her charms.  Behold, I am against you, says the LORD of hosts, and will lift up your skirts over your face; and I will let nations look on your nakedness and kingdoms on your shame.  I will throw filth at you and treat you with contempt, and make you a gazingstock.  And all who look on you will shrink from you and say, Wasted is Nin'eveh; who will bemoan her? whence shall I seek comforters for her?  Are you better than Thebes that sat by the Nile, with water around her, her rampart a sea, and water her wall?  Ethiopia was her strength, Egypt too, and that without limit; Put and the Libyans were her helpers.  Yet she was carried away, she went into captivity; her little ones 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.  You also will be drunken, you will be dazed; you will seek a refuge from the enemy.  All your fortresses are like fig trees with first-ripe figs -- if shaken they fall into the mouth of the eater.  Behold, your troops are women in your midst. The gates of your land are wide open to your foes; fire has devoured your bars.  Draw water for the siege, strengthen your forts; go into the clay, tread the mortar, take hold of the brick mold!  There will the fire devour you, the sword will cut you off. It will devour you like the sword locust. Multiply yourselves like the locust, multiply like the grasshopper!  You increased your merchants more than the stars of the heavens. The locust spreads its wings and flies away.  Your princes are like grasshoppers, your scribes like clouds of locusts settling on the fences in a day of cold -- when the sun rises, they fly away; no one knows where they are.  Your shepherds are asleep, O king of Assyria; your nobles slumber. Your people are scattered on the mountains with none to gather them.  There is no assuaging your hurt, your wound is grievous. All who hear the news of you clap their hands over you. For upon whom has not come your unceasing evil?
The nations were glad for they had all suffered from her unceasing evil and that was to continue even though they were dispersed over the mountains. Their power was absorbed by the Babylonians and became part of the seven and eight empires of Daniel Chapter 2 and the prophecies of Daniel.