EXEGESIS OF THE BOOK OF NAHUM
Welcome to my story. My name is Nineveh, the former capital who ruled the world. I thought I was indestructible but right now as you notice, I am only a heap of ancient ruins.
Like the prophet Jonah, the prophet Nahum predicted my fall.
Let me give you a brief outline of his book:
Purpose to Punish Nineveh, 1:1–15.
A. The superscription, 1:1.
B. The power of God to punish the wicked, 1:2–8.
C. The certainty of the coming punishment, 1:9–15.
II. A Description of Nineveh’s Coming Destruction, 2:1–13.
A. The siege and capture of the city, 2:1–8.
B. The plundering of the city, 2:9–13.
III. Nineveh’s Wickedness the Reason for Her Punishment, 3:1–7.
IV. The Destruction of No Amun, modern Luxor, an Example of Nineveh’s Destruction, 3:8–11.
V. The Finality and Completeness of Nineveh’s Destruction, 3:12–19.
CHIASM
Let me tell you something about a certain literary style that is an absolute miracle.
Here is a very simple example of a chiasm:
I eat (a) to live (b); I live (b) to eat (c)
This is how the book of Nahum was written:
A       Assyrian king taunted/Judah urged to celebrate (1:2-
15)
B       Dramatic call to alarm (2:1-10)
C       Taunt (2:11-12)
D       Announcement of judgment (2:13)
E       Woe oracle (3:1-4)
D’      Announcement of judgment (3:5-7))
C’      Taunt (3:8-13)
B’      Dramatic call to alarm (3:14-17)
A’ Assyrian king taunted as others celebrate (3:18-19
CHAPTER 1
Let us read first 8 verses of chapter one, and then review it afterwards:
Nahum 1:1 The burden against Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.
Nahum 1:2 God is jealous, and the LORD avenges; The LORD avenges and is furious. The LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies;
Nahum 1:3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, And will not at all acquit the wicked. The LORD has His way In the whirlwind and in the storm, And the clouds are the dust of His feet.
Nahum 1:4 He rebukes the sea and makes it dry, And dries up all the rivers. Bashan and Carmel wither, And the flower of Lebanon wilts.
Nahum 1:3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, And will not at all acquit the wicked. The LORD has His way In the whirlwind and in the storm, And the clouds are the dust of His feet.
Nahum 1:4 He rebukes the sea and makes it dry, And dries up all the rivers. Bashan and Carmel wither, And the flower of Lebanon wilts.
Nahum 1:5 The mountains quake before Him, The hills melt, And the earth heaves at His presence, Yes, the world and all who dwell in it
Nahum 1:6 Who can stand before His indignation? And who can endure the fierceness of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire, And the rocks are thrown down by Him.
Nah 1:7 The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.
Nah 1:8 But with an overflowing flood He will make an utter end of its place, And darkness will pursue His enemies.
What did you get out of these 8 verses of chapter 1?
The majesty of God in goodness to his people, and severity against his enemies.
Nahum 1:1 A prophecy concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.
A late a tradition identifies Elkosh with Alkush, a town in Iraq, and states that Nahum was born of parents in exile.
Nahum 1:2 God is jealous, and the LORD avenges; The LORD avenges and is furious. The LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies;
Like a husband is jealous of his wife, so God the heavenly husband, is jealous of His children, His bride.
The language employed should be understood in the light of the fact that God often adapts Himself to human language and experience (see Jer. 51:14; Amos 4:12; 6:8).
Amos 4:11 “I overthrew some of you, As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, And you were like a firebrand plucked from the burning; Yet you have not returned to Me,” Says the LORD.
Amos 4:12 “Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel; Because I will do this to you, Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!”
To illustrate the part God played in Nineveh’s destruction His justice is set forth in vs. 2–6, and His power demonstrated by His control over the material world.
Nahum 1:2 God is jealous, and the LORD avenges; The LORD avenges and is furious. The LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies;
Take vengeance. God is not motivated by the vindictiveness that characterizes sinful man, but by a holy desire to uphold righteousness and to punish those who oppose it.
During my 300 years of cruel rule many of my subjugated people like Judah wanted to know when God would make an end to the worst human violation in history? God answered:
Nahum 1:3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, And will not at all acquit the wicked. The LORD has His way In the whirlwind and in the storm, And the clouds are the dust of His feet.
This amazing character of God of being slow to anger, is also found in Exodus 34:5-7.
Exodus 34:5 Now the LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.
Exodus 34:6 And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,
Exodus 34:7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”
Divine mercy is proof, not of weakness, but of strength. Men may be “slow to anger” against iniquity because their moral callousness and insensibility make them so. For this they are to be pitied rather than admired.
On the other hand, God delays manifesting His wrath against sin and sinners. Why?
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. “not willing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9).
What a sublime and divine aspect of God’s love for sinners!
He grants time for repentance. Even when His offers of mercy are spurned, He is loath to punish.
In some way God is like an earthy parent who warns his child that a hiding is on its way. But then the parent postpones his punishment.
Listen to another revelation of God’s love for sinners and His hesitation to punish:
Hosea 11:8 “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I set you like Zeboiim? (two of the cities that were destroyed with Sodom). My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred.
“How can I give you up?” is the cry of His great heart of love. However, He cannot “acquit the wicked,” and those who persist in iniquity must reap the results.
Nahum 1:3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, And will not at all acquit the wicked. The LORD has His way In the whirlwind and in the storm, And the clouds are the dust of His feet.
Whirlwind and clouds and dust. God’s power is represented as displayed in the elements of nature. He is all power, allmighty
Nahum 1:4 He rebukes the sea and makes it dry, And dries up all the rivers. Bashan and Carmel wither, And the flower of Lebanon wilts.
When one stands on the shores of the Red Sea you are impressed by God’s power to open a huge way for two million people to pass through.
Exodus 14:21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided
Psalms 106:9 He rebuked the Red Sea also, and it dried up; So He led them through the depths, As through the wilderness.
What about rivers?
Psalms 107:33 He turns rivers into a wilderness, And the watersprings into dry ground;
Psalms 107:34 A fruitful land into barrenness, For the wickedness of those who dwell in it.
God is shown as in complete control of the elements of nature.
Isaiah 50:2 Why, when I came, was there no man? Why, when I called, was there none to answer? Is My hand shortened at all that it cannot redeem? Or have I no power to deliver? Indeed with My rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness;
Nahum continues to describe God as the Almighty:
Nahum 1:5 The mountains quake before Him, The hills melt, And the earth heaves at His presence, Yes, the world and all who dwell in it.
The prophet here presents a most awe-inspiring picture of God’s power.
Verses 3–6 describe God’s power and hence His ability to carry out the predicted destruction of Nineveh
With unerring accuracy the Infinite One still keeps account with the nations. While His mercy is tendered, with calls to repentance, this account remains open; but when the figures reach a certain amount which God has fixed, the ministry of His wrath begins. The account is closed. Divine patience ceases. Mercy no longer pleads in their behalf.
But Nahum sees more than my destruction. This prophecy takes us to the end of time:
More terrible manifestations than the world has ever yet beheld, will be witnessed at the second advent of Christ.
“Bow Thy heavens, O Lord, and come down: touch the mountains, and they shall smoke. Cast forth lightning, and scatter them: shoot out Thine arrows, and destroy them.”
Psalm 144:5, 6.
Nahum 1:6 Who can stand before His indignation? And who can endure the fierceness of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire, And the rocks are thrown down by Him.
What is meant by the use of the word fire?
Deuteronomy 4:24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
Nahum 1:7 The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.
How good is God really?
John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.
While Nahum was a messenger of destruction me and my Assyrian people, he was a minister of comfort and consolation to his own people, assuring them that the Lord would be their “stronghold in the day of trouble”
One of their kings called David, wrote the following song about their God
Psalms 61:2 From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Psalms 61:3 For You have been a shelter for me, A strong tower from the enemy.
Nahum 1:8 But with an overflowing flood He will make an utter end of its place, And darkness will pursue His enemies.
To all nations, modern as well as ancient, comes this same warning of punishment that will descend sooner or later upon those who exalt themselves against God. Where do you fit into this picture?
My, Nineveh’s period of probation was fast running out, and Nahum predicted a swiftly approaching destruction.
While you are looking at my ruins, listen to this:
The disappearance of the Assyrian people will always remain an unique and striking phenomenon in ancient history. Other, similar, kingdoms and empires have indeed passed away, but the people have lived on. A nation which had existed two thousand years and had ruled a wide area, lost its independent character.
NEXT TIME
We are going to look at the meaning of the following verse:
Nahum 1:9 What do you conspire against the LORD? He will make an utter end of it. Affliction will not rise up a second time.
What is Nahum trying to tell us here? Is it bad news of more punishment? Or does he take us beyond destruction and war and disaster to sometime in the future of perfect bliss?

 

Nahum 1:9 What do you conspire against the LORD? He will make an utter end of it. Affliction will not rise up a second time.
Nahum 1:10 For while tangled like thorns, And while drunken like drunkards, They shall be devoured like stubble fully dried.
Nahum 1:11 From you comes forth one Who plots evil against the LORD, A wicked counsellor.
Nahum 1:12 Thus says the LORD: “Though they are safe, and likewise many, Yet in this manner they will be cut down When he passes through. Though I have afflicted you, I will afflict you no more;
Nahum 1:13 For now I will break off his yoke from you, And burst your bonds apart.”
Nahum 1:14 The LORD has given a command concerning you: “Your name shall be perpetuated no longer. Out of the house of your gods I will cut off the carved image and the molded image. I will dig your grave, For you are vile.”
Nahum 1:15 Behold, on the mountains The feet of him who brings good tidings, Who proclaims peace! O Judah, keep your appointed feasts, Perform your vows. For the wicked one shall no more pass through you; He is utterly cut off.