Nahum 2:1-3:19 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Nineveh's Destruction
Comments for Study 2

Nahum 2:1-3:19
Memory Verse: 4


I. Nineveh's Future (2:1-13)

>1. What ironic warning was given Nineveh? (1)

* Nahum 2:1 "An attacker advances against you, [Nineveh]. Guard the fortress, watch the road, brace yourselves, marshal all your strength!"

* "An attacker advances against you" -Babylonians, the Medes, and the Scythians -particularly the Medes under Cyaxares and the Babylonians under Nabopolassar.

* "guard... watch... brace... marshal" -Irony. Jeremiah 46:3-6 does the same thing for Pharaoh's army concerning Babylon's coming attack.

* Verses 3-10 describe the battle scene.

Babylonian soldiers on horses

* See the relief Babylonian soldiers on horses to the right.

>What was the advancing army to be like? (3-4)

* Nahum 2:3-4 "The shields of his soldiers are red; the warriors are clad in scarlet. The metal on the chariots flashes on the day they are made ready; the spears of pine are brandished. The chariots storm through the streets, rushing back and forth through the squares. They look like flaming torches; they dart about like lightning."

* "The shields of his soldiers are red"

* "the warriors are clad in scarlet"

* "The metal on the chariots flashes on the day they are made ready"

* "the spears of pine are brandished"

* "The chariots storm through the streets, rushing back and forth through the squares"

* "They look like flaming torches; they dart about like lightning."

Hezekiah's tunnel

* See a picture of Hezekiah's tunnel to the right. (2 Chronicles 32:30; and 2 Kings 20:20) View of the tunnel, accidentally discovered in 1880, which King Hezekiah built in 701 B.C. in anticipation of a long siege of Jerusalem by Sennacherib, King of Assyria. The tunnel runs for about 1700 feet through the rock on which the city is built and carries the water of the Gihon spring into the pool of Siloam, inside the old city walls. (The Bible as History in Pictures, Werner Keller)

>2. What is promised Jacob? (2)

* Nahum 2:2 "The LORD will restore the splendor of Jacob like the splendor of Israel, though destroyers have laid them waste and have ruined their vines."

* "The LORD will restore the splendor of Jacob like the splendor of Israel" -Some believe this states that the whole nation will be restored again.

* Commentaries state that this verse is referring to the nation will be completely restored with a reunion of Judah and Israel.

* Ezekiel 37:15-23 "The word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, 'Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.' Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, 'Ephraim's stick, belonging to Joseph and all the house of Israel associated with him.' Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand. When your countrymen ask you, 'Won't you tell us what you mean by this?' say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph--which is in Ephraim's hand--and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah's stick, making them a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.' Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on and say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God."

* Zechariah 10:6-12 "I will strengthen the house of Judah and save the house of Joseph. I will restore them because I have compassion on them. They will be as though I had not rejected them, for I am the LORD their God and I will answer them. The Ephraimites will become like mighty men, and their hearts will be glad as with wine. Their children will see it and be joyful; their hearts will rejoice in the LORD. I will signal for them and gather them in. Surely I will redeem them; they will be as numerous as before. Though I scatter them among the peoples, yet in distant lands they will remember me. They and their children will survive, and they will return. I will bring them back from Egypt and gather them from Assyria. I will bring them to Gilead and Lebanon, and there will not be room enough for them. They will pass through the sea of trouble; the surging sea will be subdued and all the depths of the Nile will dry up. Assyria's pride will be brought down and Egypt's scepter will pass away. I will strengthen them in the LORD and in his name they will walk," declares the LORD."

Hezekiah's tunnel

* See a picture of Hebrew words in Hezekiah's tunnel to the right. "The boring through is completed." So begins the inscription, written in ancient Hebrew characters, which was found in the famous tunnel which King Hezekiah built. "And this was the story of the boring through. While the workmen were hacking their way from opposite ends, and while there were still three cubits to be bored through, they heard voices calling from each side, for there was a crevice in the rock. And on the day when the boring was completed the stone/cutters hacked their way towards each other until they met. Then the water flowed from the spring to the pool twelve hundred cubits, and the height of the rock above the heads of the stone/cutters was a hundred cubits." (The Bible as History in Pictures, Werner Keller)

>What might this refer to?

* The reunion of Judah (aka Jews) and Israel (aka Ephraim, Joseph, Samaria) will not happen until just before Jesus comes again. Since Jesus' first coming a blending of the two houses has been taken place in part. The blending will be complete and in full just before Jesus comes again.

* The New Testament interprets a similar passage in Amos 9:11-12 to indicate the inclusion of the Gentiles within the people of God a being its fulfilment (Acts 15:13-19), so also the present passage could see its fruition in the church as the reunited nation of Israel (James 1:1). (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, David W. Baker)

* Some Messianic Jewish books and manuscripts also see this being fulfilled in the future with Jews and Ephraim being represented by Gentiles who have come to believe in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God.

* Many prophecies have multiple fulfilments.

* Nahum may have in his youth seen the Assyrians defeat the northern tribes and take them off to captivity in 722 B.C. He would have seen the Assyrians try unsuccessfully to defeat Judah during Hezekiah's reign in 701 B.C. And he may have been old enough to see Babylon defeat the Assyrians in 612 B.C.

Hezekiah's tunnel Hezekiah's tunnel

* See two sketches of Hezekiah's tunnel to the right.

* The spiritual battle has similarities. People build up mental and spiritual defences to the gospel. Yet Jesus promises, "the gates of Hades (grave, hell) will not overcome it". (Matthew 16:18)

>3. Will Nineveh try to protect itself? (5)

* Nahum 2:5 "He summons his picked troops, yet they stumble on their way. They dash to the city wall; the protective shield is put in place."

* The soldiers, mustered by their leader, stumble in haste. They were complacent and proud thinking no one would attack them. The protective shield is a portable cover to protect the besiegers from objects hurled from the walls under attack. Modern nations uses missiles and rockets as a protective shield. President Ronald Reagan has his "star wars defence" and Israel has its "iron dome".

>Will they prevail? (6-10)

* Nahum 2:6-10 "The river gates are thrown open and the palace collapses. It is decreed that [the city] be exiled and carried away. Its slave girls moan like doves and beat upon their breasts. Nineveh is like a pool, and its water is draining away. "Stop! Stop!" they cry, but no one turns back. Plunder the silver! Plunder the gold! The supply is endless, the wealth from all its treasures! She is pillaged, plundered, stripped! Hearts melt, knees give way, bodies tremble, every face grows pale."

* Verse 6 is Assyria's defeat. Verses 7-10 is the results.

* "slave girls" -The kingdom's of the world grew prosperous, to maintain it they resort to slavery. Women beating their breasts was a sign of anguish for the dead children whom they nursed.

* "draining away" -The people are lead into exile and the city drained of its inhabitants. That which Assyria afflicted on its victims was inflicted on them.

>4. What animal is used the portray Assyria and why might this be fitting? (11-12)

* Nahum 2:11-12 "Where now is the lions' den, the place where they fed their young, where the lion and lioness went, and the cubs, with nothing to fear? The lion killed enough for his cubs and strangled the prey for his mate, filling his lairs with the kill and his dens with the prey."

* These verses are a taunt in the form of a rhetorical question.

* The lion is an appropriate image to apply to Assyria because of the rapacious ways of the Assyrian monarchs and because Nineveh contained numerous lion sculptures. (NIV study Bible)

Ashurbanipal, the Assyrian king killing a lion

* See picture of an Assyrian relief to the right. Lions, a formidable beast of prey was to be found all over Palestine in biblical times, not only in the "pride of Jordan" (Jeremiah 49: 19), but also in Samaria (2 Kings 17: 25), in Moab (Isaiah IS: 9), and, as in David's case, in the mountains of Judah. The kings of the ancient east appear to have had a passion for the hair/raisin sport of lion/hunting, especially the Assyrians. Among many relief is one from Nineveh which is quite astounding. It shows Ashurbanipal, the Assyrian king, in a situation which is as unusual as it is dangerous. With extraordinary courage the monarch stands face to face with the lion, which has already been pierced by an arrow and wounded in the bowels. While Ashurbanipal grasps the lion's mane in one hand-just as the Bible describes young David's daring feat –he delivers the death/blow with a sword held in the other hand.

>Though Assyria was used to destroy unrepentant Israel and harass sinful Judah where they exempt from the Lord's righteousness? (13)

* Nahum 2:13 "I am against you," declares the LORD Almighty. "I will burn up your chariots in smoke, and the sword will devour your young lions. I will leave you no prey on the earth. The voices of your messengers will no longer be heard."

* Nahum ironically contrasts the devastated and desolate city of Nineveh with its former glory and power, expressed in figurative terms. (NIV Study Bible)

* A concentration of themes, this verse unites the chapter and brings it to a close.

>In the same way if the Lord uses us does it mean we are free to do whatever we want? (Rom. 11:17-21; John 15:5-8)

* Romans 11:17-21 "If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in." Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either."

* John 15:5-8 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."

* The Lord Jesus calls us and forgives us by grace. He takes away our sins and gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit to enable us to live a life according to his will and plan. We are chosen for a purpose. When God chooses people they are not given a free license to do anything they want. We are called to live a holy life, a life pleasing to him. He continually works on and in us to refine us, to mold us into his image. We should not resist his work. We all will be called accountable, especially those he has given much. We all will stand before the judgment seat to give an account of what we did with the blessings he gave us. He promises he will reward and will take away reward according to what we did and did not do.

II. Nineveh's Sins (3:1-4)

>5. What sins was Nineveh guilty of? (1)

* Nahum 3:1 "Woe to the city of blood, full of lies, full of plunder, never without victims!"

* "Woe" -Woe in Hebrew is hoy, similar to: oh! alas! ah! aha!

* "city of blood" -Nineveh was known for cruelty especially to conquered nations.

* Assyria was the world power during Nahum's time. Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 B.C.) conquered the peoples to the north in Asia Minor as far as Nairi (modern Turkey/Iran) and exacting tribute from Phrygia (modern Turkey), then invading Aram (modern Syria) conquering the Aramaeans and neo Hittites between the Khabur and the Euphrates Rivers. His harshness prompted a revolt that he crushed decisively in a pitched, two-day battle. According to his monument inscription while recalling this massacre he says, "their men young and old I took prisoners. Of some I cut off their feet and hands; of others I cut off the ears noses and lips; of the young men's ears I made a heap; of the old men's heads I made a marinet. I exposed their heads as a trophy in front of their city. The male children and the female children I burned in flames; the city I destroyed, and consumed with fire." Following this victory, he advanced without opposition as far as the Mediterranean and exacted tribute from Phoenicia.

Jonah, the prophet proceeding Nahum by around one hundred years also prophecied about Nineveh's judgment. However, unlike Nahum's ministry Nineveh accepted Jonah's warning and repented.

A generation after Nineveh's repentance they returned to their oppression, cruelty, idolatry, and wickedness. Just before Nahum's ministry Samaria had fallen and was deported to Nineveh first in 734 B.C. and then finally in 722 B.C.

* The judgment coming to Nineveh was because of its many sins. These are but four mentioned in the book of Joel. The Lord's judgment is true and just. Some may ask, why does he not judge the nation that I know is evil. They forget that all fall short of the glory of God. All miss the target. He has a right to judge any an all nations. He will judge all nations, in his time and in his way.

>What motivated Assyria to attack other nations? (2-4)

* Nahum 3:2-4 "The crack of whips, the clatter of wheels, galloping horses and jolting chariots! Charging cavalry, flashing swords and glittering spears! Many casualties, piles of dead, bodies without number, people stumbling over the corpses-- all because of the wanton lust of a harlot, alluring, the mistress of sorceries, who enslaved nations by her prostitution and peoples by her witchcraft."

* "all because of the wanton lust of a harlot... prostitution" -When a city or nation is described as a harlot in the Bible it refers to the sin of greed and exploitation. The lure of luxury and wealth brought multitudes to Nineveh. Most ended up as slaves. The goddess of Nineveh, Ishtar fits this description.

* "and peoples by her witchcraft" -Witchcraft is defined in Deuteronomy 18:10-11. "Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritualist or who consults the dead."

>What similar motives did Jesus say was happening in his time? (Luke 20:45-47)

* Luke 20:45-47 "While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, "Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely."

* Matthew 23:25-26 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean."

* Mark 7:20-23 "Jesus went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.'"

* Luke 12:15 "Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

* Romans 1:28-32 "Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them."

* Ephesians 5:3-5 "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person--such a man is an idolater--has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God."

III. Nineveh's Doom (3:5-19)

>6. Will anyone have compassion on the evil Nineveh? (5-7)

* Nahum 3:5-7 "I am against you," declares the LORD Almighty. "I will lift your skirts over your face. I will show the nations your nakedness and the kingdoms your shame. I will pelt you with filth, I will treat you with contempt and make you a spectacle. All who see you will flee from you and say, 'Nineveh is in ruins--who will mourn for her?' Where can I find anyone to comfort you?"

* "lift your skirts over your face" -The punishment of prostitutes and adulteresses in ancient Middle East.

* "pelt you with filth" -Criminals were treated this way.

* "who will mourn for her" -A rhetorical question. Nineveh had many victims. Only a few rich in the city enjoyed the comforts. The multitude would be glad Nineveh fell.

* The rich often get the way they are by oppressing others. Selfish greed only makes enemies. "The wages of the righteous bring them life, but the income of the wicked brings them punishment." (Proverbs 10:16) "The wicked man earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward." (Proverbs 11:18)

>What does this teach about how love overcomes all?

* Matthew 5:43-48 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

* 1 Peter 4:8-10 "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms."

>7. What city was used as an illustration to Nineveh? (8-9)

* Nahum 3:8-9 "Are you better than Thebes, situated on the Nile, with water around her? The river was her defense, the waters her wall. Cush and Egypt were her boundless strength; Put and Libya were among her allies."

* "Thebes" -Thebes is in the upper Nile region, modern Luxor. Thebes is the Greek name for the city natively known as Waset. It is located about 800 km (500 miles) south of the Mediterranean, on the east bank of the river Nile. The Theban Necropolis is situated nearby on the west bank of the Nile.

* "Cush"-They apparently first migrated southward into Arabia, and then crossed the Red Sea into the land now known as Ethiopia. In the Bible they are called Cushites or Ethiopians. The Tell el Amarna tablets call this land "Kashi".

* "Put"-Exact location is unknown, but believed to be associated with Lybia in the region of North Africa west of Egypt according to Josephus.

* "Egypt" -Lower Egypt.

* "Libya" -Also known as Put by scholars.


* See a map of ancient Egypt to the right.

>What happened to it? (10)

* Nahum 3:10 "Yet she was taken captive and went into exile. Her infants were dashed to pieces at the head of every street. Lots were cast for her nobles, and all her great men were put in chains."

* Thebes has existed as a city for thousands of years. Thebes was destroyed at the hands of Ashurbanipal’'s Assyrian army in 663 B.C., a feat no one in he world thought was possible.

>Can we truly trust in defenses we make against what we are afraid of? (Matt. 6:19-21; Psalm 146:3)

* Psalm 146:3 "Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save."

* Matthew 6:19-21 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

>8. What will happen to their riches? (11-17)

* Nahum 3:11-17 "You too will become drunk; you will go into hiding and seek refuge from the enemy. All your fortresses are like fig trees with their first ripe fruit; when they are shaken, the figs fall into the mouth of the eater. Look at your troops-- they are all women! The gates of your land are wide open to your enemies; fire has consumed their bars. Draw water for the siege, strengthen your defenses! Work the clay, tread the mortar, repair the brickwork! There the fire will devour you; the sword will cut you down and, like grasshoppers, consume you. Multiply like grasshoppers, multiply like locusts! You have increased the number of your merchants till they are more than the stars of the sky, but like locusts they strip the land and then fly away. Your guards are like locusts, your officials like swarms of locusts that settle in the walls on a cold day-- but when the sun appears they fly away, and no one knows where.

* "drunk" -From the cup of God's wrath.

* "like fig trees with their first ripe fruit" -A simile for the eagerness with which the victors gather the rich loot of Nineveh.

* "figs fall into the mouth of the eater" -Nineveh's fortresses will finally fall just as easily.

* "your troops... are all women" -They are weak and unable to stand against the invading armies.

* "your bars" -The bars of the gates.

* "draw water" -A normal preparation for siege.

* "fire will devour you" -Confirmed by history and archaeology. Assyria's king died in the flames of his palace.

* "your merchants... are more than the stars" -Speaks of Assyria's vast trading and commercial enterprises.

* "locusts" -Locusts were often seen as judgement of God. (i.e. Israel leaving Egypt) Locusts are feared by the farmers because they come in huge swarms and devour everything in their path. their activity provided an apt simile for the exploitative actions of Nineveh's officials during her destruction.

* "no one knows where" -thus will Nineveh's officials disappear, without a trace. Interestingly, for centuries no one knew where Nineveh itself lay buried until 1845 A.D. when it was found.

>9. What will happen to the people of Assyria?

* Nahum 3:18-19 O king of Assyria, your shepherds slumber; your nobles lie down to rest. Your people are scattered on the mountains with no one to gather them. Nothing can heal your wound; your injury is fatal. Everyone who hears the news about you claps his hands at your fall, for who has not felt your endless cruelty?"

* "slumber... rest" -Content and complacent.

* "clasps his hands" -A sign of relief.

* "Your people are scattered on the mountains with no one to gather them" -Dead bodies left to decay and refugees fleeing a place of destruction.

>How does this explain what happened to some of the Israelites who were taken into captivity a hundred years before Nahum's time? (2 Kings 17:6)

* 2 Kings 17:6 "In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River and in the towns of the Medes."

* The Israelites became part of the Babylonian empire when Assyria was defeated;

>10. What can be learn about the Lord? (Rom. 11:22)

* Romans 11:22 "Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off."