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the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Nahum 1

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verse 1

Nah 1:1

INTRODUCTION

Nahum 1:1 . . .

When Jonah, about 100 years previous to Nahum, foretold the overthrow of Nineveh the great royal seat of Assyrian monarchy, the city repented and was spared. Now, having fallen from their repentance, possibly deceived by their rise to world domination, Nineveh receives a written warning of irreversible doom. The repentance has not been continued, neither will the reprieve from judgement.

As we see in the introductory part of the Notes on Nahum, Elkoshite has not been identified by modern archeology, although Jewish tradition situates it at the site of Alkosh, some thirty miles north of the present town of Mosul. The tomb of Nahum (traditional) is venerated there by present day Judaism. Jerome located Elkoshite at the site of Helkesei in Galilee, in his commentary on Nahum. This Helkesei is probably present day ElKauzeh between Rameh and Biut Jebeih. The De Vitis Prophetarum, of the Pseudo-Epiphanius, locates Elkoshite east of the Jordan river near Begabor and connects it with the tribe of Simeon. Nestle concluded that Begabor is to be identified with present day Beit Jibrim in southern Israel.

The important words in this verse are burden of Nineveh and vision of Nahum. They constitute a claim to direct inspiration and a positive identification of the author. The word massa (burden) was most frequently used to denote a threatening prophecy. (e.g. Isaiah 30 and Zechariah 9:12). The idea seems to be that of a burden laid by God upon Nineveh. The word may also mean to “utter forth” or “call,” e.g. Psalms 15:3 and 2 Kings 9:27.

Paul speaks of the beauty of the feet of those who bring God’s good news (Romans 10:15). There is a certain inherent ugliness about a bearer of the message of doom. There are few if any passages in the Bible to match Nahum for sheer hopelessness.

“The book of the vision” indicates that Nahum saw the destruction of Nineveh before it actually took place. The terror of God’s wrath cannot be aptly described, it must be experienced for its full deadliness to be grasped.

Zerr: Nahum (Nahum 1:1) was one of the minor prophets who wrote about 6 or 7 centuries before Christ. Burden is trom an original that means "an utterance," and is used here to mean that the prophet has something to say about Nineveh. That was the capital of the Assyrian Empire that was still in power as Nahum wrote. But the Lord gave him a vision of the fate of that nation and he wrote about it in his book. Assyria was the empire that had carried the people of the 10-tribe kingdom of Israel off into exile. It was God’s decree that such an event should take place, yet He was incensed at the personal satisfaction that heathen nation got out of Israel’s downfall, and of the unnecessary cruelty that was imposed in connection with the case. As a consequence, It was decreed that Assyria in turn should be made to suffer some reverses. The nation finally fell before the Babylonian power.

Questions

Introduction

1. Jonah prophesied to Nineveh about __________ years before Nahum.

2. How do you explain God’s destruction of Nineveh in view of her repentance at Jonah’s preaching?

3. What two phrases in Nahum 1:1 establish the work as inspired Scripture?

4. God assures His faithful and loyal people of His __________ and at the same time He pronounces His wrath against Nineveh.

5. What had been Nineveh’s past dealing with Israel?

6. Comment on the idea that God is a jealous God.

7. Explain “Jehovah is full of wrath!’

8. In light of Nahum 1:3(b)-7 discuss the power of God.

9. What is meant by the overrunning flood in Nahim Nahum 1:8?

10. Show how Nineveh’s attempts at self-defense were to prove futile.

11. What sort of person was Sennacherib?

12. What was to become of the gods Nineveh worshipped?

13. Discuss (Nahum 1:15) “Behold upon the mountain.”

14. Discuss (Nahum 1:15) “keep thy feasts . . . perform thy vows.”

Verses 1-8

Nah 1:1-8

The Awesome Power of Jehovah (Nahum 1:1-8)

The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite (Nahum 1:1). The word burden is also translated “oracle” in the ASV footnotes. Nahum is delivering an oracle (i.e., an utterance made by an agent by divine revelation). Like Ezekiel, Nahum has seen visions of divine revelation in relationship to the Assyrian city of Nineveh (cf. Ezekiel 1:1

Jehovah is a jealous God and avenges; Jehovah avenges and is full of wrath; Jehovah takes vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserves wrath for his enemies (Nahum 1:2). The very mention of Nineveh conjures up the identity of Jehovah being a jealous, vengeful, and wrathful God who is against those whose deeds are wicked. The enemies of God will feel the full brunt of His anger. God is likened unto a husband to Israel. The enemy is likened unto one who is flirting with a husband’s wife. Jehovah is jealous and thereby unleashes his wrath and vengeance upon the enemies.

Jehovah is slow to anger, and great in power, and will by no means clear the guilty: Jehovah hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet (Nahum 1:3). Nahum reveals the fierce wrath of God; however, He too is “slow to anger.” If an unruly people are feeling the brunt of His wrath it is because they have exhausted His patience and longsuffering qualities. Those guilty of such wrath will experience the power of God in condemning judgment. The guilty will by no means be cleared of their offences while in a state of rebellion.

He rebukes the sea, and makes it dry, and dries up all the rivers: Bashan languishes and Carmel; and the flower of Lebanon languishes (Nahum 1:4). The power of God is revealed over nature itself. God has the power to rebuke the sea and rivers and they would be dry. Jesus at one time rebuked the stormy Sea of Galilee and it was calm (cf. Matthew 8:23-27). God exercised control over the animal kingdom as well (cf. Numb. 22:21ff; Jonah 2:10 (see study # 2; The Sovereignty of God). Bashan, Carmel, and Lebanon were places where great soils and lush vegetation existed; however, they too were subject to God’s will. Nature itself is subject to God’s will. Though the sea and rivers be places of water and Bashan, Carmel, and Lebanon places of vegetation they were all subject to God. If it be God’s will all will take a 180 degree turn and dry up.

The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt; and the earth is upheaved at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein (Nahum 1:5). The mighty mountains and hills of earth quake in fear for Jehovah. The entire earth and all its inhabitants are subject to Jehovah God and thereby all quake at his very presence. The power of God causes all of nature and humanity to quake in fear.

Who can stand before his indignation? And who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken asunder by him (Nahum 1:6). Nahum challenges all creation that one may be found to stand before Jehovah’s wrath and not be affected. Shall the mountains, mighty rivers or seas stand before God and not be affected? Shall any man stand before Jehovah and not be affected by His great power? The answer is obvious. No man or part of nature can withstand the might of God. When God’s fiery wrath is poured out not one shall stand.

Jehovah is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knows them that take refuge in him. But with an over-running flood he will make a full end of her place, and will pursue his enemies into darkness (Nahum 1:7-8). Those who recognize the awesome power of God will run to Him in subjection seeking refuge from the storms of life. Those who do recognize the power and sovereign rule of God are known by Him! To be known of God is to be in good standing (cf. Galatians 4:9). Those not known of God will not escape His wrath. Like a flood that runs through a town destroying everything in its path so Jehovah will end the place of the sinful.

Verses 2-8

Nah 1:2-8

THE COMING OF THE LORD OF JUDGEMENT . . . Nahum 1:2-8

JEHOVAH, GOD OF WRATH . . .

The wrath of God is here revealed from heaven against His enemies at the same time His favor and mercy are assured to His faithful, loyal people. His almighty power in both make His wrath exceedingly terrible and His grace very much to be desired.

JEHOVAH IS JEALOUS . . .

The Assyrian empire had desolated Israel and harassed Judah repeatedly. It seemed their idols had overcome the people of Jehovah. The poetic prophet warns that God is jealous. He will not allow the seeming power of false gods to go unchallenged. Here is an echo of Jehovah’s own evaluation of Himself in Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:14, Deuteronomy 4:24; Deuteronomy 5:9; Deuteronomy 6:15. There is a certain affection expressed here. Jealousy is of those we love. It is His wounded heart that brings about Nineveh’s destruction. God’s wrath is always God’s love reacting to unfaithfulness.

JEHOVAH AVENGETH . . .

Only God is qualified to avenge. He does so in complete justice. In the case of Nineveh, He had gone to great lengths (cf. Jonah) to warn them of the consequence of their sin.

JEHOVAH IS FULL OF WRATH . . .

Paul, in Romans 1:18 -ff, speaks of God’s wrath being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness. Romans 2:5 -ff pictures God’s wrath as being stored up against the day of wrath when it will be released in a burst of pent-up power. John the Baptist spoke of fleeing from the wrath to come (Matthew 3:7, Luke 3:7), John, the apostle of love, indicates that the wrath of God remains on those who do not believe and obey the Gospel. Jesus spoke of God’s wrath in His foretelling of the destruction of Jerusalem. (Luke 21:22). In light of these, and many more New Testament passages, we must conclude that Jehovah as a God of wrath was not, as some have taught, a primitive notion limited to the Old Testament. The loving God of the New Testament is the same God and wrath is yet one of the facets of His nature.

Nahum 1:2-3 (a) indicate that while Jehovah is a jealous God, avenging and full of wrath, His wrath is never impetuous or petulant. His wrath is reserved for His enemies: those who have set themselves against His purposes and His people. He is slow to anger, as indeed a God of love Who demands patience of His people must be. Nevertheless, His patience and slow anger must never be misunderstood as weakness or tolerance of enmity toward Himself.

Zerr: Jealousy (Nahum 1:2) is what causes a person to cling to that which he possesses and to resent any attempt of another to take it from him. Assyria had taken possession of a portion of God’s people. He was determined to take vengeance because of it. Reserveth is defined "to cherish" in the lexicon, and the clause means that God holds a store of wrath for his enemies. Slow to anger (Nahum 1:3). This phrase is in keeping wtih the last sentence at the preceding verse. It God reserves wrath for certain characters, then He can take as much time as his wisdom suggests in executing it upon His wayward people. But he will not entirely overlook even their wrong-doing, which is the meaning of the words not at all acquit the wicked. That is why He suffered the Assyrians to take the people of Israel into exile. Hath his way means that God does as he wills with all the elements of the universe. If He wishes to use these agencies to carry out some or the decrees of chastisement upon a nation it will be done.

Nahum 1:3-7 . . . Jehovah is great in power, as witness His control over the forces of nature, the whirlwind, the storm, the clouds, the sea. Even the weather is in His power. The rivers run dry and the most verdant areas of the land, Bashan and Carmel and Lebanon languish and do not produce at His command. The immovable mountains quake before Him, the hills melt, and the very earth itself is upheaved in His presence . . . even the whole world and all who inhabit it. Rocks break asunder at the outpouring of His wrath. In the day of God’s wrath, they are kept safe who are in Him, but those who attempt to flee will find their hiding places swept away as in a flood. This entire passage of Nahum is a poetic picture of the wrath of God. Such vividness could scarcely be achieved by the more literal language of prose. It is reminiscent of the apocalyptic description in Revelation 6:12-17 of the opening of the sixth seal.

Zerr: Nahum 1:4 is further specification of the power of God over the parts of the universe, and it denotes that if He wills to control them as agencies against men and nations it will be accomplished. Bashan was in a heathen tenitory and Carmel with Lebanon was in the possession of Israel. However, wherever the place might be that incurs the divine wrath, it wilt have to suffer whatever form of chastisement that He deems proper. All of these statements in Nahum 1:5 are made as a description of the power of God. This verse (Nahum 1:5) is quite inclusive, for it begins with the inanimate things in creation, and ends with the living in the words world, and. all that dwell therein. God is able not only to control the material things that have no intelligent power of resistance, but He can rule all living creatures in the world which includes men and nations. It is logical to ask the question with which Nahum 1:6 begins, for if God has such universal power it is folly for anyone to think of resisting Him. His fury is compared to fire because of its effect upon corruption to which it is applied. Paul makes the same figurative comparison of God In Hebrews 12:29 which is also a quotation from Deuteronomy 4:24. The Lord is good (Nahum 1:7) denotes that God’s wrath is not to be regarded in the light of a destructive fire that ruins everything before it whether good or bad, it should rather be thought or as a purifying flarne that affects only such combustible matter as refuse, leaving unhurt and purified all elements that are useful.

(Nahum 1:8) The image of an over-running flood is possibly an allusion to Nineveh’s capture by the Medo-Persian armies through a flood in the river which destroyed her walls. More likely it is a poetic reference to the overwhelming armies. The figure is also used quite normally to simply suggest calamity, (cp. Psalms 32:6; Psalms 42:7; Psalms 90:5) her place . . . (RV) This phrase is a direct reference to Nineveh. The city is figured as a queen. Her place (of dwelling) is to be utterly demolished.

Zerr: The same might is now compared to a flood (Nahum 1:8) that sweeps everything before it that is not firmly attached. Darkness Is used figuratively, and among the words of the lexicon definition of the original are "misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow." These conditions come upon those who are enemies of the God of Israel.

Questions

Introduction

1. Jonah prophesied to Nineveh about __________ years before Nahum.

2. How do you explain God’s destruction of Nineveh in view of her repentance at Jonah’s preaching?

3. What two phrases in Nahum 1:1 establish the work as inspired Scripture?

4. God assures His faithful and loyal people of His __________ and at the same time He pronounces His wrath against Nineveh.

5. What had been Nineveh’s past dealing with Israel?

6. Comment on the idea that God is a jealous God.

7. Explain “Jehovah is full of wrath!’

8. In light of Nahum 1:3(b)-7 discuss the power of God.

9. What is meant by the overrunning flood in Nahim Nahum 1:8?

10. Show how Nineveh’s attempts at self-defense were to prove futile.

11. What sort of person was Sennacherib?

12. What was to become of the gods Nineveh worshipped?

13. Discuss (Nahum 1:15) “Behold upon the mountain.”

14. Discuss (Nahum 1:15) “keep thy feasts . . . perform thy vows.”

Verses 9-13

Nah 1:9-13

The Destruction of Assyria Foretold (Nahum 1:9-13)

What do ye devise against Jehovah? He will make a full end; affliction shall not rise up the second time. For entangled like thorns, and drunken as with their drink, they are consumed utterly as dry stubble (Nahum 1:9-10). The oracle against Nineveh and namely Assyria is the subject of Nahum (1:1; 3:7, 18). The prophet thereby poses the question to the Assyrians. “What do ye devise against Jehovah?” There will be nothing the Assyrian can do to defeat Jehovah’s purpose and wrath against them. They are mere men and He is God. Jehovah shall defeat them so soundly that they shall not rise up a second time. God used the wicked ways of Assyria to accomplish the punishment of an evil Israel (cf. Isaiah 10:5-6). When God’s purpose was achieved; i.e., sinful Israel was soundly defeated and exiled by the Assyrians, then the Lord would thoroughly punish the wicked nation of Assyria (cf. Isaiah 10:24 ff). Again, not only does the sovereignty of God extend to the natural elements of the world but also the kingdoms of men. God is in complete control. Assyria was deluded with the wine of pride much like Judah (Jeremiah 13:9-14) and the Babylonians were (Habakkuk 2:5). Assyria considered their fortresses and army to be as impenetrable as a thorny hedge.

There is one gone forth out of thee, that devises evil against Jehovah, that counsels wickedness. Thus saith Jehovah: though they be in full strength, and likewise many, even so shall they be cut down, and he shall pass away. Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more. And now will I break his yoke from off thee, and will burst thy bonds in sunder (Nahum 1:11-13). The one gone forth out of thee (i.e., Assyria) is probably the entire spirit of rebellion displayed on the part of the Assyrians toward Jehovah God. Jehovah would strike Assyria in their days of full strength and take them down. Jehovah has admittedly afflicted Israel with the Assyrians due to their sin. Assyria; however, will never rise again to afflict the people of God.

Verses 14-15

Nah 1:14-15

God pronounces death to Assyria and

thanksgiving for Judah (Nahum 1:14-15):

And Jehovah hath given commandment concerning thee, that no more of thy name be sown: out of the house of thy gods will I cut off the graven image and the molten image; I will make thy grave; for thou art vile (Nahum 1:14). The grave of death is prepared for Assyria by God. No graven or molten images of Assyria would be able to save them. Jehovah would cut off the Assyrian gods. Why would Assyria be defeated and cut out of existence? Assyria was judged by God’s revealed standards and found to be vile.”

Behold, upon the mountains the feet of him that brings good tidings, that publishes peace! Keep thy feasts, O Judah, perform thy vows; for the wicked one shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off (Nahum 1:15). Nahum now addresses Judah (the Southern kingdom). Judah is to rejoice because Assyria is soundly defeated by Jehovah God. The Lord will soon send a messenger to the people of Judah to reveal this good news! Let Judah rejoice with feasts and vows of thanksgiving. Though the event has not taken place it is sure to come.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Nahum 1". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/nahum-1.html.
 
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