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Bible Commentaries
Nahum 3

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-3

Nah 3:1-3

THE EPITAPH OF NINEVEH

WOE TO THE BLOODY CITY . . . Nahum 3:1-3

Nineveh, for years, had neither been taken nor put in fear. Now she lay, in the prophet’s vision, as she would soon really lie, in blood and ashes. Nahum’s reaction to her ruin is far from mourning. He rather lists her past glory and rejoices in her destruction. Reading this passage, one can almost hear Jonah joining Nahum in his rejoicing. What Jonah longed to see, Nahum saw. (cf. Jonah 4:1-5)

IT IS ALL FULL OF LIES . . . Nahum 3:1

Nineveh had aspired to be the capital of the world, by whatever means were at her disposal, whether intrigue in the courts of other nations or by sheer force of arms and the carrying away of conquered peoples. For this Nahum sees her now in ruins. The God who made of one blood all the nations of men never designed any nation to be tyrants and hold others as her slaves. It is He Who will be universal monarch and none other! Yet the chapters of both ancient and modern history are delineated by the records of kings and nations who have tried to rule the world. None have long succeeded.

Zerr: The leading men In Nineveh would not hesitate at bloodshed if it would help their plots to overcome the other citizens. Prey departeth not (Nahum 3:1) denotes that the practice of preying upon the helpless citizens never ceased. Thirst for power was merciless.

THE NOISE . . . THE NOISE . . . Nahum 3:2-3

The city lies dead. The silence of death is broken only by the sound of enemy arms moving about the streets. There is no regard for the dead . . . the invaders stumble over the fallen corpses. The carnage seems endless. No attempt is made to count the bodies. They are simply a multitude.

Zerr: Nahum 3:2 begins describing the details at the "woe" with which the chapter begins. Noise of a whip. Military operations were carried on largely with chariots drawn by horses, and this phase predicts the lashing of the animals in urging them on through the city. Streets had rough and rocky surfaces and the chariot wheels were equipped with hard tires, hence the rattling noise (Nahum 3:2) they would make. Jumping is from RAQAD which Strong defines, "A primitive root; properly to stamp, i.e. to spring about (wildly or for joy)." The word has been rendered by dance, jump, leap and skip. The prancing horses would naturally produce such movements in the chariots. The horseman (Nahum 3:3) means the man driving the horses drawing the chariots of the preceding verse, for the charioteers did not restrict their activltles to their driving. "They would leap from the rear of the vehicle (whtch was open at that end) and make close attack upon any person of the enemy nearby. Or they would cast the spear from the chariot at those farther away. The great number of the slain is indicated by the words stumble upon their corpses.

Questions

The Epitaph of Nineveh

1. Why does Nahum say Nineveh is “full of lies?”

2. In Nahum’s vision of fallen Nineveh, the silence is broken only by __________.

3. Discuss Nahum 3:4-7 in light of the modern question, “If there is a God, why does He not halt or prevent war?

4. What are the “sins of Nineveh” as listed in this paragraph?

5. What is indicated by Nahum’s term “witchcrafts?”

6. How does God intend to make Nineveh a “gazing stock?”

7. Who are No-Amon, Karnak, Thebes?

8. Where did the sprinkling of exorcism first become confused with the immersion of Christian baptism? When did this occur?

9. Compare the fate of No-Amon with that of Nineveh.

10. Who defeated No-Amon in 674 B.C.?

11. Discuss Nahum’s question “art thou better?” as applied to modern America.

12. In what physical condition were the leaders of Nineveh when the Medes and Babylonians fell upon them?

13. What were “all thy fortresses” in Nahum 3:12-15?

14. What is the irony of Nahum’s choice of vermin to illustrate the multitudes of Nineveh’s defenders?

15. The destruction of the city of Nineveh was the mortal wound of __________.

16. How is God’s word in Nahum vindicated by history in the destruction of the Assyrian Empire?

Verses 1-7

Nah 3:1-7

The aftermath of Nineveh’s Fall (Nahum 3:1-7)

Woe to the bloody city! It is all full of lies and rapine; the prey departs not (Nahum 3:1). Nineveh was bloody due to its siege and destruction by Babylon. The sins of Assyria included lies and rapine (i.e., Forcible seizure of another’s property).

The noise of the whip, and the noise of the rattling of wheels, and prancing horses, and bounding chariots, the horseman mounting, and the flashing sword, and the glittering spear, and a multitude of slain, and a great heap of corpses, and there is no end of the bodies; they stumble upon their bodies (Nahum 3:2-3). Nahum now gives a graphic vision of the aftermath. The battle has been fought and the panoramic picture is one of complete destruction for Nineveh and its inhabitants. The Babylonians can scarcely walk or ride through the streets due to the amount of dead bodies.

because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the well-favored harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that sells nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts (Nahum 3:4). Jehovah is justified in His actions against Assyria due to her multitude of whoredoms and witchcrafts.” As a woman of seduction and deception Nineveh gained the favor of many and then did them harm.

Behold, I am against thee, saith Jehovah of hosts, and I will uncover thy skirts upon thy face; and I will show the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame. And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a gazing-stock. And it shall come to pass, that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her? Whence shall I seek comforters for thee?” (Nahum 3:5-7). The nations of the world would now see Assyria in all her shame and nakedness. Through military defeat Jehovah would cause Assyria to be viewed as a filthy and vile people. No one will mourn over her fall. All the nations that were cruelly treated by her would now rejoice over her fall.

Verses 4-7

Nah 3:4-7

CAUSE OF THE CARNAGE . . . Nahum 3:4-7

The cry of the modern social revolutionist is “if there is a god, why does he not halt or prevent war?” The paragraph before us deserves serious study in answer to this questioning. The God Who declares Himself against Nineveh has not changed in His righteous wrath upon wicked nations.

BECAUSE OF THE MULTITUDE OF WHOREDOMS . . . Nahum 3:4

Here is a listing, brief and to the point, of the sins of Nineveh. No doubt the term “whoredoms of the well-fovored harlot” could be a literal description of the immorality of the Assyrian capital. Such corruption always preceeds the downfall of an empire, just as it now eats the fibre out of the strength of the United States. However, it is more likely Nahum intends here the more profound harlotry that brought on war. Nineveh had courted neighboring nations with the design to ruin their liberties and property.

Nor must we omit from the “multitude of her whoredoms” her mystery religion. (See chapter on Baal worship.) In her heyday, Assyria was one of the most brutal empires ever to cross the pages of history. Will Durant points out that her religion did nothing to modify this tendancy to violence. Ashur was the name of the national version of the sun god. He was warlike, merciless and was believed to take a divine satisfaction in the sacrifice of captured enemies before his shrine. The worship of Ashur was largely one of omens and exorcism. These Nahum calls witchcrafts. The world was pictured as full of a host of demons to be warded off by charms and long incantations.

Zerr: Nahum 3:4 sets forth the evils for which the Lord decreed this awful fate for Nineveh and the nation. Literal whoredom was doubtless practiced there, but the term is also used to mean the abominable evils or idolatry. This would include various kinds of traffic such as witchcraft, by which outside people were defrauded out of their belongings and other rights.

I WILL UNCOVER . . . Nahum 3:5

The foreign policy of Assyria, as we have seen, was one of ambitious deceit. This stood first in the list of her harlotries. Now her proud pretentions are to be baffled by Jehovah. Her shame is discovered to her neighbor nations. Her vain hope of universal domination is first revealed and then dashed to pieces.

Zerr: Idolatry is compared with adultery in the Bible, and a harlot is likened unto a city or nation that practices the false religion, hence the accusations were made against Nineveh recorded in Nahum 3:5. Discover thy skirts upon thy face. The harlot’s skirt was lifted up as far as her face to make sure that her nakedness was exposed. A harlot would not have any sense of shame as far as modesty is concerned, but to have her body exposed by someone who did not intend to patronize her would be humiliating. This is a prediction that Nineveh was literally to be exposed to the gaze of the world.

I WILL . . . SET THEE AS A GAZING STOCK . . . Nahum 3:6-7

That great city to which all nations had made court, with which they had coveted alliances, is made a laughing stock. Abominable filth and vileness is always the aftermath of war. I can still smell the stench of death in the blasted rubble of European cities during World War II. The disease which rises from such putridity causes many to flee . . . and to marvel at the destruction of Nineveh.

No one is left to mourn the passing of Nineveh. Nahum takes delight in it and taunts her with an offer to hire mourners. One cannot but wonder if the Spirit Who inspired Nahum’s prophecy approved of the poet’s almost sadistic delight in the calamity that befell his enemies. I personally doubt it. More likely God’s attitude toward Jonah, when that prophet pouted because Nineveh had been spared, was the same toward Nahum. (Jonah 4:9 -ff) We do not know.

Zerr: The filth (Nahum 3:6) is figurative and refers to the insults and shame that would be cast upon Nineveh by the nations. Make thee vile means to expose the City so that her true condition could be seen and she would be known to be vile. Nahum 3:7 means the same as Nahum 2:10.

Questions

The Epitaph of Nineveh

1. Why does Nahum say Nineveh is “full of lies?”

2. In Nahum’s vision of fallen Nineveh, the silence is broken only by __________.

3. Discuss Nahum 3:4-7 in light of the modern question, “If there is a God, why does He not halt or prevent war?

4. What are the “sins of Nineveh” as listed in this paragraph?

5. What is indicated by Nahum’s term “witchcrafts?”

6. How does God intend to make Nineveh a “gazing stock?”

7. Who are No-Amon, Karnak, Thebes?

8. Where did the sprinkling of exorcism first become confused with the immersion of Christian baptism? When did this occur?

9. Compare the fate of No-Amon with that of Nineveh.

10. Who defeated No-Amon in 674 B.C.?

11. Discuss Nahum’s question “art thou better?” as applied to modern America.

12. In what physical condition were the leaders of Nineveh when the Medes and Babylonians fell upon them?

13. What were “all thy fortresses” in Nahum 3:12-15?

14. What is the irony of Nahum’s choice of vermin to illustrate the multitudes of Nineveh’s defenders?

15. The destruction of the city of Nineveh was the mortal wound of __________.

16. How is God’s word in Nahum vindicated by history in the destruction of the Assyrian Empire?

Verses 8-19

Nah 3:8-19

Nineveh’s Doom (Nahum 3:8-19)

Art thou better than Noamon, that was situated among the rivers, that had the waters round about her; whose rampart was the sea, and her wall was of the sea? Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was infinite; Put and Lubim were thy helpers. Yet was she carried away, she went into captivity; her young children also were dashed in pieces at the head of all the streets; and the cast lots for her honorable men, and all her great men were bound in chains (Nahum 3:8-10). No-Amon was the sacred name for the great city of Thebes in Egypt. Isaiah had prophesied that the Egyptians would be carried away as captives by the Assyrians (Isaiah 20:3-4). Assurbanipal, king of Assyria, reigned from 669 to 627 BC. Assurbanipal gained control over Egypt during the year 667 BC (probably the date of Noamon {Thebes} downfall). Nineveh fell in 612 BC to Nabopolassar of Babylon. A city that appeared to the world to be impenetrable was brought low. Surely pride comes before the fall (cf. Proverbs 16:18). If Noamon did not stand against Jehovah then Nineveh surely will not.

Thou also shalt be drunken; thou shalt be hid; thou also shalt seek a stronghold because of the enemy. All thy fortresses shall be like fig-trees with the first-ripe figs: if they be shaken, they fall into the mouth of the eater (Nahum 3:11-12). Nineveh shall drink the full cup of God’s wrath and be drunk in destruction. Though she seek the help of others and fortify her walls she will be shaken and devoured like a fig tree with ripe fruit.

Behold, thy people in the midst of thee are women; the gates of thy land are set wide open unto thine enemies: the fire hath devoured thy bars (Nahum 3:13). Like weakened women Nineveh’s defense would not be able to stand against the strong enemy. Their efforts to fortify the city amounted to having gates wide open for the enemy to devour them.

Draw thee water for the siege; strengthen thy fortresses; go into the clay, and tread the mortar; make strong the brick-kiln. There shall the fire devour thee; the sword shall cut thee off; it shall devour thee like the canker-worm: make thy self many as the canker-worm; make thyself many as the locust (Nahum 3:14-15). Nahum calls upon Nineveh to do their vain work of gathering water and fortifying the walls of the city. Nineveh is called upon to gather up all the fighting men they can accumulate. No matter the preparations and accumulations their demise and destruction is inevitable.

Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven: the canker-worm ravages and flees away. Thy princes are as the locusts, and thy marshals as the swarms of grasshoppers, which encamp in the hedges in the cold day, but when the sun arises they flee away, and their place is not known where they are (Nahum 3:16-17). Though merchants gained wealth from Nineveh they are nowhere to be found in the time of her trouble. They have taken from the city and now leave it devoured. The governing and military leaders (i.e., princes and marshals) are numerous; however, they too flee the city due to fear.

Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria; thy nobles are at rest; thy people are scattered upon the mountains, and there is none to gather them. There is no assuaging of thy hurt; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the report of thee clap their hands over thee; for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?” (Nahum 3:18-19). The political and military leaders are slumbering in death. The line of Assyrian kings is ended. The general people are scattered and there is no returning for them. The deep wound of Babylon is incurable. No assuaging (i.e., to make less painful) of Assyria’s pain is in sight. They will certainly die! The world had felt the cruel might of Assyria at one point or another. The nations that experienced the cruel and inhumane methods of war will not mourn over her death. Assyria exiled, impaled upon poles, flayed and made walls of their cities out of the skin of their enemies. These same subjects of Assyria’s cruelty now rejoice over her fall.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Nahum 3". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/nahum-3.html.
 
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