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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Nahum

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(Heb. Nachumn, נִחוּם , consolation; a name likewise found as נחם in the Phoenician inscriptions, [Gesenius, Monun. Pheen. pages 134, 137]; and in the form Νάουμος in a Greek inscription given by Bockh, Coap. Inscr. 4:3; Sept. Ναούμ; comp. Luke 3:25), the seventh of the minor prophets, according to the arrangement of both the Hebrew and Greek. (In this and the following article we give a copious exposition of all the topics of interest relating to the whole subject). Of the author himself we have no more knowledge than is afforded us by the scanty title of his book, "the book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite," which gives no indication whatever of his date, and leaves his origin obscure. The site of Elkosk, his native place, is disputed, some placing it in Galilee, with Jerome, who was shown the ruins by his guide (Prcem. in Nah.); so Cyril (ad loc.). Capernaum, literally "village of Nahum," is supposed to have derived its name from the prophet. Schwarz (Descr. of Pal. page 188) mentions a Kefar Tanchum, or Nachum, close on Chinnereth, and two and a half English miles north of Tiberias. "They point out there the graves of Nahum the prophet, of rabbis Tanchum and Tanchuma, who all repose there, and through these the ancient position of the village is easily known." Others (after Assemani, Bibl. Orient. 1:525; 3:352) locate Nahum's birthplace in Assyria, where the tomb of the prophet is still visited as a sacred spot by Jews from all parts. Benjamin of Tudela (page 53 Heb. text, ed. Asher) thus briefly alludes to it: "And in the city of Asshur (Mosul) is the synagogue of Obadiah, and the synagogue of Jonah the son of Amittai, and the synagogue of Nahum the Elkoshite." (See ELKOSH).

Mr. Layard, who visited the place, says (Nineveh, 1:197), "It is held in great reverence by Mohammedans and Christians, but especially by Jews, who keep the building a modern one in repair. The tomb is a simple plaster box, covered with green cloth, and standing at the upper end of a large chamber. There are no inscriptions nor fragments of any antiquity about the place; and I am not aware in what the tradition originated, nor how long it has attached to the village of Alkosh." Gesenius regards both the above locations of Elkosh as very doubtful (Thesaurus, s.v.). Those who maintain the latter site assume that the prophet's parents were carried into captivity by Tiglath-pileser, and planted, with other exile colonists, in the province of Assyria, the modern Kurdistan, and that the prophet was born at the village of Alkush, on the east bank of the Tigris, a few miles north of Mosul. (So Eichhorn, Einl. 4:390; Ritter, Erdk. 9:742; and others.) Ewald is of opinion that the prophecy was written there at a time when Nineveh was threatened from without. Against this it may be urged that it does not appear that the exiles were carried into the province of Assyria proper, but into the newly-conquered districts, suchl as Mesopotamia, Babylonia, or Media. The arguments in favor of an Assyrian locality for the prophet are supported by the occurrence. of what are presumed to be Assyrian words: הֻצִּב, 2:8; טִפְסְרִיַךְ מַנְּזָיִיַךְ, 17; and the strange form מִלְאָכֵכֵה in Nahum 2:14, which is supposed to indicate a foreign influence. In addition to this is the interrial evidence supplied by the vivid description of Nineveh, of whose splendors it is contended Nahum must have been an eye-witness; but Hitzig justly observes that these descriptions display merely a lively imagination, and such knowledge of a renowned city as might be possessed by any one in Anterior Asia. The Assyrian warriors were no strangers in Palestine, and that there was sufficient intercourse between the two countries is rendered probable by the history of the prophet Jonah. There is nothing in the prophecy of Nahum to indicate that it was written in the immediate neighborhood of Nineveh, and in filll view of the scenes which are depicted, nor is the language that of an exile in an: enemy's country. No allusion is made to the captivity; while, on the other hand, the imagery is such as would be natural to an inhabitant of Palestine (Nahum 1:4), to whom the rich pastures of Bashan, the vineyards of Carmel, and the blossoms of Lebanon were emblems of all that was luxuriant and fertile. The language employed in Nahum 1:15 and Nahum 2:2 is appropriate to one who wrote for his countrymen in their native land. In fact, the sole origin of the theory that Nahum flourished in Assyria is the name of the village Alkush, which contains his supposed tomb, and from its similarity to Elkosh was apparently selected by mediaeval tradition as a shrine for pilgrims, with as little probability to recommend it as exists in the case of Obadiah and Jephthah, whose burial- places are still shown in the same neighborhood. This supposition is more reasonable than another which has been adopted in order to account for the existence of Nahum's tomb at a place the name of which so closely resembles that of his native town. Alkush, it is suggested, was founded by the Israelitish exiles, and so named by them in memory of Elkosh in their own country. Tradition, as usual, has usurped the province of history. According to pseudo-Epiphanius (De Vitis Proph. in Opp. 2:247), Nahum was of the tribe of Simeon, "from Elaesei, beyond the Jordan, at Begabar (Βηγαβάρ ; Chron. Pasch. 150 B. Βηταβαρή)," or Bethabara, where he died in peace and was buried. In the Roman Martyrology the 1st of December is consecrated to his memory. For the period in which he lived, see the discussion below as to the date of his writing.


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Nahum'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/n/nahum.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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