These two chapters are two separate odes describing the fall of Nineveh. In chapter 2 the prophet depicts the approach of the enemy (verse 1a) and ironically summons the people to their city (verse1b). Then follows a description of the attackers within and without the walls (verses 3-5). The river gates are forced, the place is in panic, the queen captured, the people flee (verses 6-8), and looting follows (verse 9). The chapter 3 declares the city’s guilt and her punishment (verses 1-7). Nineveh’s strength fails (verses 11-15a). Though her people are without number, and her merchants are as numerous as locusts, yet, like locusts, they will fly away (verses 15b-17). Her rulers perish, her people are scattered. All who hear of her fall will rejoice (verses 18, 19).
- Read each chapter aloud, if possible in Moffatt’s translation. What were Nineveh’s sins that brought upon her so terrible a retribution? See also 1:11. What does this show of God’s attitude even to non-Christian societies? Does he care whether they are righteous or corrupt? If God cares, should we?
- How does Nahum show the converse of Rom. 8:31; i.e., if God be against us, who can be for us? Cf. Ps. 34:16; Jer. 37:9, 10. Have you ever experienced this in your own life, with all circumstances going against you, that in fact God was against you?
- 2:5. Picked troops (or ‘officers’, RSV). The same word is rendered ‘nobles’ in 3:18. A ‘protective shield’ (‘mantlet’, RSV) is a missile-proof screen under the shelter of which the attackers advance.
- 2:7. ‘Mistress’ (RSV): the word may refer to the queen (cf. verse 6), or to the Assyrian goddess Ishtar or her image.
- 2:8. Nineveh is compared to a breached reservoir.
- 2:11. ‘Place’ (‘cave’, RSV): ‘pasture’ (RSV mg., AV), or ‘feeding place’ (RV).
- 2:13. ‘Messengers’: envoys; cf. 2 Kgs. 19:9, 23.
- 3:4-6. The use of this figure to symbolize Nineveh was doubtless suggested by the sacred prostitution prominent in the cult of Ishtar.
- 3:9. ‘Put’: an African people, perhaps from Somalia or Libya.