Nahum 2 & 3

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).

  1. 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?
  2. 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?

Notes

  1. 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. 2:7. ‘Mistress’ (RSV): the word may refer to the queen (cf. verse 6), or to the Assyrian goddess Ishtar or her image.
  3. 2:8. Nineveh is compared to a breached reservoir.
  4. 2:11. ‘Place’ (‘cave’, RSV): ‘pasture’ (RSV mg., AV), or ‘feeding place’ (RV).
  5. 2:13. ‘Messengers’: envoys; cf. 2 Kgs. 19:9, 23.
  6. 3:4-6. The use of this figure to symbolize Nineveh was doubtless suggested by the sacred prostitution prominent in the cult of Ishtar.
  7. 3:9. ‘Put’: an African people, perhaps from Somalia or Libya.
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