NAHUM AND HIS BOOK
Nahum means “comforter.” He is called in 1:1 “the Elkoshite;” this probably suggests that he came from a town named Elkosh. We do not know for sure where Elkosh was located. Some say it was in northern Galilee and some say Judah. As his name suggests, Nahum was indeed a comforter to Judah. But he was a prophet of woe and destruction to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. His whole book with its three chapters deals with the coming destruction of Nineveh. Nahum must have written his book sometime between 663 B.C. and 612 B.C. We know this since he refers to the Assyrians conquering of Thebes in Egypt, which took place in 663 B.C. (cf. Nahum 3:8-10). The actual destruction of Nineveh took place in 612 B.C. at the hands of the Babylonians. It is clear from Nahum’s book that the destruction of the city had not yet taken place when the prophet was writing. Nahum’s book was a comfort to Judah since they lived in daily fear of Assyria, the great superpower to the north. They knew of the complete destruction of the kingdom of their fellow Jews of Israel in 722 B.C. at the hands of mighty Assyria. They lived with constant threats from Assyria to their own land of Judah. To hear from Nahum that God would soon judge Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, must have brought a sigh of relief to Judah. It is clear from Nahum’s first chapter that the coming destruction of Nineveh would be because of God’s judgment on her sins. It would not be just some unexplained political event. Chapter 1, v.3 reminds Nineveh and all wicked cities and countries that judgment is sure to come from God: “The Lord is slow to anger and great in power; he will not leave the guilty unpunished.” “Whatever they plot against the Lord he will bring to an end,” is the assurance of Nahum 1:9. We are saddened to learn that the repentance of Nineveh at the time of Jonah was short-lived. The poetry that Nahum writes under inspiration is some of the most graphic poetry of the Bible. He was very skilled in clear and vivid descriptions that threaten the coming disaster on Nineveh. As examples of his vivid poetry, read Nahum 3:1-4 and Nahum 3:12.
A Theme for the Book of Nahum:
“God’s Judgment on Nineveh, the Assyrian Capital.”
The Purpose of the Book:
“To comfort Judah during the Assyrian threat.”
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