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The Book of Nahum
Execution of God's decision to destroy Nineveh
In chapters 2 & 3 we are going to see the justice and goodness of God exhibited in the execution of His decision to destroy Nineveh. God did NOT just talk about destroying Nineveh . . . God DID destroy it, and He did it in a very remarkable way.
Annihilation Of Assyria, Nahum 2:1-13
In chapter 2 Nahum prophesies a frightful judgment upon Assyria, and history testifies to its literal fulfillment. God has made it very clear in chapter 1 where He says, "I will make thy grave; for thou art vile" (Na. 1:14). In other words, He says to Assyria, "I am going to bury you." And, that is exactly what happened.
Nahum 2:1 He that dasheth in pieces is come up before thy face: keep the munition, watch the way, make thy loins strong, fortify thy power mightily. (KJV)
He that dasheth in pieces is come up . . . meaning God's "battle axe" with which He "breaks in pieces" His enemies (Jer.51:20) applies the same Hebrew term to Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 50:23 "the hammer of the whole earth"). Here it is the Medo-Babylonian army under Cyaxares and Nabopolassar, that destroyed Nineveh, is meant.
Before thy face . . . before Nineveh. All would be done openly, so that the work of God would be manifest.
Keep the munition . . . guard the fenced places. From this to the end of the fifth verse, preparations made at Nineveh to repel their enemies are described. The description is very picturesque.
Watch the way . . . by which the enemy is most likely to come; by which the enemy will attack, so as to be ready to meet him. Ironical advice; matches an old prophecy, Thou shalt have need to use all possible means of defense; but use what thou wilt, all will be in vain.
Make thy loins strong . . . the loins are the seat of strength; to gird them up is to prepare all one's strength for conflict (Job 40:7). Also gird on thy sword (2 Sam. 20:8; 2 Ki. 4:29). Nahum, with piercing sarcasm, tells Assyria, "You had better fortify yourself." The Assyrians spared no one, and they thought that their capital was untouchable and that they could withstand any kind of a judgment. But God is saying to them, "You are going to be destroyed."
Nahum 2:2 For the LORD hath turned away the excellency of Jacob, as the excellency of Israel: for the emptiers have emptied them out, and marred their vine branches. (KJV)
For the Lord hath turned away the excellency of Jacob . . . meaning that the time for Nineveh's overthrow is come, because Jacob (Judah) and Israel (the ten tribes) have been sufficiently chastised. The Assyrian rod of chastisement, did its work assigned to them by God. If God chastised Jacob and Israel with all their "excellency" (their pre-eminent excellency above all nations in God's eyes, Ps. 47:4; 87:2; Eze.24:21; Am. 6:8), how much more will He punish Nineveh, an idolatrous enemy to Him?
Emptiers . . . are the the Assyrian spoilers.
Have emptied them out . . . Assyria has spoiled the Israelites and Jews (Hos. 10:1; Ps. 80:8-16), "vine branches," is applied to Israel.
Nahum is saying that the time of Assyria's judgment has come. God completed the judgment of His own people and now intends to restore them. Nahum mentions both "Jacob" and "Israel" because it refers to both the southern kingdom of Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel. "The emptiers" are the enemies of God's people, especially the nation of Assyria.
This chapter of Nahum is a detailed prophecy, which today is an accurate, historical record of what took place about 100 years after Nahum. It speaks of the fatal finality of the judgment of God upon the nation of Assyria, and the fact that Assyria would NEVER make a comeback. According to the Word of God, Babylon will resurge as well as some other nations, but Assyria will not make a comeback. God makes that very clear.
The capture of Nineveh is described here in precise terms. This Passage reveals just how terrible it was, and you could say about this chapter, "...whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Gal. 6:7).
Assyria was an extremely brutal nation, one of the worst the world has ever seen. Some of the things they did, I will not put here, for they were too gruesome. Think the worst, Assyria did it! At times, an entire community which lay in the line of their march would commit suicide rather than fall into the hands of brutal Assyrians. They were dreaded and feared in the ancient world. We find here that Assyria is again beginning to move, but now, their movement is to retreat. They are no longer the aggressor, for the Medes and the Babylonians are coming up against them.
Nahum 2:3 The shield of his mighty men is made red, the valiant men are in scarlet: the chariots shall be with flaming torches in the day of his preparation, and the fir trees shall be terribly shaken. (KJV)
The shield of his mighty men is made red . . . the shields of the soldiers in the armies of the Babylonians and Medes, those "dashers in pieces" (Na.2:1; Jer. 51:20) that would come up against Nineveh, would be red; either with the blood of the slain, or maybe colored red on purpose to inject terror to their enemies. Another thought . . . maybe the luster of them, which being made of gold or brass, in the rays of the sun glittered, and looked fiery red.
His mighty men . . . the Medo-Babylonian generals, mighty men attacking Nineveh.
The valiant men are in scarlet . . . the generals and other officers of the army were clothed in scarlet; in part to show their greatness and nobility, and in part to cause terror to their enemies, and maybe to hide their blood should they be wounded, and so keep up their own spirits, and not encourage their enemies.
The chariots shall be with flaming torches in the day of his preparation . . . when the Medes and Chaldeans prepared for the siege of the city, they would carry flaming torches in them; either to guide them in the night, or to set fire to houses or tents that they came to, or to terrify the enemy. The chariot wheels sped in lightning-like rotation, flashing light and striking sparks from the stones over which they pass (Isa. 5:28).
And the fir trees shall be terribly shaken . . . with the motion of all the many chariots; or by axes cutting them down for use in the war: for torches, lances, building forts, and many other uses (Isa. 14:8). Whole forests were sometimes felled by enemy forces to benefit their cause.
Nahum 2:4 The chariots shall rage in the streets, they shall justle one against another in the broad ways: they shall seem like torches, they shall run like the lightnings. (KJV)
The chariots shall rage in the streets . . . in the streets of Nineveh when taken; where they shall be driven in a furious manner from place to place, the men in them breathing out slaughter and death wherever they came. The chariots are those of the Chaldean army. Shall rage . . . they shall seem more like madmen than well-ordered soldiers.
They shall justle one against another in the broad ways . . . by reason of their multitude, haste and fury, they shall hit one against another, producing great confusion. In the broad ways . . . where the most room is, shall be most of these chariots, and yet hardly room for them to move in.
they shall seem like torches, they shall run like the lightnings . . . the chariots run through the streets, pushing against one another in the wide ways, looking like burning lights, running like lightning bolts.
Nahum 2:5 He shall recount his worthies: they shall stumble in their walk; they shall make haste to the wall thereof, and the defence shall be prepared. (KJV)
He shall recount his worthies . . . gather up Assyria's most renowned warriors and heroes. Review, or count over in his mind, his nobles, choosing out the bravest to hasten to the walls and repel the attack. But all shall be in vain.
They shall stumble in their walk . . . they shall stumble in their advance through fear and hurry.
Shall make haste to the wall . . . where they see the enemies making their most powerful attacks, in order to get possession of the city.
The destruction of Nineveh came about when the Medes came against the city under Cyaxares. Babylon at that time was not the greatest kingdom, but they did join with the Medes in this battle.
The king of Assyria depended upon his military leaders, but because of their fear, they stumbled and fell in their march. Of course, the defense of the city's wall was of primary importance in the battle.
Nahum 2:6 The gates of the rivers shall be opened, and the palace shall be dissolved. (KJV)
The gates of the rivers shall be opened, and the palace shall be dissolved . . . (Na.1:8). There was a prophecy from their forefathers, that Nineveh would not be taken until the RIVER first became the enemy to the city. It happened in the third year of the siege, that the Tigris, swollen with continued rains, overflowed part of the city, and threw down twenty stadia of the wall. One stade is equal to 600 feet.
Supposedly, the king cast aside all hope of safety, and lest he should fall into the hands of the enemy, gathered all his treasures and royal vestments, his concubines and eunuchs, placed himself with them in a place and burned them, himself, and the palace together. When the death of this king (Sardanapalus) was announced by certain deserters, the enemy entered in by the breach which the waters had made, and took the city. The prophecy of Nahum was literally fulfilled: "The gates of the river were opened, and the palace dissolved."
About 2 1/2 miles of the wall of Nineveh was along the side of the Tigris River. The city was well above the normal flow of the river, but with the river at flood stage, it took out a whole section of the wall, and the enemy was able to enter the city. In other words, the overflowing river made the breach that the enemy was attempting to make themselves. We are told that the enemy opened the irrigation ditches and the palace was completely flooded with water.
The gates of the rivers shall be opened . . . the 4,500 yard long river wall on the Tigris was the west defense of Nineveh. On the north, south and east sides, there were large moats, capable of being easily filled with water from the Tigris. Traces of dams (gates or sluices) for regulating the water supply are still visible, so that the whole city could be surrounded with a water barrier (Na. 2:8). The moats were flooded by the Ninevites before the siege to repel the enemy, but they were made a dry bed to march into the city, by the enemy, by turning the waters into a different channel: as Cyrus did in the siege of Babylon.
Nahum 2:7 And Huzzab shall be led away captive, she shall be brought up, and her maids shall lead her as with the voice of doves, tabering upon their breasts. (KJV)
And Huzzab shall be led away captive . . . some think Huzzab was the queen of Nineveh, who had escaped the burning mentioned above, for there is no account of the queen being burned . . . just the king, the concubines, and the eunuchs, so it is possible that the queen escaped; and was brought up and delivered to the conqueror; her maids bewailing her lot. Others think Huzzab means Nineveh itself.
Tabering . . . beating on their breasts as on a tambourine.
Nahum 2:8 But Nineveh is of old like a pool of water: yet they shall flee away. Stand, stand, shall they cry; but none shall look back. (KJV)
But Nineveh is of old . . . meaning from the days that she hath been, from the earliest period of her existence. Nineveh was a very old city (Gen.10:11).
Like a pool of water . . . the flood had entered, and the city had become a lake.
Yet they shall flee away . . . this pictures the multitude of Nineveh fleeing the siege.
Stand, stand, shall they cry; but none shall look back . . . the command was given to them to hold their ground, but when the Ninevites saw the flood coming in, along with the enemy, they did NOT listen, but turned and ran away as fast they could.
Nahum 2:9 Take ye the spoil of silver, take the spoil of gold: for there is none end of the store and glory out of all the pleasant furniture. (KJV)
Take ye the spoil . . . although the king had burned his treasures, vestments, etc., he could not totally destroy the silver and the gold; and he did NOT burn the riches of the city. All that went to the conquerors. There was no end of the glorious garments, jewels and costly vessels and furniture. The city of Nineveh was very wealthy and highly ornate. The palaces were beautiful, and the people lived in great luxury because of the success they had had in warfare. The Assyrians had brought in booty from all of the great nations of that day . . . even the southern kingdom of Judah was paying tribute to them at that time . . . so that the city was extremely wealthy.
Nahum 2:10 She is empty, and void, and waste: and the heart melteth, and the knees smite together, and much pain is in all loins, and the faces of them all gather blackness. (KJV)
She is empty, and void, and waste . . . empty, void, waste, all the words mean pretty much the same thing, but they point out great, greater and greatest desolation. Nineveh is void, empty, and desolate. (Isa. 24:1-4; Zep. 1:15).
And the heart melteth, and the knees smite together . . . When your knees knock together, it means that you are afraid, it means there is fear in your heart (Dan.5:6). This is what happened to the Assyrians.
And much pain is in all loins . . . like that of women in travail or people in sudden terror, which gives them a pain, all at once.
And the faces of them all gather blackness . . . there was great fear and dread because the Assyrians knew how much they were hated. They were hated because of their horrific brutality. Now there is a big change; vengeance was being taken out upon them. Nahum says that "the faces of them all gather blackness" . . . they were in great distress, with comfort NO where to be found. Their faces looked very dark and gloomy . . . all faces shall gather blackness (Joel 2:6). They probably put on sackcloth and threw ashes on their heads.
Nahum 2:11 Where is the dwelling of the lions, and the feedingplace of the young lions, where the lion, even the old lion, walked, and the lion's whelp, and none made them afraid? (KJV)
Where is the dwelling of the lions . . . Nineveh was the seat of the empire, and was home of those greedy and destructive warriors of various ranks, symbolized here by: "lions," "young lions," "old lion", "the lion's whelp." The question, "Where," implies that Almighty God "would make an utter end of the place," so that its very site could not be found (Na 1:8). It is a question expressing wonder, so incredible and unbelievable did it seem then.
The feedingplace of the young lions . . . was where her victorious and greedy generals often returned to devour the produce of their success, walking at large, afraid of nothing. All nations feared them. The "lion" image was seen in many forms: winged, and sometimes with the head of a man, which were are frequent in the Assyrian statues and sepulchers.
Both Assyria and Babylon used the lion as the symbol of their empires. Some commentators think Nahum was referring to the actual lions which the Assyrians had there, or he could be referring to their strong young men because the lion was the symbol of the strength of the kingdom. Whether it is literal lions or the strength of their army, they are gone. Personally I do not think it was literal lions.
Nahum 2:12 The lion did tear in pieces enough for his whelps, and strangled for his lionesses, and filled his holes with prey, and his dens with ravin. (KJV)
The lion did tear in pieces enough for his whelps . . . the kings of Assyria are compared to lions that hunt for their prey, tearing it in pieces, and carrying home enough for their whelps. It was in this way that the Assyrians made war on other nations, pillaging and plundering them, to enlarge their dominions, provide for their posterity, and enrich their children. Even the lioness is a bold and powerful creature (Eze.19:2-3).
And strangled for his lionesses . . . strangled other beasts, as the lion first does, when it seizes a creature, and then tears it in pieces, and brings it to the she lion in the den with its whelps. These "lionesses" seem to be the wives and concubines of the kings of Assyria, among whom they parted the spoils of their neighbors.
And filled his holes with prey, and his dens with ravine . . . just as the lion fills his dens with the prey he has seized and ravened; so the kings of Assyria filled their palaces with the wealth and riches they took by force from other nations.
Nahum 2:13 Behold, I am against thee, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will burn her chariots in the smoke, and the sword shall devour thy young lions: and I will cut off thy prey from the earth, and the voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard. (KJV)
"Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts." . . . God does not say these words very often. He says it only here and Na.3:5; Jer.50:31 and to Gog and Magog in Eze.38:3; 39:1. Many today believe that the reference in Ezekiel means modern Russia.
Here in Nahum, God says, "I am against you," and He is talking to Nineveh. They were a people who had had a personal messenger from God (Jonah), and they HAD turned to the living God, but NOW they have turned completely away from Him. When a nation or an individual has the light of God, and then rejects it, the Lord Jesus puts it like this: Matthew 6:23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! (KJV) . . . Jesus means: IF the light is shining right into your eyes and you say you cannot see it, then you are blind. This is the picture that Nahum clearly sets before us. The Assyrians had had light, but after a period of time, they rejected it; and when you reject the light of the Gospel, your responsibility becomes much greater, your judgment shall be much greater.
I will burn her chariots in the smoke, and the sword shall devour thy young lions . . . again, I do not think this could be literal lions (animal beasts). I think that it is young men (human beasts). I think it is referring to their young men because the "lion" was the symbol of the strength of the nation. "And I will burn her chariots in the smoke" . . . either the chariots in which the inhabitants of Nineveh rode in great splendor around the city; or those which were used in war with their enemies OR both! This God would do "in the smoke" meaning easily, quickly, suddenly, so that they should seem to evaporate into smoke, and be no more.
And the sword shall devour thy young lions . . . the swords of the Medes and Chaldeans shall destroy the princes, the sons of their king.
And I will cut off thy prey from the earth . . . 100 years before, God had graciously saved Nineveh when they repented and turned to Him. But as time went by, the Ninevites lapsed into a horrible apostasy (Hos.2:13; 5:7; 7:13), so God is now going to judge them. He says to them, "I'm against you. I'm going to bring you down. I will destroy you, and you will never be again." My friend, this should be a message today to those who have completely turned their backs on God . . . it means total and utter judgment.
They shall NO more carry off prey from the nations of the earth. God shall cut them off that they should NO more prey upon their neighbors; and what they had greedily grabbed, should be taken away from them, and be of no use to them.
And the voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard . . . this is a note of finality. No more shall Nineveh's emissaries be heard throughout the provinces conveying thy king's commands, demanding homage and subjection; exacting and collecting ridiculous taxes; blaspheming the God of Heaven, and menacing His people.
Some render this as, "noise of thy jaw teeth" referring to the lion's breaking the bones of its prey, which is done with a great noise; symbolizing the horrendous cruelty and oppression of which the Assyrians had been guilty of. It signifies the noise of the teeth devouring the prey, it is as if it was said, I will cut off thy prey from the earth; and grinding stones are expressed by this, and teeth are called grinders (Ecc.12:3).
Book of Nahum
Ch1 . Ch2 . Ch3