Book of Nahum

Introduction to the Book of Nahum

Book of Nahum
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Book of Nahum:

The book of Nahum shows that God controls world events. While it may not appear that way at times, God is sovereign, using the nations of Earth for his own purposes. He oversees their rise and their fall.

Ancient Assyria was one of those nations God used to punish Israel, but Nineveh, its capital, became so evil that God engineered its destruction. The minor prophet Nahum foretold that violent conquest.

Founded by Nimrod (Genesis 10:9-11), Nineveh may have housed 600,000 people at its peak, according to archeologists. Its walls were 50 feet thick and 100 feet high.

What brought God's wrath down upon Nineveh was the cruelty of its warriors. They impaled prisoners on poles, skinned them alive, cut off hands or feet or tongues, and gouged out eyes. In an age of brutal warfare, the Assyrians were the most sadistic. The city took pride in its power.

More than 100 years before Nahum, the prophet Jonah had preached in Nineveh, warning it to repent of its evil ways or God would bring judgment on it. To Jonah's disgust, the king and citizens did repent and were spared. Jonah wanted to see them wiped out. Over time, the Ninevites returned to their savage ways.

Nahum's prophecies describe the city's coming destruction in poetic form. His vivid imagery foretells bloody shields, crashing chariots, and a flooding river.

History proved him right. In 612 BC, a combined force of Medes and Babylonians overthrew Nineveh. The roaring Tigris River knocked down a section of wall and the attackers stormed through the breach. The wicked city was burned to the ground, never to be rebuilt.

The book of Nahum, only three chapters long, tells of a God who protects his people but takes vengeance on his enemies.

"The Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished," Nahum says, a caution for countries that ignore God's laws and fall into sin.       

Author of the Book of Nahum:

Nahum the prophet of Elkosh, a village possibly in southwest Judah. His name means "comforter" or "consoler."

Date Written:

Between 663 BC - 612 BC.

Written To:

People of Nineveh and Judah and later Bible readers.

Landscape of the Book of Nahum:

Nineveh, capital of Assyria.

Themes in Nahum:

God punishes and rewards. Nations and individuals who violate God's laws will not escape his judgment. Conversely, God protects his followers. Believers are rewarded, if not in this life, with heaven in the next.

No power can thwart God's plan. He is master over all. Mighty empires rise and fall, but across the centuries, none could defy the power of God. This is a comfort to his followers, who can trust him no matter how things appear.

Key Verses:

Nahum 1:7
The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, (NIV)

Nahum 3:19
Nothing can heal your wound; your injury is fatal. Everyone who hears the news about you claps his hands at your fall, for who has not felt your endless cruelty? (NIV)

Outline of the Book of Nahum:

  • Nahum makes a psalm of praise to the Lord (1:1-1:8).
  • God will judge Nineveh and restore Judah (1:9-2:13).
  • The prophet gives reasons for judgment; woe to Nineveh (3:1-19).

(Sources: The Greatness That Was Babylon, H.W.F. Saggs; Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, and David Brown; The Accordance Bible Lands Photo Guide, David Lang;,, Year Through the Bible: Leader's Reference.)