Lesson 1 of6
In Progress

Summary of Nahum

SUMMARY

Nahum addresses the afflicted community of Judah to announce the demise of Assyria and its capital Nineveh. The community of Judah, along with many other countries, has suffered from Assyrian tyranny and violence. The question of whether or not anyone can escape the cruelty of Assyria is answered by God’s standing against Assyria. The destruction of Assyria is announced through speeches formally addressed to the king of Assyria and Nineveh, but the actual audience is Judah. Both the past affliction that Judah has experienced and the coming destruction of Assyria are the work of God, as well as the usual ebb and flow of turbulent political forces.

SO WHAT?

The book asserts that oppressive violence is not enduring in the face of God’s opposition to it. God is involved in the ebb and flow of history to provide refuge, even from God’s own wrath.

WHERE DO I FIND IT?

Nahum is the thirty-fourth book of the Bible, the seventh of the twelve “minor” (or shorter) prophets. It lies between Micah and Habakkuk.

WHO WROTE IT?

The opening verse of the book attributes the book to Nahum, the Elkoshite. Neither Nahum nor Elkosh are mentioned elsewhere in the Bible.

WHEN WAS IT WRITTEN?

The book is written after the Assyrian destruction of Thebes (3:8-10). How much after is not clear. The successful revolt of Babylon in 626 B.C.E. marks the beginning of the unraveling of the Assyrian empire. The destruction of Nineveh in 612 B.C.E. marks the end. It is common to presume that the book was written close to the latter date.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

The book of Nahum announced the imminent destruction of the Assyrian empire and its capital Nineveh. Assyria had been a yoke on Judah’s neck, a condition that was understood to be the Lord’s affliction of Judah (1:12). That affliction was declared to be at an end; Assyria/Nineveh will face the consequence of its own destructive impact on peoples it has ruled.

HOW DO I READ IT?

The reader should take the posture of one both afflicted by the Lord and by violent political forces. If the affliction of the Lord is not factored in, the appropriation of the book can become a self-serving tirade against enemies. Even Judah must face the indignation of the Lord (1:6), but, unlike the situation for Assyria/Nineveh, for Judah the Lord is also a refuge. For contemporary readers, there are destructive forces equivalent to Assyria/Nineveh. The question all readers must face is whether they see themselves in Assyria/Nineveh or in Judah. The latter are promised deliverance from the very forces that up to this point have also been instruments of God’s action. The former must face the end of its destructive impunity.