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Hopelessness and despair,
    that’s the destiny of the city that shed so much blood,
That perfected its use of lies,
    that overflows with stolen treasures,
Leaving behind endless victims.
The sharp cracking of the whip in the air;
    clattering of wheels on the streets;
Galloping horse hooves;
    clanging, banging chariots;
Charging cavalry troops;
    flashing swords and gleaming spears;
Armies of casualties, piles of dead bodies—too many to count—
    so many you can’t walk without stumbling over them!
This is all because you tempted and lured the nations like a harlot,
    dangling the allure of immorality.
You were a sorceress promising control of the spiritual world,
    enslaving nations to lives of immorality and families to sorcery.

Nineveh is laid waste as God watches.

Eternal One: Look at Me and My armies.
        I stand against you, Nineveh!
    I will treat you like the harlot you are, lifting your dress over your face—
        peeling back your outward façade
    And exposing your true condition, your nakedness underneath.
        You will be humiliated and ashamed in front of the world.
    I’ll throw all your own filth on you.
        I’ll treat you with contempt and make a humiliating public display of you.
    Then the whole world will turn its back on you and flee, saying,
        “Poor, pitiful Nineveh—you are totally ruined.”
    Is there anyone who will sympathize with you?
        Where will I find anyone to comfort you?

Nahum expresses God’s sentiment against Nineveh, and it is not attractive! The prophet uses graphic images to show how angry God truly is. If showing the nakedness of the Assyrian people to the nations is not demoralizing enough, then the shame of God throwing excrement at His enemies is unmistakable. The indignity of being stripped naked and covered in filth is the fullest expression of God’s rejection. While these images are disturbing, they are also typical of how powerful enemies, such as the armies of Nineveh, have treated their victims. Now the table is turned; the victor is now the victim. There is no one to comfort the Assyrian people: they are without a prophet; they are without a poet; they are without hope.

Are you any stronger than the city of Thebes[a] in its glory days?
Sitting at the edge of the Nile, its waters created a moat of protection on one side of her.
    The Red Sea was a perfect defense against her eastern enemies,
As good as the protection of a wall.
The bounty of the regions of Cush and Egypt supported her, and
    the areas of Put and Libya were her[b] strong allies.
10 Yet she was taken captive and exiled.
    Her babies were broken to pieces at the crossroads of every street.
They tossed lots into a bag and drew out names to establish control of her honored men;
    all her best and brightest were put in chains.
11 And just like them, you will go into hiding, getting drunk to escape your terror,
    searching for some place to hide from your enemies.
12 But those strongholds, Nineveh, are easy pickings,
    like figs on a tree when they first become ripe.
Just shake the tree,
    and figs fall into your open mouth.
13 Look at your fierce troops surrounding you now.
    They cower like untrained women, not battle-hardened warriors.
The gates that should have protected your land
    instead are standing wide open.
Fire burns through the bars; your enemies stroll right in.

14 Draw up plenty of water to put out the fires,
    and prepare, for your enemy will begin a siege.
Get busy working the clay and mud to make extra bricks;
    you’ll need them to repair holes punched in your walls.
15 The attackers’ fire will consume you.
    Their swords will cut you down,
And like grasshoppers attacking a field of grain,
    they will totally consume you.
Like grasshoppers, multiply yourselves;
    like locusts, make your numbers countless.
16 You brought so many merchants
    till they are more numerous than the stars in the skies.
Like grasshoppers, they strip sustenance from the land,
    only to fly away before justice can be sought.
17 Your courtiers are like locusts;
    your city officials like swarms of locusts
Who become chilled against the wall on a cold day.
    When the sun comes up and they are warmed,
They fly away, abandoning you.
    Searching, no one can find them.
18 O king of Assyria, your shepherds felt safe enough to sleep in the fields.
    Your leaders slept soundly in the city.
When judgment comes, your people are scattered like lost sheep,
    far and wide among the mountains.
There is no leader left to rally them together.
19 Nothing and no one can heal your wound.
    Your city’s wounds are fatal; you cannot survive.
Everyone who hears the news of your destruction
    claps his hands in celebration,
Because who among them has not felt
    your legendary and endless cruelty?

Footnotes

  1. 3:8 Hebrew, No-amon
  2. 3:9 Hebrew manuscripts read, “your.”