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God Is Awesome

The [a]oracle (a burdensome message—a pronouncement from God) concerning [b]Nineveh [the capital city of Assyria]. The book of the vision of Nahum of Elkosh [which he saw in spirit and prophesied].

The Lord is a jealous and avenging God [protecting and demanding what is rightfully and uniquely His];
The Lord avenges and He is full of wrath.
The Lord takes vengeance on His adversaries,
And He reserves wrath for His enemies.(A)

The Lord is slow to anger and great in power
And He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.
The Lord has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm,
And the clouds are the dust beneath His feet.(B)

He rebukes the sea and dries it up;
He dries up all the rivers [illustrating His judgment].
Bashan [on the east] and [Mount] Carmel [on the west] wither,
And [in the north] the blossoms of Lebanon fade.

The mountains quake before Him
And the hills melt away;
Indeed the earth is shaken by His presence—
Yes, the world and all that dwell in it.

Who can stand before His indignation [His great wrath]?
And who can stand up and endure the fierceness of His anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire
And the rocks are destroyed by Him.

The Lord is good,
A strength and stronghold in the day of trouble;
He knows [He recognizes, cares for, and understands fully] those who take refuge and trust in Him.(C)

But with an [c]overwhelming flood [of judgment through invading armies]
He will make a complete destruction of [d]its site
And will pursue His enemies into darkness.

Whatever [plot] you [Assyrians] devise against the Lord,
He will make a complete end of it;
Affliction [of God’s people by the hand of Assyria] will not occur twice.
Like tangled thorn branches [gathered for fuel],
And like those drowned in drunkenness,
[e]The people of Nineveh are consumed [through fire]
Like stubble completely withered and dry [in the day of the Lord’s wrath].(D)
From you [O Nineveh],
One has gone forth who plotted evil against the Lord,
A malevolent [f]counselor [the king of Assyria].(E)

12 This is what the Lord says,

“Though they are at full strength and many in number,
Even so, they will be cut off and pass away.
Though I have afflicted you and caused you grief [O Jerusalem],
I will afflict you no longer.(F)
“Now, I will break his yoke [of taxation] off you,
And I will tear off your shackles.”(G)

The Lord has given a command concerning you [O king of Nineveh]:
“Your name will no longer be perpetuated.
I will cut off the carved idols and cast images
From the temple of your gods;
I will prepare your grave,
For you are vile and unworthy.”(H)

Behold, on the mountains the feet of him who brings good news [telling of Assyria’s destruction],
Who announces peace and prosperity!
Celebrate your feasts, O Judah;
Perform your vows.
For the wicked one [the king of Assyria] will never again pass through you;
He is completely cut off.(I)

The Overthrow of Nineveh

[g]The one who scatters has come up against you [Nineveh].
Man the fortress and ramparts, watch the road;
[h]Strengthen your back [prepare for battle], summon all your strength.

For the Lord will restore the splendor and majesty of Jacob
Like the splendor of [ancient and united] Israel,
Even though destroyers have destroyed them
And ruined their vine branches.(J)

The shields of his soldiers [of [i]Media and Babylon] are colored red;
The warriors are dressed in scarlet.
The chariots blaze with fire of [flashing] steel
When he is prepared to march,
And the cypress spears are brandished [for battle].

The chariots race madly in the streets;
They rush wildly in the broad plazas.
Their appearance is like torches;
They rush in various directions like forked lightning.

[j]He remembers and summons his nobles;
They stumble in their march [terrified because of the attack].
They hurry to the city wall,
And the [k]mantelet is prepared and firmly set up.

The gates of the rivers [surrounding Nineveh] are opened
And the palace [of sun-dried brick] is dissolved [by the torrents].

It is decreed:
Nineveh is stripped, and she is carried away,
And her handmaids are moaning like the sound of doves,
Beating on their breasts [in sorrow].

Though Nineveh was like a pool of water throughout her days,
Now her inhabitants are fleeing;
“Stop! Stop!” [a few cry,]
But no one turns back.

Plunder the silver!
Plunder the gold!
For there is no end to the treasure—
Wealth from every precious object.
She is emptied! She is desolate and waste!
Hearts melting [in fear] and knees knocking!
Anguish is in the whole body,
And the faces of all grow pale!(K)
Where is the den of the lions (Assyria)
And the feeding place of the young lions,
Where the lion, lioness, and lion’s cub prowled
With nothing to fear?
The lion [of Assyria] tore enough for his cubs (Assyrian citizens),
Killed [enough prey] for his lionesses,
And filled his lairs with prey
And his dens with torn flesh.

13 “Behold, I am against you [Nineveh],” declares the Lord of hosts, “and I will burn your chariots in the smoke, and the sword will devour your young lions. I will cut off your prey from the land, and the voice of your messengers will no longer be heard.”

Nineveh’s Complete Ruin

Woe (judgment is coming) to the city of blood [guilty of murder and mayhem], completely full of lies and pillage;
Her prey never departs [alive].(L)

The noise of the [cracking of the] whip,
The noise of the rattling of the wheel,
Galloping horses
And rumbling and bounding chariots [in the assault of Nineveh]!

Horsemen charging,
Swords flashing, spears gleaming,
Many slain, a mass of corpses,
No end of corpses—
The horsemen stumble over the corpses!

All because of the many acts of prostitution of [Nineveh] the prostitute,
The charming and well-favored one, the mistress of sorceries,
Who betrays nations by her acts of prostitution (idolatry)
And families by her sorceries.

“Behold, I am against you,” declares the Lord of hosts,
“And I will lift up your skirts over your face,
And I will let the nations look at your nakedness [O Nineveh]
And the kingdoms at your disgrace.

“I will throw filth on you
And make you vile and treat you with contempt,
And set you up as a spectacle.

“And it will come about that all who see you
Will shrink back and run from you and say,
‘Nineveh is completely ruined!
Who will grieve for her?’
Where will I seek comforters for you?”

Are you better than [l]Thebes,
Which was situated by the waters of the Nile,
With water surrounding her,
Whose defense was the sea (the Nile),
Whose wall consisted of the sea?

Ethiopia was her strength,
And Egypt too, without limits.
[m]Put and Lubim were among her helpers.
Yet she became an exile;
She went into captivity.
Her young children were dashed to pieces
At the head of every street;
They cast lots for her honorable men,
And all her great men were bound with chains.
You too [Nineveh] will become drunk [with the cup of God’s wrath];
You will be hidden.
You too [Nineveh] will search [in vain] for a refuge from the enemy.
All your fortresses are [nothing but] fig trees with ripe figs—
When shaken they fall into the mouth of the eater.
Behold, your people are [as weak and helpless as] women in your midst!
The gates of your land are opened wide to your enemies;
Fire consumes the bars across your gates.
Draw water for a [long, continued] siege!
Strengthen your fortresses!
Go down to the clay pits, trample the mortar!
Prepare the brick kiln [to burn bricks for the rampart]!
But there [in the very midst of these preparations] the fire will devour you;
The sword will cut you down;
It will devour you as the locust does.
Multiply yourself like the creeping locusts;
Multiply yourself like the swarming locusts.
You have increased your traders more than the [visible] stars of heaven—
The creeping locust strips and destroys and then flies away.
Your guardsmen are like the swarming locusts.
Your marshals are like the hordes of grasshoppers
Settling in the stone walls on a cold day.
When the sun rises, they fly away,
And no one knows the place where they are.
Your shepherds are asleep, O king of Assyria;
Your nobles are lying down [in death].
Your people are scattered on the mountains
And there is no one to gather them.
There is no relief and healing for your hurt;
Your wound is incurable.
All who hear the news about you
Clap their hands over [what has happened to] you.
For on whom has your [unceasing] evil not come continually?


  1. Nahum 1:1 An urgent message the prophet is under compulsion to proclaim.
  2. Nahum 1:1 Under the preaching of Jonah, the king of Nineveh and all its people repented (Jon 3:5). But when Nahum came to Nineveh a hundred and fifty years later, everything had changed and the people had become hopelessly wicked. God’s wrath was not to be turned away this time.
  3. Nahum 1:8 The overwhelming flood may be understood as a metaphor describing a conquering army as well as a literal reference to a flood of water. Diodorus of Sicily refers to a legend that Nineveh could never be taken until the river became its enemy. Arbaces the Scythian had besieged the city in vain for two years, but in the third year the Khoser River washed away a considerable section of the very great wall and the invaders pushed through this opening. Nahum 2:6 refers to the devastating flood and 3:13, 15 probably to the destruction of Nineveh by fire. The vivid descriptions of ch 3 are historically accurate.
  4. Nahum 1:8 The city of Nineveh was the magnificent capital of the Assyrian Empire. The great palace of Sennacherib was without rival and contained at least seventy or more rooms. The city was home to more than 120,000 residents (at least twice the size of Babylon) and had no less than fifteen gates in the wall surrounding the city. During its glory days it was probably the largest city in the known world. Built near the juncture of the Tigris River and its tributary the Khoser, it was served by an elaborate water system of eighteen canals. Nineveh had many suburbs, three of which are mentioned along with Nineveh in Gen 10:11, 12. Nineveh’s extensive ruins are located near the modern city of Mosul, Iraq.
  5. Nahum 1:10 Lit They.
  6. Nahum 1:11 The reference here may be to Sennacherib, who reigned over Assyria from 705-681 b.c. He led an attack on Judah (the Southern Kingdom) in 701 b.c.
  7. Nahum 2:1 Nahum begins his message to Nineveh with a brief sarcastic statement (v 1) referring to the Medes, the Babylonians, and the Scythians who were allied against Assyria.
  8. Nahum 2:1 Lit Make strong your loins.
  9. Nahum 2:3 The Medes were an ancient Iranian people who lived in the area that is now the northwestern part of modern day Iran. After they joined with the Chaldeans of Babylonia to defeat the Assyrians, they established their own empire. It was the largest empire of its day until Cyrus the Great united the Medes and the Persians to form the Archaemenid Empire which stretched over several million square miles.
  10. Nahum 2:5 Perhaps the Assyrian king.
  11. Nahum 2:5 A large shield or portable shelter used for deflecting stones, spears and arrows.
  12. Nahum 3:8 The city of the god, Amon, capital of Upper (southern) Egypt.
  13. Nahum 3:9 Perhaps part of the area of modern Libya.

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