1 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].
2 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. 3 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. 4 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. 5 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. 6 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. 7 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. 8 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.
9 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. 10 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]. 11 From you [O Nineveh], One has gone forth who plotted evil against the Lord, A malevolent [f]counselor [the king of Assyria].
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. 13 “Now, I will break his yoke [of taxation] off you, And I will tear off your shackles.”
14 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.”
15 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.
The Overthrow of Nineveh
2 [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. 2 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.
3 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]. 4 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. 5 [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. 6 The gates of the rivers [surrounding Nineveh] are opened And the palace [of sun-dried brick] is dissolved [by the torrents]. 7 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].
8 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. 9 Plunder the silver! Plunder the gold! For there is no end to the treasure— Wealth from every precious object. 10 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! 11 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? 12 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
3 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]. 2 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]! 3 Horsemen charging, Swords flashing, spears gleaming, Many slain, a mass of corpses, No end of corpses— The horsemen stumble over the corpses! 4 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. 5 “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. 6 “I will throw filth on you And make you vile and treat you with contempt, And set you up as a spectacle. 7 “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?”
8 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? 9 Ethiopia was her strength, And Egypt too, without limits. [m]Put and Lubim were among her helpers. 10 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. 11 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. 12 All your fortresses are [nothing but] fig trees with ripe figs— When shaken they fall into the mouth of the eater. 13 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. 14 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]! 15 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. 16 You have increased your traders more than the [visible] stars of heaven— The creeping locust strips and destroys and then flies away. 17 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. 18 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. 19 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?
Nahum 1:1An urgent message the prophet is under compulsion to proclaim.
Nahum 1:1Under 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.
Nahum 1:8The 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.
Nahum 1:8The 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.
Nahum 2:3The 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.
1 The [a]oracle (a burdensome message—a pronouncement from God) which Habakkuk the prophet saw.
2 O Lord, how long will I call for help And You will not hear? I cry out to You, “Violence!” Yet You do not save. 3 Why do You make me see iniquity, And cause me to look on wickedness? For destruction and violence are before me; Strife continues and contention arises. 4 Therefore, the law is ineffective and ignored And justice is never upheld, For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore, justice becomes perverted.
5 [The Lord replied,] “Look among the nations! See! Be astonished! Wonder! For I am doing something in your days— You would not believe it if you were told. 6 “For behold, I am raising up the [b]Chaldeans [who rule in [c]Babylon], That fierce and impetuous nation Who march throughout the earth To take possession of dwelling places that do not belong to them. 7 “The Chaldeans are dreaded and feared; Their justice and authority originate with themselves and are defined only by their decree. 8 “Their horses are swifter than leopards And keener than [hungry] wolves in the evening, Their horsemen come galloping, Their horsemen come from far away; They fly like an eagle swooping down to devour. 9 “They all come for violence; Their horde of faces moves [eagerly] forward, They gather prisoners like sand. 10 “They make fun of kings And rulers are a laughing matter to them. They ridicule every stronghold And heap up rubble [for earth mounds] and capture it. 11 “Then they will sweep by like the wind and pass on. But they will be held guilty, They [and all men] whose own power and strength is their god.”
12 Are You not from everlasting, O Lord, my God, My Holy One? We will not die. O Lord, You have appointed the Chaldeans [who rule in Babylon] to execute [Your] judgment, And You, O Rock, have established them to correct and chastise. 13 Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You cannot look favorably on wickedness. Why then do You look favorably On those who act treacherously? Why are you silent when the wicked (Chaldean oppressors) destroy Those more righteous than they? 14 Why do You make men like the fish of the sea, Like reptiles and creeping things that have no ruler [and are helpless against their enemies]? 15 The Chaldeans bring all of them up with a hook, And drag them away with a net, And gather them together in their fishing net; So they rejoice and are glad. 16 Therefore, they offer sacrifices to their net And burn incense to their fishing net; Because through these things their catch is large and they live luxuriously, And their food is plentiful. 17 Will they continue to empty their net And [mercilessly] go on destroying nations without sparing?
God Answers the Prophet
2 I will stand at my guard post And station myself on the tower; And I will keep watch to see what He will say to me, And what answer I will give [as His spokesman] when I am reproved. 2 Then the Lord answered me and said, “Write the vision And engrave it plainly on [clay] tablets So that the one who reads it will run. 3 “For the vision is yet for the appointed [future] time It hurries toward the goal [of fulfillment]; it will not fail. Even though it delays, wait [patiently] for it, Because it will certainly come; it will not delay.
4 “Look at the proud one, His soul is not right within him, But the righteous will live by his faith [in the true God]. 5 “Moreover, wine is treacherous and betrays the arrogant man, So that he does not stay at home. His appetite is large like Sheol, And he is like death, never satisfied. He gathers to himself all nations And collects to himself all peoples [as if he owned them].
6 “Will all these [victims of his greed] not take up a taunting song against him, And in mocking derision against him Say, ‘[d]Woe (judgment is coming) to him who increases that which is not his— How long [will he possess it]? And [woe to him who] makes himself wealthy with loans.’ 7 “Will your creditors not rise up suddenly, And those who collect from you awaken? Then you will become plunder for them. 8 “Because you [king of Babylon] have looted many nations, All peoples who are left will loot you— Because of human bloodshed and for the violence done to the land, To the city and all its inhabitants.
9 “Woe (judgment is coming) to him who obtains wicked gain for his house [and thinks by so doing] To set his nest on high, That he may be rescued from the hand of evil. 10 “You have devised a shameful thing for your house By cutting off and putting an end to many peoples; So you are sinning against your own life and forfeiting it. 11 “For the stone will cry out from the wall [to accuse you—built in sin!] And the rafter will answer it out of the woodwork.
12 “Woe (judgment is coming) to him who builds a city with bloodshed And establishes a town by violence! 13 “Is it not indeed from the Lord of hosts That peoples labor [only] for the fire [that will destroy their work], And nations grow weary for nothing [that is, things which have no lasting value]? 14 “But [the time is coming when] the earth shall be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, As the waters cover the sea.
15 “Woe (judgment is coming) to you who make your neighbors drink, Who mix in your venom to make them drunk So that you may look at their nakedness! 16 “You will be filled with disgrace instead of honor. Now drink and expose your own nakedness! The cup [of wrath] in the Lord’s right hand will come around to you [O destroyer], And utter disgrace will be on your own glory. 17 “For the violence done to Lebanon will overwhelm you; The destruction of the animals will terrify you On account of human bloodshed and the violence done to the land, To the city and all its inhabitants.
18 “What profit is the carved image when its maker has formed it? It is only a cast image, and a teacher of lies. For its maker trusts in his own creation [as his god] When he makes speechless idols. 19 “Woe (judgment is coming) to him who says to the wooden image, ‘Awake!’ And to the speechless stone, ‘Arise!’ And that is your teacher? Look, it is overlaid with gold and silver, And there is no breath at all inside it. 20 “But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth hush and be silent before Him.”
God’s Salvation of His People
3 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, set to [e]wild and enthusiastic music.
2 O Lord, I have heard the report about You and I fear. O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years, In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath [earnestly] remember compassion and love.
3 God [approaching from Sinai] comes from Teman (Edom), And the Holy One from [f]Mount Paran. Selah ([g]pause, and calmly think of that). His splendor and majesty covers the heavens And the earth is full of His praise. 4 His brightness is like the sunlight; He has [bright] rays flashing from His hand, And there [in the sunlike splendor] is the hiding place of His power. 5 Before Him goes the pestilence [of judgment as in Egypt], And [the burning] plague [of condemnation] follows at His feet [as in Sennacherib’s army]. 6 He stood and measured the earth; He looked and startled the nations, Yes, the eternal mountains were shattered, The ancient hills bowed low and collapsed. His ways are eternal. 7 I [Habakkuk, in my vision] saw the tents of Cushan under distress; The tent curtains of the land of Midian were trembling.
8 Did the Lord rage against the rivers, Or was Your anger against the rivers, Or was Your wrath against the [Red] Sea, That You rode on Your horses, On Your chariots of salvation? 9 Your bow was made bare; The rods of chastisement were sworn. Selah (pause, calmly think of that). You split the earth with rivers [bringing waters to dry places]. 10 The mountains saw You and [they] trembled and writhed [as if in pain]; The downpour of waters swept by [as a deluge]. The deep uttered its voice and raged, It lifted its hands high. 11 The sun and moon stood in their places [as before Joshua]; They went away at the light of Your [swift] arrows, At the radiance and gleam of Your glittering spear. 12 In indignation You marched through the earth; In anger You trampled and threshed the nations. 13 You went forth for the salvation of Your people, For the salvation and rescue of Your anointed [people Israel]. You struck the [h]head from the house of the wicked To lay him open from the thigh to the neck. Selah (pause, and calmly think of that). 14 With the enemy’s own spears, You pierced The head of his hordes. They stormed out to scatter us, Rejoicing like those Who secretly devour the oppressed [of Israel]. 15 You have trampled on the sea with Your horses, On the surge of many waters.
16 I heard and my whole inner self trembled; My lips quivered at the sound. Decay and rottenness enter my bones, And I tremble in my place. Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, For the people to arise who will invade and attack us. 17 Though the fig tree does not blossom And there is no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive fails And the fields produce no food, Though the flock is cut off from the fold And there are no cattle in the stalls, 18 Yet I will [choose to] rejoice in the Lord; I will [choose to] shout in exultation in the [victorious] God of my salvation! 19 The Lord God is my strength [my source of courage, my invincible army]; He has made my feet [steady and sure] like hinds’ feet And makes me walk [forward with spiritual confidence] on my [i]high places [of challenge and responsibility].
For the choir director, on my stringed instruments.
Habakkuk 1:1I.e. an urgent message the prophet is under compulsion to proclaim.
Habakkuk 1:6The Chaldeans were the dominant people in Babylonia. Originally from a small part of southern Babylonia near the head of the Persian Gulf, they were an aggressive tribe and completely controlled the country after 625 b.c. Babylon was their capital city and became the scholarly and scientific center of western Asia. The words “Chaldean” and “Babylonian” are used interchangeably.
Habakkuk 1:6“Babylon” was the name of the magnificent capital city of Babylonia, and the name of the city was commonly used to refer to the entire area which was located at the eastern end of the Fertile Crescent. Both the plain of Shinar and Chaldea (land of the Chaldeans) were part of ancient Babylonia.
Habakkuk 2:6The taunting song of the five woes pronounced against Babylon begins in v 6 and concludes at the end of the chapter.
Habakkuk 3:1Lit Shigionoth. The musical heading suggests that this chapter should be sung.
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