1 I am Nahum from Elkosh.[a] And this is the message[b] that I wrote down about Nineveh.[c]
The Fierce Anger of the Lord
2 The Lord God demands loyalty. In his anger, he takes revenge on his enemies. 3 The Lord is powerful, yet patient; he makes sure that the guilty are always punished. He can be seen in storms and in whirlwinds; clouds are the dust from his feet.
4 At the Lord’s command, oceans and rivers dry up. Bashan, Mount Carmel, and Lebanon[d] wither, and their flowers fade. 5 At the sight of the Lord, mountains and hills tremble and melt; the earth and its people shudder and shake. 6 Who can stand the heat of his furious anger? It flashes out like fire and shatters stones.
The Power of Assyria Will Be Broken
7 The Lord is good. He protects those who trust him in times of trouble. 8 But like a roaring flood, the Lord chases his enemies into dark places and destroys them. 9 So don’t plot against the Lord! He wipes out his enemies, and they never revive. 10 They are like drunkards overcome by wine, or like dry thornbushes burning in a fire.[e] 11 Assyria, one of your rulers has made evil plans against the Lord.
12 But the Lord says, “Assyria, no matter how strong you are, you are doomed! My people Judah, I have troubled you before, but I won’t do it again. 13 I’ll snap your chains and set you free from the Assyrians.”
14 Assyria, this is what else the Lord says to you: “Your name will be forgotten. I will destroy every idol in your temple, and I will send you to the grave, because you are worthless.”
15 Look toward the mountains, people of Judah! Here comes a messenger with good news of peace. Celebrate your festivals. Keep your promises to God. Your evil enemies are destroyed and will never again invade your country.
Nineveh Will Fall
2 Nineveh, someone is coming to attack and scatter you. Guard your fortresses! Watch the road! Be brave! Prepare for battle! 2 Judah and Israel are like trees with branches broken by their enemies. But the Lord is going to restore their power and glory.
3 Nineveh, on this day of attack, your enemies' shields are red; their uniforms are crimson. 4 Their horses[f] prance, and their armored[g] chariots dart around like lightning or flaming torches. 5 An officer gives a command. But his soldiers stumble, as they hasten to build a shelter to protect themselves against rocks thrown down from the city wall.
6 The river gates[h] fly open, and panic floods the palace. 7 Nineveh is disgraced. The queen is dragged off. Her servant women mourn; they sound like doves, and they beat their breasts in sorrow.[i] 8 Nineveh is like a pond with leaking water. Shouts of “Stop! Don’t go!” can be heard everywhere. But everyone is leaving.
9 Enemy soldiers shout, “The city is full of treasure and all kinds of wealth. Steal her silver! Grab her gold!”
10 Nineveh is doomed! Destroyed! Her people tremble with fear; their faces turn pale.[j] 11 What happened to this city? They were safer there than powerful lions in a den, with no one to disturb them. 12 These are the same lions that ferociously attacked their victims, then dragged away the flesh to feed their young.
13 The Lord All-Powerful is against you, Nineveh. God will burn your chariots and send an army to kill those young lions of yours. You will never again make victims of others or send messengers to threaten everyone on this earth.
Punishment for Nineveh
The Lord said:
3 Doom to the crime capital! Nineveh, city of murder and treachery, 2 here is your fate— cracking whips, churning wheels; galloping horses, roaring chariots; 3 cavalry attacking, swords and spears flashing; soldiers stumbling over piles of dead bodies. 4 You were nothing more than a prostitute using your magical charms and witchcraft to attract and trap nations.
5 But I, the Lord All-Powerful, am now your enemy. I will pull up your skirt and let nations and kingdoms stare at your nakedness. 6 I will cover you with garbage, treat you like trash, and rub you in the dirt. 7 Everyone who sees you will turn away and shout, “Nineveh is done for! Is anyone willing to mourn or to give her comfort?”
Nineveh’s Fate Is Sealed
8 Nineveh, do you feel safer than the city of Thebes?[k] The Nile River was its wall of defense.[l] 9 Thebes trusted the mighty power of Ethiopia[m] and Egypt; the nations of Put[n] and Libya were her allies. 10 But she was captured and taken to a foreign country. Her children were murdered at every street corner. The members of her royal family were auctioned off, and her high officials were bound in chains.
11 Nineveh, now it’s your turn! You will get drunk and try to hide from your enemy. 12 Your fortresses are fig trees with ripe figs. Merely shake the trees, and fruit will fall into every open mouth. 13 Your army is weak. Fire has destroyed the crossbars on your city gates; now they stand wide open to your enemy.
14 Your city is under attack. Haul in extra water! Strengthen your defenses! Start making bricks! Stir the mortar! 15 You will still go up in flames and be cut down by swords that will wipe you out like wheat attacked by grasshoppers. So, go ahead and increase like a swarm of locusts![o]
16 More merchants are in your city than there are stars in the sky— but they are like locusts that eat everything, then fly away. 17 Your guards and your officials are swarms of locusts. On a chilly day they settle on a fence, but when the sun comes out, they take off to who-knows-where.
18 King of Assyria, your officials and leaders sleep the eternal sleep, while your people are scattered in the mountains. Yes, your people are sheep without a shepherd. 19 You’re fatally wounded. There’s no hope for you. But everyone claps when they hear this news, because your constant cruelty has caused them pain.
1 I am Habakkuk the prophet. And this is the message[a] that the Lord gave me.
Habakkuk Complains to the Lord
2 Our Lord, how long must I beg for your help before you listen? How long before you save us from all this violence? 3 Why do you make me watch such terrible injustice? Why do you allow violence, lawlessness, crime, and cruelty to spread everywhere? 4 Laws cannot be enforced; justice is always the loser; criminals crowd out honest people and twist the laws around.
The Lord Answers Habakkuk
5 Look and be amazed at what’s happening among the nations! Even if you were told, you would never believe what’s taking place now. 6 I am sending the Babylonians. They are fierce and cruel— marching across the land, conquering cities and towns.
7 How fearsome and frightening. Their only laws and rules are the ones they make up. 8 Their cavalry troops are faster than leopards, more ferocious than wolves hunting at sunset, and swifter than hungry eagles suddenly swooping down.
9 They are eager to destroy,[b] and they gather captives like handfuls of sand. 10 They make fun of rulers and laugh at fortresses, while building dirt mounds so they can capture cities.[c] 11 Then suddenly they disappear like a gust of wind— those sinful people who worship their own strength.
Habakkuk Complains Again
12 Holy Lord God, mighty rock,[d] you are eternal, and we[e] are safe from death. You are using those Babylonians to judge and punish others.[f] 13 But you can’t stand sin or wrong. So don’t sit by in silence while they gobble down people who are better than they are.
14 The people you put on this earth are like fish or reptiles without a leader. 15 Then an enemy comes along and takes them captive with hooks and nets. It makes him so happy 16 that he offers sacrifices to his fishing nets, because they make him rich and provide choice foods. 17 Will he keep hauling in his nets and destroying nations without showing mercy?
The Lord Answers Habakkuk Again
2 While standing guard on the watchtower, I waited for the Lord’s answer, before explaining the reason for my complaint.[g] 2 Then the Lord told me: “I will give you my message in the form of a vision. Write it clearly enough to be read at a glance. 3 At the time I have decided, my words will come true. You can trust what I say about the future. It may take a long time, but keep on waiting— it will happen!
4 “I, the Lord, refuse to accept anyone who is proud. Only those who live by faith are acceptable to me.”[h]
Trouble for Evil People
5 Wine[i] is treacherous, and arrogant people are never satisfied. They are no less greedy than death itself— they open their mouths as wide as the world of the dead and swallow everyone.
6 But they will be mocked with these words: You’re doomed! You stored up stolen goods and cheated others of what belonged to them. 7 But without warning, those you owe will demand payment. Then you will become a frightened victim. 8 You robbed cities and nations everywhere on earth and murdered their people. Now those who survived will be as cruel to you.
9 You’re doomed! You made your family rich at the expense of others. You even said to yourself, “I’m above the law.” 10 But you will bring shame on your family and ruin to yourself for what you did to others. 11 The very stones and wood in your home will testify against you.
12 You’re doomed! You built a city on crime and violence. 13 But the Lord All-Powerful sends up in flames what nations and people work so hard to gain.
14 Just as water fills the sea, the land will be filled with people who know and honor the Lord.
15 You’re doomed! You get your friends drunk, just to see them naked. 16 Now you will be disgraced instead of praised. The Lord will make you drunk, and when others see you naked, you will lose their respect. 17 You destroyed trees and animals on Mount Lebanon; you were ruthless to towns and people everywhere. Now you will be terrorized.
Idolatry Is Foolish
18 What is an idol worth? It’s merely a false god. Why trust a speechless image made from wood or metal by human hands? 19 What can you learn from idols covered with silver or gold? They can’t even breathe. Pity anyone who says to an idol of wood or stone, “Get up and do something!”
20 Let all the world be silent— the Lord is present in his holy temple.
2 I know your reputation, Lord, and I am amazed at what you have done. Please turn from your anger and be merciful; do for us what you did for our ancestors.
3 You are the same Holy God who came from Teman and Paran[k] to help us. The brightness of your glory covered the heavens, and your praises were heard everywhere on earth. 4 Your glory shone like the sun, and light flashed from your hands, hiding your mighty power. 5 Dreadful diseases and plagues marched in front and followed behind. 6 When you stopped, the earth shook; when you stared, nations trembled; when you walked along your ancient paths, eternal mountains and hills crumbled and collapsed. 7 The tents of desert tribes in Cushan and Midian[l] were ripped apart.
8 Our Lord, were you angry with the monsters of the deep?[m] You attacked in your chariot and wiped them out. 9 Your arrows were ready and obeyed your commands.[n]
You split the earth apart with rivers and streams; 10 mountains trembled at the sight of you; rain poured from the clouds; ocean waves roared and rose. 11 The sun and moon stood still, while your arrows and spears flashed like lightning.
12 In your furious anger, you trampled on nations 13 to rescue your people and save your chosen one.[o] You crushed a nation’s ruler and stripped his evil kingdom of its power.[p] 14 His troops had come like a storm, hoping to scatter us and glad to gobble us down. To them we were refugees in hiding— but you smashed their heads with their own weapons.[q] 15 Then your chariots churned the waters of the sea.
Habakkuk’s Response to God’s Message
16 When I heard this message,[r] I felt weak from fear, and my lips quivered. My bones seemed to melt, and I stumbled around. But I will patiently wait. Someday those vicious enemies will be struck by disaster.[s]
Trust in a Time of Trouble
17 Fig trees may no longer bloom, or vineyards produce grapes; olive trees may be fruitless, and harvest time a failure; sheep pens may be empty, and cattle stalls vacant— 18 but I will still celebrate because the Lord God saves me. 19 The Lord gives me strength. He makes my feet as sure as those of a deer, and he helps me stand on the mountains.[t]
1.9eager to destroy: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
1.10dirt mounds. . . cities: Attacking armies often build dirt mounds against city walls to make it easier for them to climb the wall and capture the city.
1.12mighty rock: The Hebrew text has “rock,” which is sometimes used in poetry to compare the Lord to a mountain where his people can run for protection from their enemies.
1.12we: Hebrew; one ancient Jewish tradition “you.”
1.12You. . . others: Or “You will judge and punish those Babylonians.”
2.1I. . . complaint: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
2.4Only. . . me: Or “But those who are acceptable to me will live because of their faithfulness.”
2.5Wine: The Standard Hebrew Text; the Dead Sea Scrolls “Wealth.”
3.1prayer: The Hebrew text adds “according to the shigionoth,” which may mean a prayer of request or a prayer to be accompanied by a special musical instrument.
3.3Teman. . . Paran: Teman is a district in Edom, but the name is sometimes used of the whole country of Edom; Paran is the hill country along the western border of the Gulf of Aqaba. In Judges 5.4, the Lord is said to have marched from Edom to help his people; in Deuteronomy 33.2, Paran is mentioned in connection with the Lord’s appearance at Sinai.
3.7Cushan and Midian: Tribes of the Arabian desert who were enemies of Israel.
3.8monsters of the deep: The Hebrew text has “rivers and oceans,” which may stand for the powerful monsters that were thought to have lived there before the Lord defeated them.
3.9obeyed your commands: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
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