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Asbury Bible Commentary – III. Woe To The City of Blood (3:1–19)
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III. Woe To The City of Blood (3:1–19)

The woe focuses on the sordid character of Nineveh. The words blood, lies, plunder, and victims summarize the wickedness of the inhabitants of Nineveh. Nineveh fully deserved her punishment.

Skillfully Nahum used poetic structure to enhance the violence of the assault. The siege took about two and a half months, but it is condensed here as a moment of time.

The city had become so depraved that it is named a harlot filled with wanton lust and skilled in the tactics of seduction, sorceries, prostitution, and witchcraft.

God cries out, “I am against you,” and promises that he will expose her nakedness and display her as a spectacle to the world. Horrified travelers will marvel at the city's extensive ruins.

In 663 b.c. Assyrian armies leveled Thebes, the capital of Egypt. Other nations would do the same to Nineveh.

The Ninevites may have regarded their plight as a tragedy, and their conquerors may have regarded it as evidence of superior military power. By divine revelation, Nahum understood the fall of Nineveh as an act of God, the Judge of nations.

The ultimate reason for Nineveh's demise was the verdict of the divine Judge. However frantically the defenders labored to save the city, all was to no avail, for the Judge had declared that fire and sword would wipe them out and that the city's enemies would be like grasshoppers and locusts in number.

The simile of swarms of locusts is extended to Nineveh's guards and officials who had exploited their own people without mercy.

The ravaging of the city comes to an end, and the Lord unveils the underlying anguish that always accompanies his acts of judgment.

Nahum mourns with the vanquished who have become wandering refugees, for the blow of punishment had left an incurable wound. Nineveh was never to rise again.

Wherever the news of the fall of Nineveh is heard, those who listen will rejoice. To them, justice has at last been executed. The multitude of Nineveh's victims had suffered untold agonies, but now the international monster is laid low.


Achtemeier, Elizabeth. “The Book of Nahum.” Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Atlanta: John Knox, 1986.

Clarke, Adam. “The Book of Nahum.” A Commentary and Critical Notes. New York: Abingdon, n.d.

Dunning, H. Ray. “The Book of Nahum.” BBC. Kansas City: Beacon Hill, 1966.

Laetsch, Theo. “Nahum.” Bible Commentary: The Minor Prophets. St. Louis: Concordia, 1956.

Reis, Claude. “The Book of Nahum.” WBC. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969.

Smith, Ralph L. “Nahum.” WdBC. Waco: Word, 1984.