The year: 612 B.C. The cruel Assyrians were in a heated prolonged family leadership quarrel. To whom did the kingship and authority belong? This strife, the crack that broke the infamous Assyrian Empire’s strength, became the breaking point of the powerful empire of Assyria. The nations and kingdoms under the thumb of Assyria were the likes of Persia, Medes, Babylonians, Arabia, Nubia, Chaldeans, and the territories of what we know today as Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. Between 616 B.C. and 605 B.C. Assyria fell as an empire in bits and pieces. Knowing of the internal Assyrian civil wars these subject nations and people combined to make war with Assyria. The primary insurrection leaders were the Medes and the Persians (Babylonians).
Enter Nahum chapter 2.
“This chapter is a masterpiece of ancient literature, unsurpassed for its graphic portrayal of a military assault.” (James Montgomery Boice; 1938-2000)
Nahum 2:1 “He who scatters has come up before your face. Man the fort! Watch the road! Strengthen your flanks! Fortify your power mightily”. Nahum is not cautioning the Assyrian capital of Nineveh of what might be, but telling them what is to be. Be prepared! It cannot be avoided. As we learned in our narrative commentary of Nahum 1 there would be no-second chance for Assyrians and Nineveh to repent of their evil ways as they did in the time of Jonah.
Time-after-time God uses another people to bring judgement upon others. A wandering people called Israelites brought this judgement to the Canaanites. The Assyrians then brought this same judgement upon the Northern Kingdom of Israel, 10 Tribes of Israelites. 120 years later the Babylonians did the same to a divided Judah [Isaiah 54:16]. Evil Nebuchadnezzar is called “my servant” by God in Jeremiah 25:9. Assyrian cruelty (Nahum 2:14) was not ignored by God. In short, Nahum is telling Nineveh of their pending doom. The enemies of Assyria (primarily the Medes and Babylonians) were already on their way.
Nahum 2:2 is an interesting verse in and of itself. A contrast of outcomes. Nahum is telling the Ninevites that their doom will be permanent. Why? Good question. Recall that 90 years earlier Jonah had preached repentance in Nineveh. They repented but not for long. They later defeated and dispersed the ten northern Tribes of Israel throughout unsettled lands in Europe, Asia, what we know today as Afghanistan, and amongst the Medes.
The Kingdom of Judah lasted another 100 plus years but under the thumb and tributary yoke of Assyria. Nahum tells us in verse 2, Israel will eventually be restored! Assyria will not be restored. Let’s timeline this for educational and perspective purposes.
- Jonah preached in Nineveh sometime around 760-750 B.C. Assyria repented.
- In 722 B.C. Assyria attacked northern Israel dispersing God’s elect, naked and without shelter or provisions.
- This is the cruelty Jonah recognized in the Assyrians and wanted God to destroy them.
- Nineveh’s repentance did not last but for a few years.
- (631 B.C.) King *Ashurbanipal dies. Leadership division begins in Assyria and its empire
- Note the name Ashurbanipal. Asshur, second son of Shem (Noah’s son) gave his name to Assyria. The city of Asshur was the original capital of Assyria.
- Asher became the name of the chief god of the Assyrians.
- (626-612 B.C.) Medea and Persia (Babylon) rebel against Assyria’s heavy hand
- 612 B.C. Assyrian Empire totally falls to the Medes and Persian-Babylonians
- (606, 597, 586 B.C.) Babylon’s Nebuchadnezzar captures the southern Kingdom of Judah dispersing the Judeans plus absorbing the likes of Daniel, Shaddrach, Meshak, Aben-Neggo. .
IT BEARS REPEATING….
It bears repeating that all peoples of this time descended from Noah, Shem, Ham or Japheth, the survivors of the global deluge (flood). Of course, this relationship of mankind remains so of the 7+ billion people on the face of the earth today. Shem was quite familiar with nature due to the flood. He lived 500 years after the great deluge. The god of Assyria being Asher were basic nature, sky, and land worshipers.
The ‘emptiers’ mentioned in Nahum 2:2b are the Assyrians.
Nahum 2:3-7 describe the scene of the fall of Assyria. Nahum had cautioned them to prepare for these attacks in verse 1 even though they would fail and fall as an empire. What a description of this scene as the pages of Assyria’s final chapter unfolds. Nineveh will fall before this mighty army of Medea. She will be humbled and led away captive even as the Assyrians led other nations into captivity. The same fate had previously happened to the Canaanites, both kingdoms of Israel and Judah, now the Assyrians, eventually the Babylonians. The Romans removed millions of Jews from Jerusalem after their revolt against Rome in 70 A.D. All of this in fulfillment of Deuteronomy 28:63-64.
Verse 6 is somewhat controversial. Some, if not many scholars, attempt to explain that the Assyrian defense of Nineveh was compromised by heavy rains, flooding, and the collapse of sections of their protective walls. This is not the same as in verse 8 where Nineveh is described as a “pool of water.” This has more to do with the flight of its people and troops. They drained away as might a pool of water. How do we conclude this? In verse 8b it also states that Assyrian leadership in Nineveh was crying for its defending troops to HALT (deserting). They didn’t listen and drained away to other places as does a pool of water. They never reunited as a people.
Nahum 2:11,12 in a very real sense describes the past character of Nineveh. A past where they gnawed the bones of their conquests. A den of bones. They feared no one. Assyrians were like prides of lions, lioness, and cubs within lands of plenty. They feasted upon others’ possessions, lands, and servitude. Once nothing is left to pillage they leave to conquer another kingdom, people or territory.
Nahum 2:13 is the bottom line of Nahum’s prophetic purpose and mission to the Assyrians. It was the consequence of what Jonah so much wished to see happen to the Assyrians about 90 years earlier. Nahum conclude chapter 2 by quoting the Lord God…”Behold, I am against you,” says the LORD of hosts, “I will burn your chariots in smoke, and the sword shall devour your young lions; I will cut off your prey from the earth, and the voice of your messengers shall be heard no more.“ Historically they were never heard of again other than through archeological digs.
Rev. Dr. Jstark