Nahum 3 (all references refer to the NKJV unless otherwise stated)
The final chapter of Nahum is brutal and explains well why God’s judgement is to be upon the Assyrians. This chapter should be a parallel to Jonah knowing what he knew about this bitter enemy of Israel prior to his reluctant message to Nineveh. After reading chapter 3, one would have little doubt God’s patience exists and why they came to an end with the Assyrians.
We begin by abstracting descriptive bible phrases defining the cruelties of Nineveh, Assyria from the first four verses in Nahum 3.
• It is a bloody city full of captured victims
• Full of lies and robbery through unjust law, judges, deception by intent
• Any victim is doomed to death or cruel slavery if in Nineveh
• The sound of whips on victims is constant (the normal sadistic behavior of the Assyrians)
• Swords and lances are used within the city, not just at war (but are their fetish brutalities)
• The slain are a multitude piled in heaps
– This may remind us of the pictures of the holocaust camps of Germany in WWII
• There are countless corpses throughout the land
• Multitudes of harlots walk the streets
• Families are sold to others in the public marketplace
• The skins of many are spread upon the walls of the city
• Eyes are plucked out and limbs severed, then the victims left to die
• Those who dared to object against this cruelty are treated even more cruel
• Pillars of skulls could be seen
• The living and bodies of those slain are burned as a reminder to those who may rebel
• Captives are stripped naked without shelter or food
• No provision given to the captured or revolting leaders in Nineveh per weather conditions be they hot, cold, wet, dry, or storm.
NOTE: Is it any wonder Jonah wanted God’s wrath upon Nineveh, not a message of repentance.
There is more than scripture alone describing the cruelties of the Assyrians. Hundreds if not thousands of clay tablets have been discovered that describe the gruesomeness of the Assyrians upon their perceived enemies. At verse 5 God’s reprisal is prophesied as at-hand.
Nahum 3:5 “I am against you”. This is an absolute in the Hebrew. It simply means God will not withhold punishment. Ninevites have no chance of seeking or finding God’s mercy a second time. Jonah had warned them. Now Nahum 90 years later is telling Ninevites of their pending and certain doom.
As Jesus said at the cross of Calvary…IT IS FINISHED! This is God’s view of Assyria. It is finished! This condemnation is upon them who committed these horrible crimes of absolute and unrestrained cruelty. This included those Assyrians who stood idly-by watching. This same phrase is found in Nahum 2:13…”I am against you”.
JIV NOTE: This is like the world conditions will be during the End Days, God’s final days judgement [on that day] of humanity. There are three groups of people. The believer, and the unbelievers and those who lead and commit the sins against believers. Those who stand idly by trying to take no side at all by not intervening are as guilty as those committing attacks on believers. Taking no side at all is still not an acceptance of Jesus.
Nahum 3:6 means by deduction that God’s punishment will not be a swift death. The Assyrians will see it coming and pay a huge price for their repenting then rejection of the God of Jonah. Nahum is not there to redeem or evangelize them. He is there for one reason; to tell the Assyrians their final days are at hand. In the short of this verse, Ninevites no longer have any opportunity to repent “a second time.” This too will be true of those who take the mark of the beast yet continue to walk the face of the earth for a short time in the Tribulation “on that day.” It begins with the first bowl and angel of judgement found in Revelation 16:1-21.
“So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth; and it became a loathsome and malignant sore on the people who take the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image” [NASB; Revelation 16:2].
No second chance will exist for those with the mark of the Beast!
Nahum 3:7 can be compared to the filthy rejection of the labor or concentration camp conditions of Nazi WWII. They were vile. All who looked upon these concentration camps rejected the conditions to which humans were subjected. “Who will bemoan her?” Who will feel sorry for Nineveh? This is followed in 3:7 with “where will I find comforters [anyone to feel sorry for them] for you”? If God can’t find anyone to feel sorry for the judgment of the Assyrians, who can? Answer: No one! This verse doesn’t state who might God find but WHERE might he find one to sympathize with Assyria. There were none.
Nahum 3:8 No’ Amon is mentioned. This is better known today as Thebes in Upper Egypt. A very great city yet destroyed so fully there hasn’t been found a fully standing wall or monument after King Sargon, the great Ashurbanipal, then Nebuchadnezzar who twice destroyed it. No peoples were found still occupying it after three kings: Sargon of Mesopotamia, Ashurbanipal of Assyria, and Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, leveled it. No’ Amon; the city of No’ and their local god Amon. Is somehow Nineveh greater than was No’ Amon asks God through Nahum? By comparative thinking we can imagine how great this Egyptian city in Upper Egypt must have been. Their greatness did not repel destruction.
Nahum 3:9 Ethiopia, Egypt, Put (Cush), and Lubim (lybia) is a comparison to the greatness against which Assyrians consider themselves to be. The primaries would be Ethiopia and Egypt. Nahum asks if Assyria is greater than the historical greatness of Egypt and/or Ethiopia. Recall that the Queen of Sheba at the time of King Solomon came from and ruled over Ethiopia. No’ Amon [Thebes] is in Upper Egypt.
NOTE: Today many only think of ancient Egypt as one historical EGYPT; one country. This would be incorrect. In ancient times Egypt was one country or it had two sections, north and south. At times both had their own pharaoh. At other times both upper and lower parts were united under one pharaoh. Take note that No Amon is better known by their Greek name Thebes of Egypt. In actuality, No’ is the city and Amon is their god. No’ Amon means the city of the god Amon. The Assyrians knew this comparison well. It was their armies that had previously devastated No’ Amon.
Nahum 3:10 When one understands what happened to No’ Amon according to this verse, the brutality of the Assyrians becomes even clearer. It was the Assyrians who desecrated No’ Amon. look up the passage Nahum 3:10 and see for what other cruelties for which the Assyrians were known. They did this to the great No’ Amon and its population. Now it was Nineveh’s destiny for similar devastation in 612 B.C.
Nahum 3:11 What Assyria had done to others is now upon them. They will get what they sowed in cruelty. Verse 11 means they will try to hide in drunkenness, just like people still try to do today. They will run to-and-fro in attempts to avoid the consequences of invading enemies. An interesting understanding of the Hebrew for strength or refuge in verse 11 is “they will seek safety anywhere including former conquered peoples within the Assyrian Empire.” This offers a partial explanation as to what God meant by saying “they will be known no more.” They were scattered like ashes in the wind totally losing their identity as Assyrians. This, in part, is what happened to the Northern ten Tribes of Israel when the Assyrians scattered them to the corners of the earth, uninhabited places without clothing, shelter, and weapons for protection.
Nahum 3:12 The imagery of a fig tree full of ripened fruit is not something of encouragement to the Ninevites. A ripened fruit tree will drop its fruit with little encouragement from a picker. No longer is it a part of the tree (nation?). In modern agriculture and husbandry, the first fruit pickings often come from vibrating or shacking the fruit from the tree. It takes little effort and the tree itself is not damaged but the fruit, aka: Assyrian defenses, will fall without effort. Right into the hands of their enemies.
Archaeologists document the burning and fall of Nineveh. “The excavators of Nineveh have remarked on the large deposits of ash, which are evidence of a gigantic conflagration.” (Boice)
Nahum 3:13 “…are women?” This would be totally rejected as sexist in today’s societies. The fact remains that the majority of soldiers during this time period of Nahum was men. Yes, some women defended their homes and homelands when aggressed upon, but women did not constitute the army of their land. Nahum is describing the people of Assyria upon judgement from God.
The word for people in Hebrew is ‛am. This word is not exclusive to women but all people from any walk of life within a tribe or grouping of people such as a kingdom or nation. Assyria’s strength will fall as if their forces were women. Many running in disarray and total fear. Men can do the same thing. Such is called desertion.
Verse 13b: “The gates of your land are (will be) wide open” for the enemy to simply walk into their no longer fortified city walls [emphasis mine]. This may support the secular hypothesis of floods and excessive rains upon Nineveh undermined the walls and gates of Nineveh. This allowed the enemy of Medes, assisted by the Babylonian Persians, to walk into the city. If this is a reference to the natural barriers that surrounded Nineveh north and east, the heavy and relentless rains would hinder or blind Assyrian guards to any invading forces moving in closer. Perhaps the soldiers at the “gates of the land” would be like most in heavy rains. They were initially hiding from the deluge. The guards did not see the enemy closing in around them.
Nahum 3:14 Some may read this verse as Nahum providing the Assyrians good advice to protect Nineveh. This is false. Nahum is making a mockery of any attempt to make void God’s “I am against you” declaration in Nahum 2:13 and in 3:5-7. This mockery is emphasized in 3:15.
Nahum 3:15 Look this passage up and read it for oneself. Modern bulldozers have discovered a great amount of charred remains in Nineveh.
Nahum 3:16 One may wish and perhaps to his or her study chagrin, take note that the Hebrew has ten different names for locust. None are for the good of the land. Nineveh will be wiped clean just as do locust to a field. Nothing will be left. This is precisely what happened when the Medes attacked, laid siege, then utterly destroyed this hated enemy of so many who were held under its powerful thumb of oppression. They vanished as do locust descending on green vegetation. Once the Medes, assisted by the Persian-Babylonians, destroyed Nineveh, they left it in such ruin it was not archaeologically discovered until 1840 A.D. [The Discovery of Nineveh by Austen Henry Layard, Esq., D.C.L.]. This means people walked over the face of the former great city for over 2,000 years without knowing what was below their feet.
We can best sum up chapter 3 of Nahum by looking at verse 19:
“Your injury has no healing, Your wound is severe. All who hear news of you Will clap their hands over you, For upon whom has not your wickedness passed continually?” [NKJV]
Rev. Dr. Jstark
Special JIV ahamoment: Most know of the Queen of Sheba and her trip to Jerusalem to test Solomon’s wisdom. Just as many question her name i.e. Queen of Sheba. Where was “SHEBA”. The original name of Ethiopia was the lands of the Habesha people. “Ha” in Hebrew is the word “the”. This makes the lands of Ha-besha people “the besha.” This famous queen of the gold coast with little play on spelling, the famous Queen of the Sheba (Basha) people.