The Minor Prophets: Nahum

The Minor Prophets Hosea


I. Historical context

    A. Written between 663-612 B.C. (Hailey, Miller); about 614 B.C. (Gill); “just before” 612 B.C. (Lewis); around 650 B.C. (Coffman)
    B. Around 100 years after Nineveh repented at Jonah’s preaching
    C. Like Jonah, Nahum only prophesied to Nineveh, but he delivered a message of doom and destruction (1:1)

      1. “Two sins, particularly, were the object of the prophecy, these being (1) military exploitation and (2) commercial greed. It may be doubted if there was ever upon earth a more heartless example of cruel, sadistic, savage military lust than that displayed by Assyria. Nahum referred to Assyria as ‘The Emptiers’ (2:2), and a customary synonym for them in ancient history was ‘The Breakers.’” (Coffman)
      2. Waddey adds “slavery and witchcraft (3:4-5)” to the sins decried by Nahum
      3. “Assyria, of which Nineveh was the capital, was a nation largely geared for aggressive war….Nineveh saw men and nations as tools to be exploited to gratify the lust of conquest and commercialism.” (Lewis)
      4. “The character of the Assyrian rulers and people in general was that of excessive cruelty.” (Hailey)

    D. The accuracy of the prophet’s message is on display in 1:8, in which he writes about “an overflowing flood”

      1. “The enemies of Nineveh had been repulsed for the third time, and the king believed the siege was broken, and ordered a great drunken feast to celebrate the victory! Melting snows sent a terrible flood that swept away miles of the city’s fortifications and walls. Only that, coupled with the drunken feast, led to its fall!”
      2. “The Medes, Babylonians, and Scythians united to attack the city under the Median King Cyaxares….So complete was her overthrow that for centuries no one even knew the location of her ruins.” (Waddey)

II. About the prophet

    A. “The name Nahum means ‘comfort’ or ‘compassion.’” (Lewis)
    B. “Little is known of the prophet Nahum, yet he impresses his readers as a man of scholarship and culture. His loft poetic style lends to him this quality and dignity.” (Miller)
    C. “He was contemporary with Habakkuk, Zephaniah and Jeremiah.” (Gill)

III. Lessons for today

    A. Only God’s kingdom will stand forever

      1. Few could have fathomed the fall of Assyria while they were in power; the same could be said about the rule of the Babylonians, the Medo-Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans

        a. Yet, as all earthly kingdoms do, they eventually fell
        b. Nahum’s prophecy shows the utter destruction of Nineveh (2:10; 3:7,19)
        c. There is but one kingdom that will never fall, and that was established 2000 years ago during the days of the Roman empire, as prophesied by Daniel 2:44

      2. Our love for country must never exceed our love for God

        a. We have a greater citizenship than our American citizenship (Philippians 3:20-21)
        b. While we must submit to the laws of the land, let us never forget that God’s law is above all (Romans 13:1-7)
        c. Our attitude toward our leaders, whether we agree with their policies or not, should be one of prayer and peace (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

    B. Sin infuriates God (1:2,6,14)

      1. Jehovah is a jealous God in that He wants preeminence in your heart

        a. “He, being the creator and benefactor of man, will not accede the honor of worship to idolatrous pagan gods. He will not allow man to share affection for Him with another.” (Miller)
        b. Cf. Exodus 20:5; Joshua 24:19-20; Matthew 6:33; Colossians 3:2
        c. “His jealousy may be compared to that of a husband for his wife; He will brook no rival; He will not be supplanted by another in the affection of His people.” (Hailey)

      2. Jehovah is a vengeful God against impenitent evil

        a. “Only God is qualified to avenge. He does so in complete justice. In the case of Nineveh, He had gone to great lengths (cf. Jonah) to warn them of the consequence of their sin.” (Gill)
        b. “His avenging is not to be thought of as ‘getting even with,’ but of vindicating His own righteousness by inflicting a just judgment upon offenders.” (Hailey)
        c. Cf. Romans 11:22; 12:19; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9

    C. God protects His own (1:7,15)

      1. In the midst of this declaration of destruction against vile Nineveh, the prophet reminds His readers of God’s goodness toward the faithful
      2. “It is a characteristic of all God’s prophets that, in the very midst of the most terrible announcements of doom and punishment, there always appears the word of hope, encouragement, solace, or reassurance for God’s true people. He never forgets them.” (Coffman)
      3. “In love and protective care, He knows fully those that take refuge in Him. His power is as great to protect as it is to destroy.” (Hailey)
      4. “God’s goodness is for those like David whose great desire was to be in subjection to God, humbled in His presence and happy in His fellowship.” (Miller)
      5. Cf. Psalm 46; 91

Coffman, James Burton. (1982). Commentary on the Minor Prophets, Volume 3: Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah and Haggai. Austin, TX: The Firm Foundation Publishing House. [Textual commentary excluding introductory notes on each book available online at]

Gill, Clinton R. (1971). Minor Prophets: A Study of Micah through Malachi. Joplin, MO: College Press. [Online at]

Hailey, Homer. (1972). A Commentary on the Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Lewis, Jack P. (1966). Minor Prophets. Austin, TX: R.B. Sweet Co., Inc.

Miller, Max R. “The Living Message of Nahum.” (1977). The Living Messages of the Books of the Old Testament. Garland Elkins and Thomas B. Warren, editors. Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press, Inc.

Waddey, John. (2011). The Testimony of the Twelve Minor Prophets. Delight, AR: Gospel Light Publishing Company. [Online at]

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