Observation Nahum

I. THE NAME OF THE BOOK

A. It is named after the prophet.

B. His name means "comfort" or "compassion" (cf. Isa. 57:18).

 

II. CANONIZATION

A. This book is part of the Minor Prophets because of the length their writings.

B. They are called "the Twelve." They probably were put together because they fit on one scroll.

C. They are in the second division of the Hebrew canon called "The Prophets."

D. Later Judaism wanted the number of the books in their canon to match the number of consonants in their alphabet, therefore, they conbined several books.

 

III. GENRE

A. It is classical Hebrew propheticism (poetry). It is one of the most powerful poems in the OT.

B. Nahum was unique and artistic in his choice of words and idioms. He and Isaiah are considered the greatest poets of the Prophets. There is a literary relationship between them:

1. Nahum 1:4 and Isaiah 33:19.

2. Nahum 1:15 and Isaiah 52:7.

C. Nahum 1:2-8 is an acrostic psalm. An opening psalm is unique among the Minor Prophets.

 

IV. AUTHORSHIP

A. There is little known about the prophet. This is the only occurrence of his name in the OT.

B. He is called an Elkoshite which was probably a place name. There have been several theories:

1. Jerome and Eusebius place it in Galilee, the city of Elkosh.

2. Others assert that Capernaum, "house of Nahum," is the location but there is no corroborating evidence.

3. Pseudo-Epiphanius places it in southern Judah, The Lives of the Prophets, XVII, the city of Elkosh close to Micah's home.

4. An Arab tradition of the 16th century a.d., placed it in Iraq (child of exiled parents). The city of Elkosh is 24 miles north of Nineveh.

 

V. DATE

A. It must have been written before the fall of Nineveh, 612 b.c.

B. It was written after the fall of Thebes (No-amon) by Ashurbanipal in 663 b.c. (cf. 3:8ff) because it was used as an example of a city defended by water that was captured.

C. It was possibly written soon after Ashurbanipal's death in 627 B.C. He was the last strong king of Assyria and by 626 b.c. Neo-Babylon gained independence under Nabopolassar.

 

VI. BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE HISTORY OF ASSYRIA AND PALESTINE

A. Nahum addresses the fall of Assyria whose capital was Nineveh. God has used this cruel nation as an instrument of His judgement of Israel (cf. Isa. 10:5).

B. The first recorded incident occurred in the reign of Jehu (842-815 b.c.). In 841 b.c. the Assyrian's king, Shalmaneser III (858-824 b.c.), forced payment of tribute.

C. This continued under Adad-nirari III (810-782 b.c.). Damascus was captured and Joash was forced to pay tribute.

D. The first major invasion and deportation occurred in the reign of Menahem (752-732 b.c.) by Tiglath-pileser III (745-727 b.c.) in 732 b.c. Apparently he replaced Pekah (740-732 b.c.) with Hoshea (732-722 b.c., cf. II Kgs. 15:29); I Chr. 5:6; II Chr. 30:6,10; Isa. 9:1. This domination of Palestine affected Judah because Ahaz (735-715 b.c.) also paid tribute.

E. Hoshea tried to ally Israel with Egypt and was invaded by Shalmaneser V (727-722 b.c.) Samaria, the capital, fell after a 3 year siege to Sargon II (721-705 b.c.). Israel was exiled to Medea (cf. II Kgs. 17:3-20; 18:20-21; Isa. 7:8; 8:4; 10:11; 36:20; Hos. 9:3; 10:6,14; 11:5). Sargon II invaded and forced tribute on Judah in 720 b.c. and 712 b.c.

F. In Judah Hezekiah (728-687 b.c.) had succeeded Ahaz. He initially paid tribute to Sargon II. He later refused tribute to Assyria (cf. II Kings 18). Judah was invaded by Sennacherib (704-681 b.c.) in 701 b.c., but was forced to withdraw by a plague caused by the angel of the Lord, which killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers (cf. Isa. 10:16; 36:1-37:38; II Kgs. 18:13-19:37; II Chr. 32:1-31).

G. Later, Manasseh was forced to submit to Esarhaddon (681-669 b.c., cf. II Chr. 33:1-11).

H. Esarhaddon's son, Ashurbanipal (668-633 b.c.), was the last strong king of Assyria. After his death, a period of rapid decline:

1. Nabopolassar (625-605 b.c.) set up an independent Neo-Babylon.

2. Psammetihus I (664-609 b.c.) restored Egypt to independence.

3. Josiah (640-609 b.c.) restored Judah to independence.

4. Cyaxaxes (625-585 b.c.) set up an independent Media.

I. Nineveh, the capital of Assyrian, fell in 612 b.c., to Nabopolassar and Cyaxaxes. Ashur, the old capital, had already fallen in 614 b.c.

J. Nineveh covered 1,850 acres and had 8 miles of reinforced walls.

 

VII. LITERARY UNITS

A. Opening, 1:1

B. A Psalm of the severity and graciousness of YHWH, 1:2-8 (partial acrostic).

C. The reality of God's character, judgement to Nineveh, deliverance to Judah, 1:9-2:2.

D. A graphic poetic account of the siege and fall of Nineveh, the great city, 2:3-3:19.

 

VIII. MAIN TRUTHS

A. The focus of the book is the destruction of Nineveh, the capital of the cruel Assyrian Empire. It was made the capital by Sennacherib about 700 b.c. It was located on the eastern bank of the Tigris River and was very well fortified.

B. The city was completely destroyed by the Babylonians and Medes in 612 b.c., as had Asshur in 614 b.c. They used the river which flowed around the walls. They diverted the river water into reservoirs and then released it all at once. The force of the water knocked down a large section of the wall, 2:6.

C. God had used the cruel Assyrians to judge His people (Isa. 10:5), but now the Assyrians were judged. We reap what we sow, Gal. 6:7.

 

IX. TERMS AND/OR PHRASES AND PERSONS TO BRIEFLY DEFINE

A. Terms and/or phrases

1. oracle, 1:1 (NASB & NIV)

2. vision, 1:1 (NASB & NIV)

3. "the Lord is slow to anger," 1:3 (NASB & NIV)

4. "a stronghold," 1:7 (NIV, "refuge")

5. mantelet, 2:5 (NIV, "the protective shield")

6. "the gates of the river are opened, and the palace is dissolved," 2:6 (NIV, "the river gates are thrown open and the palace collapses")

7. "lift up your skirts over your face," 3:5 (NASB & NIV)

8. "his small children were dashed to pieces at the head of every street," 3:10 (NASB & NIV)

B. Persons

1. Belial, 1:15 (NIV, "the wicked")

2. the Lord of hosts, 2:13 (NIV, "the Lord Almighty")

 

X. MAP LOCATIONS

1. Bashan, 1:4 4. No-amon (Thebes), 3:8

2. Carmel, 1:4 5. Nineveh, 1:1

3. Lebanon, 1:4

 

XI. STUDENT CONTENT QUESTIONS

1. What is the central purpose of this book?

2. How does one relate to 1:3 and 7?

3. How does one relate Jonah and Nahum?

4. Why was Nahum considered to be a great poet?

5. How does 2:6 relate to the historical fall of Nineveh?

6. Why is an Egyptian city mentioned in 3:8-10?

7. List the sarcastic imperatives of 3:14-15.