Nahum, Prophet to Nineveh

Harold E. Lafferty

Nahum the Elkoshite was one of two prophets who directed his admonitions at Nineveh, capital of the mighty Assyrian Empire. Jonah was the other, more well-known such prophet.

Nahum means “comforter” according to Strong, and the compassionate, or the consoler (Bullinger).

Nahum was an Elkoshite. Therefore he was already an inhabitant of Assyria, as Elkosh is believed to have been located some 24 miles north of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria.

The LORD used Nahum, of whom nothing is known outside these recorded words, as His messenger of doom toward Assyria following upon the earlier warning of Jonah, who is thought to have come to Assyria some eighty years prior.

If the “wicked counselor” of chapter 1:11 be Rabshakeh, then Nahum’s prophecy may be dated to the time of Hezekiah, and be deemed to concern Assyria’s involvement with Judah (the Two Tribes).

The first eight verses of Nahum comment upon the attributes of YHVH; the entire remainder of his writings is an extensive treatment of the judgments of YHVH which were determined upon Nineveh and its interactions with Judah. It contains the final remedy for God’s people within the text as we shall see. We shall consider the work in this context.

Nahum One

The Attributes of YHVH

Nah 1:1 The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.

Nah 1:2 God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.

Nah 1:3 The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.

This poetic language praises the God of Israel for His remarkable restraint in heaping retribution on the forces of evil – whether Assyrian or Judaic.

It extols His immense power, unknown to almost everyone except His People, who have been exposed to it personally.

It is known deeply however by such powers as Egypt, which lost all its firstborn sons and its elite army to the Power of the God of the Hebrews.

His decisive control of humanly uncontrollable factors of weather and climate are here recognized and praised in the beautiful allusion to the clouds as “the dust of His feet.”

From this language we understand the deeply emotional ties which Nahum felt toward His heavenly Father – his immense and heartfelt gratitude for the Almighty.

Nah 1:4 He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth.

The references here to the literal sea and the rivers of course, but are also symbolically indicative of these as peoples and nations – the powers that be. These flow aggressively and furiously over neighbors and other kingdoms, and then recede by being brought into check by divine forces indeterminable by mere humankind.

The Almighty is in complete control of all these forces.

Nah 1:5 The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.

This poetic reference to the natural geologic convulsions of the Middle East emphasizes His enormous might and power, but also implicates the overthrow of mighty powers such as Assyria. This is evident by the personal pronoun “who” now introduced ...

Nah 1:6 Who can stand before his indignation? And who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.

These appreciative words explain the catastrophes which natural man sees and does not comprehend; they prove His omnipotence over even the blind forces of nature.

Abruptly, Nahum is given words of comfort directed to those who trust in the Almighty.

In consideration of His attributes toward his enemies, He is the source of strength and favor to those who trust in Him.

He has no doubt as to who those are who know and trust in Him, for that is also a feature of His omnipotence.

Nah 1:7 The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.

Nah 1:8 But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof (i.e., the “place” of His enemies), and darkness shall pursue his enemies.

Though He is slow to anger, or patient, He is at the same time great in power – and will never acquit (hold guiltless) the wicked.

How does He punish the wicked?

One vastly effective set of weapons in His arsenal is natural phenomena: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet (verse 3).

We are reminded of similar warnings of the psalmist in Psalm 148: 8, in which His selective utilization of the natural elements is extolled: Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; stormy wind fulfilling his word!

Nahum’s poetic reference to the “dust of his feet” being the clouds, evokes an understanding of His limitless, expansive, unfettered power and presence over mere men as well as over the components of the natural world itself.

Even the seas and the rivers are subject to His wrath; in historic time he has dried up both in His great fury.

Seas and rivers are also metaphors for peoples and nations; He is Master of both.

The result of this “drying” is that verdant lands become desolate: Bashan, Carmel and Lebanon – all noted for their lush vegetation – had suffered at His will. Verse 4.

His power is shown in mighty earthquakes, in volcanoes, and in the fury of forest or range fires as well as in lightning; His will is manifested toward men! Verse 5.

The rhetorical question is asked, “Who can abide (stand up to) the fierceness of His wrath? Who can resist His indignation?”

The simple answer is, No one can.

The sturdiest natural elements known to man – the rocks – are burned like fire. Verse 6.

But all His favor is not lost upon the world, as there are also some there who trust in Him.

To them, God is good – a stronghold to those who trust in Him; and He knows precisely who these are. Verse 7.

This group of verses seems almost an exhaustive summary of the fierce anger of the LORD against His enemies. He is jealous, is wrathful, and is furious toward His adversaries. Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, was a notable adversary of Israel, God’s people – and is at this time the special adversary of the Almighty. Yet is by the hand of Assyria that He rebukes and cuts off and takes captive the Ten Tribes in the depths of their idolatry!

Verse 8 re-emphasizes the figures of floods of conquest and utter darkness (clouds of retribution) as His weapons against His enemies.

These terrifying attributes of the God of Israel have caused many to dismiss Him as “the angry God of the Old Testament,” thus labeling Him falsely – for He is such ONLY against those who resist Him in their lives and industry.

And Now … His Judgments!

The reader will note carefully that not only is Nineveh and Assyria the object of His wrath – so are His people of Judah!

But whereas the retribution upon Assyria is permanent, that of Judah is to be for a more temporal period; it is for their admonition and correction, for they are the people of His Covenant, an agreement made unilaterally with them, which He shall fulfill despite any adversity or resistance.

This witness is borne out by statements of the prophets such as that of Ezekiel 36:32 - Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord GOD, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel.

For the LORD had already made clear to them His premise, in Ezekiel 39:25 - Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name all because of His Covenant with their fathers.

In these words, we are re-confirmed in our understanding that their Covenant with Him was a unilateral one, being that Abram was asleep at the making of that Covenant (Genesis 15:17) so that it could NOT ever in future time be abrogated by him or his descendants, the sons of Israel, by any measure of disobedience!

That quality of His mercy takes effect upon them when His people shall have reacted to His mercy as described in Ezekiel 36: 31: Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall lothe yourselves (i.e., resolutely repent) in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations.

Note well that this quality of repentance is the key to the final solution of their status before Him.

His Intention to Punish Assyria

But the prophet’s words now address the great iniquity of Nineveh ...

Nah 1:9 What do ye imagine against the LORD? He will make an utter end (an end of Assyria): affliction shall not rise up the second time.

His vengeance is intended to be so thoroughly executed that it will never have to be repeated as illustrated in the ominous phrase, affliction (of Assyria) shall not rise up the second time!

The previous group of verses seems almost an exhaustive summary of the fierce anger of the LORD against His enemies. He is jealous, is wrathful, and is furious toward His adversaries.

Nineveh was a singularly notable adversary of Israel, God’s people; it is here toward Nineveh that He pointedly expresses His displeasure; the figure utilized recalls the fury of wildfires in the wilderness destroying everything in its path.

Nah 1:10 For while they be folden together as thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry.

There are substantial reasons for His fury. The threats made by Assyrian officials against Judah are one basis for it.

Nah 1:11 There is one come out of thee (Nineveh), that imagineth evil against the LORD, a wicked counsellor.

These words doubtless apply to the movers and shakers of Assyria of that time, as ample reason for His wrath, resultant from their wicked ways and their evil threats toward Judah.

Sennacherib, Assyria’s despotic prince, is the one who sends out of Assyria the Rabshekeh – the “wicked counselor” of this verse and that of 2Kings 18:17 – who, in the city of Hezekiah, arrogantly spoke to the people in Hebrew so that they might personally understand and be terrified of the vile threats of Assyria against the LORD and His people.

We note in this narrative the extreme disfavor which the LORD metes against those who speak against Him.

Nah 1:12 Thus saith the LORD; Though they (Judah) be quiet (i.e., thinking themselves secure, and are non-resistant), and likewise many, yet thus shall they be cut down, when he shall pass through. Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more.

This probably refers to the historic fact that almost all of Judah was conquered by Assyria, but Jerusalem was spared because of the faithful attitude of Hezekiah, and his sincere, repentant prayer for deliverance from Assyria.

Their captivity would result only after that era, from their conquest by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.

This present animosity and aggression shall be the once-and-done “affliction” of Judah by Assyria of the day, for Israel’s captivity (later, by Babylon) shall not actually end until the Second Coming of the Master, Who, over 2,000 years later, shall gather them back to their Land with a mighty and outstretched hand!

After that ending of their affliction, which we are beholding at this moment in time ... they shall be afflicted no more.

Nah 1:13 For now will I break his yoke from off thee, and will burst thy bonds in sunder.

In clearer terms, He shall free His people from captivity among the nations, and return them to their Land!

Nah 1:14 And the LORD hath given a commandment concerning thee, that no more of thy name be sown (spread forth in the earth): out of the house of thy (Assyria’s) gods will I cut off the graven image and the molten image: I will make thy grave; for thou art vile.

The statement that no more of thy name was to be sown, indicates the utter end of Assyria and her long-standing dynasty. After this time, the empire was almost immediately overrun by Babylon, and completely dissolved.

The obituary of Assyria had been written!

Judah is admonished to attend to the “good tidings” of the LORD, which included His option for the people to repent of their evil ways (they did not), and return to His ways.

His admonition for them to “keep” – in surety and with deep commitment, not in name only – their solemn feasts, and to perform their vows, fell upon unresponsive ears, even though the source of their discomfiture would be “utterly cut off.”

Nah 1:15 Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.

Who is He who “bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace?”

These words are a direct reference to the beautiful message of Isaiah 52:7: How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

This Bringer is immediately recognized by us as being the coming Messiah as the product of His earlier messengers – the prophets of the LORD in this instance; their message is – and always had been – His inspired promise of their Restitution by His agency and behest.

Ultimately, that Word becomes the Lord Jesus Christ, Who was renowned for His preaching to His brethren, and whose message contained all the essential elements of the Good Tidings (the Gospel) of the Kingdom, and of Peace.

The reader may also be reminded of the moving words of Isaiah the prophet here …

Isaiah 40:6: The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: 7 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. 8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. 9 O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! 10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.

This instruction is surely made directly and pointedly to the inhabitants of Zion and Jerusalem – demanding that they personally repent of their iniquity, and bring (proclaim) good tidingsBehold your God!

For it is He Who saves.

It is He Who delivers.

Their only obligation was to HEAR His voice and follow His instructions.

But even despite their continued disobedience, their faithful Deliverer would eventually bring them to His ways; eventually they should recognize His mercy and salvation as they shall, in yet future time, behold the coming of Messiah to them – at a time when trouble is rampant and danger to the people yet again predominant. Luke 1:70; 13: 35; Isaiah 59:16-20.

We must recognize in their repentance, and in the faithful petition of Hezekiah which would come as a result of Assyria’s invasion of Judah, that the LORD granted to Judah of his day exemption from the Assyrian assault of Jerusalem.

He delivered them by the hand of His angel of death, who destroyed the army of Sennacherib.

After the 185,000 were slain, the Assyrians went packing back to Nineveh, where due to their now weakened position and loss of such a great body of soldiers, the Assyrian Empire fell prey to Babylon, probably as a direct result of this miraculous deliverance of Judah by YHVH.

We believe that it shall be in a similar manner that He shall deliver them in this present era, from the “latter day” Assyrian of Micah 5 and other references.

The fearsome and terrifying force of a renewed threat from the same area (Iraq and Syria, generally) is prophesied to form, and fiercely to assault His people of the present era – the future inhabitants of His nascent kingdom now congregating upon Israel’s mountains and fertile valleys in great numbers.

At this moment, a competent military force of bloodthirsty adherents of Islam is expanding and gaining much ground in Iraq and Syria. But it periodically contracts, too, as its strength varies; its designation is The Islamic State.

It could, in our opinion, become the entity which Micah calls “Assyria” in his prophecy.

But if it is not successful in this – attempting (but failing) in its stated goal of conquering Israel and “restoring” the Islamic rule of law over the area – we are confident that ANOTHER such body of offenders shall arise to attempt the task from the same physical territory, for this identifying characteristic is vital to the exhaustion of this prophecy.

We watch closely (in 2018) the now faltering strength of the Islamic State (formerly ISIS) as it moves steadily – but sometimes haltingly – forward, wreaking the death and destruction of which it has only lately had its ability suppressed. We wait and watch. Our anxiousness for meaningful action nearly always preempts our Father’s measured patience in the execution of His plan. We never seem to give him enough time to do things in His deliberate manner!

Even though Israel shall be sustained and protected by the Almighty and His Son, our conviction as deduced from the language employed, is that the People of Israel, before the Second Advent, may even be assaulted by such overwhelming numbers of enemies that the Peoplecome to think themselves in danger from the rampantly inflowing forces from the northern aggressor (“Assyria”) of this case.

Isaiah 59 literally addresses such an occurrence in the words of verses 17 – 20, in which the prophet indicates an overwhelming influx of enemies who shall ”come in like a flood” upon God’s People in the Land in the end time.

This phraseology’s significance has been overlooked by The Watchers in our opinion – we must confess that certainly it has been on a personal level. We placed little emphasis on this tiny bit of end-time revelation of just how “things” would be!

We believe the first few verses of Micah 5 address this same eventuality ... the sudden and catastrophic and utter destruction of “Assyria” of that reference; and that that signal defeat of His enemies may be laid solely at the gate of the Christ of the Second Advent ... as clearly indicated by verse 20, when “... the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD....”

These words indicate nothing more or less than His personal appearance at His Second Advent – plainly and simply.

And so He will deliver them from “Assyria” by the mighty hand of “this Man,” as promised in these words: And this Man shall be the peace (i.e., bring peace by exhaustive conquest), when the Assyrian shall come into our land: Micah 5:5.

Good tiding, indeed! A Voice of strength lifted up, most certainly!

Nahum Two

The Destruction of Nineveh

Nah 2:1 He that dasheth in pieces (i.e., the LORD) is come up before thy (Assyria’s) face: keep the munition, watch the way, make thy loins strong, fortify thy power mightily.

Nah 2:2 For the LORD hath turned away the excellency of Jacob, as the excellency of Israel: for the emptiers have emptied them out, and marred their vine branches.

The Ten Tribes of Samaria had already been given over to Assyrian conquest because of their unchecked evil. Their devastation has been complete with the scattering of the people to the wilderness of the Assyrian Empire.

However, the far distant goal is to restore her ...

So this verse apparently has a meaning much different from that seemingly expressed here: the word translated “turned away” is Hebrew shub, a root word which has multiple meanings, all in the vein of “restoration, a turning back, a reversal, a return to a former state.”

It indicates the sense of “on the way to bringing back” Jacob – here put for Judah, the natural seed, in contrast with Israel’s downfall. The phrase, As the excellency of Israel,” is glossed by language experts as “He will restore the excellency …” of Israel as well as Judah (cf., Ezekiel 37).

This Restoration lies for them in the distant future, however, and depends completely upon the Seond Coming of Messiah, Who shall subsequently re-gather ALL Israel, to the last man and woman and child, from the four corners of the earth: Joel 3: 1-21; Amos 9: 14, 15.

Judgment of Nineveh: Invasion

In this series of texts, with the assistance of competent lexicographers, we will insert numerous explanatory notes in parentheses, as the phrases as expressed in Elizabethan English may be somewhat obscure to modern readers.

Nah 2:3 The shield of his (Assyria’s) mighty men is made red (with blood), the valiant men are (dressed, or uniformed) in scarlet: the chariots shall be with flaming torches (refers to their gleaming steel wheels and armor reflecting the sunlight) in the day of his preparation, and the fir trees (referring to the Assyrian lances, made from fir wood) shall be terribly shaken (or wielded in conflict by them).

Nah 2:4 The chariots shall rage (meaning to rave, as mad) in the streets, they shall justle (maneuver, as in tilting, to push against another) one against another in the broad ways: they shall seem like torches, they shall run like the lightnings (i.e., rush, or flash, as above).

Nah 2:5 He (the King of Assyria) shall recount his worthies (bethink himself of his nobles): they shall stumble (in the haste of their advance) in their walk; they shall make haste to the wall thereof (the walls of Nineveh, to protect the city), and the defence (referring to their resistance to the mantelet, or portable storming cover of the besiegers), shall be prepared.

Nah 2:6 The gates (the flood gates, or sluices) of the rivers shall be opened, and the palace shall be dissolved (i.e., melt away in fear by being overthrown).

Nineveh lay on the left (east) bank of the Tigris River. In addition, the Khusur was a perennial stream which ran through the city – a canal which connected the two rivers, the Tigris with the Euphrates. The controlling sluice-gates of these streams were to be opened by the enemy.

Nah 2:7 And Huzzab (meaning the queen, or queen-mother) shall be led away captive, she shall be brought up, and her maids shall lead her as with the voice of doves, tabering upon their breasts.

Notes on this verse in The Companion Bible essentially bring out this meaning: “though firmly established, she shall be dishonored and taken captive, the city of Nineveh being thus personified.”

Nah 2:8 But Nineveh is of old (filled with citizens, historic, and populous) like a pool of water: yet they shall flee away. Stand, stand, shall they cry; but none shall look back.

That is, the defenders shall flee before their besiegers.

Nah 2:9 Take ye the spoil of silver, take the spoil of gold: for there is none end of the store and glory out of all the pleasant furniture.

This phraseology speaks to the immense wealth of Assyria, long stored away through previous conquests of nations and cities.

Nah 2:10 She is (will become) empty, and void, and waste: and the heart melteth, and the knees smite together, and much pain is in all loins, and the faces of them all gather blackness.

Causes of Nineveh’s Demise

Nah 2:11 Where is the dwelling of the lions, and the feeding place of the young lions, where the lion, even the old lion, walked, and the lion's whelp, and none made them afraid?

Where is the dwelling of the lions indicates the future vacancy of Nineveh and her power.

These words appear to be an answer to Assyria’s taunt of 2Kings 18:34, in which the Rabshakeh compared Assyria to an unconquerable beast such as a lion, and claimed that the other “gods” as invoked by the heathen (the nations) round about as being unable to protect those victims from the lion-like, overwhelming forces of Assyria.

Nah 2:12 The lion did tear in pieces enough for his whelps, and strangled for his lionesses, and filled his holes with prey, and his dens with ravin.

Nah 2:13 Behold, I am against thee (Assyria), saith the LORD of hosts, and I will burn her chariots in the smoke, and the sword shall devour thy young lions: and I will cut off thy prey from the earth, and the voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard.

These words refer to the coming forces of Babylon which were soon raised up against Assyria and threw her down from the pinnacle of her power.

And because Judah did not repent, the mighty power of Babylon was then thrust upon Judah, which was overthrown and taken into captivity in the era 606-604 to 587 BC.

Nahum Three

Causes … Woe to Nineveh

These prophecies underscore the horror and carnage with which Nineveh should be overthrown by Babylon.

The prophet’s numerous, almost identically repetitive, drastically prodromal phrases emphasizing the fury with which the Almighty will judge her in the near future.

The following series of verses expresses the furious end, spelling out clearly the coming fatality of Assyria as oppressor of Judah – her ultimate failure to conquer the People, and her utter ruin by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.

Nahum 3:1 Woe to the bloody city (i.e., the city of great bloodshed)! It is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not;

The meaning of this last phrase is, “shall not be lacking.” Their wealth – their storehouse of the symbols of past victories – was abundant and stored-up against their final loss ...

Nineveh was noted for displaying captured princes in public cages, allowing their endless taunting, and denigration by the Assyrian common people. Her numerous captured enemies were continuously exposed to public ridicule and outrage.

A transitional ellipsis (logically supplied words) needs to be inserted here for a fuller understanding of the text (Bullinger):“Hark! The enemy is within thy gates …” leading into the next words:

Nah 3:2 The noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, and of the pransing horses, and of the jumping (jostling) chariots.

The confusion and imbalance of pitched warfare is evoked by these emotional descriptions.

Nah 3:3 The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the glittering spear: and there is a multitude of slain, and a great number of carcasses; and there is none end of their corpses; they (the slayers) stumble upon their corpses:

Nah 3:4 Because of the multitude of the whoredoms (i.e., idolatries) of the well-favored harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts.

Nah 3:5 Behold, I am against thee, saith the LORD of hosts; and I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will shew the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame.

We understand that in ancient cultures, when adulterous women were taken into custody, they often would be led into public places and have their garments forcibly lifted above their heads, openly displaying their nakedness in an attempt to shame them from further activity (we doubt that the practice should have accomplished that end, for such women are habitually without shame).

Such, in a figure, was about to be forced upon Assyria!

Nah 3:6 And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile (will disgrace thee), and will set thee as a gazingstock.

Our nearest realization of this result is that of persons – prisoners – who were led into the public square of Britain and Colonial America and placed on display in the stocks ... their hands and feet enclosed in the mechanism and themselves subjected to rotten fruits and vegetables showered upon them by the common people, in scorn and derision! Such is the ultimate of degradation and ruin of any remaining pride of the victims.

Nah 3:7 And it shall come to pass, that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her? whence shall I seek comforters for thee?

Nah 3:8 Art thou better than populous No (indicating Egyptian Nu, meaning the major city of the era in Egypt, Thebes), that was situate among the rivers, that had the waters round about it (the tangled branches of the Nile delta), whose rampart was the sea, and her wall was from the sea?

Nah 3:9 Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was infinite; Put and Lubim were thy helpers.

All these named nations were allies of Egypt, and mostly subservient to her.

Put was the third son of Ham, next to Cush (Ethiopia) and Mizraim (Egypt) – Genesis 10: 6. The Lubim are the Libyans.

Nah 3:10 Yet was she carried away, she went into captivity: her young children also were dashed in pieces at the top of all the streets: and they cast lots for her honourable men, and all her great men were bound in chains.

Some monuments tell of the destruction of Egypt’s capital, Thebes, by Assyria c.663BC under Ashurbanipal.

Nahum, writing just after this time, recalls an event which is fresh in the memory of his readers. Our interspersed notes strive to explain the intricate meanings intended …

Nah 3:11 Thou (Nineveh) also shalt be drunken (i.e., shall drink of the cup of judgment and be stupefied): thou shalt be hid (shall hide thyself, or vanish), thou also shalt seek strength (in vain) because of the enemy.

Nah 3:12 All thy strong holds shall be like fig trees with the firstripe figs: if they be shaken, they shall even fall into the mouth of the eater.

The image evoked is that of “easy pickings” of fruits ripe for the harvest.

Nah 3:13 Behold, thy people in the midst of thee are (as weak as) women: the gates of thy land shall be set wide open unto thine enemies: the fire shall devour thy bars (fortified gates).

Nah 3:14 Draw thee waters for the siege, fortify thy strong holds: go into clay (work in the brick kilns), and tread the morter, make strong the brick kiln (i.e., make haste to construct walls of fire-baked brick).

But the “fire” that she will be resisting shall be turned upon herself ...

Nah 3:15 There shall the fire devour thee; the sword shall cut thee off, it shall eat thee up like the cankerworm (the rapacious, devouring young locust – see Joel 1:4): make thyself many as the cankerworm, make thyself many as the locusts.

Nah 3:16 Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven: the cankerworm spoileth (i.e., sheds its skin, molting as it grows, morphing into a butterfly!), and flieth away (in this case ... die).

Nah 3:17 Thy crowned (mercenaries) are as the locusts, and thy captains as the great grasshoppers, which camp in the hedges (the loose stone walls) in the cold day, but when the sun ariseth they flee away, and their place is not known where they are.

Nah 3:18 Thy shepherds (i.e., thy generals) slumber, O king of Assyria: thy nobles shall dwell in the dust (lie down in death): thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth them.

Nah 3:19 There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit (the reports, or tidings) of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness (cruelty) passed continually?


In this “minor” prophet’s work, we see a summary compilation of the terminal, and fatal judgments which should fall upon Nineveh and the Assyrian Empire.

Assyria is reputed to have been one of the cruelest regimes in all history. Stone pictographs show Assyrian prisoners with hooks inserted into their jaws, then attached to an hawser connecting each captive with many other prisoners. Thus it became safe and quite easy for one warder to control many prisoners, escorting them whither he would, without any resistance from them. Hardly any man can bear the excruciating pain of a fish hook inserted in his jaw and attached to a tether, keeping him in captivity and completely in line with his superintending captors.

To reiterate, we believe that the prophecy of Micah 5 in particular, shows that this account of Assyria shall be reprised in the end-time, as “Assyria” of the end time again brings its forces to bear upon God’s people, and well illustrates its failure to overpower Jerusalem exactly as earlier.

At this stage of fulfillment we cannot be certain whether Assyria’s attack ...

(1) will come AFTER the Second Coming of the Christ, or

(2) PRIOR to that event.

Micah 5: 1 indicates that a foreign force – presumably the later-mentioned Assyrians (verse 5) – will “smite the judge of Israel upon the cheek.”

This phrase could mean either ...

(1) that the attackers smite the people who are being ruled by a prime minister of Israel prior to the coming of Messiah, or

(2) that the attackers are foolish enough to smite the King of Israel who shall have appeared in their midst and be ruling the people.

In any event, this despotic end time power – “Assyria’s” – destruction shall come at the personal hand of the Man from Bethlehem.

We are obviously not only required but also eager to continue our close observation of the events bearing on this much-anticipated prophetic fulfillment.

One conclusion is absolutely certain: as Assyria of old attacked Jerusalem and was cut off (Sennacherib’s huge army was mysteriously slain in the valleys round about Jerusalem), so shall the Assyria of the end-time be brought to its end, its core identity be destroyed, and its influence completely ended for all time – by the forces of the LORD, whether Israel alone or Israel in conjunction with Christ and the Saints is probably a moot point.

We favor the latter application, as the outcome indicated in Micah 5 most certainly requires the personal presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Land, protecting His people from the nations round about.

<HELafferty MD/USA: 10N, edited 2P, 5Q, 8Q> ~5900 words.