Introduction to Nahum
Author and Date
The prophet Nahum was God’s messenger to announce the fall of Nineveh and the complete overthrow of Assyria. Nahum refers to the fall of Thebes as a well-known occurrence (3:8–10). The Assyrian king Ashurbanipal conquered Thebes around 664 b.c. Nahum also predicts the fall of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, as a future event. Nineveh fell in 612 b.c. The book was composed, therefore, between 664 and 612 b.c.
Nineveh, the arrogant capital of the Assyrian Empire, will be destroyed.
Purpose, Occasion, and Background
Nahum’s book is a sequel to, and a dramatic contrast with, the book of Jonah. Jonah’s mission to Nineveh was probably sometime in the first half of the eighth century b.c. (700s). To Jonah’s dismay, the Ninevites listened to his message, repented, and were spared God’s judgment.
This repentance, however, did not last beyond 745 b.c., when Nineveh became the leading military power in the Near East. In 722 b.c. the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom of Israel. Nineveh was destroyed in 612 b.c., marking the end of the Assyrian empire.
- The Lord is slow to anger and long-suffering, jealous for his own honor and for his people, but he is wrathful and avenging against his enemies. He controls nature, nations, and history. He is just, righteous, good, merciful, gracious, loving, and faithful. He delivers and protects those who trust in him.
- God had used Assyria to punish unfaithful Israel and Judah. He also brought well-deserved judgment on Assyria, according to his timetable and method.
- Nineveh fell because it was a godless and idolatrous city, a city of violence, lust, and greed.
- The Lord of history is a “stronghold” for “those who take refuge in him” (1:7). He can handle all problems in individual lives. He has defeated powers far greater than Assyria. He grants to his own the ultimate defense and deliverance.
- Introduction (1:1)
- A Psalm Descriptively Praising the Lord (1:2–8)
- The Lord’s Coming Judgment on Nineveh and Deliverance of Judah (1:9–15)
- Focus on Nineveh: The Lord’s Coming Judgment (2:1–13)
- Again, Focus on Nineveh: More concerning the Lord’s Coming Judgment (3:1–19)
The Near East at the Time of Nahum
c. 660–614 b.c.
Nahum likely prophesied sometime between the high point of Assyria’s power around 664 b.c. and the fall of Nineveh in 612. During this time the Assyrian Empire was in decline. Meanwhile Egypt, Judah, and Babylonia regained autonomy and eroded the power of Assyria. Nahum foretold of the fall of Nineveh, the capital of the mighty Assyrian Empire.