Reversal of Fortunes – Nahum and Nineveh

If the Book of Jonah (see previous blog post) were a photograph, Nahum would be the negative. In what was likely the first half of the eighth century B.C., Jonah reluctantly ventured to Nineveh to warn them of the coming judgment of God for their wickedness. To Jonah’s complete dismay, Nineveh repented and God spared them.

As Sennacherib beautified his capital city, Nineveh, Hezekiah withheld tribute and prepared for battle. The Assyrians advanced toward their rebellious western border, attacking swiftly down the Mediterranean coast. From Lachish, Sennacherib threatened to take Jerusalem, but Isaiah knew his threats would die with him on his return to Nineveh. This map shows the route of Assyrian conquest which started in Nineveh. God promised his people that Nineveh would not escape judgment.

As Sennacherib beautified his capital city, Nineveh, Hezekiah withheld tribute and prepared for battle. The Assyrians advanced toward their rebellious western border, attacking swiftly down the Mediterranean coast. From Lachish, Sennacherib threatened to take Jerusalem, but Isaiah knew his threats would die with him on his return to Nineveh. This map shows the route of Assyrian conquest which started in Nineveh. God promised his people that Nineveh would not escape judgment.

But that repentance did not last long. By 745 B.C. Tiglath-pileser III had made Assyria the most powerful in force in that part of the world., establishing their dominance with torture, massacres, and exiles on a horrific scale. The real estate of the Assyrians was greatly expanded by making vassal kingdoms of other countries (such as the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah) until Assyria “terminated” the Northern Kingdom in 722 B.C. Under Sennacherib’s reign (704 – 681 B.C.) Nineveh became the capital of Assyria.

More than a hundred years after Jonah, God sent Nahum to again announce judgment on Nineveh and the fall of Assyria itself. This time, there would be no repentance, and Nahum does not appear to have been reluctant in the least. Nahum 3:8-10 speaks of the destruction of Thebes (an ancient Egyptian city also called No-Amon in this book) in the past tense. We know that it fell to Assyria about 663 B.C. Assyria was conquered by the Medes and Babylonians in 612 B.C., making this book written between 663 and 612 B.C.

During this 50 year period, Assyria’s holdings and power were already in decline. Nahum’s first chapter reads like a prelude to battle, while the second and third chapters move into the real thing, with imagery that strongly suggests that the author saw much with his own eyes. True to the prophecy, Nineveh was destroyed, never to be rebuilt. The ruins lay close to the modern Iraqi city of Mosul.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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