Nineveh faces ruin
1 Woe to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not;
Nineveh had deteriorated in morality, and had returned to its former wickedness. Its history was stained with blood, and it became the focus of divine judgment. The voice of Nahum (whose name means "Consolation," or "Comfort" and is found in the name of Capernaum), reflected the abhorrence of Yahweh. *
2 The noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, and of the pransing horses, and of the jumping chariots.
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 carcases; and there is none end of their corpses; they stumble upon their corpses:
4 Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the well favoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts.
5 Behold, I am against thee, saith Yahweh Tz'vaoth; and I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will shew the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame.
About 150 years earlier, Jonah was sent with a message of repentance, and was received by the people of this Gentile city in gratitude. The judgment of Yahweh waited in the days of Jonah, but was unleashed in those of Nahum.
As an antitype, Yahshua appears twice to mankind: firstly after the fashion of Jonah, he received the "Spirit in the form of a Jonah (dove)" and told the people that the only sign they would receive was that of the prophet Jonah (Lk. 11:29).
But his second appearing will be after the fashion of Nahum, the voice of judgment at his second advent. *
6 And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a gazingstock.
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?
8 Art thou better than populous No, that was situate among the rivers, that had the waters round about it, whose rampart was the sea, and her wall was from the sea?
9 Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was infinite; Put and Lubim were thy helpers.
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.
11 Thou also shalt be drunken: thou shalt be hid, thou also shalt seek strength because of the enemy.
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.
Judgement now certain
13 Behold, thy people in the midst of thee are women: the gates of thy land shall be set wide open unto thine enemies: the fire shall devour thy bars.
14 Draw thee waters for the siege, fortify thy strong holds: go into clay, and tread the morter, make strong the brickkiln.
The prophet ironically bids the Ninevites to prepare for a long siege, and to anticipate their destruction. The prophecy is most appropriate for today, as we live on the eve of the ultimate judgment of God. *
15 There shall the fire devour thee; the sword shall cut thee off, it shall eat thee up like the cankerworm: make thyself many as the cankerworm, make thyself many as the locusts.
16 Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven: the cankerworm spoileth, and flieth away.
17 Thy crowned are as the locusts, and thy captains as the great grasshoppers, which camp in the hedges in the cold day, but when the sun ariseth they flee away, and their place is not known where they are.
"Their place is not known where they are"
- Grasshoppers disappear as suddenly and as unexpectedly as they appear, and Nahum
likened the Assyrian captains to them. Adversity would find them gone!
In view of Nahum's use of the locust as a symbol, both of the enemies of the Assyrians, as well as its own people and rulers, the following account of the habits of these creatures is interesting and helpful:
"Vast bodies of migrating locusts, called by the orientals the armies of God, lay waste the
country. They observe a regular 31 order, when they march, as an army. At evening they descend from their flight, and form, as it were, their camps. In the morning, when the sun has risen considerably, they ascend again, if they do not find food, and fly in the direction of the wind (Prov. 30:27; Nah. 3:16,17).
They go in immense numbers (Jer. 46:23), and occupy a space of ten or twelve miles in length, and four or five in breadth, and so deep that the sun cannot penetrate through
them; so that they convert the day into night, and bring a temporary darkness on the land (Joel2:2, 10; Exod. 10:15).
The sound of their wings is terrible (Joel 2:2). When they descend upon the earth, they cover a vast track a foot and a half high; if the air is cold and moist, or if they be wet with the dew they remain . . . till they are dried and warmed by the sun (Nah. 3:17).
Nothing stops them. They fill the ditches which are dug to stop them with their bodies, and extinguish by their numbers the fires which are kindled. They pass over the walls and enter the doors and windows of houses (Joel 2:7-9). They devour everything which is green, strip off the bark of trees, and even break them to pieces by their weight (Exod. 10:12-19; Joel
1:4, 7, 10, 12, 16, 18, 20; 2:3)."
A locust attack is therefore a terrifying experience, and by use of the symbol the Ninevites knew what to expect.
The Christadelphian Expositor
18 Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria: thy nobles shall dwell in the dust: thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth them.
19 There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?