Nahum Chapter Three


Read Nahum 3:1-7 – Nineveh; The Final Warning


v.1 “Woe to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not


            God calls Nineveh a “BLOODY CITY”, a city that has shed a great amount of innocent blood; the same charge that Habakkuk brought against the Chaldeans:


Habakkuk 2:12  “Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity


It was also a city that owed it’s prosperity to sharp business practices, and other criminal activity.  Truth and honesty has been banished from among them, no man cared what mischief he did, nor to whom.  These men never seem to be able to get enough and are obsessed with getting more.  Many are in the same condition today, especially when it comes to the love of money, power or to the use of drugs and the crimes used to finance their passions.


v.2 “The noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, and of the prancing horses, and of the jumping chariots


            Their city will be taken by war.  They will suffer the same end that Jeremiah prophesied for Philistine cities:


Jeremiah 47:3 “At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his strong horses, at the rushing of his chariots, and at the rumbling of his wheels, the fathers shall not look back to their children for feebleness of hands


And we can see in our imagination the racing chariots, horses crazed by the scent of blood, the drivers cracking their whips driving them on to even greater effort, the wheels rattling and rumbling over uneven stone streets.  All the while soldiers are lashing out with swords, spears and lances, killing right and left indiscriminately anyone who chances to be in their path.


v.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


            The Chaldean Calvary will run wild in the streets as well; reaching into the places that the chariot mounted soldiers can’t reach.  The swords and spears will drip blood; the city will be littered with corpses.  The number of the slain will be so great that the no one can move or run without stumbling over them or walking on them.


v.4 “4Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the wellfavoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts


            In an earlier study we looked at Judeans being considered harlots because of their worship of idols.  God also condemned them because of their worship of the inhabitants of the heavens, astrology and for sorcery.  The same condition existed in Nineveh, even though at one point Nineveh had repented in sackcloth and ashes.  Isaiah had warned Judah:


Isaiah 47:9-10 “But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments. 10For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me


We also find similar language in the New Testament used to describe Rome:


Revelation 18:2-3 “And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. 3For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies


As we look around us I wonder what God thinks of America today.  I fear that I know and fear for her future in this world.


v.5 “Behold, I am against thee, saith the LORD of hosts; and I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will show the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame


            The Lord declares that he is against Nineveh.  He will expose her sins only as God can.  They will be as plainly visible to all as though she were completely naked.  Nothing will be hidden; her shame will be complete.  As a great city, Nineveh was a haven and refuge for other peoples who had been driven from their lands or lived nomadic lives, moving from place to place as their ability to provide a living dictated.  They would now flee this great city.


v.6 “6And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a gazingstock


            God would cause Nineveh to be a place of unimaginable filth and make the city vile.  The archeologists currently working at the site of Nineveh say that it is littered with the bones of unburied bodies.  We can only imagine, and perhaps it is even beyond our ability to do that, the corruption generated by thousands of corpses left unburied.  Too many even for the scavengers to be able to clean up.  This great city will become a “GAZINGSTOCK”.  What does that word mean?  You probably won’t find it in a modern dictionary but in Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary of 1913 we find:


“A person or thing gazed at with scorn or abhorrence; an object of curiosity or contempt.”


v.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


            Nineveh will suffer the same fate as that prophesied for Jerusalem by Jeremiah;


Jeremiah 15:5-6 “For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest? 6Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting


Jerusalem was restored for a period of time but Nineveh never was a city again.


            Zephaniah had prophesied her destruction this way.


Zephaniah 2:13  “And he will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like a wilderness


Read Nahum 3:8-19 – God’s Judgment Is Sure


v.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


            Nineveh is asked if she thinks that she is better than the city of No.  Who did the research to determine what city is being referred to here?  From the on-line source Wickipedia we find that No or No-amon was the Hebrew name for the city of Thebes, the capital of Southern Egypt.  No-amon simply meant city of Amon.  Amon-Ra was a god of the Egyptians that represented their worship of the sun.

            Even though this city was situated on the Nile River and protected from assault by water it was totally destroyed by the Assyrians as we noted in our introduction to this book.  So Nineveh is asked if she thinks she’s any better than No or Thebes whom she destroyed.  Thebes or No was destroyed twice more during the times of the prophets with those records found in Jeremiah and Ezekiel.


v.9 “Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was infinite; Put and Lubim were thy helpers.”


            Put represents Egypt and Lubim the Libyans who were allied with them. The prophet reminds Nineveh that Thebes fell in spite of the physical strength of the Egyptian armies and their mercenaries, the Ethiopians.  We get a small picture of their military capability from God’s punishment of Judah under Rehoboam.


II Chronicles 12:3 “With twelve hundred chariots, and threescore thousand horsemen: and the people were without number that came with him out of Egypt; the Lubims, the Sukkiims, and the Ethiopians. 4And he took the fenced cities which pertained to Judah, and came to Jerusalem


But the military might of Egypt served them no purpose in the face of Almighty God.  Egypt did not take Jerusalem and Thebes was destroyed by Assyria.


v.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


            Nineveh would suffer the same fate as Thebes.  In her destruction the innocent would suffer the most, as they usually do.  Those seen as having no value as slaves or workers would be killed.  Her conquerors would cast lots for the men who would be valuable as slaves.  Her princes, her great men would be bound and carried away to serve a new king as were the princes of Judah.  Daniel is one who served Babylon in this capacity.


v.11 “Thou also shalt be drunken: thou shalt be hid, thou also shalt seek strength because of the enemy


            The prophet here is not talking about becoming drunk on strong drink but rather than being drunk on alcohol they were totally incapacitated by the fury of God.  Jeremiah used similar language in his writing to Judah:


Jeremiah 25:14-16 “For thus saith the LORD God of Israel unto me; Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it. 16And they shall drink, and be moved, and be mad, because of the sword that I will send among them


This mighty nation will be degraded to the point that they will creep in secret to their neighbors, begging them to come to their assistance in the face of their enemy.


v.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 city’s strongholds, their fortified towers, their redoubts designed to trap and destroy an attacker would fall to their enemies like ripe figs fall when you shake the tree.  In Florida recently we saw tractor mounted machines that were doing just as the prophet describes.  They were driving down the row of orange trees in the grove shaking them and the oranges were being caught as they fell and directed into a bin.


v.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


            The prophet Jeremiah uses similar language in his prophecy concerning the fall of Babylon.


Jeremiah 51:30 “The mighty men of Babylon have forborn to fight, they have remained in their holds: their might hath failed; they became as women: they have burned her dwellingplaces; her bars are broken


While there are women that can be formidable opponents in any endeavor, most are not and in a battle are victims rather than warriors.  The men of Nineveh would become victims of their enemies, the bars that held the gates of the city closed would be burned, the gates opened to admit the armies of Nebuchadnezzar.


v.14 “Draw thee waters for the siege, fortify thy strong holds: go into clay, and tread the mortar, make strong the brickkiln


            Nineveh is warned to prepare herself for the trouble that was to come.  Most cities did not have a water source within their walls but relied on cisterns, so they should draw enough water to last during the siege.  They should fortify their strongholds, though they would fall like ripe figs.  They should repair their city walls, digging clay, making mortar and bricks, strengthening them because God is going to bring judgment upon them in the form of the armies of their enemies.  It is almost as though the prophet is mocking them because all of this preparation will serve no purpose.


v.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


            They will be devoured by fire and the sword.  Even if armies were as many as the cankerworm or the locust when a plague of these insects occur they still would not prevail.  We remember the language of Joel when she warned Judah of the completeness of her destruction:


Joel 1:4 “That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpillar eaten


Nineveh would suffer the same total destruction, being totally removed from the earth.


v.16 “Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven: the cankerworm spoileth, and fleeth away


            Assyria as a country and Nineveh as a city had amassed great wealth.  Their merchants, the prophet says, were multiplied “ABOVE THE STARS”, were more numerous than the stars of heaven.  But the cankerworm, the armies of Babylon who would conquer her would spoil and carry away this wealth.  What was left would be like a field that had been devastated by a plague.


v.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


            The princes and rulers of Assyria and Nineveh would be like the locusts in front of the armies of Babylon.  They would be crushed like bugs.  Their captains, whom the prophet compares to the great grasshoppers, the largest and most powerful of the species would be no better.  They would be worthless, provide no service.  They, many of whom were mercenaries, paid to fight, would simply disappear when Babylon struck.  They would flee to places where nobody would know where they were.


v.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


            The prophet begins his final pronouncement of their fate.  Their shepherds sleep when they should be watching (the same applies to our spiritual shepherds today in many places).  Consequently these nobles, their rulers, the ones responsible to watch for their welfare will sleep in the dust; they would be killed and buried in the earth.

Just like sheep would be scattered without shepherds to look after them; her people will be scattered upon the mountains never to be gathered together again.  Just as we noted in earlier study, the city ceased to exist and within 100 years or so no one even remembered where it was.  The following from Wikipedia:


“In the days of the Greek historian Herodotus, 400 BC, Nineveh had become a thing of the past; and when Xenophon the historian passed the place in the Retreat of the Ten Thousand the very memory of its name had been lost. It was buried out of sight.”


Xenophon was with a Greek army that mounted an expedition against Artaxerxes III in Babylon around 400 BC, only about 220 years later.


v.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


            So another nation, one who even repented and turned to God at the preaching of Jonah, has become so evil that God has removed them from the earth.  God has now confirmed again through the prophecy of Nahum what we saw in the prophecy of Zephaniah concerning Nineveh.


Zephaniah 2:15 “This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me: how is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in! every one that passeth by her shall hiss, and wag his hand


And there will be no healing of her destruction; there will be no restoration of Nineveh, Assyria or their people for the rest of the existence of the earth.


William L. Schwegler, Sunset church of Christ, Shreveport, Louisiana; May 10, 2009