For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2002 James Melough

Nahum, meaning comforted, prophesied in the seventh century BC, from c.663-654 BC, his prophecy being generally viewed as the sequel to Jonah, for while Nineveh’s response to Jonah’s preaching averted the threatened destruction, the repentance was local (confined to the city of Nineveh, rather than the whole empire), and was transitory.

He wrote in the reign of the idolatrous king Manasseh 696-642 BC, and after the Assyrian conquest of No-Amon (Thebes) in 663 BC, for he mentions that event in 3:8.  Nineveh was destroyed in 612 BC, so all these facts tend to confirm that the date of writing was probably in the decade c.663-654 BC.  Nineveh’s foretold destruction came therefore about 40 to 50 years after the prophecy was given.

Little is known about the prophet other than that he was from Elkosh, a town of uncertain location, but believed by some to have been identical with Capernaum, meaning village of comfort, which in Hebrew is Kaphar Nahum, meaning village of Nahum.

The purpose of his writing was to predict Nineveh’s (Assyria’s) fall, and to comfort Judah, the meaning of his name comforted being particularly appropriate to his ministry.  It is to be remembered that Assyria, after capturing the ten northern tribes in 721 BC, and thus destroying Israel, had returned twenty-one years later in 701 BC under Sennacherib, intent on also subjugating Judah, the southern kingdom; but after they had destroyed over forty Judean towns, and besieged Jerusalem, God stepped in on Judah’s behalf and miraculously slew 185,000 of the Assyrian soldiers while they slept, causing the survivors to retreat, see 2 Ki 18:17; 19:32-37; Isa 37:33-38.  But though thus delivered from destruction, Judah lived in virtual vassalage to Assyria, always in dread of being carried into captivity as had been Israel.  It will be seen therefore how much they needed the comfort given by Nahum’s message of Assyria’s coming destruction.

He was the contemporary of Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, and Micah; but as others have pointed out, unlike the other prophets, he makes no mention of Judah’s or Israel’s sin.  His message was to announce Assyria’s doom (which came in 612 BC at the hand of the combined forces of Babylon and Media); and since Assyria is used synonymously in other Scriptures for the nations who will oppose Israel in the Tribulation, many see in Assyria’s annihilation a foreshadowing of the destruction of those nations by Christ returning at the end of the Tribulation to inaugurate His millennial kingdom, see e.g., Micah 5:5, where clearly the reference is to the Tribulation era.

It is instructive to note that Nineveh and Babylon were both  founded by the great rebel Nimrod, who is a type both of Satan, and of the Tribulation age beast emperor, Nineveh representing the world of human glory and might living in unrelenting hatred of God and His people; and Babylon, that same world, but with the focus on the glory and might of its evil religious system, and also living in unrelenting hatred of God and those who belong to Him.  Small wonder that the history of each, as set before us on the pages of Scripture, is one of implacable hatred of God, and merciless persecution of His people.

[Nahum 1]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough