The skies over Assyria appeared cloudless when Nahum (648-620 BC) wrote. Mighty Ninevah, capital of Assyria and mistress of the world was at the peak of its power and prosperity. Dating the prophecy is not difficult. It was written after 663 BC, for that was the year that No-Amon (Thebes, or Alexandria, in Egypt) fell. It was written prior to 612 BC, for that was the year Ninevah itself fell, and this fall was the subject of Nahum's prophecy.
The city of Ninevah seemed impregnable; on the left bank of the Tigris, walls one hundred feet high, strengthened by more than twelve hundred towers. The walls were wide enough for three chariots to drive abreast on them and encompassed about 1800 acres. The city could maintain its own food supply in case of a siege, and sides away from the River were protected by moats. Nothing seemed more unlikely than the fate Nahum pronounced against Ninevah.
The Assyrians were notoriously warlike, bloodthirsty, and cruel. Israel had been uprooted by them and Judah threatened. The brief repentance of the Ninevites under the preaching of Jonah more than 100 years before had long been forgotten. Nothing but judgment remained. Having abused the mercy of God, Ninevah must now taste His wrath.
Nahum foretold utter desolation for Ninevah, and this was unusual, for prophecies were generally against nations wherein cities may survive. Babylon, for example, the seat of the Babylonian Empire, passed into the hands of the Persians and Greeks, but not so Ninevah. God reserved it for "an utter end" (1:8). As Alexander the Great was increasing his empire eastward, he may have marched right over its site, not knowing that here laid the great Ninevah of antiquity now buried beneath his feet.
In Chapter 1, Nahum foretold of the destruction of Ninevah and the subsequent peace of Judah. In Chapter 2, Nahum gives a graphic portrayal of the siege and sack of the city. In Chapter 3, Nahum catalogued the reasons why such a complete overthrow was inevitable and righteous.
Nahum foretold (2:6) that the Tigris would overflow and cover a part of the city, making possible the invasion of this impregnable (?) fortress by the Medes and Babylonians. The city was then given over to fire (3:13-15). The fate of Ninevah had hung over the city for centuries and was long delayed. The time had now come for judgment to be executed. When God finally settles accounts, He settles them in full.
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