Journey Through The Scriptures

The Prophecies of Nahum and Zephaniah

Lesson 3: Woe to the Ninevites

(Scripture to Read: Nahum 3:1–19)

Up to this point in Nahum’s prophecy, the merciless cruelty of the Assyrians, and thus their deserving of judgment, has been only hinted at. But now the full indictment is delivered against Nineveh as Assyria’s capital. We learn that Nineveh was a “city of blood” (3:1) a reference to the Assyrians’ practice of slaughtering hapless peoples and inflicting cruelty on those who survived the invasion. A sure sign of Nineveh’s true character was the fact that no one would be found who would shed a tear over her destruction.

The reference to Thebes in Nahum 3:8 helps us date the book, since this great Egyptian city had been destroyed in 663 BCE. Thebes also had a river as part of the city’s defense, as did Nineveh; yet, though Thebes was considered impregnable in its day, it fell and was destroyed. Thus would be the fate of Nineveh. All attempts at resistance would be futile, for Nineveh’s troops would be rendered virtually useless when the day of battle came. There was no recourse; Nineveh’s wound would be “fatal” (3:19). But despite the completeness of the city’s fall, the nations who had felt the Assyrians’ cruelty would rejoice as God brought about His justice.

Study Questions

  1. What do the terrible descriptions of Nahum 3:4 reveal about the true inner character of the Assyrians?
  2. Why was the shame that God would inflict on Nineveh (3:56) a particularly appropriate form of judgment?
  3. Why were grasshoppers used in Nahum 3:15 to depict the complete destruction of Nineveh?

Something to Think About

One lesson we can draw from the book of Nahum is the importance of showing mercy to those around us—especially to the weak and needy. God responds in mercy to those who are merciful. Indeed, Jesus’ followers are taught in James 2:13, “Mercy triumphs over judgment!” May we be known as people of mercy and kindness.