Journey Through The Scriptures

The Prophecies of Nahum and Zephaniah

Lesson 1: The Lord’s Anger Against Nineveh

(Scripture to Read: Nahum 1:1–15)

The books of Nahum and Zephaniah are among the twelve prophetic books often referred to as the Lesser or Minor Prophets, beginning with Hosea and ending with Malachi. These books are so-called because of their brevity as compared with works such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. In the Jewish canon (list of biblical books), these twelve prophets are counted as a single book, which they were originally since they were small enough to be written on a single scroll. Nahum and Zephaniah were contemporaries as pre-exilic prophets—those who wrote before the exile of Judah to Babylon in 587 BCE.

Nahum prophesied the destruction of the great city of Nineveh, which occurred in 612 BCE. The Assyrian empire was the reigning power of Nahum’s day. Given his message of God’s judgment on Assyria, Nahum begins with a majestic picture of God as a fierce avenger of evil. The Assyrians were fierce conquerors who inflicted horrific cruelty on their victims—so their judgment would be just.

The Assyrians also deported conquered peoples to other parts of their empire, as when they conquered the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BCE. Over 100 years before Nahum, the prophet Jonah had been sent to the city to pronounce its judgment (in about 750 BCE), only to see the people repent. This time, however, there would be no repentance.

Study Questions

  1. Why does Nahum begin his prophecy (1:27) with a description of the majesty, righteousness, and power of God?
  2. What did the prophet mean by saying “trouble will not come a second time” (1:9) to Nineveh?
  3. Nahum 1:12–13 is a message of comfort to Judah. Read 2 Kings 18–19 and describe the reason for this message.

Something to Think About

Nahum 1:7 is an important verse to note in the midst of a discussion on God’s judgment: “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.” God’s ways are not capricious, cruel, or uncaring. Even though He must deal with wrong, He is a compassionate God who cares deeply for those who look to Him for refuge and comfort.