Nahum’s message for Nineveh

About the Book of Nahum

Nahum is telling the people in Nineveh (the capital of Assyria) that God will punish them. They are enemies of Israel and Judah. And they have hurt God’s people and people from other countries too. Now God is going to punish them for all the wrong things that they have done. Until now, he has been very patient. We can read about that in the book of Jonah. But now he is very angry with the people in Nineveh.

Chapter 1

1 Nahum lives in Elkosh and this is his prophecy about the people in Nineveh.

Elkosh is a town in Judah.

2 God is angry with the people in Nineveh. The LORD loves his people. But he is very angry with his enemies. He is so angry with them that he must punish them. He will be angry until he has killed his enemies. 3 The LORD will punish those who do wrong things. But he does not get angry quickly. He is a powerful God. The LORD does not get angry quickly. But he gets angry when people do wrong things. Then he punishes those people.

He is very powerful. You can see his power in the whirlwind and in the storm. A man moves small bits of dirt when he walks. The clouds are like that to God. 4 He can cause the sea and the rivers to become dry by one word. The fertile places of Bashan and Carmel become dry and the green forests of Lebanon die too. 5 He causes the mountains to shake and he causes the hills to become flat. The earth and all the people in the world are afraid of God.

6 Nobody can fight God when he is very angry. The LORD pours his anger out like fire and he breaks the rocks in his path. 7 The LORD loves those who believe him. When they are in trouble, they can put their hope in God. 8 But the people in Nineveh are his enemies and he will kill them. 9 The LORD will stop their plans against him at once. 10 He will kill them. And then it will be like when thorny bushes have caught people. Or it will be like they have drunk too much alcohol. It will be like when someone burns very dry stubble. 11 The LORD tells the king of Nineveh that he has done bad things against God. And the king has told his people that they should do wrong things.

12 The LORD has said, ‘The people in Nineveh are many. And they think that they are safe. But I will kill them. I have punished you, my people, before now but now I will stop punishing you. 13 Now I will make you free from the people from Nineveh. And I will break the things that are holding you like iron.’

14 Nineveh, the LORD has said what will happen to you. He has said, ‘You will have no children and your family name will have an end. I will destroy the statues that you made out of wood and metal. You worship those statues in your temples. There I will make graves for you because you are bad.’

15 People in Judah, look at the mountains. You will see the feet of the person who will bring good news. He causes peace. You can have religious parties now. And now you can do what you promised to me. The bad people will not win a war against you because I have killed them.

God has used armies to punish his people. This is because they have not listened to him. And they have not done what he says. One of those armies came from Nineveh. Now God will help his people. God will use other armies to punish the people in Nineveh because they have been so cruel and bad.

Chapter 2

1 An enemy is going to attack you, people in Nineveh. Watch the fortress. Prepare your army to defend the city. Watch the road. Get ready.

2 Armies have destroyed the countries called Israel and Jacob. They have destroyed their grape plants. But, the LORD will make Israel and Jacob great again.

After King Solomon died, the country called Israel became two countries. The country in the north was then called Israel and the country in the south was called Judah. We think that Jacob here is another name for Judah.

3 The soldiers have red shields and bright red clothes. The soldiers move their spears in their hands very fast. The metal on their chariots is very bright. 4 When the soldiers are ready for war they move fast through the streets. Their chariots move like torches with fire and lightning. 5 The king of Nineveh chooses his best soldiers but they fall on the way. They hurry to their city wall to prepare their defences. 6 But their enemies open the river gates. Then the water goes into the city and it destroys the palace. 7 The enemy tells its soldiers that they must take the idol from Nineveh. Her women cry like doves and they hit their breasts.

The meaning here is not clear. Perhaps enemies have destroyed the city and the women in the town are crying. Or perhaps the enemies have taken the idol away. And the slave girls or the women that serve the idol are crying.

8 Nineveh is like a pool. Its people run like water that is going away. ‘Stop, stop!’ they shout, but nobody comes back.

9 Take the silver. Take the gold. The city has so many valuable things.

All the people in Nineveh run away to different places. Some of them try to stop the water but they fail. This is because the people in this city have no love for each other. They only came to live there because of the many valuable things that their soldiers had taken from other countries.

10 They take the valuable things from the city. They take everything that they can. And they destroy everything else. The people are very sad. Their knees and their bodies shake. Their faces become white because they are afraid. 11 The home of the lions has gone. The place where they fed their young lions has gone. This was the place where the lion and the lioness went. It is here where their young lions were not afraid. 12 The lion killed to give enough food to his young lions and he strangled animals to feed his female lion. He filled his home with the animals that he had killed.

13 The LORD says, ‘I am against you. I will burn your chariots and the sword will kill your young lions. I will take away all the animals that you attack. Nobody will hear the voices of your messengers.’

The people in Nineveh were strong and cruel like lions. But Nahum tells them that God will be strong and cruel to them. God will attack the people in Nineveh because they have attacked many countries.

Chapter 3

1 You will have many troubles Nineveh, city of blood, full of lies and stolen valuable things. 2 Listen to the loud noises of the whips, the chariots, the wheels and the feet of the horses. The chariots are moving fast towards Nineveh. 3 See the bright swords and spears in the hands of the horses’ riders. There are dead bodies that are lying in the streets. It is like mountains of dead bodies everywhere. There are so many dead bodies that men fall over the bodies. 4 This is because Nineveh has sold herself to the enemies of God. She is like a beautiful prostitute. She uses her body and her bad magic to make all the people in other countries her slaves.

Verse 1 ‘city of blood’ means that soldiers from that city have killed many people.

5 This is why I am against you, says the great LORD. I will make you like a woman whose skirt is up over her face. I will show the countries that you are like that woman. You will be like a woman who is not wearing any clothes. 6 I will throw garbage at you. I will do with you like you were nothing. And I will make everyone ashamed of you. 7 When people see you, they will run away. And they will say, ‘They have destroyed Nineveh. Nobody will be sad.’ There will be nobody to help you.

8 Remember the city called Thebes that was near the River Nile. It had water on all sides and it had the river like a wall. Nineveh is not better than Thebes was. 9 The countries called Cush and Egypt were strong friends. And Put and Libya were strong friends too.

10 But the enemies of Thebes took its people away and they made them slaves. They cut their babies to pieces in every street. They played games with the great men from Thebes and they put them in iron chains. 11 You will be like a man who has drunk too much alcohol. And you will try to hide. You will try to get help from your enemy. 12 All your fortresses are like fig trees. They will fall very easily when the enemies shake them. And your valuable things will be like figs that fall into people’s mouths. 13 Look at your soldiers, they are all like women! Your enemies have burned your gates and they have pushed them wide open.

14 Take as much water as you can for the attack. Make your defences strong. Do repairs to your buildings. 15 The fire will burn you. The sword will cut you and it will kill you like grasshoppers. Grow in number like the grasshoppers and locusts.

16 You welcomed sellers into your city until there were more than all the stars in the sky. But they are like locusts. They take everything from the land and then they fly away. 17 Your army and officials are so many that they are like locusts. Locusts stay on the walls on a cold day. But when the sun comes out, they fly away. And then nobody knows where they go.

18 King of Assyria, the people who keep your people safe are asleep. Also, your powerful men are lying down to rest. Your people have run away to the mountains with nobody to get them together.

19 Your wounds will kill you. They are too bad to make better. People have heard about what happened to you. Everyone who has heard about it is very happy. They are so happy that they clap their hands. This is because you have done bad things to all of them.

The people in Assyria are very rich and powerful. They are also very cruel. Nineveh is their capital. They have attacked many countries including Israel and Judah. Nineveh has become rich and powerful because they killed people.

Nahum tells Nineveh and God’s people that this will stop. God will save his people and he will destroy Nineveh.

Today, we know that soldiers from Babylon did destroy Nineveh. This happened 612 years before Jesus came.

Word List

when someone is angry, they have anger.
many metal rings that join to make something like very thick string. People use it to stop a thing or person leaving.
a kind of car that soldiers ride in. Horses pull it.
to hit the hands together to make a noise.
strong things that people made to hide behind and to hide them from their enemies.
to fight for your life or for the lives of other people.
a kind of bird.
fertile land is land where you can grow lots of plants for food.
kind of sweet fruit that grows on a tree.
a strong place where armies watch for their enemies.
old bad food.
a fruit. People make a drink with alcohol in it from grapes.
an insect that jumps.
a hole in the ground or in the rocks, where people bury dead bodies.
something that we love when we should love God.
the bright light that happens during a storm.
a wild animal.
a female lion.
an insect that eats all the green parts of plants.
a special name for God.
to cause strange things to happen that surprise people. These things are not usual. Magic is very bad and it is not from God.
a person who has something to tell other people.
a man who works for the king.
a building where the king lives.
when we are friends with God and with other people; or, when there is no war.
messages that God wants to tell people, often about future events.
a woman that a man pays for sex.
to hurt someone for the wrong things that they have done. For example, a person that has killed another person must go to prison.
the bad things that happen to a person who does wrong things.
something that people do as part of the worship of God.
move from one side to another and back again very fast many times.
a soldier holds this over himself to stop things that would hit him.
a white metal; it shines and it is very valuable.
a long piece of wood with a sharp point or a knife at the end. Soldiers threw spears at their enemies.
a person or animal that someone made out of metal or wood.
it belongs to someone but you have taken it.
to kill something by attacking its neck.
the part of a plant that remains when someone cuts down plants for food.
a long metal knife to attack enemies.
a special building where people go to pray to their gods.
thorny bush
a plant with sharp bits.
a stick with fire at the end that gives light.
chariots and cars all need these to move.
something to hit people and animals with; often people used them when they wanted their horses to go faster.
a very strong wind that moves in a circle.
to show God that we love him very much.
bad places where someone has hurt you.


© Wycliffe Associates (UK), 1997-2008

This version published May 2008

The translated Bible text has been through Advanced Checking.