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Nahum is one of the twelve minor prophets of the Hebrew Bible. The word Nahum means “the one comforted.” According to the book that bears his name, he was an “Elkoshite,” or a native of Elkosh (Nahum 1:1). Not much is known about the prophet’s background.
An indication of the time of Nahum’s prophetic ministry is found in reference to the fall of No (ch. 3:8). This city (Thebes or Diospolis) was destroyed by Ashurbanipal, king of Assyria, in 663 B.C. Thus, we can conclude that at least part of Nahum’s ministry was after that time. The prophet saw the fall of Nineveh as still future (ch. 3:7), and thus a reasonable date for Nahum could be around 640 B.C. Since this prophecy, which tells of Assyria’s end, was written when that nation was in the fullness of its power and prosperity, the book of Nahum confirms scriptural prophecy and proves the divine inspiration of the prophets.
During Ashurbanipal’s reign most of the nations of the Fertile Crescent were either under the rule of the Assyrians or paid tribute to them. However, before his death this situation started to change and after his death (about 627) the Assyrian Empire collapsed. After a siege of three months, Nineveh itself was captured in 612 B.C. by the Medes and the Babylonians.
Th prophecy of Nahum harmonizes with the message of Jonah. Jonah preached repentance to Nineveh, and because its inhabitants humbled themselves before God, the city was spared at that time. However, Assyria again lapsed into iniquity, and it was Nahum’s duty to predict the divine sentence of its destruction. Isaiah the prophet predicted the fall of the Assyrian powers in Judah (Isaiah 37:21–38), but Nahum’s prediction predicted the final fall of the capital of the empire itself.
The book of Nahum reveals that although God is slow to anger, He will by no means ignore the guilty; God will bring vengeance to pass but He will protect those who trust in Him. “The LORD is slow to anger but great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet” (Nahum 1:3).
In His service,