Book of the Week 34: Nahum

Hebrew Name: Nachum

Human Author: Nahum                                                      

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 3

Basic Facts

  1. Nahum is the thirty-fourth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Nahum is classified as a book of prophecy.
  3. The Hebrew name for the book of Nahum is Nachum which means “comforter.”
  4. Micah was a prophet who spoke of the coming destruction of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire.
  5. Nahum prophesies judgment against Israel’s enemy, the kingdom of Assyria, for its oppression of Israel/Samaria and Judah.

Story of the Book

At the time when Nahum’s ministry as a prophet begins, Assyria is the dominant power in the fertile crescent of the middle east. The northern kingdom of Israel has been conquered and taken into exile, and the southern kingdom of Judah has been reduced to a vassal state of the kingdom of Assyria. Nahum prophesies about God’s coming judgment against the people of Assyria, particularly against the city of Nineveh. God is about to judge Assyria for its idolatry and its acts of oppression against both God’s people and the nations. God is about to bring the kingdom of Assyria to an end. In the midst of God’s warning to the people of Assyria and the city of Nineveh, God also tells His people to keep the feasts of the LORD and to fulfill their vows to God, looking forward to the time when God would restore the fortunes of His people (Nahum 1:15-2:2). God is not only going to judge Assyria, but He is about going to bring them to complete destruction. This extends even to the point where there will be no descendants of the people of Nineveh, and the nation of Assyria will be completely destroyed (Nahum 1:14). The book ends by declaring that Assyria has done evil oppression to all peoples; therefore, God will judge and destroy them utterly.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Nahum

Jesus is foreshadowed somewhat vaguely in Nahum. In Nahum 1:15, the prophet writes, “Look, there on the mountains, the feet of one who brings good news, who proclaims peace!” (NIV). This passage proclaims the coming of one who will proclaim good news and peace to the people of Judah, and it is very similar to Isaiah 52:7 in Hebrew. Therefore, when Paul paraphrases Isaiah 52:7 as he writes, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!....so faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ…” (Romans 10:15,17), Paul may be referring to Nahum 1:15 as well. The one who brings good news is the messiah, who is Jesus Christ. He is the one through whom the kingdom of Israel is restored. In Christ, we as gentile believers are adopted into the kingdom of God as beloved children. Jesus is the one who proclaims peace, and through the spread of the good news of the gospel we as Christians are furthering the cause of Christ. Just as Nahum proclaimed one who would bring good news and peace for the restoration of Judah, Paul would later connect this passage to Christ and the spread of the gospel. In this way, Nahum foreshadowed the coming of messiah in the person of Jesus Christ, even as God was about to judge Assyria and restore the fortunes of Judah.