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published: 6/10/13

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Nahum



ten commandments
The 10 Commandments
Circa 2nd century B.C.

Who was Nahum?

Nahum was a prophet of God to the nation of Israel.

1. Name

The name Nahum ( נחוּם , naḥūm ; Septuagint and New Testament Ναούμ , Naoúm ; Josephus, Naoúmos ) occurs nowhere else in the Old Testament; in the New Testament it is found in Luke 3:25 . It is not uncommon in the Mishna, and it has been discovered in Phoenician inscriptions. It means "consolation," or "consoler," and is therefore, in a sense, symbolical of the message of the book, which is intended to comfort the oppressed and afflicted people of Judah.

2. Life and Home

Of the personal life of Nahum, practically nothing is known. In Nahum 1:1 he is called "the Elkoshite," that is, an inhabitant of Elkosh. Unfortunately, the location of this place is not known. One tradition, which cannot be traced beyond the 16th century AD, identifies the home of Nahum with a modern village Elkush , or Alkosh , not far from the left bank of the Tigris, two days' journey North of the site of ancient Nineveh. A second tradition, which is at least as old as the days of Jerome, the latter part of the 4th century, locates Elkosh in Galilee, at a place identified by many with the modern El -Kauze , near Ramieh. Others identify the home of the prophet with Capernaum, the name of which means "Village of Nahum." A fourth tradition, which is first found in a collection of traditions entitled "Lives of the Prophets," says "Nahum was from Elkosh, beyond Bet Gabre, of the tribe of Simeon." A place in the South is more in harmony with the interest the prophet takes in the Southern Kingdom, so that the last-mentioned tradition seems to have much in its favor, but absolute certainty is not attainable.





3. Date

The Book of Nahum centers around the fall and destruction of Nineveh. Since the capture of the city is represented as still in the future, it seems evident that the prophecies were delivered some time before 607-606 BC, the year in which the city was destroyed. Thus the latest possible date of Nahum's activity is fixed. The earliest possible date also is indicated by internal evidence. In Nahum 3:8 ff the prophet speaks of the capture and destruction of No-amon, the Egyptian Thebes, as an accomplished fact. The expedition of Ashurbanipal, king of Assyria, against Egypt, which resulted in the fall of Thebes, occurred about 663 BC. Hence, the activity of Nahum must be placed somewhere between 663 and 607.

As to the exact period between the two dates there is disagreement among scholars. One thing is made quite clear by the prophecy itself, namely, that at the time the words were spoken or written, Nineveh was passing through some grave crisis. Now we know that during the second half of the 7th century BC A ssyria was threatened three times: (1) the revolt of Shamash-shumukin of Babylon against his brother, the king of Assyria, 650-648 BC; (2) the invasion of Assyria and threatened attack upon Nineveh by some unknown foe, perhaps the Scythians, about 625 BC; (3) the final attack, which resulted in the fall and destruction of Nineveh in 607-606 BC.

The first crisis does not offer a suitable occasion for Nahum's prophecy, because at that time the city of Nineveh was not in any danger. Little is known concerning the second crisis, and it is not possible either to prove or to disprove that it gave rise to the book. On the other hand, the years immediately preceding the downfall of Nineveh offer a most suitable occasion.

The struggle continued for about 2 years. The united forces of the Chaldaeans and Scythians met determined resistance; at last a breach was made in the northeast corner of the wall, the city was taken, pillaged and burned. Judah had suffered much from the proud Assyrian, and it is not difficult to understand how, with the doom of the cruel oppressor imminent, a prophet-patriot might burst into shouts of exultation and triumph over the distress of the cruel foe. "If," says A. B. Davidson, "the distress of Nineveh referred to were the final one, the descriptions of the prophecy would acquire a reality and naturalness which they otherwise want, and the general characteristics of Hebrew prophecy would be more truly conserved." There seems to be good reason, therefore, for assigning Nahum's activity to a date between 610,607 BC.



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Source

IBSE (in the public domain) with minor edits.