We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more
Select Bible Use this Lookup to open a specific Bible and passage. Start here to select a Bible.
Make selected Bible the default for Lookup tool.
Book: Ch.V. Select book from A-Z list, enter chapter and verse number, and click "Go."
:
OR
  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Look It Up Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Next Result

The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

Nahum - Introduction

THE DOUBLE TITLE OF THE BOOK of Nahum ( 1.1 ) points to its main characteristics. It is a written prophetic book associated with Nahum. It is also, in the main, a pronouncement against Nineveh. From the readers' viewpoint Nineveh was both a historical city, the capital of the Assyrian empire, and a symbol of a sinful, overbearing, exceedingly oppressive political structure which was totally destroyed and never rebuilt. From the perspective of a readership well aware of the fall of Nineveh, such a fall from the pinnacle of glory and might becomes a paradigmatic example of the fate of worldly, powerful oppressors and, above all, of the even greater power of the LORD who brings them down. As such, the book served as a message of hope and trust in the LORD to those who saw themselves as oppressed by their own “Nineveh.”

The text does not set the book in any particular period in monarchic Judah. From the perspective of the intended readership, the only restriction was that Nahum must have lived before the destruction of the city, because prophetic characters in a prophetic book are supposed to prophesy about what will be, not what has already happened. The date of the composition of the book is another matter. Some scholars argue that the vivid description of the destruction of Nineveh (612 BCE) indicates that the author of the book must have written it (or a portion of it) soon after the events; others disagree. The reference to the conquest and sack of the Egyptian capital of Thebes (No‐amon) as a past event in 3.8 indicates that the book was composed later than this event ( 663 ). The question of how much later remains open. Seder Olam Rabbah and other Jewish traditional sources claim that Nahum prophesied in the days of Manasseh, that is, sometime in the first half of the 7th century BCE.

The book as it stands may be subdivided in different ways. One possibility is that there are three main sections or readings. After the superscription ( 1.1 ), the first section ( 1.2–14 ) deals mainly with the LORD's character and responses to opponents (symbolized by Assyria) and to Israel's plight. The second section ( 2.1–14 ) first links the actions of the LORD to Judah's joy, restoration, and freedom from oppressive scoundrels and marauders (vv. 1–3 ). The reference to the end of the latter flows into a vivid description of the fall of Nineveh ( 2.4–14 ). The last passage ( 3.1–19 ) dwells on Nineveh's hubris—which is understood as a challenge to the LORD—and the fall of the city. Indirectly, it deals again with thematter of God's character and attributes. Other divisions of the text are possible; for instance, a hymn of theophany (ch 1 ) is followed by a taunt song against Nineveh (chs 2–3 ). Another possibility: 1.2–11 “The LORD is mighty and avenges evil”; 1.12–2.14 “The judgment of Nineveh”; 3.1–9 “‘Ah, Nineveh.’‐” Or possibly 1.2–2.11 “A prophetic challenge to opponents of the LORD”; 2.12–3.19 , “A challenge to Nineveh's hubris.” As in many other prophetic books this multiplicity of possible outlines contributes to the ability of the community to read, re‐read, and continually study the prophetic book, and to emphasize one aspect of the book in one reading and another in a different reading. All in all, this multiplicity creates a situation in which different readings based on particular outlines inform and balance each other and all together communicate a meaning much richer than any of them separately.

[EHUD BEN ZVI]

  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Look It Up Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Next Result
Oxford University Press

© 2017. All Rights Reserved. Privacy policy and legal notice