Introducing the Book of Nahum
The Hebrew word nahum
means comfort (compare nahum in 1:1
and 3:7c). Nothing is known about the time or place of the prophet Nahum. The
book of Nahum was apparently written sometime after the sacking of
The General Structure of the Book of Nahum
Where can anyone be
found to comfort
I The Good
News of Yahweh’s Vengeance upon
A A theologically adapted song of judgment (1:2-8)
An alphabetic acrostic begins in verse 2a (aleph), is interrupted by verses 2b-3a, and continues through the middle of the alphabet (with a few bumps) in verses 3b-8 (beth to lamed [note that verse 9 begins with mem]). Thus, it seems a partial alphabetic acrostic poem was modified by the insertion of 1:2b-3a, which alludes to two Torah contexts.
A jealous and avenging God is Yahweh,
the Yahweh is avenging and wrathful;
Yahweh takes vengeance on his adversaries
and rages against his enemies.
Yahweh is slow to anger but great in power,
and Yahweh will by no means clear the guilty
His way is in whirlwind and storm,
and the clouds are the dust of his feet (Nah 1:2-3).
When I whet my flashing sword, and my hand takes hold on judgment; I will take vengeance on my adversaries, and will repay those who hate me (Deut 32:41; cf. ).
Yahweh passed before him, and proclaimed, “Yahweh, Yahweh, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means clearing the guilty, but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation” (Exod 34:6-7).
The modification of the acrostic poem by the insertion of 1:2b-3a is a key to understanding the message of the book of Nahum to the biblical readership. The “day of trouble” for the wicked is a day of hope for those who find refuge in Yahweh, who is good (1:7). Thus, the coming justice has two sides.
An allusion to Exodus 34:6-7–slow to anger—makes an important connection between the book of Jonah, in which Nineveh repented and evaded judgment (Jon 4:1-2). Moreover, notice the important reoccurring allusion to Exod 34:6-7 in Joel 2:11-14; Jonah 4:1-2; Micah 7:18-19; Nahum 1:3 which binds a large segment of the book of the Twelve together (cf. Num ; Pss 86:15; 103:8-12; 111:4; 116:5; 145:8).
two sides of justice:
Nineveh and Judah both are spoken of in this section. The
historical judgment on
II The Fall of
3:3-4 The extent and basis for the judgment against
 The structure and observations are based on my own reading, and Kevin J. Carthcart, “Nahum, Book of,” ABD, 4: 998-1000; Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture, 440-46.
 See 3:7.
 Childs, 444.
Also see introduction to the prophets, and see bibliography on the prophets.
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