Title (Nah 1:1-1:1)

“An oracle

Concerning Nineveh.

The book of the vision

of Nahum of Elkosh.”

The title of this work indicates that this is an oracle about Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrians, who had destroyed northern Israel, Samaria, in 723 BCE.  Nineveh, on the outskirts of modern day Mosul, Iraq, on the Tigris River, was itself destroyed around 612 BCE.  Nineveh was the same city that Jonah was sent to preach against.  He, however, was successful in that the leaders and inhabitants of Nineveh repented.  Thus, Yahweh did not destroy it then.  This oracle was once again the word of Yahweh.  This book also talked about a vision that Nahum had.  There is no mention of his father, but there is a mention of the place that he is from, Elkosh, a village in Galilee or southwest Judah.

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Jonah goes to Nineveh (Jon 3:3-3:3)

“Thus,

Jonah set out for Nineveh.

He went to Nineveh,

According to

The word of Yahweh.

Now Nineveh was

An exceedingly large city.

It would take three days

To walk across it.”

This time the response of Jonah was quite different.  Instead of running away, Jonah went to Nineveh as the word of Yahweh had instructed him.  Next, we have a short description of this Nineveh, the capital city of the Assyrians, a very large city that would take 3 days to walk across it.  Actually, it was only about 3 miles wide and 1½ miles wide.  It was one of the largest cities in the ancient world until the civil war of 612 BCE, probably with a population of around 120,000 people.  Geographically, Nineveh was on the outskirts of modern day Mosul, Iraq, on the east bank of the Tigris River.

The oracle against Babylon (Isa 13:1-13:1)

“The oracle

Concerning Babylon

That Isaiah

Son of Amoz

Saw.”

Now begins a series of divine oracles against foreign countries. Obviously despite the title indicating that Isaiah, the son of Amoz, saw this, the Babylonian captivity did not happen in the 8th century BCE, but in the 6th and 7th century BCE. Babylon was the largest city in the world with over 200,000 people, probably the first city to have this many people living in one place during the 18th century BCE (Hammurabi, 1792–1750 BCE), and 6th-7th century BCE (Nebuchadnezzar II, 604–561 BC). This city was located about 50 miles south of present day Baghdad, in present day Hillah, Iraq, between the Tigris River and the Euphrates River, but mostly on the Euphrates River. Babylon was the capital city of the Assyrian Empire from around 911-609 BCE. In 539 BCE, the Persians put an end to the Assyrians after a century of disputes. In the 4th century BCE the Greeks under Alexander the Great took over Babylon. Babylon may have been the inspiration for the story about the Tower of Babel in Genesis, chapter 11.

The return of the remnant (Isa 11:11-11:11)

“On that day,

Yahweh will extend his hand

Yet a second time.

He wanted to recover

The remnant that is left

Of his people,

From Assyria,

From Egypt,

From Pathros,

From Ethiopia,

From Elam,

From Shinar,

From Hamath,

And from the coastlands of the sea.”

In this ideal time, all the scattered Israelites would return from their Exile. Yahweh was going to extend his hand for a second time. The first time was the Exodus from Egypt. This time it is a call to recover the remnant from all over the place. Some of these places are easy to figure out. Assyria (present day Iraq), Egypt, and Ethiopia are easy to understand. Pathros was in upper Egypt. Elam is where current day Iran is. Shinar was in Babylon. Hamath was in Syria. The coastlands may have been the Aegean islands around present day Greece. Obviously, this was during the Exile or after it. It is interesting to note how many different places the Israelites were in Diaspora, so early in their history.