The ancestors of Jesus (Lk 3:25-3:26)

“The son of Mattathias,

The son of Amos,

The son of Nahum,

The son of Esli,

The son of Naggai.

The son of Maath,

The son of Mattathias,

The son of Semein,

The son of Josech,

The son of Joda.”

 

τοῦ Ματταθίου τοῦ Ἀμὼς τοῦ Ναοὺμ τοῦ Ἐσλεὶ τοῦ Ναγγαὶ

τοῦ Μαὰθ τοῦ Ματταθίου τοῦ Σεμεεὶν τοῦ Ἰωσὴχ τοῦ Ἰωδὰ

 

Luke has a long list of people that are not in Matthew, chapter 1. They are the son of Mattathias (τοῦ Ματταθίου), the son of Amos (τοῦ Ἀμὼς), the son of Nahum (τοῦ Ναοὺμ), the son of Esli (τοῦ Ἐσλεὶ), the son of Naggai (οῦ Ναγγαὶ). the son of Maath (τοῦ Μαὰθ), the son of Mattathias (τοῦ Ματταθίου), the son of Semein (τοῦ Σεμεεὶν), the son of Josech (τοῦ Ἰωσὴχ), and the son of Joda (τοῦ Ἰωδὰ).  Some of these names are familiar, but it is difficult to assign any particular person to these names.

The twelve Minor Prophets

The twelve minor writing prophets have shorter books than the major prophets.  These writing prophets range from the 8th to the 5th century BCE.  These include Hosea from the 8th century BCE, Joel from the 8th -5th century BCE, Amos from the 8th century BCE, Obadiah and Jonah from the 6th century BCE, Micah and Nahum from the 8th century BCE, Habakkuk and Zephaniah from the 7th century BCE, Haggai and Zechariah from the 6th century BCE, and Malachi from the 5th century BCE.  Some of these prophets had an influence on New Testament Christian writers.

My Understanding of Nahum

The Book of Nahum is the seventh of the Twelve Minor Prophets of the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament that comes between the prophetic books of Micah and Habakkuk.  This poetic work was about the destruction of the capital city of the Assyrian Empire, Nineveh, much like the prophet Jonah had warned them in the 7th century BCE also.

Little is known about Nahum, except that he came from the town of Elkosh, perhaps near Capharnum in northern Galilee.  He was sometimes called the Elkoshite.  His writings could be from around 625 BCE, before or after the downfall of Assyria.  However, an older date would be possible if Nahum prophesied in the beginning of the reign of King Ahaz (736-716 BCE) or during the rule of King Hezekiah (716-687 BCE).  The book could have been written in Jerusalem, where Nahum would have witnessed the invasion of Assyrian King Sennacherib (705-681 BCE) as in 2 Kings, chapter 19.  The Assyrian had destroyed Thebes, Egypt in 663 BCE, something mentioned by Nahum, so that it would be after that 663 BCE but not later than 612 BCE.

The subject of Nahum’s prophecy was the approaching complete and final destruction of Nineveh, the capital of the great flourishing Assyrian empire with its enclosed eight-mile wall.  Nineveh had been the center of civilization and commerce at that time because of their conquered cities.  Nineveh was destroyed by fire around 625 BCE, while the Assyrian empire came to an end around 612 BCE.  There is a Babylonian chronicle about the fall of Nineveh.

None of the other minor prophets have the same sublime vehemence and the boldness of Nahum.  His prophetic work is like a finished poem with magnificent, vivid, and majestic descriptions of the preparations for the destruction of Nineveh, and its ruin.

An outline of the Book of Nahum shows that it consists of two parts, a prelude and then the descriptive fall of Nineveh.  This first chapter indicated the majesty and might of God Yahweh in his goodness and severity.  Nahum indicated that Yahweh was slow to get angry, but he would not ignore the guilty ones.  Yahweh would punish evil, but he would reward those who trusted him.  Yahweh was good, a refuge in times of trouble, because he cared for those who trusted him.

After the title about Nahum, Yahweh showed his anger in the storms and clouds.  He was capable of drying up the sea and the rivers.  The mountains and hills would quake and melt as the whole world would tremble at the hot anger of Yahweh.  His fiery anger could even break rocks.  Yahweh was good because he protected people, even in floods.  His enemies were weak.  Yahweh was going to be against Judah, the Assyrians, and the king of Nineveh.  However, the good news was that there was going to be peace.

Chapters two and three describe the fall and ruin of Nineveh.  Nahum let the reader participate in this battle with his subtle irony, similes, and metaphors.  They were to get ready for the battle.  Nahum described the siege and frenzied activity of the Nineveh soldiers and chariots.  This distressed city tried in vain to halt the invaders.  He compared Nineveh to a lion with great power, whose den was full of dead prey.  The bloody city of Nineveh became like an exposed prostitute city.  He also compared Nineveh to Thebes, the Egyptian city that Assyria itself had destroyed in 663 BCE.  Their fire there was like a swarm of locusts.  Then there was the final lament for this great city and its inhabitants.

The lamentation for Assyria (Nah 3:18-3:19)

“Your shepherds

Are asleep!

O king of Assyria!

Your nobles slumber!

Your people are scattered

On the mountains!

There is no one

To gather them!

There is no assuaging

Your hurt!

Your wound is mortal!

All who hear

The news of you,

Clap their hands

Over you.

Who has ever escaped

Your endless cruelty?”

It almost seems like Yahweh, via Nahum, was sorry about the situation in Assyria.  Nahum has a lament for their situation.  Nahum said that all their leaders or shepherds were asleep, while their nobles also slumbered.  The people had been scattered to the mountains, with no one to gather them back.  They had suffered a mortal wound.  Unfortunately, everyone who heard the news about them were clapping their hands in joy.  Assyria would never escape from its cruel position.  Ding dong, Assyria was dead.

Like the grasshopper locusts (Nah 3:15-3:17)

“There the fire

Will devour you.

The sword

Will cut you off.

It will devour you

Like the locusts.

Multiply yourselves

Like the locusts!

Multiply yourselves

Like the grasshoppers!

You increased

Your merchants

More than the stars

Of the heavens.

The locust sheds its skin.

Then it flies away.

Your guards are

Like grasshoppers.

Your scribes are

Like swarms of locusts,

Settling on the fences,

On a day of cold,

When the sun rises,

They fly away.

No one knows

Where they have gone.”

A fire would destroy Nineveh, while the sword would chase people away.  The city would be decimated, as if a swarm of locusts had come through there.  They would have to multiply themselves like grasshoppers or locusts, as their merchants had done in the past.  These commercial envoys of Nineveh were as numerous as the stars.  Just as the locust sheds its skin, so that it can fly away, the guards at Nineveh would be like grasshoppers, hip hopping away.  Their scribes were like swarms of locusts sitting on a fence on a cold day.  However, when the sun came up the next day, these scribes would fly off, where no one would know where they went.  As this was going to happen to Nineveh, no one would know where in the world they went.

The siege of Nineveh (Nah 3:12-3:14)

“You also will be drunken.

You will go into hiding.

You will seek

A refuge

From the enemy.

All your fortresses are

Like fig trees

With first-ripe figs.

If shaken,

They fall

Into the mouth

Of the eater.

Look at your troops!

They are women

In your midst.

The gates

Of your land

Are wide open

To your foes.

Fire has devoured

The bars of your gates.

Draw water

For the siege!

Strengthen your forts!

Trample the clay!

Tread the mortar!

Take hold

Of the brick mold!”

So too, the people of Nineveh would be drunk and go into hiding, as they would seek to get away from their enemies.  All their strong fortresses would be like ripe fig trees.  If they would be touched or shaken, these strongholds would fall like ripe fruit right into the mouths of their enemies.  Women had become their troops.  The gates of the city were wide open to their enemies because fire had consumed the bars on their gates.  They had to get water during the siege.  They would have to strengthen their fortresses with clay, mortar, and bricks.

The example of Thebes (Nah 3:8-3:10)

“Are you better

Than Thebes?

They sat by the Nile,

With water around her.

Her rampart was a sea.

Water was her wall.

Ethiopia was her strength.

Egypt too was her strength,

Without any limit.

Put

With the Libyans

Were her helpers.

Yet Egypt became an exile.

She went into captivity.

Even her infants were

Dashed into pieces

At the head

Of every street.

Lots were cast

For her nobles.

All her dignitaries

Were bound in chains.”

The Assyrians had captured Thebes, the capital of Egypt in 663 BCE.  Thus, Nahum pointed out that the Assyrians were no better than the Egyptian capital town of Themes on the Nile River.  Even though they were on the Nile River and protected by water all around them, they still fell to these Assyrians.  All their neighbors, including the other people of Egypt, and the surrounding counties of Ethiopia and Libya, were not able to help her.  Thus, Nahum pointed out that Egypt went into exile and captivity.  Even their children and infants were dashed to pieces on the street corners.  They held a lottery for their noble men.  All the important dignitaries of the city of Thebes were bound in chains.  So too, it would be the same for Nineveh and Assyria.

The exposed prostitute city of Nineveh (Nah 3:4-3:7)

“Because of the countless

Debaucheries

Of the prostitute,

Her graceful allure

As the mistress of sorcery,

She enslaved nations

Through her debaucheries.

She enslaved people

Through her sorcery.

‘I am against you.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘I will lift up

Your skirts

Over your face.

I will let nations look

On your nakedness.

I will let kingdoms

Look on your shame.

I will throw filth at you.

I will treat you

With contempt.

I will make you

A spectacle.

Then all who see you

Will shrink from you.

They will say.

‘Nineveh is devastated.

Who will bemoan her?

Where shall I seek comforters

For her?’”

Nahum said that Nineveh had become a prostitute by her actions.  She had been a graceful alluring mistress sorcerer.  She had enslaved people through her debaucheries, her sensual sexual corruption.  Nineveh tricked people with her sorcery.  However, Yahweh said that he was against Nineveh.  He would force her to lift up her skirts over her face, so that all the different countries could see her nakedness.  Everyone would see her shame.  Yahweh was going to throw filth at her.  He was going to treat her with contempt, making a spectacle out of Nineveh.  Then, everyone who saw Nineveh would shrink from her, because they would say that she was devastated.  There would be no one to moan or comfort her.  Nineveh would go away in disgrace.

The bloody city of Nineveh (Nah 3:1-3:3)

“O!

City of bloodshed!

Utterly deceitful!

Full of booty!

There is

No end to their plunder.

There are

The cracks of the whip,

The rumble of the wheel,

The galloping horse,

The bounding chariots,

The horsemen charging,

The flashing swords,

The glittering spears,

The piles of dead people,

The heaps of corpses,

The dead bodies without end.

They stumble over the bodies!”

Nahum continued with his vivid descriptions of the chaos in Nineveh, truly a city of bloodshed.  They had become very deceitful with lots of stolen booty, since they had plundered everywhere.  However, now there were whips cracking, wheels rumbling, horses galloping, chariots bouncing, and charging cavalry with flashing swords and glittering spears.  Of course, there were a lot of dead people all over the place also.  There were piles and heaps of dead corpses without end.  These dead bodies were so numerous that people stumbled over them in the streets.

The destruction of the lions’ den of Assyria (Nah 2:11-2:13)

“What became

Of the lions’ den?

What became

Of the cave

Of the young lions?

There the lion goes.

There his cubs were,

With none to disturb them.

The lion has torn enough

For his whelps.

He strangled prey

For his lionesses.

He has filled his caves

With prey.

He has filled his dens

With torn flesh.

‘See!

I am against you!’

Says Yahweh of hosts!

‘I will burn

Your chariots

In smoke.

The sword shall devour

Your young lions.

I will cut off

Your prey

From the earth.

The voice

Of your messengers

Shall be heard no more.’”

Assyria was considered a lion or a destroyer.  Nahum wanted to know what had happened to this proud lion’s den or his cave.  There his young cubs would be undisturbed.  He had gathered enough prey for these lionesses, as well as their cubs.  This lion of Assyria had filled his caves and dens with torn flesh.  All this would be gone.  Yahweh has issued an oracle against Assyria.  Yahweh would burn their chariots as they would go up in smoke.  Their young lions would die by the sword.  They would lose all their prey.  The voice of their messengers would not be heard anymore.  The end of Nineveh and Assyria was near.