The Son of Man (Lk 11:30-11:30)

“Just as Jonah

Became a sign

To the people

Of Nineveh,

So,

The Son of Man

Will be a sign

To this generation.”

 

καθὼς γὰρ ἐγένετο Ἰωνᾶς τοῖς Νινευείταις σημεῖον, οὕτως ἔσται καὶ ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου τῇ γενεᾷ ταύτῃ.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh (καθὼς γὰρ ἐγένετο Ἰωνᾶς τοῖς Νινευείταις σημεῖον), so, too, the Son of Man will be a sign to this generation (οὕτως ἔσται καὶ ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου τῇ γενεᾷ ταύτῃ).  This saying about the sign of Jonah can also be found in Matthew, chapter 12:39-40.  Perhaps this was a Q source, going back to Hebrew scripture roots.  Jesus used this story of the prophet Jonah, chapter 1:17, where he was in the belly of the whale or the sea monster for 3 days and 3 nights.  The obvious comparison between the 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the fish and Jesus in the tomb was not lost on the early Christians.  Matthew was even more specific than Luke.  He indicated that Jesus said that the only sign they were going to get was the sign of the prophet Jonah, who had been in the belly of the sea monster or whale that swallowed him for 3 days and 3 nights.  Thus, the Son of Man would be 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth.  This was a clear allusion to the death of Jesus in the tomb for 3 days and 3 nights before his resurrection.  Luke was not as clear or specific.  What do you know about Jonah and the whale?

The destruction of the city (Zeph 2:15-2:15)

“Is this the exultant city?

It lived secure.

It said to itself.

‘I am!

There is no one else.’

What a desolation!

It has become

A lair

For wild animals.

Everyone who passes by her

Hisses.

They shake their fists.”

Next Yahweh, via Zephaniah, took on the main exultant city itself, Nineveh.  They thought that they were secure in that city.  They believed that they there was no one like it.  Now it has become a desolation, a home for wild animals.  Everyone who goes by it now derides it by hissing and shaking their fists at this once great city.

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 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.

The soldiers and the chariots (Nah 2:3-2:5)

“The shields

Of his warriors

Are red.

His soldiers

Are clothed

In scarlet.

The metal

On the chariots

Flashes

On the day

When he musters them.

The chargers prance.

The chariots race madly

Through the streets.

They rush back and forth

Through the squares.

Their appearance is

Like torches.

They dart

Like lightning.

He calls his officers.

They stumble

As they come forward.

They hasten

To the wall.

The mantelet is set up.”

Nahum gave a vivid colorful description of the actions in Nineveh.  The shields of the warriors in Nineveh would be red with blood.  The clothes of their soldiers were scarlet from the blood.  The metal from the chariots flashed from the sunlight, as the men followed behind.  The chargers were prancing around, while the chariots raced madly through the streets, going back and forth from the squares.  They were like torches darting in and out, almost like lightning.  When they called their officers, they came out stumbling along.  They ran to the wall where the protective screens or mantelet was set up.  In other words, the soldiers and their officers with their chariots were in a state of chaos.

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.

Yahweh responds to Jonah (Jon 4:9-4:11)

“But God

Said to Jonah.

‘Is it right

For you

To be angry

About the bush?’

Jonah said.

‘Yes,

Angry enough to die.’

Yahweh said.

‘You are concerned

About the bush

For which you did not labor.

You did not grow it.

It came into being

In a night.

It perished

In a night.

Should I not be concerned

About Nineveh,

That great city,

In which there are more

Than a hundred

And twenty thousand persons,

Who do not know

Their right hand

From their left hand.

There are also many animals.”

Thus, the story of Jonah ends with a reprimand for Jonah.  Jonah continued to argue that he had the right to be mad.  At times, he sounded like Job and his complaints.  God, not Yahweh, asked him if he had a right to be angry.  Jonah insisted that he was so angry that he was willing to die.  Then Yahweh asked him about the bush.  It appeared one day and was gone the next day.  Jonah did nothing to make it grow, so why was he so angry about the dead bush.  On the other hand, Yahweh was concerned about the great city of Nineveh with 120,000 people and lots of animals.  Yet, there was a parting shot at the people of Nineveh.  Apparently, they were so dumb that they could not tell their right hand from their left hand.