Nahum ~ “Comfort” or “Consolation”


Nahum (see 1:1). We do not have any other biographical information about Nahum other than the fact that he was an Elkoshite (born in Elkosh).

Date and Context

While we do not know the exact date that this book was written, we do have two events that give us a relatively small window in which the book must have been written. First, Nahum 3:8 refers to "No-amon", the Egyptian city of Amon/Thebes, as already fallen. Amon/Thebes did not fall until 663 B.C. which means that Nahum must have been written after 663 BC. Second, given that the prophecy of this book centers around the destruction of Nineveh, the book must have been written before the city was destroyed by the Babylonians and Medes in 612 BC. Thus, Nahum was likely written sometime between 663 and 612 BC.

For those who accept that Nahum was written between 663 and 612 B.C., there is much debate as to the exact date of this prophecy. Some scholars have suggested that Nahum may be one of the "seers" who spoke to King Manasseh upon his return from Assyria (see 2 Chronicles 33:1-18 (vs. 18 in particular)). This would put the writing of Nahum around 650 BC.


  • God's Unstoppable Judgement. In the book of Nahum, the judgement of God is tied into God's attributes. Because of this, we see that God's judgements are inevitable and unstoppable. There is nothing man can do to stop God's decrees.

  • The Two Sides of Judgement. Like a coin, judgement has two sides to it. For those opposed to God, His judgement is a terrible thing to be feared. For those who fear and obey God, however, judgement brings peace and even comfort. Throughout the book of Nahum, we see this contrast reiterated over and over. Nahum 1:1 - 2:2 is a specific section where this theme is abundantly clear.


0. Introduction [1:1]

I. God's Inevitable Judgement and Its Consequences [1:2 - 2:2]

A. God's attributes, power and inevitable victory [1:2-8]

B. God's unstoppable judgement [1:9-13]

C. God has decreed judgement [1:14]

D. God's judgement brings hope and peace for Israel [1:15 - 2:2]

II. Judgement on Nineveh Described [2:3-13]

A. The judgement [2:3-7]

B. The consequences of judgement [2:8-13]

III. Woe Describing Judgement and the Reason for Judgement [3:1-7]

IV. The Inevitability of Nineveh's Fall [3:8-19]

A. Thebes: A case study [3:8-15a]

B. The futility of trusting in man [3:15b-19]


  • The phrase that God is "slow to anger" in Nahum 1:3 seems out of place given the verses around it talk of God's power, wrathfulness, and jealousy. Think back to the book of Jonah, however. Consider the fact that Jonah was likely written at least a century earlier. God had been patient and gracious with the Ninevites in sending Jonah to them and was patient in the time that passed between Jonah and Nahum. Given that judgement for rebellion against a holy God is justly and swiftly deserved, the fact that anyone in human history has awoken to live another day is a testimony to God's patience.

  • One of the interesting aspects of the fall of Nineveh as described by the book of Nahum is that it involves both a flood/water (see Nahum 1:8 and 2:6) and fire (see Nahum 3:13 and 3:15). Burning a captured city is a common action in the Ancient Near East, but the role of the water/flood in the siege is the topic of much debate. Greek accounts of the tradition they received about this event (recorded around 600 years after 612 B.C.) do mention that a flood made the capture of the city possible. The Babylonian accounts, however, do not mention any such flooding (see NAHUM AND THE GREEK TRADITION ON NINEVEH’S FALL). I do not believe that the silence of the Babylonian accounts removes the possibility of a flood making the capture of the city possible. Babylonian records are not known for their candor and it is very possible that a flood, if one occurred, would not be mentioned in the record of Nineveh's capture. Some have also argued that Nahum's references to a flood are purely metaphorical (see NAHUM AND THE GREEK TRADITION ON NINEVEH’S FALL) in that they are not referring to a literal flood. I believe that the language used in Nahum 2:6, however, lends itself to an understanding that Nahum is referring to a real flood that will come upon the city.

  • Nahum's name means “comfort” or “consolation”. This seems like an ironic name for a prophet whose primary ministry, as far as we know, was to proclaim the judgement and fall of Nineveh. It is important to remember, however, that the judgement of God has two sides. Judgement is terrible for those who are God's enemies, but it brings peace and liberation for God's people, those who love and fear Him. One of the clearest evidences of this in Scripture is Nahum 1:1 - 2:2. In this passage, there are multiple, contrasting references that highlight both the destructive nature of God's judgement and the peace and hope that it brings.

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