V 1: Nahum's prophecy of the coming overthrow of Nineveh and Assyria is a consolation to Judah, who suffered greatly because of Sennacherib's overbearing haughtiness and his attempted capture of Jerusalem . "O Judah , celebrate your feasts." - "You find in every place that Judah is first: when they encamped in the wilderness, Judah was in the east. And when the bringer of good tidings will come, Judah will be given the good news first, as it says, 'O Judah , celebrate your feasts'" (Midrash Tanchuma).

V 2: "For the wicked one (MEIPHEETZ) shall no more pass through you, he is utterly cut off." - "This refers to Sennacherib, who scattered (HEIPHEETZ) the Children of Israel in exile" (Rashi, Metzudas David, RaDaK).

V 3: The glory of Israel will be restored.

Vv 4-6 graphically depict the onslaught of Nebuchadnezzar's warriors and chariots against Nineveh .

V 7: Nineveh was situated on the banks of the Tigris ( Mosul in modern day N. Iraq ). Once the gates to the river would be opened, the way into the city would be clear and "the palace was dissolved" (=the king would be terrified, Targum). Verse 8 describes the exile of the queen and her panic-stricken maids.

Vv 9-10 evoke the great power and wealth of Nineveh , all of which would fall to her enemies. Verse 11 evokes the devastation and terror that would come upon her inhabitants.

Vv 12: "Where is the den of the lions.?" - "This is a lament over Nineveh whose kings were harsh and strong as lions" (Rashi). The kings of Assyria would go hunting for lions in the hills above the Tigris and took the lion as the symbol of Assyrian power.

V 14: "Behold I am against you, says HaShem of Hosts, and I will burn her chariots in the smoke. and the voice of your messengers shall no more be heard". The most notorious of Assyria 's "messengers" was the blasphemous Ravshakeh (I Kings 18:28; Isaiah 36:13) but all his vauntings would prove to be empty.


"Woe to the city of blood." (v 1). The closing chapter of Nahum makes up one continuous Parshah Pethuhah reproving arrogant Nineveh for the sins that are leading to her doom. "It is full of lies and robbery; the prey does not depart." Nineveh 's dominion was founded on deceit and robbery.

Vv 2-3 evoke the cruel military power and force with which Assyria asserted her dominion over other peoples in order to build her empire.

V 4: "Because of the harlotries of the charming and bewitching harlot." - "The Assyrians knew how to seduce the hearts of the kings of the earth and join up with them, and in the end they would conquer and subject them" (Rashi).

Vv 5-6: God will expose the shame of the harlot.

V 7: The downfall of Assyria will be astonishing to the nations, but none will mourn for her because she harmed them all.

V 8ff: "Are you better than No-Amon.?" The town of NO is Alexandria in Egypt , which is described as AMON, having the connotation of a foster-parent, as this was the city that fostered and produced the kings of Egypt (Rashi). Nahum was prophesying that Nineveh would meet the same fate as Alexandria , Kush (= Sudan ?), Egypt , Phut (= Tunisia or possibly Somalia ) and Loob (= Libya ): all were exiled by Nebuchadnezzar, and so too would the people of Nineveh be exiled.

V 11: "You too shall be drunken." According to her greatness, Nineveh too shall drink the cup of poison and be hidden from the world as if she never existed (Rashi, Metzudas David).

Vv 12-14: Prophesying how the population of Nineveh will fall to their captors like ripe fruits falling from a shaken tree, Nahum warns them to prepare water and build up the fortifications of the city for the coming siege.

Verses 15-17 compare the great hosts of Assyria to various species of locusts, which mysteriously fly off and disappear. [According to the tradition that Nahum was the disciple of the prophet Joel, Nahum's metaphorical comparison of the Assyrians to swarms of locusts makes it plausible to interpret the prophecies in Joel 1-2 about the coming plague of locusts as foretelling the onslaught of the swarming nations against Israel in the end of days.]

V 18: "Your shepherds slumber, O king of Ashur." It is when a country's leadership falls into complacency and "sleep" while the people are bent on the pursuit of leisure that the nation is ripe for God's vengeance to strike.

V 19: "All who hear the report about you clap their hands over you, for upon whom has not your wickedness passed continually?" The prophet has explained the moral dimensions of God's overthrow of Nineveh and her empire in order to teach mankind a lesson about His way of dealing with the wicked and arrogant powers of the earth.



By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
© AZAMRA INSTITUTE 5767 - 2006-7 All rights reserved