consolation, the seventh of the so-called minor prophets, an Elkoshite. All we know of him is recorded in the book of his prophecies. He was probably a native of Galilee, and after the deportation of the ten tribes took up his residence in Jerusalem. Others think that Elkosh was the name of a place on the east bank of the Tigris, and that Nahum dwelt there.
I. The Man.
Nothing is known of the personal history of this prophet: he is called 'the Elkoshite,' which is supposed to refer to a place named Elkosh in Galilee. There is no reference to dates in the prophecy, but it is generally placed at about B.C. 714, when Sennacherib invaded Judaea. 2Ki 18:13. The prophecy is against Nineveh, and foretells its destruction, though, like other prophecies, it has an application to the future, when 'Assyria' will again be the open enemy of Israel.
The prophecy opens with the character of Jehovah in government. He is slow to anger, but He is jealous, and His revenge is furious. He is good, and a safe refuge in the day of trouble for those that trust in Him; but, as to His enemies, with an overflowing flood He will make an utter end of their place. Not only is the destruction of Nineveh foretold, but the Assyrian nation also should come to a full end.
One who had come out to oppress Israel, was a wicked counsellor, who imagined evil, not only against Judah, but against Jehovah: he should be cut off. Compare the insulting language of Rab-shakeh, the general of the king of Assyria: at first he said that Jehovah had sent him, and then treated the God of Israel as no better than the heathen gods, who had not been able to protect their worshippers. 2Ki 18:25,32-33. But there was good news for Judah; God would break the yoke of Assyria off their necks. They might keep their solemn feasts. The enemy should no more pass through. What took place in Hezekiah's day was but a type of the latter-day fulfilment of this chapter: cf. Na 1:10 and 2Ki 19:35; and in this way we see the scope of prophecy and not simply the immediate events that gave rise to it.
Nahum 2 concerns the city of Nineveh directly. God had allowed Jacob to be disciplined and 'emptied out;' but now Nineveh must be dealt with. It is exhorted to make good its defence, yet the gates of the rivers should be opened, and the palace should be dissolved. Here it is not the 'gates of the city,' as when Babylon was taken, but 'the gates of the rivers.' This may refer to the Tigris and the canals that watered the city. The overflowing river, it is said, caused a breach in the sun-dried brick walls.
Huzzab shall be led away captive. Na 2:7. This name is supposed by some to be symbolical of Nineveh, the one 'established,' or 'held to be impregnable,' as in the margin; others, however, believe it refers to the reigning queen, who should be led captive with her maids. The spoil which had been taken in many wars was great, but should now enrich others. The reference to the lions, and the strangling, and the filling the dens with ravin, possibly applied to the cruelties which the Assyrians inflicted on their prisoners, and which are depicted by themselves on their monuments. Truly, as said in Nahum 3, it was a 'bloody city.' The following verses, as also Na 2:3-4, show that it was a warlike nation, ever seeking to enrich itself by the spoil of other nations, among which were Israel and Judah. It should not only be brought down, but should be made vile and a gazing-stock. Na 3:8-10 show that as 'populous No' (the renowned Thebes, with its hundred gates), had been brought to nought (probably by Sargon, king of Assyria), so should Nineveh fall. The gates of the land should be left open for their enemies, and as the cankerworm, the locust, and the grasshopper destroy vegetation, so should be their desolation. Fire is spoken of several times, and the explorations that have been made at the ruins of Nineveh abundantly prove that fire did its destructive work. The denunciations close with, "There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?" The ruins show how complete and lasting was God's judgement on the guilty city. See NINEVEH.
(consolation). Nahum, called "the Elkoshite," is the seventh in order of the minor prophets. His personal history is quite unknown. The site of Elkosh, his native place, is disputed, some placing it in Galilee, others in Assyria. Those who maintain the latter view assume that the prophet's parents were carried into captivity by Tiglath-pileser and that the prophet was born at the village of Alkush, on the east bank of the Tigris, two miles north of Mosul. On the other hand, the imagery of his prophecy is such lie would be natural to an inhabitant of Palestine,
to whom the rich pastures of Bashan the vineyards of Carmel and the blossoms of Lebanon were emblems of all that was luxuriant and fertile. The language employed in ch.
is appropriate to one who wrote for his countrymen in their native land. (McClintock and Strong come to the conclusion that Nahum was a native of Galilee that at the captivity of the ten tribes he escaped into Judah, and prophesied in the reign of Hezekiah, 726-698.--ED.) Prophecy of Nahum. --The date of Nahum a prophecy can be determined with as little precision as his birthplace. It is, however, certain that the prophecy was written before the final downfall of Nineveh and its capture by the Medes and Chaldeans, cir. B.C. 625. The allusions to the Assyrian power imply that it was still unbroken. ch.
It is most probable that Nahum flourished in the latter half of the return of Hezekiah, and wrote his prophecy either in Jerusalem or its neighborhood. The subject of the prophecy is, in accordance with the superscription, "the burden of Nineveh," the destruction of which he predicts. As a poet Nahum occupies a high place in the first rank of Hebrew literature. His style is clear and uninvolved, though pregnant and forcible; his diction sonorous and rhythmical, the words re-echoing to the sense. Comp.
NAHUM is supposed to have been a native of Elcosh or Elcosha, a village in Galilee, and to have been of the tribe of Simeon. There is great uncertainty about the exact period in which he lived; but it is generally allowed that he delivered his predictions between the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities, and probably about B.C. 715. They relate solely to the destruction of Nineveh by the Babylonians and Medes, and are introduced by an animated display of the attributes of God. Of all the minor prophets, says Bishop Lowth, none seems to equal Nahum in sublimity, ardour, and boldness. His prophecy forms an entire and regular poem. The exordium is magnificent and truly August. The preparation for the destruction of Nineveh, and the description of that destruction, are expressed in the most glowing colours; and at the same time the prophet writes with a perspicuity and elegance which have a just claim to our highest admiration.