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An Argument of the Book of Nahum

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Assyrian Nineveh’s destruction by the mighty warrior-judge, Yahweh, is imminent because of her self-serving evil and Yahweh’s intent to deliver his people, Judah

I. Introduction: The book is an oracle which concerns Nineveh, a vision which comes from Nahum the Elkoshite 1:1

II. God Avenges His People: After Yahweh is introduced as a righteous, powerful, angry warrior against whom no one can stand, Nahum asserts that He will protect those who trust in Him and judge their enemy (Nineveh) because it plotted against Him 1:2-11

A. The Lord’s Appearance against His Enemies--The Angry Warrior: Yahweh is described as a righteous, powerful, angry warrior against Whom no one can stand 1:2-6

1. Jealous, Avenging and Full of Wrath: 1:2

2. Powerful, but Slow to Anger: 1:3a

3. Punishes the Guilty: 1:3b

4. Greater than all of Nature: 1:3c-5

a. The Storm: 1:3c

b. Waters: 1:4

c. Mountains: 1:5a

d. Earth Dwellers: 1:5b

5. Unendurable Wrath/Judgment: 1:6

B. God’s Protection against His People--Announcement of Judgment against Nineveh: God will protect his people who trust in Him judging their enemy (Nineveh) because it plotted against Him 1:7-11

1. God’s Protection of His People: Yahweh is good and intimately knows those who take refuge in Him 1:7

2. Announcement of Judgment against Nineveh: Yahweh will completely judge his enemy (Nineveh) because it plotted against Him 1:8-11

a. Statement: Yahweh Will Completely Judge His enemies (Nineveh) 1:8

b. Reason: Nineveh will be destroyed because it plotted against Yahweh 1:9-11

1) Plottings against Yahweh will not succeed 1:9a

2) Not another chance (Jonah?), but certain judgment: 1:9b-10

3) A leader plotted against Yahweh (Judah?) 1:11

III. Nineveh’s Demise:2 Through warnings and prophetic descriptions Nahum urges Nineveh to be ready for battle because destruction and public humiliation are sure as a result of her enormous evil and because Yahweh is going to deliver His people, Judah. 1:12--3:19

A. Introduction--An Announcement of Judah’s Release from Oppression: Yahweh promises to no longer afflict His people as He announces to the King of Assyria that He is going to be destroyed, and urges the people of Judah to celebrate their freedom 1:12-15

1. Announcement of Salvation to Judah: Yahweh promises to no longer afflict His people, but to cut off Assyria and set His people free 1:12-13

a. Assyrians will be Cut Off: 1:12a

b. Judah Will Not Be Afflicted by the Lord Anymore: 1:12b

c. Yahweh Will Set Judah Free from Assyria’s Bondage: 1:13

2. Announcement of Judgment against the King of Assyria:3 Yahweh announces to the King of Assyria that He will destroy Him because he is contemptible 1:14

3. A Call for Judah to Celebrate Its Deliverance: Micah urges the people of Judah to celebrate with this good new that the Assyrians will no longer will afflict them because they has been completely destroyed 1:15

B. [A] Call to Alarm--Nineveh Invaded: Nineveh is warned to be ready for battle because Judah is about to be destroyed, that her capture and destruction are imminent 2:1-10

1. Warning for Nineveh to Be Ready Because Judah Is about to Be Restored: 2:1-2

2. The Capture of the City of Nineveh: 2:3-10

a. The City Is Broken into by an Enemy: 2:3-6

1) Equipment for War Ready: 2:3

2) Confusion in the City: 2:4

3) City is Stormed and Taken: 2:5-6

b. Mourning of Women in the City: 2:7

c. Plunder of Nineveh: 2:8-10

1) Everyone is Fleeing: 2:8

2) Theft of Things of Value: 2:9

3) People Are Terrified: 2:10

C. [B] Taunt & Announcement of Judgment--Divine Opposition to the Assyrian ‘Lion’: Yahweh questions where the mighty “lions” of Assyria are now that He has come in judgment affirming that He will completely destroy Nineveh 2:11-13

1. Taunt: Where are the mighty “lions” of Assyria now that judgment has come? 2:11-12

2. Announcement of Judgment: Yahweh will judge the “lions” of Nineveh destroying its war machine and influence upon the land 2:13

D. [C] A Woe Oracle: Nahum proclaims an oracle of woe upon Assyria because she is full of sin, a violent empire, and seduces others for her own profit 3:1-4

1. Woe to Assyria--Full of Sin: 3:1

2. Woe to Assyria--a Violent Empire: 3:2-3

3. Woe to Assyria--Who Seduces Other Nations and Royal Families for Personal Profit: 3:4

E. [B’] Announcement of Judgment & Taunt--Nineveh’s Humiliation: Yahweh promises to publicly humiliate Nineveh because she is no better than No-amon who appeared strong, but was devastated 3:5-13

1. Announcement of Judgment: Yahweh promises to publicly humiliate Nineveh and that there will be no mourners with her demise 3:5-7

a. A Promise of Public Humiliation: 3:5-6

b. No Mourners with Destruction: 3:7

2. Taunt: Nahum taunts Nineveh that she is no greater than the Egyptian city of No-amon who appeared strong, but was devastated; Nineveh is weak and will be destroyed 3:8-13

a. Is Nineveh better than the Egyptian city of No-amon (Thebes) who was extremely strong, but was then devastated? 3:8-10

b. Nineveh, like No-amon, will be destroyed because its defenses are very weak

F. [A’] Call to Alarm--The Watchman Speaks Again: Once again as a watchman, Nahum urges Nineveh to be ready for the coming siege, even to multiply its forces, but then affirms that they will not help because the city will be destroyed 3:14-17

1. Be Ready for the Coming Siege which Will Destroy Them: 3:14-15a

2. Nineveh Urged to Multiply; 3:15a

3. A Numerous Population Will Not Help: 3:16-17

G. Conclusion--Assyria’s Victims Celebrate Its Demise: Nahum tells the king of Assyria that his people are not ready for battle, that there will be no relief for them, their destruction is certain, and the people will applaud Nineveh’s destruction 3:18-19

1. The King of Assyria Is Told that His People Are Not Prepared: 3:18

2. Nineveh’s Epitaph--There Is No Relief; Destruction is Sure; the People Will Cheer: 3:19

1 This outline is adapted through my own study from the analyses of Carl E. Armerding, Nahum, in The Expositor's Bible Commentary, VII:459; Robert B. Chisholm, Jr., Interpreting the Minor Prophets, 165-78; Homer Heater, Jr., Notes on the Book of Nahum, unpublished class notes in seminar in the exilic Old Testament prophets [Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall 1990], 171-73; Elliott E. Johnson, Nahum, in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty: Old Testament,1475-76; John A Martin, An Outline of Nahum, unpublished class notes in 304 preexlic and exilic prophets, (Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall 1983), 1-4;

2 Chisholm sees a chiastic structure in 1:12--3:19 with an introduction and conclusion which form an inclusio around 2:1--3:17:

Introduction: Judah urged to celebrate the demise of Assyria and its king 1:12-15

A Call to alarm 2:1-10

B Taunt 2:11-12

C Announcement of Judgment 2:13

D Woe Oracle 3:1-4

C' Announcement of Judgment 3:5-7

B' Taunt 3:8-13

A' Call to alarm 3:14

Conclusion: All who hear of the demise of Assyria and its king celebrate 3:18-19

Robert B. Chisholm, Jr., Interpreting the Minor Prophets, 166-67. Commenting on the chiasm Chisholm writes, In 2:1--3:17 four types of speeches are employed in a detailed description of Assyria's demise. IN the calls to alarm (2:1-10; 3:14-17) the prophet assumes for poetic purposes the role of a watchman on the walls of Nineveh. He excitedly calls upon the city's inhabitants to prepare for an enemy attack, the details of which he then vividly describes. The taunts (2:13-13; 3:8-13), which are introduced by rhetorical questions, allude in a derogatory way to Nineveh's pride. The judgment announcements (2:13; 3:5-7), which include a series of pronouncements by God Himself, are introduced by the formula 'I am against you, declares the Lord Almighty.' Finally, the woe oracle (3:1-4), which is highlighted by its central position in the chiasmus, summarizes the reasons for judgment (vv. 1, 4) and provides a vivid description of Nineveh's destruction (vv. 2-3) (Ibid., 167).

3 This is addressed to the enemy, the king of Assyria, and not Judah since the second person pronouns are masculine in verse 14. In verses 12-13, and 15 they are feminine. Chisholm writes, Elsewhere in the book Nineveh is addressed with the feminine singular form of the pronoun and her residents with the masculine plural. In v. 14 the second-person pronominal forms are masculine singular, suggesting that the king of Assyria/Nineveh is in view as in 3:18-19 (cf. NASB marginal note to 1:14) (Robert B. Chisholm, Jr., Interpreting the Minor Prophets, 167, n. 3).

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines

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