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Book of Nabum

Book of Nabum
by Timothy Kenney, PhD

The Holy Prophet Nahum, whose name means "God consoles," one of the Prophets of the Old Testament, the seventh in the traditional list of the twelve Minor Prophets. The Prophet Nahum was from the village of Elkosh (Galilee). He lived during the seventh century B.C. Nahum prophesies the ruin of the Assyrian city of Nineveh because of its iniquity, the destruction of the Israelite kingdom, and the blasphemy of King Sennacherib against God. The Assyrian king Ashurbanipal died in 632 BC, and over the next two decades, his empire began to crumble. Nineveh fell in 612 BC.

Nahum differs from most of the prophets in as much as he does not issue any call to repentance, nor does he denounce Israel for infidelity to God. Details of the prophet's life are unknown. He died at the age of forty-five, and was buried in his native region. The Prophet Nahum and St Nahum of Ochrid (December 23) are invoked for people with mental disorders.

The Book of Nahum contains only three chapters and may be divided into two distinct parts:

  1. The Lord's Coming in Judgement - Nahum 1-2:1
  2. The Fall of Nineveh - Nahum 2:2-3

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Detailed Outline.

I. The Lord's Coming in Judgement - Nahum 1-2:1.

The first part is more undetermined in tone and character. After the twofold title indicating the subject-matter and the author of the book, the writer enters upon his subject by a solemn affirmation of what he calls the Lord's jealousy and revengefulness, and a most forceful description of the fright which seizes all nature at the aspect of Yahweh coming into judgment. The author contrasts this picture with the assurance of God's loving-kindness towards His true and trustful servants. Then follows the announcement of the destruction of His enemies, among whom a treacherous, and cruel city (probably Nineveh) is singled out and irretrievably doomed to everlasting ruin. The glad tidings of the oppressor's fall is the signal of a new era of glory for the people of God.

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II. The Fall of Nineveh - Nahum 2:2-3.

The second part of the book is more directly describes the features of the great Assyrian city as to make all doubt impossible, even if the name Nineveh is not explicitly mentioned. Firstly, the Prophet dashes off in a few bold strokes three successive sketches: we behold the approach of the besiegers, the assault on the city, and, within, the rush of its defenders to the walls. Then the protecting dams and sluices of the Tigris being burst open, Nineveh, panic-stricken, has become an easy prey to the victor: her most sacred places are profaned, her vast treasures plundered. Now Nineveh, once the den where the lion hoarded rich spoils for his whelps and his lionesses, has been swept away forever by the mighty hand of the God of hosts.

The last section develops with new details of the same theme. The bloodthirstiness, greed, and crafty and insidious policy of Nineveh are the cause of her overthrow, most graphically depicted; complete and shameful will be her downfall and no one will utter a word of pity. As No-Ammon was mercilessly crushed, so Nineveh likewise will empty to the dregs the bitter cup of the divine vengeance. In vain does she trust in her strongholds, her warriors, her preparations for a siege, and her officials and scribes. Her empire is about to crumble, and its fall will be hailed by the triumphant applause by the whole universe.

Our next article takes us to the Book of Habakkuk.

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