Nahum, Nineveh and Those Nasty Assyrians -- By: Gordon Franz
BSpade 16:4 (Fall 2003) p. 97
Nahum, Nineveh and Those Nasty Assyrians
If I mentioned the city Nineveh, what would come to your mind? Most likely you would say Jonah. We have all heard the story about Jonah being swallowed by the great fish and then going to Nineveh to preach against the city. His message was short and to the point, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jon 3:4, all Scripture quotes are from the NKJV). The city, from the king to the dogcatcher, repented. Have you ever wondered what happened to Nineveh after that? The short prophetic book of Nahum tells us “the rest of the story.”
The Date of the Book of Nahum
Scholars have long debated the date of the book of Nahum. A wide range of dates has been suggested, from the eighth century BC (Feinberg 1951:126, 148) to the Maccabean period, early second century BC (Haupt 1907). Yet, the book gives us internal chronological parameters to date the book. Nahum describes the conquest of Thebes (No-Amon) by Ashurbanipal II in 663 BC as a past event, thus the book could not have been written before that date. The entire book is a prediction of the fall of the city of Nineveh in 612 BC. Thus, the book was written somewhere between 663 and 612 BC.
A case can be made for the proclamation of the message, and writing of the book, about 650 BC. If this is the correct date, the Spirit of God used this book to put King Manasseh into a position where he could come to faith and bring Judah back to the LORD. Up until this point in the reign of King Manasseh, the kingdom, led by the king, was “more evil than the nations whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel” (2 Chr 33:9). The LORD sent seers (prophets) to speak to the nation, but the nation would not listen to the Word of God (33:10, 18). While not named, one of the seers was probably Nahum. His vision concerning the total destruction of Nineveh would be seen by the Assyrian overlords as fomenting rebellion and insurrection, and possibly seen as support for Shamash-shum-ukin, the king of Babylon, in his current civil war with his brother Ashurbanipal II. If a copy of the book of Nahum fell into the hands of the Assyrian intelligence community stationed at the Assyrian administrative centers of Samaria, Dor, Megiddo or Hazor. King Manasseh would have had to give account for this book. The Biblical record states,
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