Others think that Elkosh was the name of a place on the east bank of the Tigris, and that Nahum dwelt there. Others, however, think that his prophecies are to be referred to the latter half of the reign of Hezekiah about B. This is the more probable opinion, internal evidences leading to that conclusion. Probably the book was written in Jerusalem soon after B. The subject of this prophecy is the approaching complete and final destruction of Nineveh, the capital of the great and at that time flourishing Assyrian empire.
Assur-bani-pal was at the height of his glory. Nineveh was a city of vast extent, and was then the centre of the civilzation and commerce of the world, a "bloody city all full of lies and robbery" Nah. It was strongly fortified on every side, bidding defiance to every enemy; yet it was to be utterly destroyed as a punishment for the great wickedness of its inhabitants. Gordon H.
Although it is impossible to be precise about the exact date of composition of the book, the terminus a quo may be set at BC, while the terminus ad quem appears to be BC. The fall of Thebes in BC is viewed as a recent past event , while the fall of Nineveh in BC and the final end of the Empire in BC are both depicted as future events. First, Nahum announced that Assyria would never again subjugate nor invade Judah .
So he probably delivered his oracles after BC, the date of the last known Assyrian campaign in the western territories when Ashurbanipal temporarily reasserted Assyrian suzerainty over Judah and other Syro-Palestinian vassals. Second, Nahum presents Assyria as a strong imperialistic tyrannt that was crushing its enemies and extracting oppressive tribute from its vassals ; ; This probably reflects the situation before the meteoric fall in Assyrian power after the death of Ashurbanipal in BC. All of his successors - Ashur-etil-ilani , Sin-shum-lishir , Sin-shar-ishkun , and Ashur-uballit II - were weak and ineffective.
Footnotes: 1 Contrary to A. Brill, , Brill, , ; Richard D. Patterson, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah. Gray Isaiah concludes his work at about the end of Hezekiah's reign, which synchronizes with the captivity of the ten tribes of Israel by the Assyrians. At this period of perplexity, to quote Angus: "When the overthrow of Samaria the capital of Israel , must have suggested to Judah fears for her own safety, when Jerusalem the capital of Judah , had been drained of its treasure by Hezekiah in the vain hope of turning the fury of the Assyrians from her, and when rumors of the conquest of a part of Egypt by the same great power added still more to the general dismay, Nahum was raised up by Jehovah to reveal His tenderness and power , to foretell the subversion of the Assyrians 1: , the death of Sennacherib the Assyrian king and the deliverance of Hezekiah from his toils After the consolatory introduction which covers the whole of chapter 1, the prophet predicts in detail, the destruction of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire.
Properly to grasp Nahum, one needs to compare it with Jonah, of which it is a continuation and supplement. The city had one denunciation more given a few years later, by Zephaniah , and shortly afterwards B. Against what Gentile nation is this prophecy uttered according to verse 1? Indicate the verses in chapter 1 that are particularly consolatory to Israel. How is Nahum rendered in the Revised Version?
How does chapter , 19 show the ultimate utter destruction of Nineveh? How does indicate the commercial greatness of that city? Name The Hebrew name, probably in the intensive form, Nahhum, signifies primarily "full of consolation or comfort", hence "consoler" St. Jerome, consolator , or "comforter". The name Nahum was apparently of not rare occurrence. Indeed, not to speak of a certain Nahum listed in the Vulgate and Douay Version Nehemiah among the companions of Zorobabel, and whose name seems to have been rather Rehum Ezra ; Heb.
Luke mentions in his genealogy of Our Lord a Nahum, son of Hesli and father of Amos iii, 25 ; the Mishna also occasionally refers to Nahum the Mede, a famous rabbi of the second century Shabb. The Prophet The little we know touching the Prophet Nahum must be gathered from his book, for nowhere else in the canonical Scriptures does his name occur, and extracanonical Jewish writers are hardly less reticent. The scant positive information vouchsafed by these sources is in no wise supplemented by the worthless stories concerning the Prophet put into circulation by legend-mongers.
We will deal only with what may be gathered from the canonical Book of Nahum, the only available first-hand document at our disposal. From its title i,1 , we learn that Nahum was an Elcesite so D. On the true import of this statement commentators have not always been of one mind. In the prologue to his commentary of the book, St. But even understood in this way, the intimation given by the title is disputed by biblical scholars. In the following centuries Nineveh does not play the outstanding role which its later supremacy might presuppose.
It is mentioned relatively infrequently, never as the capital of the kingdom, but rather as the center of a province. Shalmaneser III ca. A series of conquests and tribute exactments began, which was later to help destroy the Northern Kingdom and bring Judah into complete submission. Thus from Nineveh came the first Mesopotamian to ravage Israel. In the account of his fourth campaign B. On his black basalt obelisk the picture of Jehu, on his knees before the Assyrian monarch, is accompanied by this legend: "Tribute of Iaua Jehu , son of Omri mar Humri.
Silver, gold, a golden bowl, a golden beaker, golden goblets, pitchers of gold, lead, staves for the hand of the king, javelins, I received from him. Adad-nirari IV — B.
Nahum 1 Commentary - Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
Tiglathpileser III — B. He records what is apparently the defeat and tribute of Azariah of Judah. Tiglathpileser boasts: "The land of Bit-Humria [the house of Omri] Pakaha 47 B. As Isaiah had prophesied, he captured Damascus, defeated Israel, and deported many of its people to various parts of the empire. Judah was theoretically spared for the time, but actually it became a vassal state, for Tiglathpileser states Nimrud tablet : "Tribute of. Iauhazi Jehoahaz , of Judah I received.
Thus both Israel and Judah had now felt that Assyrian scourge; but this was only the beginning.
See a Problem?
He died during these operations and was succeeded by Sargon II — B. Before his first year was completed, Samaria fell into his hands, and his inscription recounts: "[At the beginning of my rule, in my first year of reign] Samerinai the people of Samaria People of the lands [my hand had conquered, I settled therein. My official I placed over them as governor]. Tribute, tax, I imposed upon them as upon the Assyrians. He recounts: As for Hezekiah, the Jew, who did not submit to my yoke, 46 of his strong, walled cities, as well as the small cities in their neigh- 53 Ibid. Himself, like a caged bird, I shut up in Jerusalem, his royal city.
And thus I diminished his land. I added to the former tribute, and laid upon him the giving up of their land, as well as imposts — gifts for my majesty. In addition to the 30 talents of gold and talents of silver, there were gems, antimony, jewels? To pay tribute and to accept servitude, he dispatched his messengers. It is not necessary here to consider the various explanations offered to bring the cuneiform record and the Biblical account into harmony.
Suffice it for our purposes to recall that Sennacherib, who came forth from Nineveh, his newly made capital, was the enemy 55 Luckenbiil, The Annals of Sennacherib , pp. Esarhaddon — B. Indeed, as Assyria hastened to its end, that city assumed increasing and almost exclusive importance.
To Nineveh came the distant chieftains who kissed the royal feet, rebel leaders paraded in fetters, distant and deceitful kings tied with dog chains and made to live in kennels. To Nineveh were sent gifts of far-off tribute, heads of vanquished enemies, crown princes as hostages, beautiful princesses as concubines.
There recalcitrant captives were flayed, obstinate opponents crushed to death by their own sons. Pointedly Olmstead remarks: "There was no city of its size or sanctity in all Assyria which was so little associated with the fame of any previous monarch. Sargon began his magnificent public works and building operations at Nineveh.
In eighty short years the place was to become the capital of the empire, the largest city in the world, and then — a widespread heap of ruins. No other city of comparable size has risen to parallel height in such a short time nor so rapidly dropped to equally abysmal depths. He undertook these measures by which the place was made a worthy residence for royalty: 1. Enlargement and Reorganization of the City. It has been pointed out that this figure corresponds to an area two thirds as great as that of the Rome enclosed 57 Olmstead, History of Assyria, p.
Campbell Thompson and R. As indicated by its ruins, the dimensions of this mound aggregate over 11, cubits, enclosing an area of about 1, acres. It seems conclusive, therefore, that Sennacherib refers only to the royal section of the city. Significantly few private houses have been found in the Kouyunjik mound.
While ordinary homes would disappear more quickly than imposing palaces, much of the area at Kouyunjik has been accounted for by royal structures, their courts, and adjacent lands. The population has been estimated at , Probably these dimensions and figures refer only to Nineveh proper and do not include adjacent suburbs. Excavations have uncovered the remains of an ancient wall in the form of an irregular trapezium totaling about eight miles around the inner city. Traces of a longer outer wall have been found to the northeast.
Within the eight-mile circuit two mounds rise, Kouyunjik, toward the southwest, near the village of Rah- manijah, and the smaller mound, Nebi Yunus, with the village of the same name about one mile to the south of Kouyunjik, both mounds covering part of the inner wall. Fourteen miles to the northeast of Kouyunjik is the mound covering Khorsabad, the capital of Sargon — B. He believes that the temples were centers of separate districts in the one city. Nimrud, he holds, was the original site of Nineveh, the temples of Kouyunjik and Khorsabad having been erected later.
The ravages of time could completely obliterate their 59 Popular Account of Discoveries at Nineveh , p. Travelers in Iraq recount how today native villages are soon leveled with the ground. In the second place, however, this entire territory is replete with evidences of habitation. Layard reports: "Scarcely a husbandman drives his plow over the soil without turning up the vestiges of former habitations. Palace Construction. His annals speak of its cedar, cypress, alabaster, its guarding lions in bronze, its bull colossi cut out of white marble, its many sculptured slabs.
The great hall in the royal abode measured forty by one hundred and fifty feet. Defense Program. To protect the city against invasion, Sennacherib devised a double line of walls. The inner wall, according to in situ investigators, seems to have been completed. According to the dimensions in the royal inscriptions, the bulwark was forty courses of brick wide, one hundred and eighty courses high.
Today, after twenty-six centuries, tire ruins still tower 60 Op. Diodorus Siculus II, 9 says that the city was stadia long and 90 standia broad, making the entire dimensions of the quadrangle stadia. Quintus Curtius V, 1 agrees with Diodorus Siculus in maintaining that the Babylonians sought to restrict the severity of siege by creating enough farmlands and orchards within the walls to make the city self-sustaining.
Perhaps the Assyrians at Nineveh had the same policy. Fourteen gates were built in the walls, and at some of these, as Nahum indicates, were river gates, where the water entered the city. At the Gate of the Quay, for example, the Khosr flowed directly under the palace walls. Whether the Tigris River actually flowed by the city at this time is a debated question. The outer wall, as excavators report, was not completed in its entire course.
Road Building. It was seventy-eight feet wide, more than twice the breadth of the average paved thoroughfare in our country. Irrigation and Water-Supply Projects. To provide water for irrigation ditches and for defense moats, as well as to bring fresh, sweet water into the city, since the Tigris was muddy, Sennacherib first of all, changed the course of the Tebiltu. This necessitated the razing of a small palace and the construction of a mound for the new residence mentioned above.
It has been estimated that this operation required the services of 10, men for twelve years, but such tremendous undertakings cost relatively little in Nineveh, since the work was done by slaves from captive countries and by forced labor. A system of dams to the west of the city regulated the waters of the Tigris, and another series of dams in a flood-control system on the east restrained the Khosr River.
Nineveh, as reorganized and extended by Sennacherib, was a center of magnificence for those days. So well had his planning and building been executed that we read relatively little of further construction during the reigns of his son and his grandson, Esar- haddon and Ashurbanipal. As he recounts: The wall in the midst of the city of Nineveh. From its foundation to its cornice I built it completely. C , then by Sargon — B. Most of this unique collection was housed in the new palace which Ashur- banipal erected. During the early part of his reign he lived in the restored bit-riduti, House of Succession, and then temporarily in the Southwest Palace of Sennacherib.
After his death in B. The city never rose from its debris, although straggling settlements mushroomed temporarily on its site.
Nahum—An End-Time Prophecy for Germany
But the tradition that Nineveh was buried beneath the mounds opposite Mosul survived throughout the following centuries. Xenophon may have passed the covered ruins of Nineveh without recognizing its identity, and Niebuhr may have crossed the mounds without knowing that he was traversing the site of the Assyrian capital; but subsequent writers, particularly among the Arabs, recorded the tradition which placed Nineveh on the Tigris opposite Mosul.
This identification has been made certain by the excavations at this place, which have uncovered the temples and palaces of kings who reigned there, with adequate identification of the place as Nineveh. To these excavations, begun more than years ago, we owe our detailed acquaintance with Assyrian kings, priests, soldiers, and people, as well as our knowledge of the Assyrian policies, morals, religion, culture, architecture, and warfare.
Early travelers who made their way through the forbidding Tigris territory left impressive, if not always accurate, descriptions of the ruins near Mosul. Among them were Edward Ives, J. Kin- neir, and James Silk Buckingham. Claudius James Rich, who became British consul at Baghdad, visited the site of Nineveh in , investigated and measured the mound, secured numerous archaeological specimens, and also mapped the ruins. In December of that year he started to dig into the Kouyunjik mound. The yield was quite limited, and in March he transferred his activity to Khorsabad, fourteen miles northeast.
Almost from the outset he was remarkably successful in uncovering inscriptions, bas-reliefs, and the remains of a palace. Perhaps it was the immensity of these ruins which made Botta report that Nineveh had been rediscovered. Within twenty days after his arrival a bas-relief was uncovered, and despite difficulties with officials and financial limitations the excavations at Nimrud, which were to continue with interruptions until , yielded remarkable results. Contradicting both local tradition and facts soon to be revealed, Layard prematurely concluded that Nimrud covered the remains of ancient Nineveh.
Strengthened by this success, he began to excavate the southern corner of Kouyunjik, which Botta claimed as French property. The sand and debris here proved much deeper than at Nimrud, and after a month Layard stopped his work to return to the richer prospects in the south.
The heat of the summer soon drove him back to Mosul and gave his eager restlessness the opportunity to work again at the nearby Kouyunjik. This time he succeeded in uncovering the northwest gate of the city wall and found two winged figures. His program at Nimrud completed in , he returned to resume excavations on the south section of the Kouyunjik mound. Layard left Mosul for England in January , and the trustees of the British Museum authorized Ross, who had ably assisted him, to carry on the excavations.
In Layard returned to resume work at Kouyunjik, now with the help of the British government. Two rooms were found containing hundreds of clay tablets in cuneiform script, the Kouyunjik library, one of the most remarkable discoveries in all Mesopotamian archaeology. Subsequent excavations brought other similar tablets to light. The whole library collection, as numbered by the British Museum, now totals about 30, In April Layard, as he himself recounts, "with a heavy heart turned from the ruins of ancient Nineveh. After his funds ran out, he returned to England; but early in January he was back at Kouyunjik.
Near the southwest palace gate he found inscriptions of Shalmaneser, Tukulti-Ninurta, his son, and Ashurnasirpal, besides adjacent temple restorations. He was also rewarded with many tablets of the type Layard and Botta had unearthed. In , while planning his third excavation, he died near Mosul, as other gallant archaeologists before and after him, a martyr to science.
Two years later Hormuzd Rassam again undertook the work at Kouyunjik, but on a smaller scale, and continued until He brought out the celebrated prism of Ashurbanipal and more tablets from the royal archives. Sinking forty-foot shafts in sections of the mound not yet investigated, King was able to reveal the various levels of early and late Assyrian epochs. He found a new eastern palace, presumably built by Sennacherib. For two years Kouyunjik remained untouched by any official expedition.
In October R. Besides, a ninth-century palace was uncovered, likewise a palace built by Sennacherib for an unnamed son. The last archaeologists to work at Kouyunjik report: Very much, however, remains to be done. Nineveh is not yet by any means a squeezed lemon, and no site in Iraq can claim to be of more importance. He sees the highly praised city gates as centers of pivotal attack He envisions the emergency manufacture of bricks for the walls He knows the haughty eagerness with which the Ninevite kings sought to have their name perpetuated.
The weeping palace maidens , the cowardly nobles , the bartering merchants , the carousing officials ; , are pictured in pointed reference. Especially, however, does Nahum know the Nineveh of military might, war, and blood. He portrays the capital as the center from which wickedness has passed over to the surrounding nations Enemies were impaled, flayed, the walls of cities covered with their skins. Even if we allow for conventional exaggerations, the quantity of spoil brought back to Nineveh is startling in its immensity. Sennacherib, for example, recounts that after his first campaign: "I returned to Assyria with , captive people, a huge spoil, 7, horses and mules, 11, asses, 5, camels, 80, cattle, , ewes.
Booty, heavy and [countless, I carried away] fr[om The]bes. The whole territory of my land in its entirety they filled with them to its farthest border. Camels I distributed like sheep, [divi]ded [them] among the people of Assyria. Throughout my land camels [were bo]ught for a shekel and a half of silver at the gate of barter.
The sutammu as pay, the brewer for a tun [of beer], the gardener as wages, received [cam] els and slaves. The officials who stood before him, his smiths, his quartermasters— [I led forth] and counted them as spoil. All [their] arti[sans,] [al] 1 there were, the bond of city and country — I led them forth, I counted them as spoil. The people of his land, male and female, small and great, without exception, the warriors as well —I led them forth, I counted them as spoil. Oriental treachery reached low depths in Assyrian statecraft. The display inscription, Olmstead summarizes, 68 simply lists the various conquests for the greater glory of the monarch.
That they are to be used with caution is obvious. The annalistic inscriptions are often proved unreliable by comparison with parallel tablets and Old Testament references. The number of those slain in one battle is variously listed as 14,, 20,, 25,, 29, in various parallel tablets. The 1, sheep captured according to the original account became , in a revised report. The prefixing of a huge round number to a fairly small number in the original was a fairly common trick among the scribes.
Tutelary deities, storm-bird gods, lofty columns I erected in their gates. Every kind of gold and silver adornment of a temple I [ma]de, I ad[ded] to that of my royal ancestors. Ashur appears by name seventy-nine times and is called "the great god who begat me. The knowledge of Nineveh which Nahum thus shows and his acquaintance with the imperial palaces are so impressive that some commentators have sought an Assyrian location for Elkosh, his native city.
This conclusion is not necessary. The fame of 70 The Senjirli Stele. Nahum was a well-informed student of human affairs. That a Judean author, at a time when Assyrian armies, flushed by heaped triumphs, were crashing through African and Asiatic opposition to record new victories, should foretell the complete destruction of the Tigris metropolis is amazing in itself. The Greek Sources Until the close of the last century the chief sources of information regarding the fall of Nineveh were Greek. Thus Herodotus — B. At first success crowned his efforts. The Assyrian capital was cut off and besieged; but a formidable army of Scythians led by Medyes, son of Pro- tothyas, drove him away and lifted the siege.
The exact date of this ill-fated campaign is not known. Probably it was about B. A few years later, it seems, Cyaxares defeated the Scythians and soon began a second campaign against Assyria. Ctesias, Greek court physician to Artaxerxes Mnemon, claims to have consulted documentary sources in the Persian royal archives while writing his Persica, a chronicle of Assyria and Persia in 23 books. At first Sardanapalus was successful over the rebel army consisting of Persians, Medes, Babylonians, and Arabians; but victory in these battles made his people careless, and Arbakes attacked them stealthily at night while the Assyrian soldiers were feasting and drinking.
After their defeat the inhabitants of Nineveh were tightly locked within their walls. The siege extended over two years, for Sardanapalus had provisioned the city beforehand. Inordinately heavy rains raised the river to such a level that the walls collapsed. This was regarded as the fulfillment of an ancient oracle to the effect that Nineveh would fall only when the river itself declared war against it. Therefore Sardanapalus built a huge mound containing gold and silver objects, royal apparel, and placing his concubines and eunuchs in the midst of this funeral pyre, destroyed himself, his dependents, and his palace by fire.
Admittedly the light which Greek sources shed on the last days of Nineveh is meager and disappointing. However, they agree in this, that the Medes were prominently connected with the capture of the city. On the other hand, the statements of the Greek historians cannot be completely discarded, and some Assyriologists now find a germ of truth in certain declarations.
Recent investigations seem to point to the possibility and, in a few instances, to the credibility of some of their assertions. The facts of the destruction in some respects also present the background required for certain episodes transmitted by Greek historians. That Ashurbanipal, despite his frequent claims of prowess, was a lily-livered coward who more than once shrank from active fighting is recognized by modern historians.
The Stele of Nabu-naid. This is a semicircular basalt inscription found in at Mujelibeh, near the modern Hillah, and dates no later than the middle of the sixth century B. Gadd believes that this passage has nothing to do with the fall of Nineveh, "but is concerned with the wars against the neo-Assyrian kingdom at Harran, in which the Umman Manda took the leading part.
British Museum Tablet 21, Although the tablet is not dated, its neo-Babylonian characters show that it is part of the chronicle literature which originated in the earlier years of the Achaemenid period — B. The beginning of this document pictures Nabopolassar, the founder of the neo-Babylonian empire, in open rebellion against the Assyrians, who were fatally weakened by the attacking Scythian hordes. These anti-Assyrian efforts, which may have begun a few years before, centered in the B. Nabopolassar launched his offensive against the heart of the Assyrian Empire and besieged Ashur, ancient capital.
This campaign appears to have been too ambitious. Relief troops from Nineveh helped the Assyrian forces at Ashur throw the Babylonians into hurried flight. In the autumn of that year the Medes, seemingly on their own responsibility, without alliance, attacked one of the Assyrian provinces. A sector of the suburban territory was taken, but a break in the tablet perhaps removes the reason for the escape of Nineveh itself.
When the cuneiform record continues, it recounts the capture of Ashur by the Medes, its destruction, the brutal massacre of its inhabitants, and the ominous alliance made between Cyaxares and Nabopolassar. The year B.
- Lecture Notes: Clinical Anaesthesia?
- Select a book of the Bible.
- Insect architecture.
With B. Apparently the lines are partially obliterated the Babylonians, the Scythians, and the Medes were allied, marching up the left bank of the Tigris, against Nineveh. The Chronicle indicates that Cyaxares and his Medes played the major part in the subsequent attack and that under his leadership the Babylonians and Scythians assumed the minor role.
The siege of the city itself lasted almost three months. However, Gadd, p. No other ruins in the Assyrian Empire have been investigated as repeatedly as those beneath the Kouyunjik mound opposite Mosul, which covers part of the ancient metropolis. Thanks to the labors of archaeologists, uncovered Kouyunjik gives definite answer to such questions: Was Nahum correct when he prophesied that the city would be burned? Was he right when he foretold destruction by water? Is there any evidence for the complete devastation of Nineveh during the Assyrian rule? Were the temples and their images destroyed?
Is its present site waste and ruin? Nahum implies a long siege before the destruction of 78 Clearly the following pages disprove the statement by Streck: "Naturally one cannot expea of such a prophecy as Nahum to be instruaed by it regarding the actual course of the catastrophe. Only a few details. If the operations from to B. Some have believed that the "three months occupied by the final siege had been expanded by tradition into three years. Nahum warns that "all thy fortresses are fig trees with the first-ripe fruit.
The Babylonian Chronicle tablet, obverse 11, 24 ff. While the capital city sustained the first assaults in that year, the fortified towns in the environs began to fall. Gadd, The Ball of Nineveh , p. If fortifications protected the territory between Nineveh and Ashur, they, too, seem to have fallen quickly; for in the same years Ashur was speedily destroyed.
Nahum seems to indicate two stages in the operations against the city. In the first place, the attackers are pictured, not quietly awaiting the end of the siege, but as preparing to give battle outside the city. Vividly the prophet portrays the hostile troops, particularly their cavalry: "Chariots are in fiery steel on the day of His preparing, and the cypress spears are swinging. Chariots careen madly in the streets. In the second phase of the operations against Nineveh, Nahum foretells, the city itself will be subjected to heavy assault. After the futile attempt to drive the attackers away, the Ninevite warfare outside the city collapses.
Disorder reigns within the city. The Ninevites did fortify their stronghold. Olmstead remarks: "The main attack was directed from the northeast and the brunt fell upon the Hatamti gate at this corner. Within the gate are traces of the counterwall raised by the inhabitants in their last extremity. Herodotus I, has a story of defeat after drunken debauch in the day of Cyaxares, immediately before the fall of Nineveh.
We are told: "Meantime the Assyrian king. In this record Sin-shar-ishkun is the king of Assyria residing at Nineveh at the time of its downfall. The city is attacked by a coalition of the Medes under Cyaxares, the Scythians, and the Babylonians under Nabopolassar. The operations against Nineveh began in B. They continued, with interruptions, until B. Inferential evidence indicates that the brunt of the assault was borne by the troops of Cyaxares and that the Babylonians were not prominent in the attack. As a consequence, the prophet declares: "Nineveh is like a pool of water.
These predictions came true, we may well conclude. To be sure, the Babylonian Chronicle makes no reference to this inundation; but the terseness of its annalistic style precludes the detailed mention of any episode in the strategy of the siege. According to its chronology, Nineveh fell in the month of Ab. The season of the 83 See Gadd, op.
More positive is the actual evidence of flood submergence found at Nineveh. Badger writes: "The fact here recorded literally fulfills the prophecy of Nahum and accounts for a stratum of pebble and sand which has been found a few feet below the surface in the mounds of Koyoonjuk and Nimrood. Diodorus, recalling the manner in which the river allied itself with the besiegers, recounts: "The siege dragged on, and for two years they pressed their attack. But in the third year, after there had been heavy and continuous rains, it came to pass that the Euphrates!
Besides the topography of Nineveh, as far as it may now be reconstructed, shows how the high waters of the contiguous rivers might have undermined the walls and flooded large lower areas in the city. As far as we now know, three rivers come into consideration. The first is the Tigris.
The exact course it took has been debated. They maintain that it was the Tebiltu, an offshoot of the Tigris, that flanked the southwest side of the city. It may well be that the annual heavy alluvial deposits which the Khosr see below brought into the Tigris slowly pushed this river westward. Belck and Lehmann report: "Our most important observations concerned themselves, as already indicated, with the course of the Tigris.
We came to the conviction that this must have changed very greatly, and we found that the Tigris must have flowed directly past the walls of Nineveh. They point out that the two gates in the southwest which have such indication are near the Tebiltu and the Khosr.
Belck and C F. This seems to have entered the city from the northeast, through the Ninlil Gate. It took a circuitous course through southwest Nineveh and, cutting through the city walls near the Quay Gate, joined the Tigris. The Khosr was capable of swelling to such proportions that its overflow could cause wide damage. Here on the river are two massive dam walls, the upper about yards upstream of Ajilah, the lower about yards downstream. How easy, then, for the besieging army to impound the Khosr River at this place, close the sluices of the agammu, cut off this source 9 " C.
Gadd, The Fall of Nineveh , p. Schulern , p. Topographical evidence seems to indicate that the river bent decidedly, particularly near the present Kouyunjik mound. VIII, Luckenbill, The Annals of Sennacherib, p. But Luckenbill translates agammu as "swamp. They hold that the enemy, once within the outer walls, closed the sluice gates which had diverted the high waters of the Khosr into side canals. This action, they explain, gave the swollen river the irresistible, tearing power by which it broke the walls.
They write: "Today the place may still be seen where the water broke through; and the natives informed 95 Thompson and Hutchinson, op. Great boulders, they report, have the appearance of being placed there. A left-side stream of the Tigris, the Khosr today the Chausser , divides the city into two halves. Its course and conjunction with the Tigris were well regulated by dam installations. The besiegers succeeded in capturing the higher installations situated within the outer walls of the city. They closed the drainage sluices through which the water of the Khosr, highly swollen at the time of the melting snow, could be diverted into the moats of the fortress and the side canals; and through the dams, as through the opening of the safety sluices in the Khosr, the river was given such violence that it overflowed its regular bed, inundated the territory of the city, and broke down the walls of Nineveh toward the Tigris, after which the summer high water of the Tigris did the rest.
But, as one observes only too frequently in the Orient, they transposed the occurrence into a much-too-recent past. In this way Nineveh actually perished through floods of water, as the contemporary prophet Nahum ff. Its course has not been traced satisfactorily. Olmstead 9S makes the Tebiltu run parallel with the Khosr for some distance outside the city walls, and then he has it enter Nineveh from the north and flow through the city, joining the Tigris on the west at the Water Gate. Thompson and Hutchinson attack this topography and maintain that the course of the Tebiltu suggested by Olmstead would make the river flow uphill.
If this was the course the Tebiltu took in B. In his days the river constituted such a menace that he changed its course, perhaps removing some of the bends in order to expedite its flow. Is there any significance to the fact that in this section the defenders sought to erect a secondary wall? The Tebiltu-river, a raging, destructive stream, which at its high water, had destroyed the mausoleums inside the city and had exposed to the sun their tiers of coffins lit.
I changed the course of the Tebiltu, repaired the damage, and directed its outflow That in days to come its platform might not be weakened by the floods at high water, I had its sides lit. Abydenus echoes the same tradition when he speaks of Sarakos Sin-shar-ishkun , who "burned himself and his royal palace. The alabaster slabs were almost Eusebius, Chronkon, I, 28, 35, 37, The places, which others had occupied, could only be traced by a thin white deposit, like a coat of plaster, left by the burnt alabaster upon the wall of sun-dried bricks.
Calcined alabaster, masses of charred wood and charcoal, colossal statues, slit through with the heat, are met with parts of Ninevite mounds and attest the veracity of the prophecy. When Hormuzd Rassam began his investigations at die north corner of Kouyunjik, he first of all came upon a ruined wall; and when that ended, "there was nothing except ashes, bones, and rubbish. For a further report on the devastation of fire see R.
The capture of Nineveh, so Nahum prophesied, was to be attended by a harrowing slaughter. He draws this vivid picture: "A host of slain, and a multitude of dead bodies; and there is no end of their corpses; they stumble over their corpses. So great was the multitude of the slain that the flowing stream, mingled with their blood, changed its color for a considerable distance. But if the operations from to B. Nahum also draws a picture of the plundering and pillaging which will mark the overthrow of the capital. After the looting has subsided, he looks upon Nineveh and predicts: "Desolation and devastation and dilapidation.
He employs the term limnisb, lit. This has usually been interpreted to the effect that the defenders of the city would show unmanly cowardice and flee. Others have read more dire implications into this expression. However, a statement by Athe- naeus, following Ctesias, which may have a significant bearing, has hitherto escaped attention in this connection.
But Ctesias Charles Burton Gulick, ed. I, , The wide persistence of such legends may be seen in the references found not only in Ctesias, Athenaeus, Nicolaus Damascenus, but also in similar statements by Duris, Diodorus Siculus, Pompeius Trogus, Velleius Paterculus, Justinus, Orosius, and others. While popular tradition easily magnifies every abnormality, the more recent historical evidence, however, tends to corroborate the picture of Ashurbanipal as a weakling. Olmstead calls him "a frightened degenerate who had not the stamina to take his place in the field.
Nahum lays repeated stress on the fact that in the siege and fall of Nineveh the Assyrian nobles play an ignominious role and are doomed to defeat. Ironically he warns: "Thy guards are as the locust, and thy scribes as a swarm of grasshoppers which alight on the wall on a cold day. The sun riseth, and they flee, and their place is not known. Thy shepherds slumber, King of Assyria; thy mighty ones rest in death. Nahum, in prophetic preview, sees an inglorious defeat for the Assyrian nobility, and the Babylonian Chronicle in historical review pauses to recount this very fact.
Outside the temple. This ash confirms all the traditional accounts of the destruction. Everything in it was found in fragments, with the exception of a marble altar and the marble chairs; and it shows that the enemy was determined not to leave one stone upon the other, when he destroyed it.
Hundreds of beautifully painted and enameled tiles and knobs which I believe belonged to the ceiling of the temple , inscribed marble tablets, pieces of Thompson and Hutchinson, The Excavations on the Temple of Nabu at Nineveh, p. Note also observations like these on p. Nahum predicts that "Huzzab is stripped. She is brought up, and her handmaidens are moaning, as with the sound of doves.
This unusually difficult verse see commentary is most frequently so interpreted that Huzzab becomes the queen of Nineveh and that she is led away captive together with her lamenting handmaidens. However, commentators have had trouble in expressing the action indicated in "she is brought up.
Athenaeus continues to relate that the flames lasted for fifteen days and that the people of Nineveh, when they saw the smoke, thought that Sardanapalus was offering "sacrifices. This prophetic forecast and this traditional review may describe the same event. Though Nineveh is to be destroyed, Nahum does not embrace the entire Assyrian nation in his dire prophecy. It is almost an axiom of history that while empires vanish, cities remain.
Nahum, however, by implication, predicts the opposite. Reverse 1, 46 apparently indicates that " the king of Assyria before the king escaped. Dispersion is likewise predicted. Babylon was laid completely waste by Sennacherib with a massacre regarded as bloody and horrifying even in those cruel days; but the citizens of Babylon returned, rebuilt their city; it flourished for a century and a half to acquire an unparalleled glory in the neo-Babylonian period.
Jerusalem was besieged and captured by Nebuchadnezzar; masses of its people were led into captivity; but they returned and rebuilt the city, which has been perpetuated ever since. The captive and dispersed citizens of Nineveh, however, never returned to restore the capital. Cambridge Ancient History, III, , declares: "The disappearance of the Assyrian people will always remain an unique and striking phenomenon in ancient history.
Even those critics who maintain, against the internal evidence, that the prophecies are post eventum cannot explain, even on their own theories, how Nahum with its long-range view, covering all subsequent centuries, could declare that no man would gather the scattered remains of Nineveh; yet 2, years of history have strikingly corroborated this forecast made before the city collapsed. Nahum writes the finis for Nineveh.
The answer is found in the assurance of Amos : "Surely the Lord God will do nothing but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets. It has remained desolate and unoccupied ever since. He calls the territory Mespila. He writes that he not only extracted a large tribute from "Omri-land," but he also took their inhabitants to Assyria. When faced with the choice of submission or resistance to Assyria, the southern kingdom generally chose submission.
That didn't help the kings of the north, and when they finally turned to Egypt for help, Assyria invaded. This cataclysm was interpreted as just rewards for Israel's many sins. It was seen as chastisements from the Lord for their idolatry and unfaithfulness to the covenant. The warnings from the prophets had gone unheeded, and the Day of the Lord had arrived. Having said that, however, Assyria continued and even advanced its brutal policies by being a ruthless ruler.
Nahum's audience, then, was the remnant still suffering after generations of oppression. The Israelites had been convicted by their misdeeds; they accepted that. Their question now was whether God had totally abandoned them, or worse, was God able to deliver them from the hands of the heathen nations who had been God's very instruments of judgment. And no nation was as cruel or as arrogant as Assyria had been. This became a classic case of the cure being worse than the disease. The one sent to judge was far worse than the nations judged.
The people's lament much like Habakkuk's to come was "How long, O Lord…? Into this moment of despair and darkness came the voice of Nahum, saying God was not just their God but also a national God, whose power extended over all the nations. Written to the people of Judah who had watched Assyria run unchecked for over a century, and who had barely survived its terror and destructiveness, these words put across a powerful message.
This book doesn't address any of Judah's failings, just Assyria's. There are few books more nationalistic. There is no love expressed for any of Nineveh's citizens, no concern for what's ahead for them. The book is dripping with vengeance and mockery and even hatred. Several commentators have likened the situation to the scourge of Hitler and other despots. The oppressed have been known to express delight upon their potential demise.
Nahum had an unshakeable conviction that the ones sent to judge would themselves be judged.