Book of Nahum

{nay' - uhm}

General Information

The Book of Nahum, seventh of the 12 minor prophetic books in the Old Testament of the Bible, probably dates from shortly after the destruction of Assyria in 612 BC, although the book is cast in the form of a prophecy of events yet to unfold.

The prophet Nahum described the conquest of the oppressive Assyrians by the Medes and Babylonians, presenting their fall as the righteous judgment of Yahweh. Unlike other prophets, Nahum did not apply his condemnation of wickedness to Israel itself.

BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet Our List of 2,300 Religious Subjects

Book of Nahum

Brief Outline

  1. Poem concerning the greatness of God (1:1-15)
  2. Poem detailing the overthrow of Nineveh (2:1-3:19)


Advanced Information

Nahum, 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.

(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)

Book of Nahum

Advanced Information

Nahum prophesied, according to some, in the beginning of the reign of Ahaz (B.C. 743). Others, however, think that his prophecies are to be referred to the latter half of the reign of Hezekiah (about B.C. 709). This is the more probable opinion, internal evidences leading to that conclusion. Probably the book was written in Jerusalem (soon after B.C. 709), where he witnessed the invasion of Sennacherib and the destruction of his host (2 Kings 19:35). 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. 3:1), for it had robbed and plundered all the neighbouring nations. 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.

(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)

The Date of the Book of Nahum

Dr. Gordon H. Johnston

Assistant Professor, Department of Old Testament Studies
Dallas Theological Seminary
The Book of Nahum prophesies the imminent demise of the Neo-Assyrian Empire and destruction of Nineveh its capital. Although it is impossible to be precise about the exact date of composition of the book, the terminus a quo may be set at 663 BC, while the terminus ad quem appears to be 612 BC. The fall of Thebes in 663 BC is viewed as a recent past event (3:8-10), while the fall of Nineveh in 612 BC and the final end of the Empire in 609 BC are both depicted as future events.1

Exactly where Nahum falls between 663-612 BC is debated.2 However, several factors may help narrow the range. First, Nahum announced that Assyria would never again subjugate (1:12) nor invade Judah (1:15 [2:1]). So he probably delivered his oracles after 640 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 (1:12; 2:13; 3:1). This probably reflects the situation before the meteoric fall in Assyrian power after the death of Ashurbanipal in 627 BC. All of his successors - Ashur-etil-ilani (627-623), Sin-shum-lishir (623), Sin-shar-ishkun (623-612), and Ashur-uballit II (612-609) - were weak and ineffective.3 So Nahum probably prophecied sometime during the reign of Ashurbanipal (668-627), the last powerful king of Assyria.

1 Contrary to A.S. van der Woude, The Book of Nahum: A Letter Written in Exile, in Oudtestamentliche Studien, Deel XX, edited by A.S. van der Woude (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1977), 108-126.

2 For discussion, see Walter A. Maier, The Book of Nahum (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1959), 27-40, 87-139; W.C. van Wyk, Allusions to 'Prehistory' and History in the Book of Nahum, in De Fructo Oris Sui: Essays in Honor of Adrianus van Selms (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1971), 222-32; Richard D. Patterson, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah. The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1991), 3-7.

3 The chronology of the last half century of Assyrian history is filled with problems. The system adopted here follows John Oates, Assyrian Chronology, 631-612 BC, Iraq 27 (1965): 135-59. See also Julian Reade, The Accession of Sinsharushkin, Journal of Cunieform Studies 23 (1970): 1-9.

Book of Nahum

From: Home Bible Study Commentary by James M. 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 (1:1-8), to foretell the subversion of the Assyrians (1: 9-12), the death of Sennacherib the Assyrian king and the deliverance of Hezekiah from his toils (1:10-15)."

The name of the prophet means consolation. 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 two prophecies form parts of the same moral history; the remission of God's judgments being illustrated in Jonah, and the execution of them in Nahum. The city had one denunciation more given a few years later, by Zephaniah (2:13), and shortly afterwards (606 B. C.), the whole were fulfilled."

Questions 1. Against what Gentile nation is this prophecy uttered according to verse 1? 2. Indicate the verses in chapter 1 that are particularly consolatory to Israel. 3. How is Nahum 2:2 rendered in the Revised Version? 4. How does chapter 3:7, 19 show the ultimate utter destruction of Nineveh? 5. How does 3:16 indicate the commercial greatness of that city?


Catholic Information

One of the Prophets of the Old Testament, the seventh in the traditional list of the twelve Minor Prophets.


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 7:7) among the companions of Zorobabel, and whose name seems to have been rather Rehum (Ezra 2:2; Heb. has Rehum in both places), St. 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., ii, 1, etc.), and another Nahum who was a scribe or copyist (Peah, ii, 6); inscriptions show likewise the name was not uncommon among Phoenicians (Gesenius, "Monum. Phoen.", 133; Boeckh, "Corp. Inscript. Graec.", II, 25, 26; "Corp. Inscript. Semitic.", I, 123 a3 b3).

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. V.; A. V., Elkoshite). 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. Jerome informs us that some understood `Elqoshite as a patronymic indication: "the son of Elqosh"; he, however, holds the commonly accepted view that the word `Elqoshite shows that the Prophet was a native of Elqosh.

But even understood in this way, the intimation given by the title is disputed by biblical scholars. Where, indeed, should this Elqosh, nowhere else referred to in the Bible, be sought?

Some have tried to identify it with `Alqush, 27 miles north of Mossul, where the tomb of Nahum is still shown. According to this opinion, Nahum was born in Assyria, which would explain his perfect acquaintance with the topography and customs of Ninive exhibited in the book. But such an acquaintance may have been acquired otherwise; and it is a fact that the tradition connecting the Prophet Nahum with that place cannot be traced back beyond the sixteenth century, as has been conclusively proven by Assemani. This opinion is now generally abandoned by scholars.

Still more recent and hardly more credible is the view advocated by Hitzig and Knobel, who hold that Elqosh was the old name of the town called Capharnaum (i.e., "the village of Nahum") in the first century: a Galilean origin, they claim, would well account for certain slight peculiarities of the Prophet's diction that smack of provincialism. Apart from the somewhat precarious etymology, it may be objected against this identification that Capharnaum, however well known a place it was at the New Testament period, is never mentioned in earlier times, and, for all we know, may have been founded at a relatively recent date; moreover, the priests and the Pharisees would most likely have asserted less emphatically "that out of Galilee a prophet riseth not" (John 7:52) had Capharnaum been associated with our Prophet in the popular mind.

Still, it is in Galilee that St. Jerome located the birthplace of Nahum ("Comment. in Nah." in P. L., XXV, 1232), supposed to be Elkozeh, in northern Galilee; but "out of Galilee doth a prophet rise?" might we ask again. The author of the "Lives of the Prophets" long attributed to St. Epiphanius tells us "Elqosh was beyond Beth-Gabre, in the tribe of Simeon" (P.G., XLIII, 409). He unquestionably means that Elqosh was in the neighbourhood of Beth-Gabre (Beit Jibrin), the ancient Eleutheropolis, on the borders of Juda and Simeon. This view has been adopted in the Roman Martyrology (1 December; "Begabar" is no doubt a corrupt spelling of Beth-Gabre), and finds more and more acceptance with modern scholars.

The Book


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

The one, including i and ii, 2 (Heb., i-ii, 1-3), and the other consisting of ii,1, 3-ii (Heb., ii, 2, 4-iii). The first part is more undetermined in tone and character. After the twofold title indicating the subject-matter and the author of the book (i, 1), the writer enters upon his subject by a solemn affirmation of what he calls the Lord's jealousy and revengefulness (i, 2, 3), and a most forceful description of the fright which seizes all nature at the aspect of Yahweh coming into judgment (i, 3-6). Contrasting admirably with this appalling picture is the comforting assurance of God's loving-kindness towards His true and trustful servants (7-8); then follows the announcement of the destruction of His enemies, among whom a treacherous, cruel, and god-ridden city, no doubt Ninive (although the name is not found in the text), is singled out and irretrievably doomed to everlasting ruin (8-14); the glad tidings of the oppressor's fall is the signal of a new era of glory for the people of God (1:15; 2:2; Hebrews 2:1, 3).

The second part of the book is more directly than the other a "burden of Ninive"; some of the features of the great Assyrian city are described so accurately as to make all doubt impossible, even f the name Ninive were not explicitly mentioned in ii, 8. In a first section (ii), 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 (2:1, 3-3; Hebrews 2:2, 4-6); then the protecting dams and sluices of the Tigris being burst open, Ninive, panic-stricken, has become an easy prey to the victor: her most sacred places are profaned, her vast treasures plundered (6-9); Heb., 7-10); and now Ninive, 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 (10-13; Hebrews 11-13). The second section (iii) develops with new details the same theme. The bloodthirstiness, greed, and crafty and insidious policy of Ninive are the cause of her overthrow, most graphically depicted (1-4); complete and shameful will be her downfall and no one will utter a word of pity (5-7). As No-Ammon was mercilessly crushed, so Ninive likewise will empty to the dregs the bitter cup of the divine vengeance (8-11). In vain does she trust in her strongholds, her warriors, her preparations for a siege, and her officials and scribes (12-17). Her empire is about to crumble, and its fall will be hailed by the triumphant applause by the whole universe (18-19).

Critical Questions

Until a recent date, both the unity and authenticity of the Book of Nahum were undisputed, and the objections alleged by a few against the genuineness of the words "The burden of Ninive" (i, 1) and the description of the overthrow of No-Ammon (iii, 8-10) were regarded as trifling cavils not worth the trouble of an answer. In the last few years, however, things have taken a new turn: facts hitherto unnoticed have added to the old problems concerning authorship, date, etc. It may be well here for us to bear in mind the twofold division of the book, and to begin with the second part (ii, 1, 3-iii), which, as has been noticed, unquestionably deals with the overthrow of Ninive. That these two chapters of the prophecy constitute a unit and should be attributed to the same author, Happel is the only one to deny; but his odd opinion, grounded on unwarranted alterations of the text, cannot seriously be entertained.

The date of this second part cannot be determined to the year; however, from the data furnished by the text, it seems that a sufficiently accurate approximation is obtainable. First, there is a higher limit which we have no right to overstep, namely, the capture of No-Ammon referred to in iii, 8-10. In the Latin Vulgate (and the Douay Bible) No-Ammon is translated by Alexandria, whereby St. Jerome meant not the great Egyptian capital founded in the fourth century B.C., but an older city occupying the site where later on stood Alexandria ("Comment. in Nah.", iii,8: P. L., XXV, 1260; cf. "Ep. CVIII ad Eustoch.", 14: P. L., XXII, 890; "In Is.", XVIII: P. L., XXIV, 178; "In Os.", IX, 5-6: P. L., XXV, 892). He was mistaken, however, and so were who thought that No-Ammon should be sought in Lower Egypt; Assyrian and Egyptian discoveries leave no doubt whatever that No-Ammon is the same as Thebes in Upper Egypt. Now Thebes was captured and destroyed by Assurbanipal in 664-663 B.C., whence it follows that the opinion of Nicephorus (in the edition of Geo. Syncell, "Chronographia", Bonn, 1829, I, 759), making Nahum a contemporary of Phacee, King of Israel, the early tradition according to which this prophecy was uttered 115 years before the fall of Ninive (about 721 B.C.; Josephus, "Ant. Jud.", IX, xi, 3), and the conclusions of those modern scholars who, as Pusey, Nagelsbach, etc., date the oracle in the reign of Ezechias or the earlier years of Manasses, ought to be discarded as impossible. The lower limit which it is allowable to assign to this part of the book of Nahum is, of course, the fall of Ninive, which a well-known inscription of Nabonidus permits us to fix at 607 or 606 B.C., a date fatal to the view adopted by Eutychius, that Nahum prophesied five years after the downfall of Jerusalem (therefore about 583-581; "Annal." in P. G., CXI, 964).

Within these limits it is difficult to fix the date more precisely. It has been suggested that the freshness of the allusion to the fate of Thebes indicates an early date, about 660 B.C., according to Schrader and Orelli; but the memory of such a momentous event would long dwell in the minds of men, and we find Isaias, for instance, in one of his utterances delivered about 702 or 701 B.C. recalling with the same vividness of expression Assyrian conquests achieved thirty or forty years earlier (Isaiah 10:5-34). Nothing therefore compels us to assign, within the limits set above, 664-606, an early date to the two chapters, if there are cogent reasons to conclude to a later date. One of the arguments advanced is that Ninive is spoken of as having lost a great deal of her former prestige and sunk into a dismal state of disintegration; she is, moreover, represented as beset by mighty enemies and powerless to avert the fate threatening her. Such conditions existed when, after the death of Assurbanipal, Babylonia succeeded in regaining her independence (625), and the Medes aims a first blow at Ninive (623). Modern critics appear more and more inclined to believe that the data furnished by the Prophet lead to the admission of a still lower date, namely "the moment between the actual invasion of Assyria by a hostile force and the commencement of the attack on its capital" (Kennedy). The "mauler", indeed, is already on his way (2:1; Hebrews 2); frontier fortresses have opened their gates (iii, 12-13); Ninive is at bay, and although the enemy has not yet invested the city, to all appearances her doom is sealed.

We may now return to the first part of the book. This first chapter, on account of the transcendent ideas it deals with, and of the lyric enthusiasm which pervades it throughout has not inappropriately been called a psalm. Its special interest lies in the fact that it is an alphabetical poem. The first to call attention to this feature was Frohnmeyer, whose observations, however, did not extend beyond vv. 3-7. Availing himself of this key, Bickell endeavoured to find out if the process of composition did not extend to the whole passage and include the twenty-two letters of the alphabet, and he attempted repeatedly but without great success ("Zeitschr. der deutsch. morg. Gesell.", 1880, p. 559; "Carmina Vet. Test. metrice", 1882; "Zeitschr. fur kath. Theol.", 1886), to restore the psalm to its pristine integrity. This failure did not discourage Gunkel who declared himself convinced that the poem is alphabetical throughout, although it is difficult, owing to the present condition of the text, to trace the initial letters X to X (Zeitschr. fur alttest. Wissensch., 1893, 223 sqq.). This was for Bickell an incentive to a fresh study (Das alphab. Lied in Nah. i-ii, 3, in "Sitzungsberichte der philos.-hist. Classe der kaiser. Akademie der Wissensch.", Vienna, 894, 5 Abhandl.), the conclusions of which show a notable improvement on the former attempts, and suggested to Gunkel a few corrections (Schopfung und Chaos, 120). Since then Nowack (Die kleinen Propheten, 1897), Gray ("The Alphab. Poem in Nah." in "The Expositor" for Sept. 1898, 207 sqq.), Arnold (On Nahum 1:1-2:3, in "Zeitschr. fur alttest. Wissensch.", 1901, 225 sqq.), Happel (Das Buch des Proph. Nah., 1903), Marti (Dodekaproph. erklart, 1904), Lohr (Zeitschr. fur alttest. Wissensch., 1905, I, 174), and Van Hoonacker (Les douze petits proph., 1908), have more or less successfully undertaken the difficult task of extricating the original psalm from the textual medley in which it is entangled. There is among them, a sufficient agreement as to the first part of the poem; but the second part still remains a classical ground for scholarly tilts.

Wellhausen (Die kleinen Proph., 1898) holds that the noteworthy difference between the two parts from the point of view of poetical construction is due to the fact that the writer abandoned halfway his undertaking to write acrostically. Happel believes both parts were worked out separately from an unacrostic original. sentence closed on the word XX, he noted in the title that his revision extended from XX to XX; and so the mysterious XX-XX (later on misconstrued and misspelled XXXXX) has neither a patronymic nor a gentile connotation. --> Critics are inclined to hold that the disorder and corruption which disfigure the poem are mostly due to the way it was tacked on to the prophecy of Nahum: the upper margin was first used, and then the side margin; and as, in the latter instance, the text must have been overcrowded and blurred, this later on caused in the second part of the psalm an inextricable confusion from which the first was preserved. This explanation of the textual condition of the poem implies the assumption that this chapter is not to be attributed to Nahum, but is a later addition. So much indeed was granted by Bickell, and Van Hoonacker (not to speak of non-Catholic scholars) is inclined to a like concession. On the one hand, the marked contrast between the abstract tome of the composition and the concrete character of the other two chapters, we are told, bespeaks a difference of authorship; and, on the other hand, the artificiality of the acrostic form is characteristic of a late date. These arguments, however, are not unanswerable. In any case it cannot be denied that the psalm is a most fitting preface to the prophecy.

Little will be found in the teaching of the book of Nahum that is really new and original. The originality of Nahum is that his mind is so engrossed by the iniquities and impending fate of Ninive, that he appears to lose sight of the shortcomings of his own people. The doom of Ninive was nevertheless in itself for Juda an object-lesson which the impassioned language of the Prophet was well calculated to impress deeply upon the minds of thoughtful Israelites. Despite the uncertainty of the text in several places, there is no doubt that the book of Nahum is truly "a masterpiece" (Kaulen) of literature. The vividness and picturesqueness of the Prophet's style have already been pointed out; in his few short, flashing sentences, most graphic word-pictures, apt and forceful figures, grand, energetic, and pathetic expressions rush in, thrust vehemently upon one another, yet leaving the impression of perfect naturalness. Withal the language remains ever pure and classical, with a tinge of partiality for alliteration (i, 10; ii, 3, 11) and the use of prim and rare idioms; the sentences are perfectly balanced; in a word Nahum is a consummate master of his art, and ranks among the most accomplished writers of the Old Testament.

Publication information Written by Charles L. Souvay. Transcribed by Sean Hyland. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York

Holy Prophet Nahum

Orthodox Information

Commemorated December 1

The Prophet Nahum had Elkesaeus (Elkosh) as his homeland, and was from the tribe of Symeon; he is seventh in order among the twelve minor Prophets. He prophesied during the time of Hezekias, after the destruction of Samaria (721 BC), but before the ten tribes were taken into captivity; he prophesied against Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. His name means "comforter". His book of prophecy is divided into three chapters.

Dismissal Hymn of the Prophet (Second Tone)

As we celebrate the memory of Your Prophet Nahum, O Lord, through him we beseech You to save our souls.

Kontakion of the Prophet (Fourth Tone)
On this day You have appeared

Your pure heart, illumined by the Holy Spirit, was a sacred vessel of resplendent prophecy, for you saw things far off as close at hand. Hence we revere you, blest Nahum most glorious.

Book of Nahum

Jewish Perspective Information

Article Headings:


Time and Place of Writing.

Historical Character.

One of the Minor Prophetical works which centers about the overflow of Nineveh. The dispirited people of Judah are aroused and encouraged by the announcement of the downfall of the oppressive empire seated on the upper Tigris. The book consists of three chapters, of which the following is a summary:

Ch. i: After the superscription (verse 1), the prophet describes (2-6) a superb theophany in judgment, with the awful results to nature. The apparent universality of this destruction leads the writer to point out (7) a real refuge for those who trust in Yhwh. The Assyrian power (8-12a) shall be completely overthrown, and its yoke broken from off the neck of Judah (12b-14). The prophetic eye even now (15) sees the welcome messenger heralding the good news to his hitherto oppressed people.


Ch. ii.: In brilliant colors and in rapid succession are shown the enemies of Nineveh assaulting its battlements (1-5), the gates of the river yielding to the foe, the palace dissolving in fierce flames (6), the consternation reigning among the city's population (7-8), the abundance of booty, and the effect of Nineveh's fall upon all who considered it (9-10); the question asked about "the old lion," and answered by the desolation (11-13).

Ch. iii.: The reason for Nineveh's swift downfall is in part recited: she has been a city of blood, always cruel and rapacious (1); her streets are now full of the slain, cut down by the victors because she has been the seducer of the nations (2-6); her destruction will not be lamented (7); resistance is as fruitless as was that of the impregnable Noamon (Thebes), and the vengeance of the victors no less terrible (8-12); all attempts at resistance are futile (13-15); the multitude of merchants and scribes shall disappear as grasshoppers on a warm day (16-17); the rulers are at rest, and the people scattered upon the mountains; the destruction is complete and a cause of rejoicing among all the nations (18-19).

Time and Place of Writing.

The book furnishes few data for a settlement of the time and place of writing. It is evident from iii. 8-10 that its "terminus a quo" is the fall of Noamon (Thebes) in Upper Egypt before the successful arms of Assurbanipal (668-626 B.C.) just after 664 B.C. In i. 9 it is foretold that the destruction of Assyria will be complete. This was accomplished about 606; and it constitutes the "terminus ad quem" of Nahum. Somewhere between these two points the date of the book is to be sought for. The two prevailing dates selected are (1) about 650 and (2) about 608. The reference to the fall of Thebes does not argue for the earlier date, as that disastrous battle would long remain in the memories of the adjoining peoples. Neither, on the other hand, does the vividness of descriptive detail fix absolutely the later time as the true date. The probabilities, however, are in favor of about 608 as the time of composition. "Nahum the Elkoshite" is the designation of the prophet. His vivid description of Nineveh and his definiteness of detail have led scholars to search for his home somewhere within reach of that city. Alḳush, a place near Mosul, contains a grave said to be that of Nahum; but the tradition of this place does not seem to be older than the sixteenth century. On the other hand, Eusebius in his "Onomasticon" (ed. Lagarde) mentions an 'Eλκσέ of Jerome; and Jerome says, in his commentary, "Elcese usque hodie viculus in Galilæa." These statements would seem to locate an Elkosh in Galilee. In answer to the statement that the Northern Kingdom was carried into captivity, it may be said that probably, as in the Southern Kingdom (II Kings xxv. 12), the poor were left in the land. The active commercial relations between the peoples of the East and of the West, and the opportunities for acquaintance with each other's customs and habits of life, as well as the few peculiarities of language in this book, make it probable that the prophet Nahum was a Galilean, who had his home at a village called Elkosh. His prophecies were doubtless uttered at Jerusalem, in the presence of Judah.

The prophecy reads quite as if some one had tampered with its original order. It may be that this apparent mixture is due to modern logical literary strictures. But the following order, which seems to follow modern methods of thought, may be suggested: (1) ch. i. 1-14; (2) ch. iii. 1-17; (3) ch. ii. 1-5, 13, 6-12; (4) ch. iii. 18, 19; i. 15.

Historical Character.

Of all the Minor Prophets the Book of Nahum has received the greatest and strongest light from the discoveries of the last half-century. The exact location of Nineveh, its fortifications, some of its palaces, its means of defense, its invincible kings, its armies, its amusements, its libraries, and its indescribable cruelty are now known. "The den of the lions" was an appalling reality, which let loose its terrors to the sorrow of every surrounding nation. The character of the Assyrians, as depicted here, is true to the picture preserved in their own documents.

This compact, pointed, dramatic prophecy has no superior in vivid and rapid movement. Its quick succession of statement and thought give it a peculiar power over the reader. It delineates the swift and unerring execution of Yhwh's laws upon His merciless foes and those of His people, and also points to Him as the sure refuge and security of those who obey and trust Him.

Emil G. Hirsch, Ira Maurice Price

Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.


Otto Strauss, Nahumi de Nino Vaticinium, 1853; the commentaries on the Minor Prophets of Orelli, G. A. Smith, and Nowack; Billerbeck and Jeremias, Der Untergang Nineveh's und die Weissagungschrift des Nahum, in Beiträge zur Assyriologie, iii. 87-188; A. B. Davidson, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah, in The Cambridge Bible for Schools, 1896; Gunkel, in Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, 1893, pp. 223 et seq.; Bickell, in Sitzungsberichte der K. K. Akademie der Wissenschaft zu Wien (Philos. Hist. Cl.), vol. cxxxi., part v., pp. 1 et seq.; Gunkel, Schöpfung und Chaos, p. 102, note 1.E. G. H. I. M. P.


Jewish Perspective Information

One of the so-called Minor Prophets. He is called, in the title of his book, "Nahum the Elkoshite." Where Elkosh was is not definitely known. The supposition that Nahum was a native of Judah agrees well with his keen sense of Judah's affliction under Assyrian domination and with his intense hatred of her oppressor.E. G. H. J. F. McL.

Emil G. Hirsch, J. F. McLaughlin

Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.

The individual articles presented here were generally first published in the early 1980s. This subject presentation was first placed on the Internet in May 1997.

This page - - - - is at
This subject presentation was last updated on - -

Copyright Information

Send an e-mail question or comment to us: E-mail

The main BELIEVE web-page (and the index to subjects) is at: BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet