Woe to the city of blood, full of lies, full of plunder, never without victims!
The crack of whips, clatter of wheels, galloping horses and jolting chariots!
Charging cavalry, flashing swords and glittering spears!
In his prophetic vision, Nahum took a tour of the city of Nineveh and observed how ripe it was for judgment. He saw it was a busy city, yet it was busy with violence, deception, and idolatry.
Many casualties, piles of dead, bodies without number, people stumbling over the corpses — all because of the wanton lust of a prostitute, alluring, the mistress of sorceries, who enslaved nations by her prostitution and peoples by her witchcraft.
“I am against you,” declares the Lord. “I will lift your skirts over your face.
I will show the nations your nakedness and the kingdoms your shame.
I’ll pelt you with filth, I’ll treat you with contempt; make you a spectacle.
All who see you will flee from you.
Are you better than Thebes, situated on the Nile, with water around her?
The river was her defense, the waters her wall.
Cush and Egypt were her boundless strength;
Put and Libya were among her allies.
Yet she was taken captive and went into exile.
Her infants were dashed to pieces at every street corner.
Lots were cast for her nobles, and all her great men were put in chains.
You too will become drunk; you will go into hiding and seek refuge from the enemy.
Are you better than Thebes? Thebes was another wealthy, mighty city that was eradicated. The Assyrians in Nineveh knew this well because it was their armies that destroyed Thebes. Nahum said, “Remember what you did to Thebes? The same is coming on you.”
You also: We are like the Ninevites. We see empires and nations judged in our own day and history, just like the Assyrians saw Thebes destroyed. Yet we, like the Ninevites, somehow think that we will be spared, despite our sinful arrogance and rebellion.
All your fortresses are like fig trees with their first ripe fruit; when they are shaken, the figs fall into the mouth of the eater.
Look at your troops—they are all weaklings.
The gates of your land are wide open to your enemies;
fire has consumed the bars of your gates.
Draw water for the siege, strengthen your defenses!
Work the clay, tread the mortar, repair the brickwork!
There the fire will consume you; the sword will cut you down — they will devour you like a swarm of locusts.
Multiply like grasshoppers, multiply like locusts!
You have increased the number of your merchants till they are more numerous than the stars in the sky, but like locusts, they strip the land and then fly away.
Your guards are like locusts, your officials like swarms of locusts that settle in the walls on a cold day — but when the sun appears, they fly away, and no one knows where.
King of Assyria, your shepherd’s slumber; your nobles lie down to rest.
Your people are scattered on the mountains with no one to gather them.
Nothing can heal you; your wound is fatal.
All who hear the news about you clap their hands at your fall, for who has not felt your endless cruelty?”
Nahum 3 | NIV
The City of Nineveh
The earliest cities for which there exist records appeared around the mouths of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Gradually civilization spread northward and around the Fertile Crescent. The inset map shows the countries that occupy this area today.
Nineveh, the oldest and most populous city of the ancient Assyrian empire, situated on the Tigris River’s east bank and encircled by Iraq’s modern city, Mosul. Nineveh was located at the intersection of important north-south and east-west trade routes. Its proximity to the Tigris, the Khawṣar River’s tributary, added to the value of the fertile agricultural and pastoral lands in the district.