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The Access Bible New Revised Standard Bible, written and edited with first-time Bible readers in mind.

Nahum - Introduction

Like the speeches of the prophet * Obadiah, Nahum's speeches are directed entirely to one of Israel's neighbors rather than to Israel itself. The object of Nahum's speeches is Nineveh, the capital city of the Assyrian empire for almost a hundred years, and the subject of his speeches is God's judgment on this city for its cruel treatment of its neighbors. Feelings of anger and vengeance run through the book ( 1.2, 6 ) together with a delight in the complete devastation of the city ( 3.19 ). Yet behind these emotions lies a belief in God's just government of world affairs. Assyria was an ancient superpower that had dominated its smaller, weaker neighbors through policies of colonial expansion and heavy taxation. Thus its demise was viewed by citizens of its satellite countries, such as Israel and Judah, as just punishment for its oppressive exploitation ( 2.10–13 ) and as a time of new freedom ( 1.12–13 ) and economic and religious revival ( 1.15; 2.2 ).

Nineveh, an ancient and powerful Assyrian city, became capital of the Assyrian empire during the reign of Sennacherib (704–681 BCE). It was, thereafter, the chief Assyrian city and a symbol of the empire itself, until it fell to the armies of the Medes and the Babylonians in 612 BCE. It was not long before Nineveh's fall that these speeches predicting its end were likely composed by the prophet Nahum. This distinguishes Nahum from the eighth-century prophets, Hosea, Amos, and Micah, who precede him in the collection of Minor Prophets, and it makes him a contemporary of Habakkuk and Zephaniah, who follow.

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