Nahum’s Scarlet Soldier
By Wendy Wippel
Our Bibles tell us that, All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness.” (II Timothy 3: 16) And as one of my former pastors used to say, “All means All and that’s all all means”.
So I guess (who knew) – “all” also means the book of Nahum.
Like much of the Old Testament, the book of Nahum is mostly prophecy, specifically prophecy about the city of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria and a constant nemesis of the people of God.
A very ancient and wealthy city east of the Tigris River, Nineveh was, according to classical writers, about 60 miles wide with about 150,000 residents.(!) And According to Genesis 10:11, it was founded by Nimrod, who also built the Tower of Babel, and instigated a worldwide rebellion against God.
With that lineage, no surprise, Nineveh was also ground zero for worship of false Gods. Well, actually a Goddess. Ishtar.
What most Christians know about Nineveh they know because of Jonah, who, at God’s bidding, preached against the city about 750 years before Christ, and managed to provoke some repentance. Said repentance, however, was short-lived, and future kings were a persistent thorn in the side of God’s Chosen People. Not more than 20 years after Jonah led the Assyrians to repentance, new Kings-first Tiglathpileser, and then Sennacherib, came against Judah, conquered it, and carried its population into slavery throughout Asia.
(Those poor souls thereafter known as the “lost tribes”.)
Assyria then went on to destroy the northern capital, Samaria, in 721 B.C. under Tiglathpileser, then nearly conquered Jerusalem in 701 BC under Sennacherib-those residents of Jerusalem were rescued, as described in II Kings 18-20 by a plague that struck only the Ninevite Armies, outside the city walls.
Judah hated Nineveh. And they feared them. For a lot of good reasons.
Assyrians were a brutal and bloodthirsty culture, famous for skinning and impaling their enemies as well as amputating their hands, feet and genitals.
Woe to the bloody city! It is all full of lies and robbery. Its victim never departs. The noise of a whip and the noise of rattling wheels, Of galloping horses, Of clattering chariots! Horsemen charge with bright sword and glittering spear. There is a multitude of slain, A great number of bodies, Countless corpses (Nahum 31:3 NKJV)
The largest, most powerful and wealthiest city in the ancient world, Nineveh was also a very arrogant city, leading Nahum to call them out on it.
“Are you better than No Amon That was situated by the River, That had the waters around her, Whose rampart was the sea, Whose wall was the sea?” (Nahum 3:8)
And, last but certainly not least, Nineveh was ground zero for idolatry, bringing the surrounding nations (with the exception, mostly, of Israel and Judah) from afar to worship the mother Goddess Ishtar.
Bottom line? Definitely, no love lost between Judah and the city of Nineveh. And Nahum records the man-on the-street (and God in-the-heavens) opinion of Nineveh at the time:
“Woe to the city of blood, full of lies, full of plunder, never without victims!” “Who has not felt your endless cruelty?” (Nahum 3:19)
So it is reasonable to wonder why God allowed a city like Nineveh to defeat Israel. No need to wonder long, though, because God tells us. God used Nineveh to judge Israel’s disobedience.
For the Lord will strike Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water. He will uproot Israel from this good land which He gave to their fathers, and will scatter them beyond the river because they have made their wooden images provoking the Lord to anger. (I Kings 14:15)
But don’t assume Nineveh got a pass.
The brutality of its people and their worship of false Gods certainly did not escape Jehovah, who made a few prophecies regarding Nineveh as well. And, as you may have guessed, all have been fulfilled. And verified.
Prophecy #1: God would eventually avenge Israel upon their enemy, Nineveh.
The Lord is jealous, and the Lord avenges; The Lord avenges and is furious.The Lord will take vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies;3 The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, And will not at all acquit the wicked. (Nahum 1:1)
And In 612 BC Babylon, Nede, Scythian and Greece joined forces to take down the powerful capitol city of Assyria.
Prophecy #2: Nineveh would be destroyed by flood.
The gates of the rivers are opened, and the palace is dissolved.. (Nahum 2:6)
Babylonian and Greek forces attacked Nineveh in 612 BC. Greek historian Diodorus Siculus recorded that unusually heavy rain at that time caused substantial flooding, and that that flood waters destroyed large sections of Nineveh’s walls, so enemy troops had easy entry into the city.
Prophecy #3: The city would also be destroyed by fire.
The gates of your land are wide open for your enemies; Fire shall devour the bars of your gates.14 Draw your water for the siege! Fortify your strongholds! Go into the clay and tread the mortar! Make strong the brick kiln! 15 There the fire will devour you, The sword will cut you off…
Austen Henry Layard, who discovered the ruins of Nineveh in 1847, recorded in his journals that a thick layer of ash covered the ruins of the ancient city Nineveh. The city’s destruction was shown to be accompanied by a massive fire, as documented by the Encyclopedia Britannica;
“…Extensive traces of ash, representing the sack of the city by Babylonians, Scythians, and Medes in 612 BC, have been found in many parts of the Acropolis….”
Prophecy #4: Nineveh’s army would be intoxicated when attacked.
For while tangled like thorns, And while drunken like drunkards Nahum, they shall be devoured like stubble fully dried (Nahum 1:10)
The writings of Greek historian Diodorus Siculus also tell us that, “The Assyrian king gave much wine to his soldiers. Deserters told this to the enemy, who attacked that night.”
Prophecy #5: Nineveh’s intoxicated officers would desert and flee.
You also will be drunk, Your commanders swarming locusts, And your generals like great grasshoppers, which camp in the hedges on a cold day; When the sun rises they flee away, And the place where they are is not known. (Nahum 3:17)
Babylonian records confirm that the Assyrian army was routed and their officers fled in all directions.
Prophecy #6: In that future battle to come, Nineveh will be easy pickins.
“your strongholds are fig trees with ripened figs If they are shaken, They fall into the mouth of the eater. Surely, your people in your midst are women! The gates of your land are wide open for your enemies. (Nahum 3:12-13)
Flood, fire, and chaos made Babylon’s conquest of Nineveh relatively effortless.
Prophecy #7: Nineveh’s destruction would last forever.
Your shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria; Your nobles rest in the dust. Your people are scattered on the mountains, And no one gathers them. Your injury has no healing, Your wound is severe. What do you conspire against the Lord? He will make an utter end of it. Affliction will not rise up a second time. (Nahum 3:18-19)
The Lord has given a command concerning you, [Nineveh]: “You will have no descendants to bear your name. I will destroy the carved images and cast idols that are in the temple of your gods. I will prepare your grave, for you are vile.” (Nahum 1:14)
Nineveh was destroyed, buried by the centuries Nahum also predicts that Nineveh would be Hidden (3:11) and basically considered another Bible delusion until Henry Austen Layard unearthed it again.
Amazingly detailed prophecies that even most Christians are unaware of! And it’s the details that make the prophecies hard to dismiss. Like this one, also in Nahum:
An attacker advances against you, Nineveh… brace yourselves, marshal all your strength! The Lord will restore the splendor of Jacob…, though destroyers have laid them waste …The shields of the soldiers are red; the warriors are clad in scarlet. The metal on the chariots flashes on the day they are made ready;. Nahum 2:1-3 NIV
Translation: The evil city Nineveh will be destroyed, and God’s agents of their destruction will be wearing red.
Nineveh was laid waste by Babylonian-Greek, and Medean forces. And Xenophon (a Greek historian) records that the Medes had both uniforms and shields what were dyed a scarlet red.
Nahum wrote his book shortly after Tiglathpileser had defeated the northern kingdom and carried its people into exile.
Nahum was God’s agent of encouragement, tasked to let God’s people know that the end was not yet. Nahum in Hebrew, means “comfort”.
Yeah. That’s a coincidence.