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The Emperor of Assyria as the Instrument of God

(A)The Lord said, “Assyria! I use Assyria like a club to punish those with whom I am angry. I sent Assyria to attack a godless nation, people who have made me angry. I sent them to loot and steal and trample the people like dirt in the streets.”

But the Assyrian emperor has his own violent plans in mind. He is determined to destroy many nations. He boasts, “Every one of my commanders is a king! I conquered the cities of Calno and Carchemish, the cities of Hamath and Arpad. I conquered Samaria and Damascus. 10 I reached out to punish those kingdoms that worship idols, idols more numerous than those of Jerusalem and Samaria. 11 I have destroyed Samaria and all its idols, and I will do the same to Jerusalem and the images that are worshiped there.”

12 But the Lord says, “When I finish what I am doing on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, I will punish the emperor of Assyria for all his boasting and all his pride.”

13 The emperor of Assyria boasts, “I have done it all myself. I am strong and wise and clever. I wiped out the boundaries between nations and took the supplies they had stored. Like a bull I have trampled the people who live there. 14 The nations of the world were like a bird's nest, and I gathered their wealth as easily as gathering eggs. Not a wing fluttered to scare me off; no beak opened to scream at me!”

15 But the Lord says, “Can an ax claim to be greater than the one who uses it? Is a saw more important than the one who saws with it? A club doesn't lift up a person; a person lifts up a club.”

16 The Lord Almighty is going to send disease to punish those who are now well-fed. In their bodies there will be a fire that burns and burns. 17 God, the light of Israel, will become a fire. Israel's holy God will become a flame, which in a single day will burn up everything, even the thorns and thistles. 18 The rich forests and farmlands will be totally destroyed, in the same way that a fatal sickness destroys someone. 19 There will be so few trees left that even a child will be able to count them.

A Few Will Come Back

20 A time is coming when the people of Israel who have survived will not rely any more on the nation that almost destroyed them. They will truly put their trust in the Lord, Israel's holy God. 21 A few of the people of Israel will come back to their mighty God. 22 (B)Even though now there are as many people of Israel as there are grains of sand by the sea, only a few will come back. Destruction is in store for the people, and it is fully deserved. 23 Yes, throughout the whole country the Sovereign Lord Almighty will bring destruction, as he said he would.

The Lord Will Punish Assyria

24 The Sovereign Lord Almighty says to his people who live in Zion, “Do not be afraid of the Assyrians, even though they oppress you as the Egyptians used to do. 25 In only a little while I will finish punishing you, and then I will destroy them. 26 I, the Lord Almighty, will beat them with my whip as I did the people of Midian at Oreb Rock. I will punish Assyria as I punished Egypt. 27 When that time comes, I will free you from the power of Assyria, and their yoke will no longer be a burden on your shoulders.”[a]

The Invader Attacks

28 The enemy army has captured the city of Ai![b] They have passed through Migron! They left their supplies at Michmash! 29 They have crossed the pass and are spending the night at Geba! The people in the town of Ramah are terrified, and the people in King Saul's hometown of Gibeah have run away. 30 Shout, people of Gallim! Listen, people of Laishah! Answer, people of Anathoth! 31 The people of Madmenah and Gebim are running for their lives. 32 Today the enemy are in the town of Nob, and there they are shaking their fists at Mount Zion, at the city of Jerusalem.

33 The Lord Almighty will bring them crashing down like branches cut off a tree. The proudest and highest of them will be cut down and humiliated. 34 The Lord will cut them down as trees in the heart of the forest are cut down with an ax, as even the finest trees of Lebanon fall!

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Footnotes

  1. Isaiah 10:27 Hebrew has three additional words, the meaning of which is unclear.
  2. Isaiah 10:28 Ai: This and the other places mentioned in verses 28-32 were located near Jerusalem, along the way by which an invader would come to attack from the north.

(A)This is a message about Nineveh, the account of a vision seen by Nahum, who was from Elkosh.

The Lord's Anger against Nineveh

The Lord God tolerates no rivals;
    he punishes those who oppose him.
    In his anger he pays them back.
The Lord does not easily become angry,
    but he is powerful
    and never lets the guilty go unpunished.

Where the Lord walks, storms arise;
    the clouds are the dust raised by his feet!
He commands the sea, and it dries up!
    He makes the rivers go dry.
The fields of Bashan wither,
    Mount Carmel turns brown,
    and the flowers of Lebanon fade.
Mountains quake in the presence of the Lord;
    hills melt before him.
The earth shakes when the Lord appears;
    the world and all its people tremble.
When he is angry, who can survive?
    Who can survive his terrible fury?
He pours out his flaming anger;
    rocks crumble to dust before him.

The Lord is good;
    he protects his people in times of trouble;
    he takes care of those who turn to him.
Like a great rushing flood he completely destroys his enemies;[a]
    he sends to their death those who oppose him.
What are you plotting against the Lord?
    He will destroy you.
    No one opposes him more than once.
10 Like tangled thorns and dry straw
    you drunkards will be burned up!

11 From you, Nineveh, there came someone full of wicked schemes, who plotted against the Lord. 12 This is what the Lord says to his people Israel: “Even though the Assyrians are strong and numerous, they will be destroyed and disappear. My people, I made you suffer, but I will not do it again. 13 I will now end Assyria's power over you and break the chains that bind you.”

14 This is what the Lord has decreed about the Assyrians: “They will have no descendants to carry on their name. I will destroy the idols that are in the temples of their gods. I am preparing a grave for the Assyrians—they don't deserve to live!”

15 (B)Look, a messenger is coming over the mountains with good news! He is on his way to announce the victory! People of Judah, celebrate your festivals and give God what you solemnly promised him. The wicked will never invade your land again. They have been totally destroyed!

The Fall of Nineveh

Nineveh, you are under attack!
The power that will shatter you has come.
    Prepare the defenses!
    Guard the road!
    Prepare for battle!
The Lord is about to restore the glory of Israel, as it was before her enemies plundered her.
The enemy soldiers carry red shields
    and wear uniforms of red.
They are preparing to attack!
    Their chariots flash like fire!
    Their horses[b] prance!

Chariots dash wildly through the streets,
    rushing back and forth in the city squares.
They flash like torches
    and dart about like lightning.
The officers are summoned;
    they stumble as they press forward.

The attackers rush to the wall
    and set up the shield for the battering ram.
The gates by the river burst open;
    the palace is filled with terror.
The queen is taken captive;
    her servants moan like doves
    and beat their breasts in sorrow.
Like water from a broken dam
    the people rush from Nineveh![c]
“Stop! Stop!” the cry rings out—
    but no one turns back.

Plunder the silver!
    Plunder the gold!
The city is full of treasure!

10 Nineveh is destroyed, deserted, desolate!
    Hearts melt with fear;
    knees tremble, strength is gone;
    faces grow pale.

11 Where now is the city
    that was like a den of lions,
    the place where young lions were fed,
    where the lion and the lioness would go
    and their cubs would be safe?
12 The lion killed his prey
    and tore it to pieces for his mate and her cubs;
    he filled his den with torn flesh.

13 “I am your enemy!” says the Lord Almighty. “I will burn up your chariots. Your soldiers will be killed in war, and I will take away everything that you took from others. The demands of your envoys will no longer be heard.”

Doomed is the lying, murderous city,
    full of wealth to be looted and plundered!
Listen! The crack of the whip,
    the rattle of wheels,
    the gallop of horses,
    the jolting of chariots!
Cavalry troops charge,
    swords flash, spears gleam!
Corpses are piled high,
    dead bodies without number—
    men stumble over them!
Nineveh the whore is being punished.
Attractive and full of deadly charms,
    she enchanted nations and enslaved[d] them.

The Lord Almighty says,

“I will punish you, Nineveh!
    I will strip you naked
    and let the nations see you,
    see you in all your shame.
I will treat you with contempt
    and cover you with filth.
    People will stare at you in horror.
All who see you will shrink back.
    They will say, ‘Nineveh lies in ruins!
    Who has any sympathy for her?
    Who will want to comfort her?’”

Nineveh, are you any better than Thebes, the capital of Egypt? She too had a river to protect her like a wall—the Nile was her defense. She ruled Ethiopia[e] and Egypt, there was no limit to her power; Libya was her ally. 10 Yet the people of Thebes were carried off into exile. At every street corner their children were beaten to death. Their leading men were carried off in chains and divided among their captors.

11 Nineveh, you too will fall into a drunken stupor! You too will try to escape from your enemies. 12 All your fortresses will be like fig trees with ripe figs: shake the trees, and the fruit falls right into your mouth! 13 Your soldiers are helpless, and your country stands defenseless before your enemies. Fire will destroy the bars across your gates. 14 Draw water to prepare for a siege, and strengthen your fortresses! Trample the clay to make bricks, and get the brick molds ready! 15 No matter what you do, you will still be burned to death or killed in battle. You will be wiped out like crops eaten up by locusts.

You multiplied like locusts! 16 You produced more merchants than there are stars in the sky! But now they are gone, like locusts that spread their wings and fly away. 17 Your officials are like a swarm of locusts that stay in the walls on a cold day. But when the sun comes out, they fly away, and no one knows where they have gone!

18 Emperor of Assyria, your governors are dead, and your noblemen are asleep forever! Your people are scattered on the mountains, and there is no one to bring them home again. 19 There is no remedy for your injuries, and your wounds cannot be healed. All those who hear the news of your destruction clap their hands for joy. Did anyone escape your endless cruelty?

Footnotes

  1. Nahum 1:8 Some ancient translations his enemies; Hebrew its place.
  2. Nahum 2:3 Some ancient translations horses; Hebrew cypresses.
  3. Nahum 2:8 Probable text Like water … Nineveh; Hebrew unclear.
  4. Nahum 3:4 enslaved; or seduced.
  5. Nahum 3:9 Hebrew Cush: Cush is the ancient name of the extensive territory south of the First Cataract of the Nile River. This region was called Ethiopia in Graeco-Roman times, and included within its borders most of modern Sudan and some of present-day Ethiopia (Abyssinia).

13 (A)The Lord will use his power to destroy Assyria. He will make the city of Nineveh a deserted ruin, a waterless desert. 14 It will be a place where flocks, herds, and animals of every kind will lie down. Owls will live among its ruins and hoot from the windows. Crows[a] will caw on the doorsteps. The cedar wood of her buildings will be stripped away. 15 That is what will happen to the city that is so proud of its own power and thinks it is safe. Its people think that their city is the greatest in the world. What a desolate place it will become, a place where wild animals will rest! Everyone who passes by will shrink back in horror.

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Footnotes

  1. Zephaniah 2:14 Some ancient translations Crows; Hebrew Desolation.

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