Bible Study: Nahum

Nahum’s name means “Son of Comfort,” the Old Testament Barnabas, yet his message is one of judgment on Nineveh. But in this judgment on Nineveh, he ministered comfort to Judah. He preached about 130 years after Jonah, in the seventh century B.C. Speaking words of judgment and wrath from God, Nahum was a poet and is sometimes called the “Poet Laureate” among the Minor Prophets. His language is majestic, making use of imagery and Hebrew poetry. He may have lived in Capernaum (City of Nahum) although his location is debated among scholars.

The introduction to the book of Nahum is characterized by three different yet related words. It is a book, a vision and a burden (1:1), suggesting that he wrote down the visions he had, since they constituted a burden to him to relate. His prophecy of the fall of Nineveh was fulfilled in 612 B.C. when Babylon and the Medes conquered the Assyrian power.

In working through the prophecy, it is important to see that he weaves together messages of judgment to Nineveh with messages of hope for Judah. Assyria posed a major threat to Judah. She had carried away the northern tribes in 721 B.C. News of her destruction would bring great comfort to the people in Judah.


I. Introduction (1:1)

II. Nineveh’s Destruction Declared (1:2-14)

  1. The Attitude of Jehovah (1:2-8)
  2. Jehovah’s Plans for Nineveh and Judah (1:9-14)
    1. The Judgment of Nineveh (1:9-11)
    2. The Freedom of Judah (1:12-13)
    3. The End of Nineveh (1:14)

III. Nineveh’s Destruction Described (1:15-3:19)

  1. God Sovereign in His Justice (1:15-2:2)
  2. The Four Descriptions of Nineveh’s Fall (2:3-3:19)
    1. The First Description (2:3-7)
    2. The Second Description (2:8-13)
    3. The Third Description (3:1-7)
    4. The Fourth Description (3:8-19)

Another simpler outline sees the three chapters as:

  • Nahum 1 (Judgment Prophesied) – The Vision of Nahum
  • Nahum 2 (Judgment Characterized) – The Vanquishing of the City
  • Nahum 3 (Judgment Justified) – The Vindication of God

Jonah and Nahum are the only two books that end with rhetorical questions. Jonah offered grace; Nahum wrote of judgment.

The key verses are Nahum 1:7,8: “The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him. But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies” (KJV).