Nahum – Chapter 2

Assyria's Not All That

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Nahum says to behold a messenger carrying good news – that when the king of Assyria is punished (as described in the previous chapter), the Jews will be free to live in Judah and go to Jerusalem and the Temple. They should pay their debts, which they promised (e.g., “G-d, if you save us from Assyria, then I’ll do X, Y and Z…”) The Assyrians will no longer oppress them; they’ll be too busy defending themselves from the Babylonians! G-d has restored the pride of the nation – Jerusalem – to its former status.

The Babylonians are poised to strike Assyria. Their chariots will zoom through the streets of Nineveh, creating chaos. The king of Assyria will dispatch his army, who will flee. The city gates are opened and the palace will be bombarded. The queen will be abducted and her ladies-in-waiting will mourn. Nineveh had previously been calm, like a pool of water, but now they must flee while their enemies pursue. The invaders will loot the treasures of Nineveh and the hearts of the Assyrians will melt.

What happened to Nineveh, which used to be the seat of a world power (symbolized by a lion’s den)? G-d will set fire to their chariots and import the swords of the enemy. No longer will Assyria prey on other nations and the emissaries who used to threaten other countries (as in II Kings 18) will disappear.

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