Nahum was a contemporary of Zephaniah, Habakkuk, and Jeremiah (see “The Kings and the Prophets of Israel and Judah,” p. 232 in this manual). He prophesied in Judah sometime between 663 and 612 B.C. His entire recorded message prophesies the destruction of Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria. This prophecy also serves as a type of the destruction of the wicked in the last days.
Nineveh had received a warning to repent through the prophet Jonah more than one hundred years earlier. The people of Nineveh at that time repented and were spared (see Jonah 3). However, by the time of Nahum’s ministry, Nineveh had become wicked again and this time would not escape the Lord’s judgment.
The Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom of Israel about 721 B.C. and carried its inhabitants into captivity (see enrichment section D in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, pp. 113–16). From that time on the Assyrians were a constant threat to the survival of Judah as well. Nahum’s prophecy of the destruction of Assyria, written in beautiful Hebrew poetry, must have been a source of hope and comfort to the people of Judah. Nahum’s name means consoler” (see Bible Dictionary, “Nahum,” p. 736). His promise was that Jehovah would one day bring “comfort” to Israel.
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
Suggestions for Teaching
Nahum 1–3. It is not enough to have been faithful in the past; we must faithfully endure to the end. The Lord will only destroy the wicked after they have been warned. (35–45 minutes)
Give each student a paper with a grave marker drawn on it. Ask them to write an epitaph on the marker that they would like on their own grave. Invite several students to share what they wrote, and discuss the reasons they would like to be remembered that way. Have students read Alma 48:11–13, 17 and discuss how the life we live influences what others will remember about us. Read Doctrine and Covenants 14:7 and 101:35–38 and ask:
How will faithfully enduring to the end make a difference in how we are remembered?
What about someone who was disobedient as a youth but later repented and became faithful? (see Alma 36:6–24).
What about someone who started out faithful but did not continue? (see D&C 40:1–3).
Tell students that today they will learn about a city for whom the prophet Nahum wrote an epitaph before its destruction.
Ask students what they know about the Assyrians and their capital city, Nineveh (see enrichment section D in
Have students read Nahum 3:1–5 and tell what Nineveh was like more than one hundred years later. Ask: What sort of epitaph would have been appropriate for Nineveh in Nahum’s day? Tell them that Nahum 3:7–19 could be called Nahum’s epitaph on Nineveh and was written before it was destroyed. Have students read those verses and choose one that they feel would be the most appropriate inscription on Nineveh’s grave marker.
How do those verses help us understand why the Lord punished Nineveh? (The city that He had spared in Jonah’s day quickly forgot and returned to its wicked ways.)
How might our circumstances be similar to Nineveh’s if we also fall into wickedness?
Read Nahum 1:8–10 and compare it to Malachi 4:1. Ask students which other event Nahum referred to when he described the fall of Nineveh. (The Second Coming.) Help them understand the dual nature of much Old Testament prophecy (see the commentary for Nahum 1:2–10 in