Nineveh & the Fog of War

Notice the foundation of the destruction of Nineveh in Nahum 2:2. “For the Lord is restoring the majesty of Jacob, as the majesty of Israel, for plunderers have plundered them and ruined their branches.”

Why is God doing these things to Nineveh again? In case they’ve forgotten Nahum 1 where God called them to account for their vileness, God now says He is coming to restore the beauty and majesty of Jacob, and in order for the majesty of Jacob to return the enemies of Jacob must be done away with. The people of God had been plundered, their land ruined, hopes stripped away, wellbeing removed, and God as their faithful Father is jealous over His people and yearning to avenge them and heap destruction on their enemies. While God’s people will be made beautiful and lifted up, the enemies of God’s people will be made dreadful and cast down. Remember 1:15, “Rejoice O Judah! Keep your feasts, beautiful are the feet bringing good news! Your enemy is utterly cut off!” This is meant to comfort God’s people, and terrorize Nineveh. Nahum 2-3 teaches us that God did not make an end of Nineveh in a manner like Sodom and Gomorrah. God did not rain sulfur and fire from heaven. No, God put an end to Nineveh and all Assyria by using the armies of their neighbors to destroy them. You see, as Nineveh was reaching the height of its power, a few other nations were beginning to gain strength and even surpass Nineveh in its glory as well. How were they destroyed? How did God make an end of them? From 627 – 612 B.C. the armies of the Babylonians and the Medes tore Nineveh apart.

We then see the “Fog of War” in 2:3-12. The shield of his mighty men is red; his soldiers are clothed in scarlet. The chariots come with flashing metal
on the day he musters them;
the cypress spears are brandished.The chariots race madly through the streets;
they rush to and fro through the squares;
they gleam like torches; they dart like lightning.He remembers his officers; they stumble as they go,
they hasten to the wall; the siege toweris set up.The river gates are opened;
the palace melts away;its mistress is stripped; she is carried off,
her slave girls lamenting,
moaning like doves
and beating their breasts.Nineveh is like a pool
whose waters run away.
“Halt! Halt!” they cry, but none turns back.Plunder the silver,
plunder the gold!
There is no end of the treasure
or of the wealth of all precious things. Desolate! Desolation and ruin! Hearts melt and knees tremble;
anguish is in all loins;
all faces grow pale!Where is the lions’ den, the feeding place of the young lions,
where the lion and lioness went,
where his cubs were, with none to disturb?The lion tore enough for his cubs and strangled prey for his lionesses;
he filled his caves with prey
and his dens with torn flesh.

The phrase “fog of war” describes this section perfectly because that’s what we see. The soldiers and their shields stained “red” with the blood of the Ninevites, chariots speeding through the city streets cutting people down left and right with their thick and weighty cypress spears, the defense of Nineveh wavering and stumbling in face of such dread, clearly unable to hold them off. You see how 2:6 says the river gates opened, melting away the palace? Well, a historical map of Nineveh shows the Tigris river flowing directly into and through the city of Nineveh. They had designed it like this, to not only fill up the mote around the Ninevite walls, but to allow the river to flow through the city. One almost gets a Thomas Kinkade picturesque image in mind when thinking of such a sight. Well, the armies of Nineveh’s neighbors dammed up the Tigris at a specific spot causing all of Nineveh to flood. And thus we have it, “…The river gates are opened, the palace melts away, it’s mistress stripped and carried off…people lamenting and calling out “Halt! Halt!” The soldiers victorious respond to these screams of grief with screams of their own, “Plunder the silver, the gold, there is no end to the wealth found here!”

This is a tragic scene for Nineveh. In the “fog of war” they had been crushed, wiped out, and flooded. No wonder why it says in 2:10 that hearts were melting, knees were trembling, and faces growing pale. Catastrophe had come. The city was soon to be no more.

In 2:11-12 we see Nineveh being likened to a lions den, filled with cubs and lionesses, safe and secure, piles of prey and food for the family. God likens Nineveh to a lions den for two reasons: 1) to point out the violent nature of Nineveh. I’ve been to Kenya and seen a lioness take down a wildebeest, and it was terrifying how quickly and helpless the wildebeest was. Nineveh is called this because they lived and fed themselves on the violence they brought to God’s people and the other nations around them. 2) To mock their so called “strength.”

What was known as the safest most indestructible fortress around was nothing in comparison to God’s mighty strength.

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