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Nahum 3:19 – Endless Cruelty?

Summary

No one has escaped Assyrian violence. It was so extensive that it seemed to be without end. Nahum announces its end.

Analysis

Since everyone has experienced Assyrian cruelty, there will be no one to heal or soften the judgment to be visited upon Assyria. The blow will be final and deadly. Rather than mourn the fall of Nineveh, all the victimized peoples will rejoice. However, it is important not to collapse the festivals and vows that Judah is to resume (1:15) with the applause envisioned at the end of the book. Canonically, the fact that the only other book to end with a question is Jonah (which narrates a different future for Nineveh) cautions the reader against a reading that would restrict God's mercy. Nahum is about God's bringing to an end the cruelty that Assyria embodied. Envisioning that end as military destruction does not limit God's mercy in another context or at another time.

Nahum 3:19


19 There is no assuaging your hurt,
   your wound is mortal.
All who hear the news about you
   clap their hands over you.
For who has ever escaped
   your endless cruelty?

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10 February 2011

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