IV: God’s Recompense To Nineveh For Her Abuse Of Thebes

(Nahum 3:8-11)


I.               Introduction

A.    Nineveh of Assyria had repented under Jonah’s preaching over one hundred years before Nahum was written, but their devotion to God had not been transmitted to their children, so the people of Nineveh had reverted back their past sins. (Ryrie Study Bible, KJV, 1978, “Introduction to the Book of Nahum: Theme,” p. 1292)

B.    Meanwhile, the Assyrians had destroyed Samaria of the Northern Kingdom in 722 B. C. and nearly captured Jerusalem in Hezekiah’s day in 701 B. C., so Assyria and its capitol of Nineveh were ripe for divine judgment.

C.    Nahum 3:8-11 reveals God’s recompense to Nineveh for her abuse of Thebes, what we view for our insight:

II.            God’s Recompense To Nineveh For Her Abuse Of Thebes, Nahum 3:8-11.

A.    The Noahic Covenant required the nations that descended from Noah’s three sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth after the Genesis Flood to avoid the sin of murder, cf. Genesis 8:20-9:17.

B.    Right after that covenant was made, Noah’s son Ham dishonored his father Noah where Shem led Japheth to honor their father (Genesis 9:20-24) so that God through Noah predicted that Ham’s son Canaan would be cursed and Ham would have no blessing where Noah blessed both Japheth and Shem, Genesis 9:25-27.

C.    If we move down the timeline many hundreds of years from Noah’s three sons to Nahum 3:8-11, we have a prophecy about God’s coming punishment of the Assyrian city of Nineveh, descendants of Noah’s blessed son Shem, for its abusive treatment of the Egyptian city of Thebes, descendants of Noah’s unblessed son Ham. (Ibid., p. 1502-1503; Merrill F. Unger, Arch. and the O. T., 1973, p. 97, 77 and p. 83-84) as follows:

1.      Assyria had conquered Thebes in 663 B. C. in fulfillment of Jeremiah 46:25 and Ezekiel 30:14, 16. (Ibid., Bible Know. Com., O. T., p. 1502) However, God rhetorically asked the people of Nineveh if they were better than Thebes that sat by the Nile with water all around her, her rampart the sea and her wall of protection water, Nahum 3:8.  Thebes was located on the eastern bank of the Nile, equipping her to build moats, canals, and water channels through much of the city for protection, Ibid., p. 1502-1503.

2.      Thebes was the most prominent city of Cush, today’s southern Egypt, Sudan, and northern Ethiopia, and she was allied with northern Egypt, Put which was located on the coast of the Red Sea as far south as Somalialand and the Libyans who lived west of Egypt, meaning her allies were south, north, east and west of her. (Nahum 3:9; Ibid., p. 1503) Nevertheless, they were unable to rescue Thebes from Assyrian attack.

3.      Regardless of her protection by water and her surrounding allies, Thebes was still defeated by Assyria, Nahum 3:10a.  Most of the people were captured (Ibid.), and rather than taking Thebian infants into exile, the Assyrians “ruthlessly massacred them at the intersections of every street creating fear and agony among the people of Thebes and destroying a future generation of Thebians,” Nahum 3:10b; Ibid.

4.      The nobles of Thebes “were bid for by casting lots” likely to become slaves, Nahum 3:10c; Ibid.

5.      Nevertheless, “Nineveh’s treatment of Thebes would be turned back on Nineveh.  Like drunk persons, the Ninevites would be bereft of sense and direction under attack, frantically seeking to hide.  Also, the people of Nineveh literally became drunk (cf. 1:10) with intoxicants, which contributed to their aimless tottering and inability to defend themselves,” Ibid.; Nahum 1:11.

6.      Though the Ninevites had come from Noah’s blessed son Shem and the Thebians had come from Noah’s unblessed son Ham, Nineveh’s mistreatment of Thebes in violation of the Noahic Covenant was repaid by the Lord by Nineveh’s facing terrifying defeat by invaders.


Lesson: Though God had blessed Shem’s descendants and not Ham’s descendants due to the contrasting ways both men had treated their father Noah, since Shem’s descendants of Nineveh had brutally mistreated Ham’s descendants of Thebes, God would judge the people of Nineveh to face terrifying devastation as had the Thebians.


Application: (1) May we not presume that since we have a good heritage that we are not accountable for how we treat others, for God deals with each individual based upon his own actions, Ezekiel 18:1-28.  (2) The killing of infants, be it how the Semitic men of Nineveh slew the Hamitic Thebian infants or how man today slays the unborn by abortion, is still a grave violation of the Noahic Covenant, so may we avoid and oppose this sin in honor of the Noahic Covenant!  (3) The Noahic Covenant calls for us to oppose all murders, be they atrocities that occur in war as in the current war in Ukraine or murders that occur in the slaying of police officers or in any other realm, so may we oppose such sin and support the authorities who inhibit such wickedness in society.