Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

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Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Fatally Vulnerable: Nahum 3 with poem by Thomas Curtis Clark, Nahum Dooms Nineveh

Daily Readings
Sirach 30, Jeremiah 38, Nahum 3, I Esdrus 3:1-5:6

Daily Text: Nahum 3

Fatally Vulnerable
Nahum 3 contains two of the four oracles in this little book. The oracles are not necessarily to be seen building one on the other. One might think of a reporter who may have more than one article in a newspaper, unrelated to each other. Or that same reporter may be syndicated and have articles published on different dates with ideas that relate, but each article standing on its own. So with oracles in prophetic works. The oracles in Nahum do relate, but they are not dependant upon each other [cf. J.M.M. Roberts 531:9ff].

Nineveh is addressed in the first oracle (1-17), the King of Assyria in the second (vss.18-19). Nineveh, the cruel city, full of plunder from other cities, is subject to attack and endless death—“dead bodies without end.” What Nahum was suggesting in verse 4 is unknown, but it is certainly possible that he was referring to trade emissaries that often precede the armies of great powers. They establish themselves without the benefit of the people in mind, only that of their home nation. “Like intercourse with a harlot…, involvement with Assyria led eventually to death.” Parallels with our own nation, attempting to build beachheads in the commerce of every other nation on earth if there are resources to be stripped out profitably, may naturally be drawn.

The LORD of hosts declares himself to be the adversary of Nineveh and he will treat her like the harlot she is. It may well have seemed improbable to Judah that such a powerful nation as Assyria could be reduced to such straits, so Nahum cites the situation of Thebes in 663 B.C. seemingly impregnable, but defeated handily by Assyria herself. Similarly, Nineveh will fall, her fortresses already fatally vulnerable, her troops weak, the gates open to the enemy, even the bars of the gates already burnt and useless to hold them closed. Nineveh may prepare and repair for the siege, vs. 14, but will be devoured like locusts devour vegetation, anyway.

In the final oracle the king is put on notice that it is obvious that his citizens are already scattered without effective leadership. This would seem to indicate that the prophecy is coming not long before 612 B.C. ‘Everyone in the world who understands your vulnerability rejoices in the prospect of your demise, O King!’

Nahum Dooms Nineveh
Thomas Curtis Clark

Of Nineveh, the proud and mighty one,
Jehovah wearied, and her end was told.
Her chariots, her horsemen, captains bold—
Their power was spent; they faced a setting sun.
For, as they raged, Jehovah, jealous God,
Planned direful death for Nineveh the great:
The bloody city, full of lies and hate,
Who on small Judah raised her vengeful rod.
What could avail the haughty men of lmight
Who slew Jehovah’s people in their wrath?
What could avail their strength when in the path
Of conquest stood the God of truth and right?
The kingdom fell—and thus all kingdoms fall
That take up arms against the Lord of All!
377:718

Collect for the Day
O God, the Lord of all, your Son commanded us to love our enemies and to pray for them. Lead us from prejudice to truth; deliver us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and enable us to stand before you, reconciled through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

[476:681:23]

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