Enjoy the ‘taunt song’ of Nahum 2. Think of it as the kind of ‘trash talk’ used between sports teams, or today by ‘psy-ops’ trucks shouting at ISIS fighters about their mothers and daughters. It challenges the morale of the defenders of the empire, and encourages those who resist but cannot overcome, that a ‘shatterer’ is coming, and the spoils of empire will be lost.
Nineveh is cast in a defensive posture, and even then unable to resist the onslaught of the Babylonians. The threats extend to pillaging and abuse of the women and children, as others’ women and children have suffered from the Assyrians’ pillaging. Just as the lion’s cubs are not safe in the den to feast on the spoils of the lion’s kills, so Assyria’s children are vulnerable.
We may have a problem hearing the prophet, since we live under the protection of empire, rarely actually doing the imperial damage, but still enjoying the prosperity and security behind its defences. What if the Twin Towers fell, or the economy creaked under global pressures? Who thinks this would be good news, and identifies with the trash-talking prophet? Not me!
Nahum 2 (NRSV)
1 A shatterer* has come up against you. Guard the ramparts; watch the road; gird your loins; collect all your strength.
2 (For the LORD is restoring the majesty of Jacob, as well as the majesty of Israel, though ravagers have ravaged them and ruined their branches.)
3 The shields of his warriors are red; his soldiers are clothed in crimson. The metal on the chariots flashes on the day when he musters them; the chargers* prance.
4 The chariots race madly through the streets, they rush to and fro through the squares; their appearance is like torches, they dart like lightning.
5 He calls his officers; they stumble as they come forward; they hasten to the wall, and the mantelet* is set up.
6 The river gates are opened, the palace trembles.
7 It is decreed* that the city* be exiled, its slave women led away, moaning like doves and beating their breasts.
8 Nineveh is like a pool whose waters* run away. ‘Halt! Halt!’— but no one turns back.
9 ‘Plunder the silver, plunder the gold! There is no end of treasure! An abundance of every precious thing!’
10 Devastation, desolation, and destruction! Hearts faint and knees tremble, all loins quake, all faces grow pale!
11 What became of the lions’ den, the cave* of the young lions, where the lion goes, and the lion’s cubs, with no one to disturb them?
12 The lion has torn enough for his whelps and strangled prey for his lionesses; he has filled his caves with prey and his dens with torn flesh.
13 See, I am against you, says the LORD of hosts, and I will burn your*chariots in smoke, and the sword shall devour your young lions; I will cut off your prey from the earth, and the voice of your messengers shall be heard no more.