No pithey title for this one, sorry dear reader. It appears my re-emersion into daily scripture reading has brought about a series on the minor prophets (dubbed such due to their works being short not due to significance) or as the Hebrew Scriptures term them, the 12.

Nahum is a short 3 poem/psalm work that is best described as a post-apocalyptic horror scene. One has to ponder how this is to be used in worship or study? From around 663-613 CE this unknown prophet shares what sounds like a tale of braggadocio.  That is the error of reading the scriptures literally. What is presented is a story of the coming out of the Assyrian Captivity/Exile and the raising of the Assyrian Empire’s capital of Nineveh (yes, Veggie Tale fans, that town of famous remote from the prophet whom resided in the whale). Exile/captivity is a nice way of saying Judea was a conquered a people, they were slaves within Assyria.

So is it a boastful text?

Or is it a prophetic text, one that shows the people through their history what happens if they stay on the path they are on? 

It is a hard text to read, aside from the violence, there is what many would see through the 21st Century lens as misogyny, especially on display from these two passages:

Behold, your troops
    are women in your midst.
The gates of your land
    are wide open to your enemies;
    fire has devoured your bars.

-Nahum 3:13 (English Standard Version)

Rather crude and juvenile in the midst of the carnage throwing out the ancient equivalent to the 20th Century misogyny of “you hit like a girl”. Both are wrong, but what is as the core of the message. What are troops supposed to do? Fight for their nation, their core values, their beliefs. Unfortunately in this era, women were seen as less than, such they were not seen within these ancient cultures as having value. They were seen as driven by more primal urges, and not able to think beyond the here and now, and were easily cowed.

What would be an example though that shapes the troops having lost their core? Not having values to fight with so they collapse and are scattered?

When the only unifying force is the love-lust of power and money.

Which is a building upon the rhythm Nahum lays out for the Assyrians now, and his people as they escape enslavement with this previous passage in 3:4 (ESV):

And all for the countless whorings of the prostitute,
    graceful and of deadly charms,
who betrays nations with her whorings,
    and peoples with her charms.

No, this is not the scriptures slut shaming, or not understanding the dynamics of sex work, so please no pearl clutching from one end, on the other, know that this is the world Nahum was continually trying to warn people away from. See prostitutes back then, what we would class as sex workers today, were not in it by “choice” (though in Canada when the average age is 13-14 years old I do not know how one can say that now either). They were trafficked. There may be a looming power to take the money, but truly, it was trafficked for survival. These were the ones that were abandoned by family, who when husbands died the siblings would not take them in. They were ones abused and raped by invaders and seen as unclean, or refused to worship the proper deity. They were outcasts and cast asides striving for survival (for a reality check Xians- this is what Joseph was contemplating when he was thinking of putting Mary away quietly instead of stoning her).

The debauchery is in the commodification of the human existence. It is the lessening of the value of another that creates this horror cycle. What’s that? You are starting to see an equivalency in today’s world? Surely, in our enlightened times we do not create cycles of trauma and oppression that lead to debauchery and dehumanization like this? Does perhaps Nahum have a warning for us? A justice thread?

Wold today, instead of reading about prostitutes causing this it could be another P word? P-R-O-F-I-T-S.

We see this in the cult of money matters over people. Profits before employees ability to survive never mind thrive. The shifting debate in Canada from citizens rights to tax payers rights. It is all centered on the love of money, which is the root of all kinds of evil. For if your only value is in earning potential, does it matter how the money is earned to garner value? And what value do you hold in society if you can no longer or never could earn?

How do you value self and neighour?


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