The chariots storm through the streets, rushing back and forth through the squares. They look like flaming torches; they dart about like lightning. Nineveh summons her picked troops, yet they stumble on their way. They dash to the city wall; the protective shield is put in place. The river gates are thrown open and the palace collapses. It is decreed that Nineveh be exiled and carried away. Her female slaves moan like doves and beat on their breasts. Nineveh is like a pool whose water is draining away. “Stop! Stop!” they cry, but no one turns back. Plunder the silver! Plunder the gold! The supply is endless, the wealth from all its treasures! She is pillaged, plundered, stripped! Hearts melt, knees give way, bodies tremble, every face grows pale. – Nahum 2: 4-10
The prophecy concerning Ninevah continues in this passage and it is not a pretty picture. Chariots are rushing about the streets presumably killing and maiming people. Ninevah calls up the troops to defend the city, but apparently they are unsuccessful.
Ninevah was located right on the Tigris River near the present-day city of Mosul. The ancient city of Ninevah was a “gated community” with a wall and gates that restricted access to the city. This must have been somewhat challenging when it came to the river, as the Tigris River apparently flowed right through the city. How do you put a gate on a large river?
I did a little research into the Tigris River as I was curious how big this river is and what sort of flow one could expect. The U.S.G.S has a great publication for the curious here. The maximum flow for the Tigris River near Mosul is about 3,500 cubic meters per second which is equivalent to about 123,000 cubic feet per second. This is roughly the equivalent to about 1 million gallons per second. That is a lot of water to try to pass through a city gate. It occurs to me that a siege being directed along a river is not something that I remember hearing much about in my history education. I suppose if the river is large enough it can serve as a barrier that would be difficult to cross with a large army and equipment.
Apparently in this passage the river gate was a weak point, “The river gates are thrown open and the palace collapses.” The power and privilege that the people of Nineveh have enjoyed is dissipating, “like a pool whose water is draining away.” God is reminding the people of Nineveh that He is God and they are not.
The take home lesson for me here is that all our earthly treasures can be taken away at any time so there is not much point serving them instead of God. All earthly things, including our very lives, will someday “drain away” like water and there will be little left except that which we have invested in our eternal souls and our relationship to the Great Cistern, God.
Prayer: God help us to prioritize eternal things over ephemeral things.