Nahum Table of Contents

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Minor Prophets: Major Messages

Chapter Three of Nahum

Nahum 3:1-4

"Woe to the bloody city! It is all full of lies and robbery. Its victim never departs. The noise of a whip and the noise of rattling wheels, of galloping horses, of clattering chariots! Horsemen charge with bright sword and glittering spear. There is a multitude of slain, a great number of bodies, countless corpses- they stumble over the corpses- because of the multitude of harlotries of the seductive harlot, the mistress of sorceries who sells nations through her harlotries, and families through her sorceries."

Passages From the Writings


        • "Concerning those who have falsified and adulterated the Word, that they will perish in hell, vers. 1-4."

AC 8908 [4]

        • "All with whom there reigns the love of self or the love of the world, that is, who have as their end eminence, or honors, or wealth, or gain, do not hesitate to say and persuade others that what is just is unjust…thus to act the part of witnesses of a lie…‘lies’ denote the falsities of faith." Many passages are offered to support this teaching. Nahum 3:1 is among the citations.

AR 924

        • "A lie signifies falsity of doctrine, because a spiritual lie is nothing else: hence by doing a lie is signified to live according to falsities of doctrine… [this] may be evident from the following passages…" Nahum 3:1 is cited.

TCR 322

        • "A lie signifies falsity and false speaking…" Nahum 3:1 is cited.

AR 298

        • "…the falsification of the truth of the Word…is a horse…it is from appearances in the spiritual world that a horse signifies the understanding of truth from the Word…" Nahum 3:1 is cited as an example.

AR 437

        • "…a chariot signifies doctrines…horses signify the understanding of the Word; and many horses full understanding…" Nahum 3:1-3 is cited along with many other references.

AC 6978

        • "That ‘blood’ signifies the falsification of truth and its profanation, is especially evident in Nahum 3:1-4…that by the ‘city of bloods’ is signified the doctrine of falsity, thus by ‘blood,’ falsified and profaned truth, is plain from all the words of its description in the internal sense, and not only in these verses…but also in those which follow…in the whole chapter; for by ‘city’ is doctrine; its being ‘all full of lying and rapine’ denotes being full of falsity, and of evil from falsity; ‘the voice of a whip and the voice of the sound of a wheel’ denotes the defense of falsity by fallacies; ‘a neighing horse and a jumping chariot,’ denotes from a perverted intellectual and the like doctrine; ‘the horseman mounting, the shining of a sword, the flashing of a spear,’ denotes combat against truth; ‘the multitude of pierced’ denotes innumerable falsities thence, and those who are in falsities; ‘a heap of carcass, and no end of body’ denotes innumerable evils thence, and those who are in evils; ‘the whoredoms of a harlot’ denote the falsifications themselves, and in like manner ‘witchcrafts.’"

AE 355 [23]

        • Nahum 3:1-4 "…treats of the violence offered to Divine truth, and its destruction by the falsities of evil; for this is signified by ‘the city of bloods,’ respecting which what follows is said…‘the whole is filled with lying and rapine,’ ‘lie’ meaning falsity, and ‘rapine’ violence offered by falsity; and as ‘wars’ signify spiritual combats, which are the combats of truth against falsity and of falsity against truth, all things pertaining to war, as ‘whip,’ ‘horse,’ ‘chariot,’ ‘sword,’ and ‘spear’ signify various things pertaining to spiritual warfare; but what each of these in particular signifies need not be explained here, only what ‘horse,’ ‘horseman,’ and ‘chariot’ signify. ‘The voice of the rattling wheel’ signifies reasonings from falsities and evils; ‘the horse neighing and the chariots leaping’ signifies the lust of destroying truths, ‘horse’ meaning the intellect perverted and ‘chariot’ the doctrine of falsity, which destroy; ‘to neigh’ and ‘to leap’ meaning to be moved to destroy by lust and delight, and ‘horseman making to ascend’ meaning assault. It is therefore said, ‘a multitude of the slain, and a heap of carcasses’; those are called ‘slain’ who perish from falsities, and ‘carcasses’ who perish from evils; therefore it is also said, ‘because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the harlot, selling the nations by her whoredoms, and families by her sorceries’; ‘whoredoms’ signify the falsifications of truth, ‘harlot’ heresy, ‘to sell nations’ signifies to become estranged from goods, and ‘to sell families by sorcery’ to become estranged from truths, ‘nations’ meaning goods, ‘families’ truths therefrom, and ‘sorceries’ the falsities of evil which estrange."

AR 134

        • "…by committing whoredom is signified to adulterate and falsify the Word….because there is a marriage of good and truth in each thing of the Word, and this marriage is broken when good is separated and taken away from truth….Since the Jewish church was of such a character, the Jewish nation was therefore called by the Lord an adulterous generation." Nahum 3: 1, 3, 4 are cited among other references.

TCR 314

        • "There are many…passages where adulteries and whoredoms mean adulterations and falsifications of the Word…." Nahum 3: 4 is cited as one of them.

AE 141 [14]

        • "It is manifest that in these passages by ‘whoredoms’ are meant the falsifications of truth." Nahum 3:1, 3-4 is cited as an example.

AC 7297 [2]

        • "By ‘sorcerers,’ and ‘enchantments,’ when mentioned in the Word, is signified the art of presenting falsities so that they appear as truths, and of presenting truths so that they appear as falsities, which is especially done by means of fallacies…. ‘the city of bloods’ denotes the falsification of truth; ‘whoredoms,’ the falsified good and truth; ‘sorceries,’ the arts of presenting falsities as truths, and truths as falsities." Nahum 3:1, 4 is cited.

AC 8904 [10]

        • "From these passages it is very manifest that ‘to commit adultery’…denote to explain and pervert the truths of the Word from one’s own heart, that is, from one’s own, in such a manner as the loves of self and of the world persuade one to do; consequently it is to speak lies…falsities…" Nahum 3:1, 4 is cited.

AR 213

        • "…he who does not procure to himself from the Lord the good of love and the truth of wisdom…he must appear in the opposite love, which in itself is profane. This is signified by uncovering the nakedness, and manifesting the shame of it…." Nahum 3:1, 4, 5 are cited.

AE 240 [8]

        • "‘The city of bloods’ signifies the doctrine of falsity which offers violence to the good of charity." Nahum 3:1, 4-5 is cited.

AC 6971 [3]

        • "With regard to the signification of a ‘voice,’ as being what is announced from the Word, be it known that a ‘voice’ is often spoken of, and is also joined to such things as have no relation to a voice, as here it is ( with a whip and wheel)…" Nahum 3:2 is cited.

Doctrine of Life 79

        • "By whoredoms are meant adulterations and falsifications of the Word." Nahum 3:4 is one of many passages cited.

AC 9188 [5]

        • In Nahum 3:4…‘whoredoms’ denote perversions of truth; and ‘sorceries,’ the falsities thence derived."


AE 840 [10 & 11]

        • "‘To trade,’ signifies acquisition and possession of truths…in the contrary sense…they signify the acceptance and appropriation of falsities…. Moreover, ‘to sell’ and ‘to be sold’ signify to set aside truths and to be set aside by them, and to accept falsities in their place, and to be captivated by them." Nahum 3:4 is cited.

Derived Doctrine

1. Note that NKJV uses this wording in verse 1: "Its victim never departs." The RSV has this wording: "…no end to the plunder!" This latter translation helps us to see that the bloody city suffers endless plundering. Evil lays waste to the truths and goods of the church continuously.

2. Note that NKJV has "the noise of rattling wheels…" The Writings translate this passage as "the voice of the wheels." Rattling means "rapid succession of sharp, noisy sounds." Wheels signify the doctrine of natural truth. See AC 2686. Can we put these two ideas together? Natural truth must have been going a mile a minute trying to drown the voice of the spiritual sense. Some debaters talk loud and over their opponent. Could this be what is being said about the enemy?

3. Similar things can be said about "clattering chariots." "Clattering" means a continuous or confused noise. Doctrine, if not carefully and slowly thought out, can be like a continuous or confused noise to the church. Arguing about the number of angels on the head of a pin might generate much heat but not much light.

Putting It All Together

P&P states that this section is about those who falsify and adulterate the Word. How did they go about doing this?

  • They used noise, confusion, fast talking, natural facts tainted with falsity.
  • Half-truths were made to look reasonable, logical, and invincible.
  • They wanted to set aside truth and offer falsity in its place.
  • To accomplish this, they had to have continuous attacks — noisy voices to shout down the truth — plundering the church of its good and truth. How long did they wage this attack? Its victim never departed; there was no end to the plunder!
  • How costly! The Word says a multitude was slain. So many were slain that people stumbled over the corpses. The mention of sorcery refers to their process of estrangement. Make a person unhappy with spiritual things, and they will estrange themselves from the Lord.
  • Those who loved evil and falsity had bright swords and glittering spears. This represents the lust, thrill, and excitement they felt while plundering the things of the Lord.
  • They loved their adulteries and selling off the things that had eternal good and truth. These treasures were traded, sold into bondage and servitude. All the people cared for was dominion and power to do and accomplish what they pleased.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1. After including some twenty direct teachings about this section, I began to wonder how many of these passages would be read slowly. So many of them seem repetitious, and yet there are two references that cover a major portion of the meaning of these verses. I worried that readers might give up on the direct teachings and jump to the summary section? What did you do? If you jumped over the passages from the Writings, would you be willing to try reading all of them?

2. Were you able to identify with the meaning of "rattling wheels" and "clattering chariots"? Many conversations we have with people who are anti-religious seem to go nowhere. They are so busy denying and finding exceptions to the Word that they don’t hear. Preposterous measures are taken to justify or prove what they want as an end. What’s your experience? Do we try to deal with them, or do we flee from them so we are not "victims" who never leave? How do you decide?

3. Have you ever experienced some one who burned (lusted) to destroy someone? Each piece of news about their enemy could be turned into something negative. Whatever that person said or did became "grist for the mill." How did you respond to this situation? Why?

4. Did you marvel at how well these verses were covered in so many separate passages from the Writings? At one point during my research, I had twenty different volumes on my desk. Talk to each other about differences in your study of sections that rely mostly on direct teachings compared with sections that rely more heavily on derived doctrine.

5. Let’s ask a question about repetition. Is repetition a friend of learning or a detriment? Certainly with children repetition is a necessary experience. Why do you think there are repetitive passages or teachings in the Word and Writings? How or why does this repetition happen?

Nahum 3:5

"‘Behold, I am against you,’ says the Lord of hosts; ‘I will lift your skirts over your face, I will show the nations your nakedness, and the kingdoms your shame."

Passages From the Writings


        • "…all their adulterations will be uncovered…ver. 5"

AC 5433 [6]

        • "…‘nakedness’ signifies being without truths…In Nahum 3:5…were ‘showing the nations the nakedness’ denotes to show ugliness; for all ugliness is from want of truths, and all beauty is from truths."

AC 9917 [5]

        • "In Nahum…3:5 ‘to uncover the skirts upon the faces’ denotes to remove external things so that internal ones may appear; for in various ways the external things of the natural man hide the internal things, which are hypocrisies, deceits, lies, hatreds, revenges, adulteries, and other like things; and therefore when the external things are taken away, the internal ones appear in their uncleanness and filthiness."

AC 9960 [11]

        • "In Nahum 3:5…‘uncovering the skirts’ denotes to take away the externals so that the interiors appear; ‘the nakedness which shall be shown to the nations, and the shame which shall be shown to the kingdoms,’ denote infernal loves, which are the loves of self and of the world, which defile the interiors."


Representations in these verses requiring the use of derived doctrine:

"Behold, I am against you."

        • "Behold" signifies thought and reflection; acknowledgment and confession of the Lord. See AC 2329, 2770, 3495. So the word "Behold" seems to call us to acknowledge and listen to the Lord. Observe what I am about to do! Learn of Me!
        • Once the Lord begins His war against the hells, "they can never rise up." (AC 8626)

"I will lift your skirts over your face…"

  • Although I could find no teaching to back up what I am about to suggest, I think it might be in line with the internal sense. A skirt covers the body from the waist down to the feet. Within that area reside physiological organs that correspond to conjugial love. Could the Lord’s lifting the skirt to expose their ugly nakedness be a Divine investigation of "unclean and filthy things" pretending to be conjugial love? Their gross disfigurement, disconnection from the Lord, prevented such beauty and love from ever happening.

Nations and Kingdoms

  • "Nations" and "Kingdoms" will be shown nakedness and shame. Is there an important correspondence here for us to see?
  • Nations signify those who are in the good of love and charity from the Lord. (AR 667)
  • Kingdoms signify the church. (AR 33) "Thy kingdom come" represents that the Lord shall reign. (AR 839 [10]) A kingdom in the Word represents Heaven and the Church. (AE 48)
  • The call to the nations and the call to the kingdoms to see Nineveh’s errors seem appropriate. Learning from the example of disorder reminds the faithful, by example, specifically what they need to shun as sins against the Lord.

Putting It All Together

1. The teachings within this section seem straightforward. The Lord promises an uncovering of hell’s hypocrisies, deceits, lies, hatreds, revenges, adulteries, and other hidden disorders. In other words, the pretentious game is over for those who hate the Lord and His Love and Wisdom.

2. Witnessing the Lord’s disclosure of the sham is important. We need to see in the external world things that reflect what is hidden within. As we see cruelty in the world, we have a chance to see that the potential to be cruel is within us. As we learn to fear disorder, the Writings tell us that our fear frightens Hell. They don’t like us to feel revolted by their disorder. As we dislike hell and its manifestation, hell loses power within and wants to flee from our presence. Therefore, it makes sense that the Lord would want to show every nation and every kingdom the nakedness and shame of Nineveh. As angels draw near, hell flees.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1. Do you sense any anger or heartlessness in this portion of Nahum’s prophecy? In its place, there seems to be a calm, a serene spiritual sense, telling us all will be taken care of for those who have feared hell’s clever pretenses. What message did you hear?

2. Once the Lord begins His war against hell, "they can never rise up again." Do you feel a question popping up: "When will that happen?" We would like to have a safe feeling and assurance that nothing can hurt or harm us. How often does the Lord war against hell? How can we learn to notice when He does?

3. The work Conjugial Love teaches that married couples in heaven have spiritual offspring. Do you recall what is taught about couples in hell? Are they able to have offspring?

Nahum 3:6-7

"I will cast abominable filth upon you, make you vile, and make you a spectacle. It shall come to pass that all who look upon you will flee from you, and say, ‘Nineveh is laid to waste! Who will bemoan her?’ Where shall I seek comforters for you?"

Passages From the Writings


        • "…their adulterations will be uncovered, and they will perish, vers. 6-7…"

Derived Doctrine

"I will cast abominable filth upon you…"

  • We need to remind ourselves that the Lord casts no one into hell; the evil do this to themselves. See AC 2121 or 9642 [6]. The same principle is true about casting abominable filth on anyone. Doing such a thing would be unbecoming of a perfect Lord. Anger, wrath, and getting even are not of His nature. The abominable filth does not come from the Lord. Rather, it becomes apparent when the presence of the Lord’s light reveals the true nature of self-love: filth.

"[I will] make you vile…"

  • The Writings explain what makes for a vile life. It is one who feigns "good for the sake of the evil that is within, in order to obtain some end, to which the seeming good serves as a means." (AE 403 [19])

"[I will] make you a spectacle…"

  • Can we change this wording to "I will make a public example of you"? The RSV uses the word "gazingstock." Regardless, the nations around Nineveh would see her for what she really was within her soul.

"It shall come to pass…"

  • "It shall come to pass…" is not in the RSV. That translation goes directly to "And all who look on you…" Since we don’t have this portion of the passage in the Writings, we don’t know whether to keep "it shall come to pass" or press on. However, there is a passage in Luke where the shepherds said one to another "let us go see this thing which has come to pass." (Luke 2:15) "Come to pass" is used by the Word, but we have no explanation.

"…all who look upon you will flee from you…"

  • In Psalm 104:7, we read: "At Your rebuke they fled; at the voice of Your thunder they hastened away." AE 405 [21] explains that these words mean that the Lord will provide a way to escape and to be rescued. "Falsities are dispersed by truths and evils by goods from heaven." Nineveh’s fall will serve as a signal that all nations need to flee from similar mistakes.

"Nineveh is laid to waste! Who will bemoan her?"

  • Can we recall what a wastefulness Nineveh passed through? She had the Ancient Word. She had a view of the Divine Representatives and gave it away. Nay, she sold it for a mess of pottage? She betrayed that gift for thirty pieces of silver? She sold it into harlotry? Can anyone in the light of the Lord really have pity for her or make excuses?

Putting It All Together

1. This section illustrates our need for derived doctrinal research. Only one reference is cited, and P&P gives only one sentence: "their adulterations will be uncovered, and they will perish." But even with our doctrinal "short fall," I think we can see how and why the wasting of Nineveh occurred. She turned away from the greatest gift she had from the Lord and sought her own ends.

2. Obviously, we need to see this. We have been made aware of the power of the Lord’s Second Coming. We have the internal sense as revealed by the Lord. We must take and use these gifts wisely and with love. We need to approach the Lord with prayerful hearts and ask His help to keep us safe and within the walls of the Holy City New Jerusalem. May He help us avoid the sins Nineveh committed and resist making excuses for such errors and sins.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1. It is sometimes difficult but always important to keep the flow of ideas connected to the internal sense when we have only one direct teaching from the Writings. Derived doctrine can help just so far, and then we have some huge gaps to fill. Taking notes, drawing out concepts can and will help. What ideas, insights, or examples can you share with the group about this section?

2. Have no pity on Nineveh. Make no excuses for her. Do you think there might be someone found who would take up her cause and complain for her? It is amazing how many strange ideas and concepts get support and sympathy for their cause. Any examples come to mind? What makes it easy or difficult to excuse evil? What are some of the arguments used for and against sins like Nineveh’s?

3. There have been five churches in the spiritual history of the human race. Each one began with a new vision of truth, and each one but the last one eventually fell. The New Church is to be the crown of all the churches, the one that will not fall. How can we help our church keep from repeating the mistakes of fallen churches? What makes our church any different than the churches that fell before it?

Nahum 3:8-10

"Are you better than No Amon that was situated by the river, that had the waters around her, whose rampart was the sea, whose wall was the sea? Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was boundless; Put and Lubim were your helpers. Yet she was carried away, she went into captivity; her young children also were dashed to pieces at the head of every street; they cast lots for her honorable men, and all her great men were bound in chains."

Passages From the Writings


  • "…that knowledges and scientifics will not save, because they will be dissipated, vers. 8-10."

AC 1164 [4]

  • "In Nahum 3:9 ‘Cush and Egypt were her strength, and there was no end; Put and Lubim were thy helpers’…this is said of the church vastated, and here in like manner ‘Egypt’ denotes memory-knowledges, and ‘Cush’ knowledges."

AC 1166

  • "That by ‘Put,’ or ‘Lybia,’ in the Word, are signified the knowledges from the literal sense by which in like manner false principles are confirmed…"

AR 337

  • "In the spiritual sense by kings those who are in truths are signified, by the great ones those who are in goods…what the great ones signify, is manifest in…Nahum 3:10…for great is predicated of good…"

AE 408 [3]

  • "‘Great ones’ in the Word signify internal goods which are the goods of the internal or spiritual man, because ‘great’ and ‘greatness’ in the Word are predicated of good…’great ones’…signify all the goods and truths that are with man, thus the goods and truths both of the internal or spiritual man and of the external or natural man…. Like things are signified by ‘great ones’ elsewhere in the Word [namely in…Nahum 3:10…]"

AE 6526 [26]

  • "In Nahum 3:10…her infants were dashed in pieces at the head of all the streets, and over her honorable ones they cast a lot, and all her great ones were bound with chains. Here also ‘infants’ mean the truths that are firstborn and vivified, and ‘to be dashed in pieces at the head of all the streets’ signifies to be scattered and to perish: ‘honorable ones’ signify the goods of love; ‘to cast a lot over them’ signifies dispersion of these; ‘great ones’ signify the truths of good; and ‘to be bound with chains’ signifies to be tied by falsities so that truth cannot come forth. This is said of ‘the city of bloods’ which signifies the doctrine in which truths of the Word are falsified."

Derived Doctrine

"Are you any better than No Amon…"

  • The name No Amon is the Hebrew name for the Egyptian capital, Thebes. The Assyrians (Nineveh) in 663 BC ruthlessly sacked Thebes. Why are we being told this historical fact? Is there a spiritual lesson to be learned? Consider this teaching in AC 8223: "When evil spirits wish to inflict evil on good, they are grievously punished, and that the evil which they intended to others returns upon themselves." Are we seeing such a "law" being acted out in this lesson? Nineveh, are you any better than Thebes? What you did to them is now happening to you.

"That was situated by the river, that had waters around her …"

  • Biblical scholars footnote this verse to tell us this river is the Nile river in Egypt. They suggest that the waters around her refer to the many finger-like canals that feed off of the Nile. AC 5196 gives us the following representation of the Nile: "The Nile, or river of Egypt, represented the sensuous things subject to the intellectual part, thus the memory knowledges derived of them; for these are the ultimates of the spiritual things of the Lord’s kingdom."

"Whose rampart was the sea, whose wall was the sea?"

  • "Every passage in the Word in which the name of a city occurs (to angels a city) never means a city, but always something doctrinal or else heretical…(angels ideas are celestial and spiritual) the celestial and spiritual…is…described by ‘cities,’ ‘palaces,’ ‘houses,’ ‘walls,’ ‘foundations of walls,’ ‘ramparts,’…by ‘ramparts’ doctrinal things only are meant." (AC 402 [2, 3, 4])


  • "‘Cush’ denotes those knowledges from the Word that confirm falsities which are hatched from memory-knowledges…. ‘Egypt’ denotes memory-knowledges; and ‘Cush’ the knowledges of the interior things of the Word, which are the boundaries as far as memory-knowledges go." (AC 1164 [3])

Put, or Libya

  • Note in AC 1166 "Put" and "Lybia" signify the same thing as Cush. They signify knowledges collected from the literal sense of the Word that are applied to confirm false principles.

Putting It All Together

1. I almost wish we had shared this teaching at the beginning of our study: "…the things of the literal sense of the Word are general vessels which receive truths, and because the quality of these vessels does not appear…until they have received truths…they are generals, which first must be learned … in order that he may receive the particulars and singulars in a fit and proper manner…" (AC 6222 [2])

Our study of Nahum has many, many particulars. Which particular do we align with another particular? What are we to do if they don’t seem to fit together? Frustration and disappointment can come in and dash our "children" into pieces. Our "great men" will appear to be bound in chains. Let’s begin our summary with the generals. P&P gives us a general. Say these words over a few times so that the verses will begin to come into your mind "in a fit and proper manner." "Knowledges and scientifics will not save." "Knowledges and scientifics will not save."

2. Memory-knowledges about the Word will not uphold or sustain the spiritual life. The memory of the literal sense has "the great ones" present. Egypt and Cush can confirm things from the literal sense, but within them are some "hatched" falsities that memory-knowledges can twist in ways that will confirm anything they want. Hatched ideas. We don’t have to go far to discover "hatched" ideas in the world that get confirmed with the greatest of ease.

3. The Nineveh state of mind will ruthlessly attack Egypt, Cush, and Libya and knock down the ramparts (doctrinals) that had been built with the idea that they would be protected by the sea (knowledge) and that the sea would survive any attack.

But there was and is a missing ingredient in this story. Love of the Lord and His truth. We need a commitment to love truth for truth’s sake; we need to love the Lord and the neighbor more than self. Instead, the danger of the ages was and is to take the Word and confirm whatever makes us most comfortable. The process of regeneration sounds hard and painful. Our natural side urges us to find an easier way.

4. Nineveh struck with the intent to destroy the representatives of the literal sense. There was no interest in following truth from generals to particulars so singulars would fit in a proper manner. They wanted to be free to hatch every falsity and evil that would suit their goal. In the end, they fell into the very trap they wished for others. In shame their name and legacy was shown as a bloody city where doctrine and the Word were falsified.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1. As you find a general teaching, look at the doctrinal quotes and let the Lord fill them with truth so they can be ordered. Use this study guide to practice receiving general and particular truths. Write down one example of a general truth you have learned and some particular truths that go with it.

2. What "great men" have you seen taken prisoner? Think of two examples from real life. Start by thinking of ideas you might have had in your youth and outgrew. If nothing replaced that idea, the great men got shackled in chains. Can you think of ways this teaching applies to parenting?

3. What were the correspondences of the children being dashed to pieces? The ramparts? The wall? Write down two practical examples of these truths being enacted in real life.

4. Remember that "knowledges and scientifics will not save." What do we need to add to our knowledge? How can we do that? How can we help our children do that? Talk about how we learn and how this teaching may apply to education.

Nahum 3:11-12

"You also will be drunk; you will be hidden; you also will seek refuge from the enemy. All your strongholds are fig trees with ripened figs: if they are shaken, they fall into the mouth of the eater."

Passages From the Writings


  • "…inasmuch as they do not protect, that those [of the church] will perish from falsities of evil, vers. 11, 12…"

AR 721

  • "That to be made drunk with that wine signifies to be insane in spiritual things, may be seen…from other passages in the Word…." Nahum 3:11 is cited.

AR 335

  • "…a fig tree from correspondence signifies a man’s natural good conjoined with his spiritual good …because the natural man separated from the spiritual man perverts by reasoning the knowledges of good and truth…it follows that this is signified by the fig-tree shaken by a great wind.… A fig tree signifies natural good in man, because every tree signifies something of the church in man…" Nahum 3:12 is cited.

AE 403 [23]

  • "‘In Nahum 3:12…this is said of the ‘city of bloods’ which signifies doctrine in which truths are falsified and goods adulterated. This is compared to ‘fig trees with the first-ripe figs, if they be shaken they fall upon the mouth of the eater,’ and this signifies that the goods therein are not goods, however much they may appear to be goods; and that such are not received, or if received are received only in the memory and not the heart. That ‘if they be shaken they fall’ signifies that they are not goods although they appear to be goods, because they are ‘the first-ripe figs’; and their falling ‘upon the mouth of the eater’ signifies that they are not received even in the memory. That ‘the mouth of the eater’ signifies nonreception is evident from appearances in the spiritual world; for those who commit anything to the memory appear to receive it with the mouth; so ‘to fall upon the mouth’ signifies not to receive even in the memory but only to hear, and also if they do receive, that it is only in the memory and not in the heart. ‘Fig trees with their first-ripe figs’ may also mean genuine goods, of which the like is true as of those who are in the falsities of evil."

Derived Doctrine

"…you will be hidden…"

  • AC 222 shares this meaning of being hidden: "…to ‘hide themselves from the face of Jehovah,’ means to be afraid of the dictate, as is want to be the case with those who are conscious of (their) evil…" AE 329 [27] says that "hidden" signifies an apparent withdrawal of the divine truth from those who are in falsities and their evils.

"You also will seek refuge from your enemy…"

  • This has an interesting meaning if we first determine who the enemy is. In the eyes of "the bloody city," the Lord is the enemy. Seeking refuge in the good sense means being in a state of blamelessness and exempt from punishment. (AC 9011) Nineveh, to the end, tried to look blameless and did not want to hear condemnation. Therefore, they sought refuge from the Lord and thought He was their enemy. He wanted to call them to repentance, but they saw no reason or need to repent.

"…your strongholds are fig trees…"

  • AC 717 [18] teaches that strongholds signify the things of self-intelligence confirmed by the letter of the Word, which can be drawn on like an armory to confirm falsity.

Putting It All Together

1. The passages from the Writings and the derived doctrine make our summary quite clear. The hiding, the seeking refuge, the strongholds reveal the intention of the evil people. Even the picture or representation of the shaken tree dropping figs into the mouth of evil is so rich and full of meaning. There is no effort on their part. Life is easy and effortless. Spiritually alert people would go and pick figs. They would be selective. To be under the tree with mouth wide open seems to be not only lazy but indiscriminate and stupefied.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1. As always, we need to find ways that these teachings apply in the situations of everyday life. How and why do you see this kind of hiding in real life? What about spiritual laziness? What is self-intelligence? Then ask yourself how you can from this lesson so that you can avoid the failures outlined for us by the Lord.

Nahum 3:13-17

"Surely, your people in your midst are women! The gates of your land are wide open for your enemies; Fire shall devour the bars of your gates. Draw your water for the siege! Fortify your strongholds! Go into the clay and tread the mortar! Make strong the brick kiln! There the fire will devour you, the sword will cut you off; It will eat you up like a locust. Make yourself many – like the locust! Make yourself many – like the swarming locusts! You have multiplied your merchants more than the stars of heaven. The locust plunders and flies away. Your commanders are like swarming locusts, and your generals like great grasshoppers, which camp in the hedges on a cold day; when the sun rises they flee away, and the place where they are is not known."

Passages From the Writings


  • "…howsoever they had confirmed themselves by these knowledges and scientifics, but in vain, vers. 13-17…"

AC 1296

  • "In Nahum 3:14,15…‘to tread the clay’ denotes falsities; ‘to repair the brick-kiln’ denotes the derivative worship; ‘the fire’ is the punishment of cupidities; ‘the sword’ is the punishment of falsities."

AC 6669 [2]

  • In Nahum 3:14, 15 "…to tread the clay denotes to think from evil what is false."

AC 7519 [9]

  • In Nahum 3:14 15 "…where ‘going into the mire’ denotes into falsity; ‘treading the clay,’ evil; ‘the brick kiln,’ or ‘furnace for brick,’ denotes the falsities which they invent, and which are injected by the evil…‘fire’ denotes the cupidity of evil…‘the sword’ denotes falsity."

AC 7643 [6]

  • In Nahum 3:15-17…the subject here treated of is the ‘city of bloods,’ by which is signified the doctrine of falsity; and because falsity and evil are especially multiplied in the extremes of the natural, for therein are the fallacies of the senses that originate from the objects of the world, and of the earth, and also pleasures from various kinds of appetites, therefore the multiplication of evil and falsity is also described by ‘the caterpillar and the locust’…"

AR 424

  • In Nahum 3:15-17 "That falsities in the outmost things, because they consume the truths and goods of the church springing up in man, are signified by the locust which consume the grass in the plains and the herbs in the fields…"

AE 179 [10]

  • In Nahum 3:14-15 "‘To draw waters for the siege and to strengthen the fortresses’ is to fortify falsities by various means against truths; ‘to go into the mire and tread the clay’ is to confirm falsities by fictions and fallacies; doctrine thence derived is called ‘a brick kiln,’ because infernal love is strengthened by falsifications; it is therefore said that ‘the fire shall devour, and the sword cut off’; ‘fire’ is infernal love, and a ‘sword’ is falsity combating and destroying truth….what is fabricated is a product of man’s self-intelligence…"

AE 540 [8]

  • In Nahum 3:14-15 "‘the waters for the siege’ mean the falsities by which they endeavor to destroy truths; ‘to strengthen the fortresses’ signifies to fortify falsities by such things as appear to be truths; ‘to go into mire and tread the pitch’ signifies to make them appear to cling together, ‘pitch’ meaning falsity from evil conjoining; ‘to repair the brick-kiln’ signifies to repair the doctrine framed out of falsified truths and fictions, ‘ bricks’ signifying the falsities that are fabricated and do not cohere with truths; ‘fire shall devour thee’ signifies that they will be destroyed by the evils of their loves; and ‘the sword shall cut thee off’ signify that they will be destroyed by falsities."

AE 543 [10]

  • In Nahum 3:15-17 "…the destruction of those who are in a faith and life according to that doctrine is signified by ‘the fire shall devour thee; the sword shall cut thee off,’ the fire that shall devour’ signifying evil destroying good, and ‘the sword’ falsity destroying truth; and because evil and falsity from the sensual man are meant it is said, ‘the caterpillar shall devour thee; make thyself many as the caterpillar; make thyself many as locust; thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of the heavens.’ Multiplication like that of the caterpillar and of the locust is mentioned because falsifications of the Word are made in the greatest abundance by those who are sensual, thus by the sensual man, for the sensual man is signified here by the ‘caterpillar and locust’…. The sensual man falsifies the Word more than others, because the outmost sense of the Word…is for the natural and sensual man, while the interior sense is for the spiritual man; consequently when a man is not a spiritual man…he does not see goods and truths in the Word, but adapts its outmost sense to corroborate his falsities and evils. ‘Merchants’ signify those who falsify and who communicate and who offer for sale."

Derived Doctrine

"Surely, your people in your midst are women!"

  • People in the good sense have relation to truth, and in the opposite sense to falsity. (AC 1259)
  • Woman in the good sense signifies [the church] the affection of truth, and in the opposite sense a love of false principles. (AR 620)
  • "Midst" signifies what is primary, or principal and inmost. See AC 2940; AR 9331; or AE 313.

"The gates of your land are wide open for your enemies…"

  • Gates signify the passage to the rational mind. See AC 2943.
  • Land signifies various things: See AC 2571.
    • The internal man of the church.
    • The region where the church is.
    • The church itself.
    • The Lord’s kingdom in heaven and on earth.
    • The doctrine of love and charity, where the faith of the church resides.
  • Wide signifies the quality in the truths of doctrine. See AE 629 [17].
  • Open is the opposite of closed or hidden.
  • Enemies signify evils, falsity, perversion, the hells, self-love…!

"Fire shall devour the bars of your gates…"

  • Gates signify stability and protection, and bars signify the power belonging to the truth that is from good. (AC 9496 [3])
  • Fire in the Word signifies some kind of love in a good or bad sense. (AC 934)

Putting It All Together

1. The Lord often asks questions or gives the impression He is not aware of the answer. In reality, it is humanity who doesn’t know its real state. So the Lord asks a question to get us to think and reflect. Notice how the Lord starts this thinking process. "Surely" there is a woman in your midst. Is there a church within you? Do you have an affection for truth? What is your primary inmost?

2. Then the Lord reveals to them that they are leaving themselves in a vulnerable state. Their gates are wide open. They have loosened their internal restraints so much they have left themselves unprotected. The enemy enters in through the gate meeting no resistance. Let’s look at a few of the things the Lord showed them they brought into their midst:

  • Fallacies of their senses.
  • Satisfying their physical pleasures from "various appetites."
  • Living with fictions and fallacies.
  • Walking in mire making bricks.
  • Repairing the brick kiln so that they could more efficiently fabricate and corroborate lies.
  • Multiplying and merchandising the lies of the heart.
  • Imagining they were growing larger than the Lord’s truth.

Given the enormity of their self delusion is it any wonder that when the Lord cried out "Halt! Halt!" the Word reports to us that "No one turned around."

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1. I left out the meanings of some parts of this passage. What was left out? Can you write up their significations? For instance, what is meant by locust and grasshoppers, generals, drawing water for the siege, etc.?

2. The making of bricks reminded me of the children of Israel making bricks for the Egyptians. I also thought of the tower of Babel. They made bricks too. They had slime for mortar. Can these stories be of help to the theme of Nahum?

3. Think about what gives you a sense of security in your life. What constitutes real security? What gives the appearance of security? How can you tell the difference?

4. Look back at the list of correspondences for "land." Talk about what makes up the "land" in your life, your community, your church, etc. What are the gates to this land? Who opens or closes them?

Nahum 3:18

"Your shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria; Your nobles rest in the dust. Your people are scattered on the mountains, and no one gathers them."

Passages From the Writings


  • "…neither will reasonings save, ver. 18…"

Derived Doctrine

"Your shepherds slumber…"

  • A shepherd is one who leads to good. (AC 6052)
  • Sleeping or slumbering signifies that one believes that he lives, thinks, speaks, and acts from himself. See AC 147.
  • To sleep means to live a natural life as distinguished from a spiritual one. See AC 187 [2].

"O king of Assyria…"

  • A king in the positive sense represents divine truth and divine good that are in the Lord and from Him. (AE 446 [16]) In the opposite sense, a king represents dominant evils and falsities that are against the Lord. (AC 1661-1664)
  • Assyria signifies reasonings from scientific things in the memory knowledges that are sometimes mad reasonings which become the source of falsities. See AC 120 and AE 811 [10].

"Your nobles rest in the dust…"

  • Let’s look first at the meaning of dust. Dust represents the sensuous life that can only live from what was, or is, physical and material. See AC 242.
  • Nobles in the positive sense represent those who teach and lead. See AE 644.
  • Putting these two together, do we not see that those who were teaching and leading were doing so from physical and material ends? They based their facts on things that are full of "dust."

"Your people are scattered on the mountains…"

  • "Scattered" speaks of disunity, confusion, lack of order. It also represents not receiving or acknowledging the Lord. See AC 1309.
  • Mountains in the positive sense represent celestial principles of the Lord and also the good of love and charity.
  • So we are given a picture of the great loss the people suffered because the nobles, the shepherds, failed to lead in the ways of the Lord.

"And no one gathers them."

  • What can we learn from this haunting refrain? There is sadness in these words. Shepherds asleep. Nobles not teaching or leading. The people scattered.

Putting It All Together

1. The literal sense is so clear when we draw doctrine to explain it. How important it is to have wise teachers and shepherds in the church. How wise it is for every person to study the Word to learn the things that are not dust.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1. Both lay people and priests need to study the Lord’s Word. We need to inspire each other. Can you see how important this mutuality is for the health of the church? Talk about it.

2. What did you learn from this verse about the danger that lurks behind spiritual lethargy?

3. Think of a false principle you have encountered. What was the dust on which it was based?

4. Are we a people scattered upon the mountain of the Lord? Why or why not? How are you or can you be a part of the current state of the New Church?

Nahum 3:19

"Your injury has no healing, your wound is severe. All who hear news of you will clap their hands over you. For upon whom has not your wickedness passed continually?

References from the Writings concerning these verses:


  • "…that there is nothing sound, wherefore ruin will overtake them, ver. 19."

AC 9163 [5]

  • "‘There is no scar of thy breach; thy blow is desperate (Nahum iii. 19)’. In these passages a ‘breach’ signifies injury done to the truths and goods of faith, and thus to the church; ‘healing’ denotes amending and restoration."

Derived Doctrine

"Your injury has no healing…"

  • Healing has a wonderful correspondence. The Lord alone heals and preserves us from evils. See AC 8365. Healing is a process of reformation. Truth and its derived good take away the hurts of evil and bring about change and restoration. See AE 283 [9].
  • The "no healing" of someone’s injury tells us that without the Lord’s help with reformation, we remain troubled and like an open sore.

"…your wound is severe."

  • A wound signifies a lack of soundness (wholeness) because faith and charity have become desolate. See AC 431.
  • A wound signifies that some grievous hurt has been done to the affection flowing out of love. See AC 9056.
  • A wound signifies an injury that has been done to the mind and spiritual life by falsity. See AE 444.

"All who hear news of you will clap their hands over you."

  • Hearing represents obedience; it represents an acknowledgment and confession that will be made where the church is. See AC 427.
  • Although we have no teachings telling us what "news" means, we can see that it is the "Good News" that the Lord God Jesus Christ reigns for ever and ever. Hell has had its time. It has inflicted its wounds. But the good news tells us that its reign of terror is over.
  • Thus, the clapping of hands is a joyous celebration. Hands represent having a feeling of confidence and power to serve the Lord and the neighbor. See AC 878.

"For upon whom has not your wickedness passed continually?

  • We can say Amen to this. We know how often hell has inflicted us with its painful ways. Many a time we wanted to be free of its influence but fell under its sway in a moment of weakness.
  • Paul once said these words: "That which I know I should do, I do not; and that which I know I should not do, I do."
  • When the Lord’s New Church is established, such things will pass away.

Putting It All Together

1. There is a sense of great celebration in this closing verse. The news that hell is not going to get well is not a celebration for those who are lost in Hell. It is not a gloating time. Instead, it is a celebration that hell’s reign of terror is finished. Hell’s open sores will never heal. All of hell’s bragging about its health and vitality is ended. We have been greatly afflicted by hell for generations. But now the Lord declares its end. He will heal and make well all who turn to Him for reformation. With such news, we will indeed want to clap our hands. Confidence and power will be ours though the Lord.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1. What thoughts and feelings surfaced for you while reading this dramatic finish?

2. Did some kind of impatience for this to happen pop into your mind?

3. Did any mocking voice come to say, "It isn’t so?"

4. What "open sores" have you seen in the world? How are they to be healed?

5. Healing is a wonderful act of the Lord. A cut or sore forms a scab, and the scab protects the sore while it heals. Eventually, the scab falls off, and within a period of time, the scar is not visible to the naked eye. Isn’t that process significant in the spiritual sense as well?

Looking back over the three chapters of Nahum, are you able to summarize the spiritual message? Our summary should be different from those that focus on the man Nahum and the country of Nineveh. The spiritual sense is about the Lord. It is about His Church. It is about our spiritual growth. Focusing on history and nations will leave us detached and uninvolved. Can you summarize the message of Nahum in a spiritual and personal way?

To Epilogue