In Christian tradition, the Old Testament Prophet Nahum is considered one of the twelve Minor Prophets. According to a Biblical account, Nahum was born in the town of Alqosh in Galilea (Northern Palestine). Nahum prophesied in the time periods between the exile of the Ten Tribes of Israel and the Babylonian conquest of Judah; he is believed to have lived in the second half of the reign of the king Hezekiah of Judah, in the 7th century BC. He died at the age of 45 and was buried in his native town.

The Book of Nahum consists of three brief chapters. The major themes of his prophesies are the downfall of the Assyrian capital city of Nineveh for its sins and iniquity and the liberation of the Kingdom of Judah from the Assyrian yoke. The Book of Nahum is an ancient poem written in a colorful and poetic language. Nahum prophesied the inevitable punishment to those who would break the Divine laws: “The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and vents his wrath against his enemies. 3 The LORD is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.” (Nahum 1: 2-3)

The Prophet Nahum is traditionally depicted as a gray-haired old men wearing a blue chiton, ochrous or wine-colored himation and sandals; other color combinations are also encountered in the iconography. In his hands he holds a scroll carrying a quotation from the Book of Nahum (Nahum 1: 3) He is depicted as a younger man on a miniature of the 10th century Interpretations of the Book of the Prophets (The National Library, Turin). In iconography the prophet Nahum is represented on the icons of the prophets’ tier of iconostases (the Assumption Cathedral of the Cyril of Belozersk Monastery, 1497, State Russian Museum)

The Prophet Nahum is commemorated on December 14th (December 1st, the old style).

Zhanna G. Belik,

Ph.D. in Art history, senior research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum, custodian of the tempera painting collection.

Olga E. Savchenko,

research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum.


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