In Jeremiah 4:11-12 we read, “At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem, ‘A hot wind from the bare heights in the desert toward the daughter of my people, not to winnow or cleanse, a wind too full for this comes for me.’ Now it 13 war1is I who speak in judgment upon them.” Commenting on this verse, Martens tells us, “Initially compared to a lion, the speed of the oncoming army is now compared to a scorching wind (4:11). Gentle breezes blow in Palestine from the northwest, but sometimes a wind known as a sirocco sweeps in from the east, fierce with sandstorms. Too strong for winnowing, it carries away both the grain and the chaff, the good and the bad.”[1] This is what Judah had to look forward to.

Herman Wouk wrote a famous novel entitled the “Winds of War.”  Some of you might remember the motion picture and TV mini-series! I’m not sure where the idea of “winds of war” came from but it sure is appropriate for what was about to fall upon the unbelieving Jews in Jeremiah’s day. The enemies from the north were coming! Craigie had some interesting insights about this. He is commenting on the Prophet Nahum and the similar warning he gave to the Northern Kingdom. He wrote, “Some books, although they may be read in the comfort of the living-room, contain such passionate and violent sentiments that they create a sense of unease in the reader’s frame of mind. Nahum is such a book: the winds of war blow through its pages and its undertones are those of violence and vengeance. This is not a tasteful book, not an easy one to comprehend in the calmness of the study; in order to understand its force and power, one must first attempt to enter Nahum’s world.”

The world in which Nahum prophesied against the oncoming war with Assyria was similar to the world in which Jeremiah warned Judah. Craigie continues his comments, “Just as Nazi Germany still evokes the images of terror in the minds of those Jewish people who survived the holocaust, so too in Nahum’s world Assyria was the embodiment of human evil and terror. Of all the oppressive imperial powers that have stained the pages of human history from the past to the present, Assyria claims a place of pre-eminence among evil nations. It was a nation with a long history, but during the first millennium b.c. it embarked upon a path of imperial expansion which knew no limitations of human decency and kindness. And among the many nations that experienced Assyria’s cruelty, its invasion of territory and its ruthless military methods, the small state of Judah was but one.”[2] The very people God delivered from abuse at the hands of the Egyptians are now subjected to the worst treatment imaginable at the hands of the Assyrians and Babylonians.

[1] E. A. Martens, Jeremiah, Believers Church Bible Commentary (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1986), 61–62.

[2] Peter C. Craigie, Twelve Prophets, vol. 2, The Daily Study Bible Series (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1984), 58.