Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, July 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Habakkuk 2

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

Verses 1-5

Second complaint and answer (1:12-2:5)

Habakkuk replies to God by asking a further question. If Judah is God’s people for ever, and if God is holy, how can he use Babylon to punish Judah when the Babylonians are more wicked than the Judeans (12-13)? It seems to Habakkuk that God has the same standards as the Babylonians. They treat the people of nations as if they were no better than fish in the sea - there to be caught for the fisherman’s enjoyment (14-15). The Babylonians’ power is their god. Their appetite for conquest will never be satisfied. They will go on killing and plundering (16-17).
Having made his complaint, the prophet awaits God’s answer (2:1). The answer is that the greed, pride and violence of the Babylonians will be the means of their downfall. Some time may pass before the judgment falls, but it certainly will fall. Wickedness always brings defeat in the end, just as moral uprightness always leads to victory. There is a message in this for the Judeans also: the greedy are never satisfied, but the righteous find genuine contentment in their loyalty to God (2-5).

Verses 6-11


The prophet now announces judgment on evildoers, listing five sins that God must punish. He introduces each condemnation with the words, ‘Woe to him who . . .’ (GNB: ‘You are doomed!’). The evildoer here is probably Babylon, but the condemnation has an application also to the Judeans. In fact, it applies to people of any age and race.

The lust for power and wealth (2:6-11)

To illustrate Babylon’s lust for power, the prophet refers to the practice of money-lending, which was the cause of much injustice and hardship in society. Babylon is like a merciless money-lender who, by charging high interest that the debtor cannot repay, gets as many people into his power as possible. But these enslaved people will suddenly arise and overthrow their wicked master. They will do to him what he previously did to them (6-8).
Babylon has made itself wealthy and secure by treating other nations shamefully. It is like a bird that builds its nest high in a tree away from trouble, where it can live in ease and comfort. But Babylon’s luxury will be a witness against it in the day of judgment, and so ensure for it a fitting punishment (9-11).

Verses 12-20

Destruction, cruelty and idolatry (2:12-20)

In its ruthless conquests Babylon destroyed cities and nations, often with the sole aim of enriching itself. It seized the wealth and manpower of these nations and used them to make its own national capital magnificent. It does not realize that God alone is ruler of the world, and the great city that Babylon has built will one day be burnt to the ground (12-14).
God used Babylon to punish other nations, a judgment that the prophet likens to a cup of strong drink that is given to a person to make him drunk. But the Babylonians went beyond the limits that God set. They cruelly butchered people and took delight in mocking their victims. God will therefore punish the Babylonians and they will be the ones to drink God’s cup of punishment. They will be drunk and others will mock them. They will become the victims of violence, and their land, flocks, cities and people will be destroyed (15-17).
Finally, the idolatry of the Babylonians is condemned. They thought their idols gave them victory, but such lifeless creations are powerless. They can do nothing but deceive those who trust in them. The living God will show that he alone is the controller of the world (18-20).

Bibliographical Information
Fleming, Donald C. "Commentary on Habakkuk 2". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/habakkuk-2.html. 2005.
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