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Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical Lange's Commentary
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ lcc/ habakkuk-1.html. 1857-84.
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
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[The Prophet commences by setting forth the Cause of the Chaldæan Invasion, which forms the Burden of his Prophecy. This Cause was the great Wickedness of the Jewish Nation at the Time he flourished (Habakkuk 1:2-4). Jehovah is introduced as summoning Attention to that Invasion (Habakkuk 1:5). The Prophet describes the Appearance, Character, and Operations of the Invaders (Habakkuk 1:6-11).—C.E.]
1 The burden, which Habakkuk the prophet saw.
2 How long, Jehovah, do I cry?
And thou hearest not?
I cry to thee, Violence,
And thou helpest not.
3 Why dost thou let me see wickedness?
And [why] dost thou look upon distress?
Oppression and violence are before me;
And there is strife, and contention exalts itself.
4 Therefore the law is slack;1
Justice no more2 goes forth;
For the wicked compass about the righteous;
Therefore justice goes forth perverted.
5 Look among the nations and see!
And be ye amazed,3 be amazed;
For I am about to work4 a work in your days:
Ye will not believe it, though it were told.
6 For behold!5 I am about to raise up the Chaldæans,
That bitter and impetuous nation,
Which marches over the breadths of the earth,
To take possession of dwelling-places, that do not belong to it.
7 It is terrible and dreadful:
Its right and its eminence proceed from itself.
8 And swifter than leopards are its horses,
And speedier than the evening wolves:
Its horsemen spring6 proudly along,
And its horsemen come from afar:
They fly like an eagle hastening to devour.
9 It comes wholly for violence:
The host7 of their faces is forward;
And it collects captives like the sand.
10 And it scoffs at kings;
And princes are a laughter to it:
It laughs at every stronghold,
And heaps up earth and takes it.
11 Then its spirit revives,8
And it passes on and contracts guilt:
This its strength is its god.
In the heading (comp. the Introd.) this prophecy is designated as a מַשֹּא, sentence; compare on Nahum 1:1. If it should there, as in Isaiah 13 ff., on account of the subjoined genitive of relation, still seem doubtful, whether the prophecy should not be taken as a burden prepared against Nineveh, Babylon, etc., so here, where this genitive is wanting and the discourse has certainly in it that which pertains to a burden, but still much more of that which is consolatory, the neuter signification of the word is just as plain as in Jeremiah, Zechariah, and in the appendix to the Proverbs The verb חָזָה, which, according to its original signification, “to see,” would seem incapable of being joined with Massâ, can be used with it, because “to see,” the most common expression for the prophetic intuition and conception, is generally employed to denote prophetic activity [die prophetisehe Thätigkeit, the exercise of the prophetic gift.—C. E.]
The “vision” of Isaiah (chap. 1.Habakkuk 1:1; Habakkuk 1:1) embraces threatenings, complaints, consolatory addresses, and symbolical actions. There is just as little ground to deny that the heading proceeds from the prophet himself, as there is in regard to the subscription (Habakkuk 3:19), in which the prophet speaks of himself in the first person. Accordingly it is a general, and that of chap. 3 a special heading.
[Keil: “Habakkuk 1:1 contains the heading, not only to chap 1 and 2, but the whole book, of which chap. 3. forms an integral part. On the special heading in chap. 3 Habakkuk 1:1, see the commentary on the verse. The prophet calls his writing a massâ, or burden (see at Nahum 1:1), because it nation and the imperial power.”—C. E.]
First Dialogue. Habakkuk 1:2-11. In this conversation, as in the concluding passages of Micah, the function of the prophet is exhibited on two sides. He speaks, first, in the name of the true Israel, as an advocate of righteousness (comp. on Micah 7:1); then in the name of God. Hence the discourse takes the from of a dialogue, and is divided into two parts.
I. The Complaint. The prophet in the name of righteousness accuses the people of sin (Habakkuk 1:2-4).
II. The Answer. God points to the scourge, by which this sin is to be punished (Habakkuk 1:1-5).
Habakkuk 1:2-4. The Complaint. Parallel with Micah 7:0, the prophet begins with the description of the wretched condition of the country, which urgently calls for judgment. That he is not yet speaking of the violent deeds of the Chaldæans (Rosenmüller, Ewald, Maurer), but of the condition of Judah itself is evident from the analogy of the language to the descriptions of other prophets, as well as from the fact that the calamity to be inflicted by the Chaldæans (Habakkuk 1:5 ff.) is described as a future one, at present past all belief (comp. Habakkuk 1:13). How long, properly until when, Jehovah,—thou covenant God, who hearest those that call [upon Thee] and art angry with the wicked,—do I cry, and thou hearest not;—cry to thee, violence,—and thou helpest not? Châmâs is not acc. modi, but objecti: a customary form of expression (comp. Jeremiah 20:8, and Job 19:7). We have the same construction in our [the German] language. The tone is that of complaint, common also in the Psalms, with a gentle sound of reproach (Psalms 22:2 ff; Psalms 88:15 ff.), such as only the ideal congregation, which sees in actual sin an injury done to its vocation [ihrer Bestimmung, that for which a thing is designed—C. E.] can raise, but not the individual fellow-sinner and accomplice in guilt.
Habakkuk 1:3. Why (thus the prophet assigns a reason for his calling and crying) dost thou let me see iniquity, and lookest thou upon perverseness inactively? Sc., since at least thou, as the Holy One, will not look upon it in Israel, and since, according to thy Word (Numbers 23:21). thy congregation are to remain free from it? עמל and און convey interchangeable ideas (comp. Hupf. on Psalms 7:15); and the neuter צמל, which in itself may signify also distress (Bäumlein, Keil), receives here by means of the parallel און the meaning of mischief. [אָוֵן, R. אוּן, signifies (1) nothingness, vanity; (2) nothingness of words, i.e., falsehood, deceit; (3) nothingness as to worth, unworthiness, wickedness, iniquity. עָמָל from עָמַל, to labor, signifies, (1) labor, toil; (2) fruit of labor; (3) trouble, vexation, sorrow. Gesenius, Lex.—C. E.]
Oppression and violence are before my eyes; and strife arises, and contention exalts itself. Where the powers are unequal there is oppression: where they are equal, the strife of hearts and tongues results in fighting with hands. To this description of the leading characteristics of a social disorder the question, “Why does He permit it to happen?” is to be supplied in thought from a [first clause of the verse.—C. E.]. יִשָֹּא is intransitive, as in Nahum 1:5; Psalms 89:10.
Habakkuk 1:4. Therefore, because thou dost not look into and restrain it, the law, “which was intended to be the soul and heart of the common political life” (Delitzsch), is slack. This is shown particularly (comp. Micah 3:1 ff.) in the chief pillar of the public life, the administration of justice: Yea a righteous sentence never comes forth. So it should be translated, if we understand נצח according to the customary usage of the language; לא נצח, i. e., not to perpetuity, not forever, i. e. never (Isaiah 13:20, Delitzsch, Keil). But, as the adjunct מעקל, in the following part of the verse shows משׁפט means also here, as it does frequently, not materially a righteous judgment, but formally a legal sentence in general (Hosea 10:4). לנצח must consequently be uttered with emphasis; and the clause, “the sentence goes forth” לא לנצח, should form an antithesis to the clause, “the sentence goes forth perverted to injustice.” To נצח, therefore, the signification of truth, justice, is required to be given (comp. לאמת Isaiah 42:3; Jeremiah 5:3). And this signification is possible. For the usual meaning perpetuity, stability, is not primitive, but has its inner ground in the fact that internal solidity is necessary to continuance; and this is undoubtedly evident from Proverbs 21:28, though one may grant to Delitzsch, that the signification, forever (better to perpetuity), is not to be given up even in this passage. The connection of the meanings, and the transition from the concrete to the abstract are the same as in צִרק. Compare also 1 Sara. 15:29, where God, as He who cannot lie, is called נצח ישׂראל, and Lamentations 3:18. Schultens has verified this meaning from the Arabic, Animadvv., p. 515. Therefore [read]: The sentence [or judgment] does not go forth according to truth, so that it may have stability. Similarly, Hitzig, Bäumlein.
For the wicked man (to be understood collectively) surrounds [in a hostile sense—C. E.] the righteous man: to a whole circle of wicked men there is but one righteous, so that right bows under superior power (comp. Micah 7:3): therefore judgment goes forth perverted. [Keil: Mishpat is not merely a righteous verdict, however; in which case the meaning would be: There is no more any righteous verdict given, but a righteous state of things, objective right in the civil and political life.—C. E.]
Habakkuk 1:5-11. Jehovah’s Answer [to the preceding complaint—C. E]. The scourge is already prepared; and that a terrible one. Look around among the nations and see. רָאָח בְּ does not mean here, to look with delight, as it does in other places: the ב, moreover, does not enter simply into construction with the object, but it is local. Already has the storm burst forth among the nations, which also will overtake the secure sinners of Israel. And be astonished! astonished! The emphasis of the benumbing astonishment is expressed by the verb repeated in two conjugations (comp. Zephaniah 2:1; Ewald, sec. 313 c). The reason for both the summons to look round and for the stupefying consternation following it is indicated by the following כי: for a work works, is carried into effect (comp. ῆδη ἐνεργεῖται 2 Thessalonians 2:7), in your days: ye would not believe it, if it were told to you, it so far exceeds everything that can be imagined and expected. In order to transfer the emphasis entirely to the dreadful word, the speaker keeps back the author, and makes פעֵל apparently neuter: the impellent force is in the work itself (Ezekiel 1:20). [Keil: The participle פֹעֵל denotes that which is immediately at hand, and is used absolutely, without a pronoun: According to Habakkuk 1:6, אִַנִי is the pronoun we have to supply. For it is not practicable to supply הוּא, or to take the participle in the sense of the third person, since God, when speaking to the people, cannot speak of himself in the third person, and even in that case יהוָוָֹה could not be omitted. Hitzig’s idea is still more untenable, namely, that pô‘al is the subject, and that põ‘él is used in an intransitive sense: the work produces its effect. We must assume, as Delitzsch does, that there is a proleptical ellipsis, i. e., one in which the word immediately following is omitted (as in Isaiah 48:11; Zechariah 9:17). The admissibility of this assumption is justified by the fact that there are other cases in which the participle is used and the pronoun omitted; and that not merely the pronoun of the third person (e. g., Isaiah 2:11; Jeremiah 38:23), but that of the second person also (1 Samuel 2:24; 1 Samuel 6:3; and Psalms 7:10).—C. E.]
Habakkuk 1:6 first mentions the doer: For behold, I, the Lord, bring up [am about to raise up—C. E.] the Chaldæans. [See Lenormant and Chevallier, vol. 1 p. 472; also Rawlinson’s Ancient Monarchies, vol. 1 p. 58, and vol. 2 pp. 497, 505.—C. E.]. The expression בימיכם, and still more the immediately following description of the enemies themselves; point to the fact that they had already appeared in history. But that they are to appear in the history of Israel and come to execute judgment upon Judah for his sins, is, as the expression (הִנְנִי with the part.) shows, still in the future. And indeed the rapidity with which Babylon, which had just become independent, rose from being a city subject to Assyria to be the ruler of Asia, has something incredible. The nation, at whose head Nebuchadnezzar accomplished this sudden conquest, and whose great monarchy took the place of the Assyrian, is called in the Old Testament Casdim; and this designation stands, in the O. T., in the same reciprocal relation to Babylon, that Israel does to Jerusalem. The name Casdim, which, with the change of the second radical, has been preserved to this day in the name Kurds, and which appears in the Classics in the appellations Chalybes (II., ii. 856; comp. Strabo, xii. 545), Chaldi (Steph. Byz., s. v. Χαλδια) or Chaldæans (Ptolemæus, Strabo, Plinius, comp. Winer s. v. “Chaldäer,” Ewald, Hist. Isr., 1:333), Carduchi, or Gardyæi, belongs, according to the O. T. and the Classics to a tribe spread over the whole country between the Tigris and Pontus. Already in Jeremiah 5:15 the same people are designated as a very ancient one; and as early as Genesis 11:28 the country of Mesopotamia is called after them Ur [Ur of the Chaldees], so that it is more than doubtful whether Chesed (Genesis 22:22), the nephew of Abraham, is to be considered their ancestor. If the conjecture of Ewald, Knobel, Dietrich, is correct that a reference to the name כשׂד already exists in Arphaxad [ארפכשׁד] Genesis 10:22) then this circumstance would doubtless refer the name to a time beyond that of Abraham. Oppert (Deutsch.-morgenl. Zeitschr., German-Oriental Journal, 11:137) has proved, that the word Cas-dim is Tataric, and signifies, as well as Mesopotamia, two rivers; and (the correctness of the translation being presupposed) it is legitimately inferred from this fact that the name probably designates the aboriginal Tataric population between the Euphrates and Tigris. (It harmonizes well with this etymology, according to which Casdim is plural only in sound but not in original signification, that the name appears in the O. T. only as plur. tantum; that Casdim as an actual plural form would be abnormally formed; that the regular plural form כַשְׂדִּייִם occurs only once in later Hebrew (Ezekiel 23:14, Cthibh), and the reconstructed singular form כשׂדי only in the Aramaic of Daniel. [The opinion] that the aboriginal population of that district was, in fact, not of a Semitic, but of a Tataric stock, appears, at present, to be subjected no longer to any opposition. (Comp. Brandis, art. “Assyria” in Pauly’s Realencyklopädie.) [On the early history of the Chaldæans and their Turanian origin, see Rawlinson’s Herodotus, vol. 1. pp. 247, 248, 245, 533.—C. E.] Certainly opposed to this view is the assumption of the great majority of exegetes that the primitive abode of the Casdim was the Armenian mountain land, where, according to Xenophon, a brave and freedomloving people of the Chaldæan stock dwelt, and where the Kurds still live, and that the Assyrians first settled them in the plain of Babylon, according to Hitzig in the year 625. This assumption, however, has, on closer examination, no broader foundation than a false, at the least a questionable interpretation of the obscure passage, Isaiah 23:13 : it is for that reason to be set aside. The present passage is the locus classicus for the characteristics of this warlike people, just as Isaiah 5:26 ff. is for the characteristics of the Assyrians. They are called the people, the bitter, i. e., ferocious (comp. Amarus, Cic. Att., 14, 21, and מר נפשׁ, Judges 18:25) and the impetuous, properly hurrying on (Isaiah 32:4), rushing on precipitately—the conformity of sound of the two adjectives has something terribly graphic—which marches along [Keil: ל is not used here to denote the direction, or the goal, but the space, as in Genesis 13:17 (Hitzig, Delitzsch)—C. E.] the breadths of the earth, which passes through the land in its whole extent (Judges 8:8; Revelation 20:9): to take possession of dwelling places that are not its own (comp. Habakkuk 2:6).
Habakkuk 1:7. Carries out the idea of the “bitter;” and Habakkuk 1:8, that of the “impetuous,” in Habakkuk 1:6. It is terrible and fearful; from it—not from God (Psalms 17:1)—proceed its right and eminence: in sovereign vain-glory it revived the old character of Babylon (Genesis 11:4; comp. Isaiah 14:13), put its own statutes in the place of the jura divina, and consequently entered despotically into the place of the world-power, which is at strife with God. שׂאת, an eminence, which rests upon inflated pride (נשׂא, Hosea 13:1), in contrast with the כִּבור, which is bestowed by God. [Rawlinson’s Ancient Monarchies, vol. 3 pp. 10, 11.—C. E.]
Habakkuk 1:8. And fleeter than leopards, whose swiftness in catching the prey is proverbial, are its horses (Jeremiah employs in the same comparison the figure of the eagle, Jeremiah 4:13); yea they are swifter than evening wolves (Zephaniah 3:3; comp. Psalms 59:7; Psalms 59:15). The battle is to them, what the seizing of the prey is to a ravenous beast,—a savage delight, to which they hasten with impatience (Job 39:20 f.). And its horsemen rush along (there is here also a graphic conformity of sound in the words); yea its horsemen eome from afar, they fly like the eagle, which hastens to devour. [Rawlinson’s Ancient Monarchies, vol. 3 pp. 10, 11.—C. E.] They come to fulfill the curse (Deuteronomy 28:49), to the words of which the prophet alludes.
This thought is further carried out in Habakkuk 1:9. All its multitude—the suffix ה, contracted from ־ָהוּ is archaic, as in Genesis 49:11—comes for deeds of violence, for the object is to inflict judgment for violence (Habakkuk 1:2). The eagerness (in this sense the ἁπ. λεγ. מגמּה, occurs in the Rabbins, Kimchi on Psalms 27:8) of their faces urges forward. קָדִימָה, also in Ezekiel 11:1; Ezekiel 45:7, for קִרְמָה (Genesis 25:6). And it gathers prisoners together like dust (comp. Genesis 41:49; Hosea 2:9).
Habakkuk 1:10. Forms a fit sequel to the description of the autocratic power in Habakkuk 1:7 : and it scoffs at kings, and princes are a derision to it, for, 10 b, 11 a, it has the power to overcome every resistance: it laughs at every stronghold, and heaps up dust and takes it.
Habakkuk 1:11. Then it turns a tempest [Ges.: then his spirit revives—C. E.] and passes on. To mark the little anxiety, which the haughty enemy bestows upon the capture, the approaches are called עפר, heaped up dust, instead of the usual סֹלְלָה (2 Samuel 10:15, and above). The fem. suff. in ילכרהּ, receives from the mas. מבצר, fortress, the idea of a city [עיר, which is fem.—C. E.] חלףּ nowhere means revirescit, not ever in Psalms 90:5, but it signifies a speedy gliding away, turning away (Job 9:11; Psalms 102:27), and unites, without violence, with עבר in expressing one idea. [See note 8 on Habakkuk 1:11—C. E.] רוּח is placed between as an appositional comparison (comp. Isaiah 21:8 : and he cried, a lion, i. e., with a lion’s voice); there lies, indeed, in this apposition the threefold relative comparison of the revolving whirlwind, of rushing speed, and of demolishing power. A more descriptive expression of the astonishment at the invincible power of the Babylonian, who, immediately after the overthrow of Nineveh, marched against Necho, cannot be imagined. With a lofty elevation the prophet, 11 b, sets at naught this surging flood, and announces against the irresistible autocratic insolence of the enemy the unalterable decree of the Divine government [Governor] of the world, which, as in Micah and Nahum, concludes the description [of this haughty enemy—C. E.] with crushing effect: But he is guilty, and consequently incurs the Divine penalty, whose power is his God. That the accentuation incorrectly connects the verb אשׁם with the first half of the verse, which, according to the sense, should be included in one verse with 10 b, is plain; for the immediate coördination of the verbs יעבור and אשׁם, though retained by the exegetes, is certainly excluded by the dissimilar conjunctions (וְ, וַּ). [וַיַּֽעבֹר has vav conversive of the future; and אָשֵׁם has vav conversive of the preterite—C. E.] [Other translations: LXX.: Καὶ διελεύσεται καὶ ἐξιλάσεται αὕτη ἡ ἰσχὺς τῷ θεῷ μου Vulg.: “Et pertransibit et corruet; hœc. est fortitude ejus dei sui.” Drusius: “Et transgredietur et delinquet, hanc vim suam Deo suo (tribuens).” J. H. Michaelis: “Et reum se faciet (dicens): hanc potentiam suam deberi Deo suo;” or: “Et turn luel (impius Judæus), cujus vis sua fuit pro Deo suo.” Hitzig, Maurer: “And he loads himself with guilt; he, whose power becomes his god.” Gesenius, Ewald, Delitzsch, Keil: “He passes on farther and offends; this his power becomes (is) his god.” Bäumlein: “Since his power becomes his god].” לִ stands in the predicate of the object [Prädicat der Abzielung, the predicate denoting the purpose, object, or aim—C. E.] as in Nahum 1:7; Exodus 6:7; זוּ rel. as in Isaiah 42:24 and other places. As appertaining to the thought, which, with special regard to Habakkuk 1:7, briefly comprises the moral character of the conqueror with its immanent [inherent] destiny and makes both the basis of the following dialogue, comp. Habakkuk 2:6-10; Job 12:6; Isaiah 10:13.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
The inspiration of the prophets is rooted in the sacred soil of the heart, and presupposes the contest of faith and prayer with God, in which the struggling and praying soul experiences God’s answer and blessing: a contest of faith and prayer like that of the patriarch, which stands at the beginning of the entire history of the holy people, who had the Spirit of God (Genesis 32:24 ff.; comp. Hosea 12:5 f.; Isaiah 63:11). By this root of sanctification prophecy, among the people of Israel, is distinguished from all heathen divination, and not by the gift of the vision of future things. “Prophecy, as it speaks of future things, is almost one of the least important gifts, and comes sometimes even from the Devil.” Luther on Romans 12:7 (comp. Exodus 7:0). It has in the O. T. its peculiar significance, which is to be understood from the light of the history of the kingdom; but separated from the heart of God it would be nothing. Comp. 1 Peter 1:11; 2 Peter 1:21.
The heathen powers shoot up into ascendency, when in the kingdom of God, the truth is impeded by pride, injustice, and a spirit of contention. On these they live like fungi, and God permits them to spring up, in order to begin the judgment upon his house. The more certainly that individuals, following their own view of what is good and right, pursue the war of the flesh instead of the Gospel of peace, the more certainly is the scourge already in preparation. What the prophet says of one event is put down in writing, because it is uttered for all time (Acts 13:41). The prudent man sees the evil and hides himself; but the silly man passes on and is punished. But even the most prudent man does not foresee it by his own prudence. God’s decisive acts, as well those which He does as those which He permits, are altogether Niphlaoth, wonderful deeds, and have ever on one side something incredible in them. That they will come, he who has learned to examine the signs of the times in the light of God’s Word, anticipates: how they are to be, God reserves to his own power. Enough, that we know that it is His power. To him, who knows this, there is, no strange work in the world.9
For however high the scourge may be raised, the destroyer [Zerbrecher, dasher in pieces] is also appointed to it, as soon as he intends that it shall be more than a scourge, that chastisement shall be converted into destruction, the work of God into his own work. All [assumption of] independence is apostasy from God, consequently separation from the source of life. The [assumption of] independence on the part of Adam ended in curse and misery. The same thing on the part of ancient Babel ended in destruction, dispersion, and confusion. And so it falls out with the new destroyer, the destiny of his own guilt overwhelms him, because his power is his god. And in his time he who has crushed will himself be crushed. Kings and princes and strong cities are an object of derision to him: he is the same before God. Only he who continues in a state of grace, receives from God in perpetuity what was not his: thus Israel received Canaan. If he renounce the grace, he must also surrender the gift. If this applies to Israel (Micah 2:10) how much more to the obstinate alien.
How utterly incomprehensible are the judgments of God!
1. Incomprehensible in their delay, to the view of those who have no patience, and think that God ought to act as speedily as their anger prompts them (Habakkuk 1:2-3).
2. Incomprehensible in their threatening to those upon whom they will fall, and who nevertheless continue to sin in security (Habakkuk 1:4).
3. Incomprehensible to every human mind in their realization. For—
(a.) They are greater than any human thought would anticipate (Habakkuk 1:5).
(b.) They take place in ways and by means of which no man would dream (Habakkuk 1:6).
(c.) They are often brought about by men and events that, at first sight, have nothing in common with God.
4. Incomprehensible in their grandeur and universality to those by whom they are accomplished (Habakkuk 1:11).
On Habakkuk 1:2. God always hears, although we do not have an immediate sense of it. Therefore continue in prayer. It is also not always good to pray to Him to hasten his help. The future help, which He has prepared, is perhaps, for the moment, heavier to bear than the present burden, under which thou sighest.
Habakkuk 1:3. He must certainly have his reasons, when He permits his saints to see misery and impious conduct. It touches his heart more than it does theirs. He suffers things to come to a crisis and the wicked thoughts of hearts to be revealed before He approaches [to judgment].
Habakkuk 1:5. However long we have searched after the way of God, when He is suddenly revealed in his might and power, then the light is so dazzling that it is painful to us, and we are displeased that God has performed such powerful deeds in our days, and that we have not rather come to our rest in peace.
Habakkuk 1:5. God has great power to destroy. Neither title-deed nor hereditary right protects against his power. He takes from whom He will and gives to whom He will. But He has still greater power and pleasure in building. The destruction is for a moment, the building for eternity. And in his destroying building is always included. With the stubble ploughed under, the field is manured for a new harvest; and the plough does not reap, but the ploughman.
Habakkuk 1:7. Ye who despise the right, when you can have it, need not wonder when you are treated as if there were no right, and when you shall be dealt with according to your own principle: stat proratione voluntas.
Habakkuk 1:10. When the judgments of God come, how quickly does everything on which men formerly placed their confidence and hope, fall to ruin! Then the earth, which was just now joyful, quakes.
Habakkuk 1:11. When God permits you to succeed in everything that comes to hand, it is no reason for pride, but for humiliation. All success cleaves to him who is proud, not as a merit, but as guilt, and God will require [the punishment of] the guilt.
Luther: On Habakkuk 1:2. As if he would say, I preach much, and it is of no avail; my word is despised; no one becomes better; they only become continually worse. Therefore I know not where to bring my complaint except to Thee; but Thou seemest as if Thou hearest me not, and dost not see them. But the prophet does not expostulate with God, as his words would sound and intimate to the ear; but he speaks thus in order that he may alarm the people and bring them to repentance, and show them how deservedly the wrath and burden will come upon them, because they turn not at preaching, threatening, and exhortation, nor even at prayer, directed against them.
Habakkuk 1:3. This is written for our consolation and admonition that we should not wonder nor think it strange if few improve by our teaching. For generally preachers, especially if they have just newly come from the forge [seminary], indulge extravagant expectations [meinen sie, das solle sobald Hände und Fusse haben, und flugs alles geschehen und geändert werden, they think that everything should instantly have hands and feet, and that it should be immediately done and changed]. But that is a great mistake. Habakkuk rebukes the Jews, not on account of idolatry and other sins, but only on account of sins which were committed against their neighbors; there must, therefore, have been still at that time pious people, who maintained divine worship in its purity; but they were possessed with avarice and addicted to the practice of injustice and usury. So then no service, be it what it may, is pleasing to God, in which one does wrong to his neighbor.
Habakkuk 1:4. There are much worse villains than public thieves and rogues. For the latter act openly against the law, so that their wrong doing is palpable to and felt by every one; but the former pretend to be pious, and would have wrong considered right. There are therefore two kinds of villains: first, those who do wrong; secondly, those who set off and defend the same wrong under the name of right.
Habakkuk 1:5. All this is said also for us, who have the name and semblance of Christians, who boast of our baptism, or of our spiritual profession and office, as giving us the advantage over heathen and Jews, and yet we are, like them, without faith and the spirit: so that we also must certainly perish at last by those whom we now despise and consider worse than ourselves, just as it happened to the Jews by the Chaldæans.
Habakkuk 1:6. It will be to you also of no avail that Jerusalem is the city and dwelling of God, to which you now trust: it is in vain, the Babylonian people will take possession of it altogether, though it is not their own.
Habakkuk 1:11. No human heart can refrain from pride and boasting, when it has success and good fortune. The Scriptures do not alone teach this; but also the heathen testify and acknowledge it from experience, as Virgil says: nescia mens hominum servare modum rebus sublata secundis. It is a common saying: a man can bear all things except prosperity.
Starke: Habakkuk 1:2. Human weakness is the reason why we cannot reconcile ourselves to the wonderful government of God, and why we think that all evil might be easily remedied. But in this we forget that it is not according to wisdom to treat men, whom He has endowed with freedom of the will, with absolute omnipotence and as if they were machines.
Habakkuk 1:3. The ungodly exert themselves to the utmost in sinning.
Habakkuk 1:4. Even lawsuits are not unknown to God: He keeps also his record of them.
Habakkuk 1:5. God himself brings the enemy into the land, and punishes thereby all injustice.
Habakkuk 1:6. Those who sin in haste and are unwilling to be restrained are suddenly punished by God, and do not escape.
Habakkuk 1:8. God punishes the avarice of his people, who accumulate riches by injustice, in turn by the avarice of the soldiers, who plunder the unjustly acquired wealth and appropriate it to themselves. God can employ even the beasts, which at other times are compelled to render great service to men, for their punishment.
Habakkuk 1:10. Those who despise and laugh at pious teachers and their admonitions, justly deserve in their turn to be despised and laughed at.
Pfaff: Habakkuk 1:2 ff. Servants of God and preachers of the Gospel have reason to sigh over the prostration of faith in every quarter. Who can reproach them for thus sighing? But woe to you ungodly, who extort such sighs from them?
Habakkuk 1:5. Whence come war, bloodshed, and devastation? They come hence: justice is depressed and the law of God is violated.
Rieger: On 2 ff. O God, into what times hast thou brought us? What must we see and experience? Where is the answer of all the prayer that has already for a long time been offered up for Divine help? These are also footsteps of faith in which we are often forced to tread.
Schmieder: Habakkuk 1:4. The law becomes frigid, which, however, in its nature is fire and flame, and which, in the judgment, consumes sin. But where the judge is good for nothing, the law is frigid and lifeless.
Burck: Habakkuk 1:5 : Ye believe it not, if ye merely hear it, if ye are not furnished with conviction by sight. Much, if it is merely heard, does not work in the mind of man faith so much as doubt. It is a miracle worthy of God that men by the hearing of the Gospel attain to faith.
Schlier: Habakkuk understands very well what kind of a corrective such a people, insolent and eager for conquest, are; and, when all means are in vain, only such a fearful judgment by means of a foreign people can rouse once more a fallen nation. The Lord needs only to point him to the Chaldæans; thus he knows that this nation is the means in the hand of the Lord of setting bounds to the state of general distress.
Talm.: Habakkuk 1:7. Four men deified themselves and thereby brought evil upon themselves: Pharaoh, Hiram, Nebuchadnezzar, and Joash: the punishment of Nebuchadnezzar was divestiture of humanity.
Burck: Habakkuk 1:9. Those who commit deeds of violence on one another (Habakkuk 1:2-3) deserve to experience them from others.
Augustine: Habakkuk 1:11. What art thou, O man, who puffest thyself up? Be contented to be filled. He who is filled is rich; he who puffs himself up is empty.
[Habakkuk 1:4.—תָּפוּג תוֹרָה. The primary idea of תָּפוּג is that of stiffness, rigidity, i. e., frigid and cold, cold and stiff being kindred terms. Compare the Greek πηγ·νυω, to be stiff. Trop. to be torpid, sluggish, slack: friget lax.
[Habakkuk 1:4.—וְלֹא־יֵצֵא לָנֶצַח מּשְׁפָט may be rendered: judgment goeth not forth according to truth. Ges. But לָנֵצַח signifies also, to perpetuity, forever and connecting it with לֹא it gives the meaning of not forever, or never. See Keil. LXX.: Καὶ οὐ διεξάγεται εἰς τέλος κρίμα, Vulgate: et non pervenit usque ad finem judicium: Luther.: und kann keine rechte Sache gewinnen: Kleinert: und nicht fallt much Wahrheit der Rechtsspruch.
[Habakkuk 1:5.—וְהִתַּמְּהוּ תְּמָהוּ. Double form, used for intensity. Compare Isaiah 29:9. The combination of the kal with the hiphil of the same verb serves to strengthen it, so as to express the highest degree of amazement.
[Habakkuk 1:5.—פֹּצֵל denotes that which is immediately at hand. Green’s Heb Gram., sec. 266, 2. Nordheimer, sec- 1034, 3 a.
[Habakkuk 1:6.—כּי־הּנְנִי מֵקִים, ecce suscitaturus sum. הִנְנִי before the participle refers to the future.
[Habakkuk 1:8.—וּפָשוּ from פוּש, signifying to be proud, to show off proudly; hence of a horseman leaping proudly and fiercely. The subject of this verb, פָרָּשָיו, may be translated horses. See Ges., s. v.
[Habakkuk 1:9.—מִגַמַּת פְּנֵיהֶם קָוּימָה. I have followed Gesenius in the translation of these words. LXX.: ἀνθεστηκότας προσώποις αὐτῶν ἐξεναντίας; Vulgate: facies eorum ventus urcns; Luther: reissen sie hindurch wie ein Ostwind; Kleinert: die Gier ihrer Angesichter strebt nach vorwarts.
[Habakkuk 1:11.—אז חלף רוּח, then his spirit revives. Ges. LXX.: τὸτε μεταβαλεῖ τό πνεῦμα; Vulgate: Tunc mutabitur spiritus: Luther: Alsdann werden sic einen neuen Muth nehmen; Keil: Then it passes along a wind; Kleinert: Dann wendet es sich, ein sturm wind; Henderson: it gaineth fresh spirit.—C. E.]
Compare the letter of the French theosophist, St. Martin, concerning the Revolution, in Varnhagen, Memoirs, 4:534 ff.: “I remind you of what I have written in the beginning of this letter, that the political commotions, in the storms of which we live, appear to me to be in the eye of God only the ways by which He is preparing us, as we think, for greater happiness. For the astonishing course of development of our grand revolution and the brilliant phenomena which mark it at every step, must show to every one, not devoid of understanding, or honesty, in its march of fire, the accomplishment of an express decree of Providence. We can even say that the work, on its part is already done, though not yet entirely on ours. Its hand, like that of a skillful surgeon, has removed the extraneous matter, and we feel all the inevitable effects of a painful operation and the pressure of the bandage of the wounds; but we must bear these pains with patience and courage, since there is none of them which does not conduce to our recovery.” See page Hab 453: “When I consider the French Revolution from its origin onward, and at the moment when it broke out, I find nothing better to compare it to than to a picture on a reduced scale, of the last judgment, where the trumpets sound abroad the fearful notes, which a higher voice gives to them, where all the powers of heaven and earth are shaken; and where in one and the same moment the righteous and the wicked receive their reward.”
CHAPTER Habakkuk 1:12 to Habakkuk 2:20
[The Prophet expostulates with God on Account of the Judgment, which threatens the Annihilation of the Jewish People (chap. 1.Habakkuk 1:12-17; Habakkuk 1:12-17). The waiting Posture of the Prophet (chap. 2.Habakkuk 1:1; Habakkuk 1:1). The Command to commit to Writing the Revelation which was about to be made to Him (Habakkuk 1:2). Assurance that the Prophecy, though not fulfilled immediately, will certainly be accomplished (Habakkuk 1:3). The proud and unbelieving will abuse it; but the believing will be blessed by it. The Prophet then depicts the Sins of the Chaldæans, and shows that both general Justice and the special Agencies of God’s Providence will surely overtake them with fearful Retribution.—C. E.]
12 Art thou not from eternity,
Jehovah, my God, my Holy One?
We shall not die.
Jehovah! for judgment thou hast appointed it;
And O Rock! Thou hast founded it for chastisement.
13 Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil;
Thou canst not look upon injustice.
Why lookest thou upon the treacherous?
Why art thou silent when the wicked destroys
Him that is more righteous than he?
14 And thou makest men like fishes of the sea,
Like reptiles that have no ruler.
15 All10 of them it lifts up with the hook;
It gathers them into its net,
And collects them into its fish-net;
Therefore it rejoices and is glad.
16 Therefore it sacrifices to its net,
And burns incense to its fish-net;
Because by them its portion is rich,
And its food fat
17 Shall he, therefore, empty his net,
And spare not to slay the nations continually?
Habakkuk 2:1 I will stand upon my watch11-post,
And station myself upon the fortress;
And I will wait12 to see what He will say to [in] me,
And what I shall answer to my complaint.13
2 And Jehovah answered me and said:
Write the vision14 and grave15 it on tablets,
That he may run, who reads it.
3 For still the vision is for the appointed time;16
And it hastens to the end [fulfillment],
And does not deceive;
Though it delay, wait for it;
For it will surely come, and will not fail.
4 Behold the proud:
His soul is not right within him;
But the just by his faith shall live.
5 And moreover, wine is treacherous:
A haughty man, he rests not:
He who opens wide his soul like Sheol,
And is like death, and is not satisfied,
And gathers all nations to himself,
And collects all peoples to himself:
6 Will not all these take up a song17 aganst him?
And a song of derision,18 a riddle19 upon him;
And they will say:
Woe to him who increases what is not his own!
And who loads himself with pledges.20
7 Will not thy biters21 rise up suddenly,
And those awake that shall shake thee violently?
And thou wilt become a prey to them.
8 Because thou hast plundered many nations,
All the remainder of the peoples shall plunder thee;
Because of the blood of men and the violence done to the earth;
To the city and all that dwell in it.
9 Woe to him, that procureth wicked gain for his house!
To set his nest on high,
To preserve himself from the hand of calamity.
10 Thou hast devised shame for thy house;
Cutting off many peoples, and sinning against thyself.
11 For the stone cries out from the wall.
And the spar out of the wood-work answers it.
12 Woe to him, who builds a city with blood,
And founds a town in wickedness.
13 Behold, is it not from Jehovah of hosts,
That the peoples toil for the fire,
And the nations weary themselves for vanity?
14 For the earth shall be filled
With the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah,
As the waters cover the sea.
15 Woe to him that gives his neighbor to drink,
Pouring out thy wrath,22 and also making drunk,
In order to look upon their nakedness.
16 Thou art sated with shame instead of glory;
Drink thou also, and show thyself uncircumcised:
The cup of Jehovah’s right hand shall come round to thee,
And ignominy23 shall be upon thy glory.
17 For the violence done to Lebanon shall cover thee,
And the destruction of wild beasts which terrifies24 them:
Because of the blood of men, and the violence done to the earth,
To the city and all that dwell in it
18 What profits the graven image, that its maker has carved it?
The molten image and the teacher of falsehood,
That the maker of his image trusts in him to make dumb25 idols?
19 Woe to him that says to the wood, awake!
To the dumb stone, arise!
It teach! Behold it is overlaid with gold and silver;
And there is no breath in its inside.
20 But Jehovah is in his holy temple,
Let all the earth be silent before Him.
The first glance shows that this [second] dialogue also is divided into distinct members.
(1) The Question of the prophet in the name of Israel. Is then the destroyer predicted (Habakkuk 1:5-11), to have continual security? Habakkuk 1:12 to Habakkuk 2:1.
(2). The Answer of God by the prophet (Habakkuk 2:2-20). Every one who is guilty and does not trust in the living God must be destroyed, consequently also the destroyer.
I. Hab 1:12 to Habakkuk 2:1. The Question. As if the prophet had fallen into terror by the distressing answer and the terrifying description, which the Spirit of God drew by him of the destroyer, and had in the mean time failed to hear of the glorious prospect, which was already opening up in Habakkuk 1:11, he turns, praying and expostulating, to God: Art thou not from eternity, Jehovah, my God, my Holy One? in order to receive himself the consoling confidence from the experimental faith, which puts this address in his mouth: we shall not die. “Jehovah, my God” is the vocative, and “my Holy One” is the predicate. The suffixes of the first person refer not to the prophet as an individual, but to the people whom he represents; for according to the usage of Scripture language Jehovah is not the Kadôsch [Holy One] of the prophet, but the Kadôsch of Israel; hence in the verb the change to the plural. Jehovah is implored as the Holy One, i. e., as He, who in a special manner, by special avowal of property [in them] and special revelation (Exodus 19:4), adopted Israel from among all nations; and hence as He requires special purity from Israel, so also He will exercise special mercy toward him (Hosea 11:9); and [He is implored] as He, who has life in Himself, so that whoever abides in Him, cannot be abandoned to death. (Hence לאֹ נָמוּת). Compare the Johrb. f. deutsche Theologie [Journal of German Theology], 12. (1867), 1, p. 42 f. As such, God had shown himself from times of old (comp. Isaiah 58:14), and He is one Jehovah, one continuing always the same (Exodus 3:14; Deuteronomy 32:40), hence also now He will not show himself otherwise. But at the same time there lies also in the designation Kadôsch the ethical reason that the Holy One of Israel cannot leave unpunished (Nahum 2:3) him, who has done injury to his sanctuary Psalms 114:2); and then the concluding thought is introduced by virtue of Habakkuk 1:11, which is afterward further carried out in Habakkuk 1:13. Rather, if Jehovah permits the destroyer at all to exercise violence upon Israel, the ground of it is a plan of Divine Wisdom and of a holy government of the world: Jehovah, for judgment hast thou appointed it, and thou Rock hast founded it for chastisement. The noun צוּר signifies figuratively the same thing as Jehovah in reality; the unchangeable God, who among all the perverse ways of men remains always the same (Deuteronomy 32:37; Psalms 18:32, and above). The chastisement does not tend to the destruction, but to the salvation of those who are chastised (Psalms 118:18). The vocatives Jehovah and Rock are continued by the vocative address Habakkuk 1:13 : Thou art too pure in thine eyes to be able to look upon evil (for the constr. comp. Judges 7:2; Deuteronomy 14:24) and thou canst not look, inactively, upon mischief (comp. on Habakkuk 1:3); thou, who on account of ungodliness among us, bringest up the destroyer, why wilt thou look upon the plunderer? Thou wilt also not leave the sin unpunished, with which thou punishest sin. Boged is in prophecy a standing term for designating the violent Babylonian conqueror (Isaiah 21:2; Isaiah 24:16). The why is rhetorical: Thou canst certainly not do it. Why art thou silent—epexegetical to the apathetic looking on in c, for the purpose of designating it as an inactive, tranquil letting-alone (comp. Psalms 50:21);—when the wicked—who does not even know thee, but has always been at a distance from thee (comp. Micah 2:4)—devours him, who is more righteous than he? Although there is much wickedness in Israel, yet, because the Holy One (Habakkuk 1:12) dwells in the midst of them, they are still much more righteous (comp. the N. T. idea of the δίκαιοι and ἅγιοι), than he, who purposes to extirpate the worship of Jehovah along with his people; comp. Isaiah 36:15 ff. Grotius: “Judœi magnis criminibus involuti erant, sed tamen in ea re multum a Chaldœis superabantur.”
The לָמָּה is to be supplied in Habakkuk 1:14 also from Habakkuk 1:13 : and why makest thou, wilt thou make men like fishes of the sea. [So Henderson; but Keil does not supply לָמָּה.—C. E.] These are not considered as elsewhere with reference to their great number, but to their defenselessness against the fisher’s net, to which the Chaldæan is compared. Hence the parallel clause: like the reptile—here the creeping things of the sea (as in Psalms 104:25)—which has no ruler, no one who appears to care for, protect and defend them, who goes before collecting means for defense. Where there is no ruler there are helplessness and destruction (Micah 4:9). Instead of לוֹ, indicating possession, בּוֹ stands in the short relative clause, because משׁל is construed with this preposition; literally, no one rules over them.
Habakkuk 1:15. All of them (comp. Habakkuk 1:9) [suf. ה referring to the collective אָדָם, Habakkuk 1:14—C. E.] he, the fisher, lifts up with his hook, from the deep in which they thought themselves safe. [Because the short vowel seghol is lengthened in the first syllable of העלה into tsere, the corresponding hhateph-seghol must pass over into hhateph-pattach, which occurs after all vowels except seghol and kamets. Ges., sec. 63. Rem. 4.]. And he draws (גּרר) them into his net, and collects them in his fish-net. Therefore—to his net (Habakkuk 1:16). That is to say, he sacrifices to his martial power, by which he brings the nations under his sway, and which is forsooth his god (Habakkuk 1:11). The Sarmatians were accustomed to offer annually a sacrifice to a sabre set up as an insignia of Mars (Her., 4:59, 62; Clem. Al., Protrept. 64). Whether a similar custom existed among the Babylonians is not known; this passage is clear without the supposition of such a custom. For by them, net and fish-net, his portion is rich, his possessions and gain (Ecclesiastes 2:10), and his food is fat. It is the manner of men to render divine honor to that, by which they procure the means of living luxuriously; and idolatry is a perversion of the necessity of gratitude, which searches after the giver (Hosea 2:10).
Habakkuk 1:17. But, therefore, shall he empty his net, i. e., for the purpose of casting it out again for a new draught and always strangle nations without sparing? That, Thou, the only One, certainly canst not suffer, comp. Habakkuk 1:13. In the last member the figurative language changes to literal; the infinitive with ל is not dependent upon חמל, but it stands instead of the finite verb. Compare on Micah 5:1, לֹא יתמל, “unsparingly,” a frequent periphrase of the adverb by means of an adverbial clause (Isaiah 30:14; Job 6:10).
Like Micah 7:7 and Asaph, Psalms 73:28, the prophet (Habakkuk 2:1) flees from the picture of destruction, which involuntarily unrolls itself again before his eye, to the solitary height of observation where he hopes to learn the ways and direction of God. I will stand upon my watch-tower and station myself upon the fortress. The language is not literal, like that of Deuteronomy 22:3; but figurative (comp. Isaiah 21:8); since the prophet does not pretend, like the heathen Seer, to discover the Word of God from any celestial sign observed in solitude; but he receives it in the heart (Deuteronomy 30:14; Numbers 12:6). [Keil: “Standing upon the watch, and stationing himself upon the fortification, are not to be understood as something external, as Hitzig supposes, implying that the prophet went up to a lofty and steep place, or to an actual tower, that he might be far from the noise and bustle of men, and there turn his eyes toward heaven, and direct his collected mind towards God, to look out for a revelation. For nothing is known of any such custom as this, since the cases mentioned in Exodus 33:21 and 1 Kings 19:11, as extraordinary preparations for God to reveal Himself, are of a totally different kind from this; and the fact that Balaam the soothsayer went up to the top of a bare height to look out for a revelation from God (Numbers 23:3), furnishes no proof that the true prophets of Jehovah did the same, but is rather a heathenish feature, which shows that it was because Balaam did not rejoice in the possession of a firm prophetic word, that he looked out for revelations from God in significant phenomena of nature (see at Numbers 23:3-4). The words of our verse are to be taken figuratively, or internally, like the appointment of the watchman in Isaiah 21:6. The figure is taken from the custom of ascending high places for the purpose of looking into the distance (2 Kings 9:17; 2 Samuel 18:24), and simply expresses the spiritual preparation of the prophet’s soul for hearing the Word of God, i. e., the collecting of his mind by quietly entering into himself, and meditating upon the word and testimonies of God.”—C. E.] Hence he continues: and I will await, literally look out for, what He will speak in me, “accurate observare, quœ nunc in spiritu mentis contingant,” Burck. Compare Hosea 1:2. Oehler in Herzog, r.e., 17:637. And what answer I shall bring to my complaint. חִשיב as in 2 Samuel 24:13. In direct words the prophet occupies the position of a mediator founded on Micah 7:1 : he complains and answers himself; by virtue of his subjectivity, which connects him to the people, he represents them; and by virtue of the Spirit which comes upon him, and to which his Ego listens eagerly as something objective, he represents God. He calls his address, which has just been concluded, תּוכחת, a rejoinder, properly a speech for the purpose of conviction, or vindication, in a law suit (Job 13:6); with reference to the fact, that, against the threatening, which was in the first answer of God, it took the character of an objection, a deprecatio, an appeal to the mercy, holiness, and justice of God.
The answer follows immediately in the Reply of Jehovah, Habakkuk 2:2-20. It is introduced by a parenthesis, giving directions and information to the prophet, like the reply of Micah to the false predictions of the false prophets (Habakkuk 3:1): and Jehovah answered me and said. After an Introitus, which has the purpose of indicating the importance and immutability of the decrees announced, and after a Divine acknowledgment that the destroyer is worthy of punishment, the reply runs into a five-fold woe, which announces judgment upon all ungodly, rapacious, idolatrous conduct, consequently a general judgment of the world, which involves also the destruction of the conqueror.
Habakkuk 2:2 b, Habakkuk 2:3. Introitus. Write down the vision (comp. on Habakkuk 1:1; Obadiah 1:1). חזון is not merely that which is seen, but also that which is inwardly perceived: חזה relates to the eye of the soul. And make it plain (באר as in Deuteronomy 27:8) on tables, that he may make haste, who reads it, i. e., write it so plainly that every one passing by may be able to read it quickly and easily; קרא to read, with בּ as in Jeremiah 36:13. From the fact that the tables are designated by the article as known, Calvin has already, in the Introduction to his commentary on Isaiah, drawn the conclusion that tables were put up in the temple (Luther, Ewald: in the market-place), on which the prophets noted down a summary of their prophecies, in order to make them known to the whole people. In this way he thinks the possibility of preserving so many prophecies from being falsified may be understood: the tablets, on which they were written, were taken down and piled up. Indeed this latter supposition has nothing incredible; this method of preservation, as the most recent excavations prove, was well known in the ancient East. In an excavation at Kouyunjik (Introd. to Nahum, p. 9) the workmen came upon a chamber full of tablets of terra cotta, with inscriptions in perfect preservation, piled in heaps from the floor to the ceiling. (Compare Zeitschrift der Deutsch-morgenländischen Gesellschaft [the Journal of the German Oriental Society] 5 p. 446; 10 pp. 728, 731; and on the contents of the tablets Brandis, art. “Assyria,” in Pauly’s Encyclopedia, 1 p. 1890). The tablet, of course, of which Isaiah speaks, Isaiah 8:1, is not a public one, but one disposable for the private use of the prophets (comp. Isaiah 5:16), and on that account it might appear doubtful whether such tablets were constantly fixed up; but at all events it follows in this passage that it was incumbent upon the prophet to fix them up. The article then points to the fact that the prophet had already laid them up for writing down the vision; since indeed he was not surprised by it, but he had looked out for it (Habakkuk 2:1). The reason that several tablets are mentioned here, and not one, as in Isaiah, is found in the rich and various contents of the five-fold woe. But at all events the design of the command, as the connection with what follows shows, is twofold: first, that the word may be made known to all (comp. Isaiah 8:1); secondly, that it shall not be obliterated and changed, but fulfilled in strict accordance with the wording. (Comp. Job 19:24; Isaiah 30:8.)
The latter reason appears with special force in Habakkuk 2:3 : for the vision is yet for the appointed time, still waits for a time of fulfillment, lying perhaps in a far distant future, but nevertheless a fixed (this is indicated by the article) time (comp. Daniel 10:14); what this set time is, that which follows declares: and it strives to [reach] the end: the final time, withheld from human knowledge (Acts 1:7), which God has appointed for the fulfillment of his promises and threatenings (comp. on Micah 4:1; Daniel 8:19; Daniel 8:17). The verb יפח, it puffs, pants to the end, is chosen with special emphasis: “true prophecy is animated, as it were, by an impulse to fulfill itself.” Hitzig. [The third imp. (Hiph.) יָפֵחַ is formed with tsere, like יָמֵר, Ezekiel 18:14]. And it does not lie, like those predictions of the false prophets, which fixed the time of prosperity as near at hand (Micah 2:11). Therefore, if it tarry, wait for it (comp. Ezekiel 8:17); for it will come (comp. בוא of the fulfillment of prophecy, 1 Samuel 9:6), and not fail (אחר as in Judges 5:28 : 2 Samuel 20:5). The use of this passage, Hebrews 10:37, where it seems to be combined with Isaiah 26:20, is grounded on the translation of the LXX., who point the preceding inf. abs. בּא as the part. בָּא, and understand by the ἐρχόμενοζ, who will certainly come, the Messiah, the judge of the world. There is no objection to this Messianic reference, so far as the meaning is concerned, since all prophecy has its goal in Christ; but, if we accept that punctuation, the reference cannot lie in the words, since in case the definite individual, Messiah, is referred to, we must at least read הַבָּא.
Habakkuk 2:4-6 a. The starting-point of the following announcement of the judgment is exhibited as an ethical one with special reference to the conqueror. Behold puffed up, his soul is not upright in him, consequently he must perish, which furnishes the antithesis to “live” in the second half of the verse. In harmony with Habakkuk 1:7-11, the insolent defiance, exhibited in his pride, putting itself in the place of God, is pointed out as the pith of the sin of the foreigner.
[עֻפְּלָה, 3 fem. Pual, denominative from the subst. עֹפֶל, mound, tumor, from which also a Hiphil, Numbers 14:44, is formed.] The uprightness, 4 b, forms a contrast to it which consequently is not here, as at other times, opposed to it like simplicity to cunning sophistry (Ecclesiastes 7:29), but like humble rectitude to lying ostentation.
All pride against God rests on self-deception; and the judgment has no other object with reference to this self-deception than to lay it open, whereby it is proved to be nothing, consequently its possessor falls to destruction. But the just will live, not by his pride, not at all by anything that is his own, but by the constancy of his faith resting upon God and his word. The use, which the Apostle Paul makes of these words (Romans 1:17; comp. Galatians 3:11), is authorized, since there as here the antithesis, by which the idea broad in itself is distinctly sketched, is the haughty boast of his own power entangled in sin. [On the contrary the application of the first half of the verse Hebrews 10:38, is obscured by the use of the incorrect translation of the LXX., as it is not characterized as an argumentative citation by the free transposition of both halves of the verse, but as a free reproduction. Compare Bengel on the passage.] Isaiah 7:9 is also parallel to this passage in sense. The idea of faith, which, in this passage and generally in the O. T. lies at the foundation of the words אמונה resp. האמין, is not yet the specific N. T. idea of the appropriation of the pardoning grace of God, which brings salvation, but the broader one, which we find in Hebrews 2:0 : laying firm hold upon (האמין), and standing firmly upon (אמונה) the word and promise of God, the firm reliance of the soul upon the invisible, which cannot be depressed and misled by the antagonism of that which is seen: constantia, fiducia. [For the word ν̔πόστασις, Hebrews 11:1 (Oetinger: substructure), is certainly not chosen without reference to the stem אמן. Compare the verb חכּה, Habakkuk 2:3. Hitzig is certainly right in claiming for the substantive אמוּנה the signification of faithful disposition=צדקה; in passages like Proverbs 12:17 and Ezekiel 18:22, comp. 1 Samuel 26:23, it cannot be doubled. But this meaning, however, is to be explained from the etymon, and is not in itself the only authorized one; and one needs not go back to the Hiphil האמין (as H. seems to think), in order to discover as the primary meaning, of the word אמן, that of standing firm. As צדק is the adherence of God to his word and covenant and the adherence of man to the word and covenant of God, so אמִ נה (compare the prevailing usage of the Psalms, especially Psalms 89:25, comp. 29) is the standing fast on the part of God to his word (Habakkuk 2:1; Habakkuk 2:12), and the standing fast on the part of man to the word of God: any other constancy than that of a mind established on the word of God the N. T. does not know, at least not as a virtue. Comp. below Luther on the passage.
The general point of view, Habakkuk 2:4, from which it is plain, what he says of the Babylonians, is particularized and enlarged in Habakkuk 2:5, whilst the crimes of the Babylonian are placed under the light of experience, as it is expressed in a proverb. And moreover (the combination אמ כי stands here in its natural signification, indicated by both words themselves, not in the modified meaning, as in 1 Kings 8:27; Genesis 3:1), wine is treacherous. The Babylonians were notorious for their inclination to drink: compare Curtius, Habakkuk 2:1 : “Babylonii maxime in vinum et quœ ebrietatem sequuntur effusi sunt;” and in general concerning their luxury, the characteristic fragment of Nicolaus Damascenus (Fragm. Hist. Grœo., ed. C. Müller, vol. 2 Paris, 1848. Fragm. 8–10, p. 357 ff.). [Rawlinson’s Ancient Monarchies, vol. 2 pp. 504, 507.—C. E.]. The brief formula has the stamp of the proverb, and בּגד is not used in the sense of violent plundering, as in Habakkuk 1:13, but in that of perfidious treachery, as in Lamentations 1:2; Job 6:15 (here also intrans.). In drunkenness men arrogate to themselves high things, and afterward have not strength for them. Comp. also Proverbs 23:31 f. The other proverb reads: A boastful man, great-mouth, continues not. יהיר, only here and Proverbs 21:24, signifies, in the latter passage by virtue of the parallelism (זֵד) and according to the versions, tumidus, arrogans. The predicate is attracted by ו, in order to give emphasis to the subject, as in Genesis 22:24; Ew., see. 344 b. (Hupfeld on Psalms 1:1 takes גבר יהיר as predicate to יָיִן; this, however, is too artificial.
That which follows forms together with Habakkuk 2:6 a subjoined relative sentence, whilst the relative introduced before [its antecedent] is defined by the עליר in the following verse; and the contents of this subjoined sentence is the direct application of Habakkuk 2:4-5 a to the Chaldæan: He, who widens his desire like the insatiable (Proverbs 27:20) jaws of hell. נֶפֶשׁ, as in Psalms 17:9; compare for the figure Isaiah 5:14. Yea, he, who like death is not satisfied (construction as in the first member), but gathers together all peoples to himself (comp. Habakkuk 1:15) and collects together all nations to himself; will not all these (comp. Nahum 3:19) take up a proverb concerning him, yea a satirical speech, a riddle upon him? On נשׂא compare Commentary on Nahum 1:1. משל, usually a figurative discourse, then a brief epigram, a proverb (Proverbs 1:1); here as in Isaiah 14:4, according to the connection, a scoffing, mocking song, in view of the certainty of the fate prepared for him. The same sense is given by the context to the word מליצה, to which it [the sense] seems more nearly related by the root לוצ, to mock, and the derivatives לֵץ and לָצוֹן. Yet this is in fact no more than semblance, as the passage, Proverbs 1:6, proves, from which Habakkuk borrows the phraseology of this verse, and in which nothing of derision is to be found. We must rather go back to the Hiphil of the stem, which signifies interpretari: מליצ is an interpreter. (Delitzsch denies this signification of הֵליץ [Hiph. pret.], however without proof; his explanation, brilliant oration, is entirely imaginary.) Therefore מְלִיצָה is not an explanatory saying, i. e., it is not an illustrative, luminous one (Keil), the contrary of which the passage Proverbs 1:6, and likewise the character of the proverb following, prove, but it is a saying which needs interpretation (as our riddle does not guess, but is intended to be guessed), an apothegm (so the LXX. on Proverbs 1:6 : σκοτεινὸς λόγος: in this passage they construe מליצה with what follows), accordingly it is synonymous with the following word חירות, αἰνίγματα, enigma—an extremely popular form of poetry in the East, and which is also among us a favorite form of popular political ridicule. Certainly to the mind of the prophet it is something different, a prophetic speech.
(Keil: “Mâshâl is a sententious poem, as in Micah 2:4 and Isaiah 14:4, not a derisive song, for this subordinate meaning could only be derived front the context, as in Isaiah 14:4 for example; and there is nothing to suggest it here. So, again Melîtsâh neither signifies a satirical song, nor an obscure enigmatical discourse, but, as Delitzsch has shown, from the first of the two primary meanings combined in the verb לוּצ, lucere and lascivire, a brilliant oration, oratio splendida, from which מֵלִיצ is used to denote interpreter, so called, not from the obscurity of the speaking, but from his making the speech clear or intelligible. חִידוֹת לֹו is in apposition to מְלִיצָה and מָשָׁל, adding the more precise definition, that the sayings contain enigmas relating to him (the Chaldæan).”
Lucere does not seem to be one of the primary meanings of לוּץ. Fürst gives umherspringen,—hüpfen (aus Muthwillen), dah. muthwillig, ausgelassen, unruhigen Geistes sein; übertr. verhöhnen,—spotten, achten unbeständig sein. Gesenius: balbutire, (1) barbare loqui; (2) illudere, irridere alicui. Thesaurus. See “Special Introduction to the Proverbs of Solomon,” sect. 11, note 2, in this Commentary.—C. E.]
Habakkuk 2:6-20. The Fivefold Woe. Two views are possible concerning the contents of this discourse. One may view it either wholly as the song of the nations indicated Habakkuk 2:6 a, consequently as entirely and specially directed against Babylon; or that only the first woe constitutes this song, but in the others the prophet retains the form once begun, in order to connect with them general thoughts of the judgment. If in favor of this latter view no farther argument can be urged than the one, that in the time of Habakkuk, Nebuchadnezzar had not yet committed all the sins, which are here laid to his charge, a consideration on which Hitzig certainly lays stress, one might perhaps be authorized in calling it, with Maurer and Keil, the most infelicitous of all. But not only the general contents of the following threatenings, which as much concern the sins of Judah, as those of the Chaldæans, are in favor of it; but also the circumstance that it appears worthy of God, after the impressive introduction, Habakkuk 2:2-3, and the profound conclusion Habakkuk 2:4 to command the prediction not of a mere amplified derisory song of the nations, but of a universal threatening against sin, in which of course and before all the sin of the Chaldæans is also to be included. Further, in favor of this view is the fact that precisely the first woe, Habakkuk 2:6-8, has both the form of the brief; aphoristic, enigmatical song and a direct reference to Babylon, while in the second and third both are entirely wanting; and further that the immediate transition from such a poetical form in the beginning to a more extended prophetical address frequently occurs in other places in the prophets (Micah 2:4 ff.; Isaiah 23:16 ff; Isaiah 14:4 ff.).
Also the plural of לחות Habakkuk 2:2, points rather to a plurality of objects of the prophecy than to a single one; and so also the concluding formula Habakkuk 2:20 (all the world), points to the universality of the predicted judgment. Finally, we had in chap. 1 the same double reference of the prophecy; both to the intolerableness of the present sinful state of things (Habakkuk 2:2 ff.), and to that of the future state of calamity; both are characterized by entirely parallel formulæ, comp. namely, Habakkuk 2:3; Habakkuk 2:13 : the five woes correspond to both complaints.
Habakkuk 2:6-8. First Woe. It is immediately connected by the וְיֹאמַו to the ישאו in Habakkuk 2:6 a, and thereby expressly pointed out as the song raised by the oppressed over the fall of the conqueror. וי״ is used here, as in 2 Kings 9:17; Isaiah 58:9; Ps. 58:12, in distinction from the aorist וַיּאֹמֶו, as an annexed jussive form in a future sense and impersonal (comp. Micah 2:4); they shall say: Woe (comp. on Nahum 3:1) to him who accumulates what is not his own. לֹא־ִלוֹ as in Habakkuk 1:6. By this accord of sounds the solution of the enigma, which lies in this designation of the Babylonian, is undoubtedly and fully suggested. However, there is in the accord itself, as Delitzsch remarks, a new enigma, to wit, the ambiguity: he accumulates not for himself (Ecclesiastes 2:25). In the following expression: For how long, the exclamation, how long already! as Hitzig thinks, is not intended; but the exclamation, how long still! The entire contents of the verse show that he does not suppose the catastrophe as having already taken place, but he predicts it in the midst of the oppression. Generally the formula עד מתי is employed only in the sense of complaint concerning a present evil. And who loads himself with a burden of pledges gained by usury (comp. Habakkuk 1:11). עבטיט is also ambiguous: derived from the root עבט, it can signify either a mass of pledges (comp. סגר ר, shower of rain, כּמריר, thick darkness): to wit, the laboriously acquired property of the nations, which he collects together, just as the unmerciful usurer heaps up pledges contrary to the law of Moses (Deuteronomy 24:10); and which he must for that reason deliver up; or it may be considered as a composite of עָב (thickness, comp. Hupf. on Psalms 18:12) and טיט, thick mud. Compare Nahum 3:6.
Habakkuk 2:7. Will not those who bite thee rise up suddenly (a play upon words between נשׁךְ, bite of a snake, and נשֶׁךְ, interest: who recover usury from thee); and those who shake thee violently [allusion to the violent seizure of a debtor by his creditor—C. E.] wake up (from יקץ)? And thou wilt become a booty to them, משׁסות, plur. rhet. Comp. on Micah 5:1.
Habakkuk 2:8. For thou hast plundered a multitude of nations (comp. Micah 4:2), so all the remnant (Micah 5:2) of the nations will plunder thee: the remnant of the subdued, i. e. the not subdued, those lately come into existence, as e. g. the Persians (Isaiah 45:0). [Keil, after a labored exposition, concludes: “From all this we may see that there is no necessity to explain ‘all the remnant of the nations,’ as relating to the remainder of the nations that had not been subjugated, but that we may understand it as signifying the remnant of the nations plundered and subjugated by the Chaldæans (as is done by the LXX., Theodoret, Delitzsch, and others), which is the only explanation in harmony with the usage of the language. For in Joshua 23:12, yether haggôyîm denotes the Canaanitish nations left after the war of extermination; and in Zechariah 14:2, yether hâ‘âm signifies the remnant of the nation left after the previous conquest of the city, and the carrying away of half its inhabitants.”—C. E.] For the blood of men (מִן as in Obadiah 1:10) and violence in the earth, the city, and all that dwell in it. The same enumeration of everything destructible, as Habakkuk 1:11 ff. Habakkuk 1:14; hence not to be restricted to Jerusalem and Israel, though specially intended, but to be understood generally, like Jer. 56:8 [Rawlinson’s Ancient Monarchies, vol. 2, p. 506.—C. E.]
Habakkuk 2:9-11. Second Woe. If the Chaldæan (Habakkuk 2:6-8), according to the connection, was the only possible object, this threatening of judgment certainly reaches farther: Woe to him, who accumulates wicked gain for his house, who sets his nest on high (the inf. with ל continues the construction of the imperfect, as is frequently the case), [the infin. with ל is used to explain more precisely the idea expressed by the finite verb. Nordheimer’s Heb. Gram., sec 1026, 2.—C. E.] to save himself from the hand of evil. The judgment of God, proceeding from his holiness, has its source in a necessity universally moral, and, on this account, falls upon all sinners; and the description of those characterized here does not fit so well, according to the language of prophecy, the Chaldæans, who inhabited a low country,—the parallel (Isaiah 14:12 ff.) produced by Delitzsch, conveys the idea of heaven-defying pride, whilst here the prophet speaks of concealing treasures,—as it does the Edomites, who stored up their plunder in the clefts of the rocks (Obadiah 1:3; Jeremiah 49:7 f.). And it applies just as well to the rich in Jerusalem (comp. Isaiah 22:16 ff.), and especially to King Jehoiakim, whose conduct is described in language (Jeremiah 22:13 ff) uttered nearly at the same time with that of our prophet, and in exactly similar modes of expression. [Rawlinson’s Ancient Monarchies, vol. 2 p. 504.—C. E.]
Habakkuk 2:10 also applies to the same person: Thou hast consulted shame, instead of riches, for thy house, the house of David, which was called to a position of honor before God. And what is the shame? The ends of many nations, i. e., the collective multitude of peoples (comp. 1 Kings 12:31) which shall come up like a storm to take vengeance upon the sins of Israel, just as the remnant of the nations are at a future time, to take vengeance upon the sins of the Babylonian. And thou involvest thy soul in guilt (Proverbs 20:2).
[“The ends of many nations,” by which Kleinert renders קְצוֹת־עַמּים רַבִּים, gives no intelligible meaning. קצוֹת is not the plural of קָצֶה, but the infinitive of קָצָה, to cut off, destroy. The proper rendering, therefore, is cutting off many nations.—C. E.]
Habakkuk 2:11. For the stone cries out of the wall, built in sin, to accuse thee (Genesis 4:10), and the spar out of the wood-work answers it,—agrees with it in its charge against thee: when the judgment draws near they are the accusing witnesses. Immediately joined to this is—
The Third Woe, Habakkuk 2:12-13. Woe to him who builds the fortress in blood, and founds the city in wickedness. Since the prophet has not denounced punishment upon Nebuchadnezzar for building, but for destroying cities (Habakkuk 1:11 f), we must here also, especially on comparing Micah 3:10 and Jeremiah 22:13, understand the reference to be to the buildings of Jehoiakim. Behold, does it not come to pass (2 Chronicles 25:26) from Jehovah of hosts, that the tribes weary themselves,—either come up on compulsory service for the king, or driven to Jerusalem by the calamity of war to work upon the fortifications (2 Chronicles 32:4 f.; compare also Micah 1:2)—for the fire, and the nations exhaust themselves for vanity? All human wisdom and toil have no success, where Jehovah does not assist in building (Psalms 127:1); this applies to Israel (Isaiah 57:10; Isaiah 49:4; comp. Isaiah 40:28; Isaiah 40:30; Isaiah 65:23), as it does to Babylon (Jeremiah 51:58). And this vanity must be made manifest: the works of men must crumble into the dust from which they arose (comp. Micah 5:10; Micah 7:13).
For (Habakkuk 2:14) the earth shall be full, but of the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah, as the waters cover the bed of the sea. So God himself has promised by Isaiah (Isaiah 11:9; comp. Habakkuk 2:3). This glory is the resplendent majesty of the Ruler of the world coming to judgment against all ungodliness, and for the accomplishment of salvation (Numbers 14:21; Psalms 97:0.; Zechariah 2:12). This knowledge comprehends, at the same time, the acknowledgment of Jehovah and the confession of sin. מלא is not construed as usual with the acc. of the subst., but with ל and the infinitive. To analyze the last clause into a noun with a following relative clause is unnecessary: כּ can also be used (which Ewald and Keil deny) as a particle of comparison before whole sentences (Hupfeld, Psalms , 2 p. 327 A. 99). ים does not mean here the sea itself, but the bed, or bottom of the sea, as in 1 Kings 7:26. With the general thought which Habakkuk 2:13 f. adds to the special turns [of thought] there is a return to the punishment of heathen wrong-doers. Upon them falls exclusively—
The, Fourth Woe, Habakkuk 2:15-18, which also directly introduces again some enigmatical sounds of the first. Woe to thee [so Kleinert and Luther: the LXX., Vulgate, A. V., Keil, and Henderson, use the third person, woe to him—C. E.) that givest thy neighbor to drink—whilst thou pourest out (ספח, as in Job 14:19; synonymous with שׁפךְ, Jeremiah 10:25,) thy wrath [or thy leathern bottle, Aben Ezra, Kimchi, Hitzig (Genesis 21:14); perhaps as the whole address directs us back to Habakkuk 2:6 ff., there is again here also an intentional ambiguity] and also makest him (thy neighbor) drunk (inf. abs. Proverbs 5:0 fin., Ges., sec. 131, 4 a.) in order to see their shame; to make it wholly subservient to his voluptuous desire (Nahum 3:5). [In place of the third person in the first member, the address changes, in the second member, to the second person; in the fourth member the singular is changed into the plural. Both the middle clauses are adverbial to the משׁקה of the first member]. The figure is taken from common life, and is clear of itself; it is the more appropriate, as the Chaldæan is described (Habakkuk 2:5) as a drunkard. The leathern bottle, from which the Chaldæan pours out his compacts (comp. Isaiah 39:0), is, as it turns out in the end, a bottle of wrath; and the disposition in which it is passed is that of wild desire and barbarous lust of power. Therefore the same comes upon him.
Habakkuk 2:16, So thou shalt be satisfied, as thou desirest, but with shame instead of glory. Drink thou also (comp. Nahum 3:11) and uncover thyself [Heb.: show thyself uncircumcised—C. E.]: from Jehovah’s right hand the cup, also a cup of wrath (comp. Obadiah 1:16) will come in its turn to thee, and shameful vomit upon thy glory. [Rawlinson’s Ancient Monarchies, vol. 2. p. 504.—C. E.] קִיקָלוֹן, according to the Pilpel derivation from קלל instead of קִלְקָלוֹן, signifies the most extreme contempt; but it can, at the same time, be considered as a composite word from קיא קלוֹן, vomit of shame, or shameful vomit (comp. Isaiah 28:8) referring to the figurative description of the drinking revel.
Habakkuk 2:17. For the outrage at Lebanon, whose cedar forests the conquerors wickedly spoiled, in order to adorn with them their magnificent edifices in Babylon (Isaiah 14:7 ff.; comp. Ausland, 1866, p. 944), shall cover thee, shall weigh upon thee like a crushing roof, and the dispersion of the animals, which it, the outrage, frightened away! The wild beasts of Lebanon, which fled before the destroyer. (יִחִיתַן, instead of יִהִתֵּן compensation for the sharpening by lengthening the vowel, Ges., 20, 3 c. Rem., and pausal change of the ֵ into ַ, Ges., sec. 29, 4, c. Rem.). [See Green’s Heb. Gram., sec. 112, 5 c.; 141, 3.—C. E.] And as Lebanon with its cedars (Jeremiah 22:6; Jeremiah 22:23), appears to be a representative of the Holy Land and its glory, so here also a general meaning is given to the outrage upon inanimate nature by the repetition of the refrain from the first woe, Habakkuk 2:8 : On account of the blood of men, the outrage upon the land, the city and all its inhabitants. However, the obvious reference to Israel and Jerusalem, in this passage, is made, by the connection, more distinctly prominent than in Habakkuk 2:8, above.
Habakkuk 2:18, according to the thought, is preliminary to the following woe; just as we saw above that Habakkuk 2:11 was preliminary to the third woe, and Habakkuk 2:13 to the fourth. What profiteth the graven image, that its maker carves it? מה is used sensu negativo, as in Ecclesiastes 1:3; and since it requires a negative answer, the secondary clause introduced into the rhetorical question by כי is also answered thereby in the negative: quid, cur? It profits nothing (Jeremiah 2:11), consequently it is folly to carve it. Parallel to this is the following clause: what profiteth the molten image and the teacher of lies, i.e., either the false prophet, who enjoins men to trust in idols, and encourages the manufacture of them (Isaiah 9:14 [sa 9:15?]), or rather, according to the יורה in the following verse, the idol itself, which points out false ways in opposition to God, the true teacher (Job 36:22; Ps. 15:12; Delitzsch, Hitzig), That the carver of his image trusts in him to make dumb idols? (Psalms 135:16 f.; 1 Corinthians 12:2.) The negative answer to this rhetorical question is given by—
The Fifth Woe, which is immediately subjoined, Habakkuk 2:19-20 : Woe to him, who says to the block, wake up! as the pious man can pray to the true God (Psalms 35:12 [Psalms 35:23]); arise ! to the dumb stone. Can it teach? To teach is used here, as in the former verse and generally, to signify that active guidance and advice, which belong to the Deity in contradistinction to men, and which form the basis of practical piety. Concerning the form of the indignant question, compare [Com.] on Micah 2:6. Behold it is enchased with gold and silver (Acc.) and there is nothing of soul, neither breath, nor feeling, nor understanding, in it. (Com. Psalms 135:17). However fine it is, it does not even have life (comp. Jeremiah 10:14): how can it teach! Compare the amplification of the same thought, Isaiah 44:9 ff.
The whole threatening address concludes with the prophetical formula: Jehovah is in the temple of his holiness, i.e. according to Psalms 11:4, compare Psalms 20:7 [Psalms 20:6], heaven, from which, as the situation now stands and as the woes about to pass over the earth are anticipated, we are to expect his judgment, i.e. the confirmation that He will give to show that He is the Holy One (comp. Psalms 18:7 ff.; Isaiah 5:16). Therefore,—compare the entirely similar connection of thought Zephaniah 1:7; Zechariah 2:13 [Heb. Bib. Habakkuk 2:17]:—Let all the world be silent before Him.
[Keil: Habakkuk 2:18-20. Fifth and last strophe. This concluding strophe does not commence, like the preceding ones, with hôi, but with the thought which prepares the way for the woe, and is attached to what goes before to strengthen the threat, all hope of help being cut off from the Chaldæan. Like all the rest of the heathen, the Chaldæan also trusted in the power of his gods. This confidence the prophet overthrows in Habakkuk 2:18 : “What use is it?” equivalent to “The idol is of no use” (cf. Jeremiah 2:11; Isaiah 44:9-10). The force of this question still continues in massçkhah: “Of what use is the molten image?” Pesel is an image carved out of wood or stone; massçkâh an image cast in metal.—C. E.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
The sphere of thought of this chapter rests upon the two intersecting ground-lines, sin and death, faith and life. (Compare on the idea of faith the Exegetical Exposition of Habakkuk 2:4.)
Sin and death belong together; sin is the ethical, death the physical expression of separation from God. Therefore the people of God cannot die, because He is their Holy One; because by virtue of their belonging to the Holy One they drink from the fountain of life. Therefore to Israel God’s judgments are a means of purification, while they are destruction to others. And if God, who is a Rock, has such a hatred against sin, that he does not suffer it in his people [heiligen Eigenthum, sacred property] chosen of old (comp. Com. on Micah, p. 00), and brings upon it the scourge of his judgment, how much less will He suffer it in him who is a stranger to his heart, and whom He employs only as an instrument of his judgment. From the consideration that God judges Israel follows the certainty that He will judge the heathen also, consequently the certainty that Israel will be saved.
The sin of the world-power is two-fold; first, it deals with the property of God as if it were its own; secondly, it does not honor God for the success granted to it, but its own power. This must cease.
The countenance of faith is directed forward into the future. Thence it derives its answer for consolation and hope. (Of course it would not have this direction if it had not the promise of God behind it (Genesis 49:18); God is, however, always the author: He is of old the Holy One of his people.). When Israel forgat the promise, they began to look back to the flesh pots of Egypt. The whole religion of the O. T. is a religion of the future. Heathendom exercised its intellectual energy upon the origins of things for the purpose of forming and developing their theogonies: the Holy Spirit directs the mind of Israel to prophecy: no ancient people has so little about the primitive time as we find in the O. T.; even modern heathendom knows [professes to know| much more about it. The exact time is not specified in prophecy, at least in regard to the intermediate steps (Habakkuk 1:5); but the certainty is specified, and the exact time is fixed in the purpose of God. God can no more lie than He can look upon iniquity. The certainty of prophecy, and consequently of our confidence, rests upon the holiness of God. How different is the resignation of the O. T. from fatalism. The former comes from life, the latter from death. Resignation places the holiness of God in the centre: fatalism destroys it.
God’s way is the right way. He hates all crooked lines,—the side-lines of sophistry, the curve-lines of boasting, the downward sunk lines of dark, concealment. Sin is deviation from the straight way. The straight way is the way of life.
The piety of the Old Testament begins with faith (Genesis 15:4 ). The stage of the law enters, which gives the uppermost place to faith in action, the obedience of faith, and which, with the apparent extension of the principle of faith, involves in fact a narrowing of it. In prophecy the original principle, in its universality, enters again gradually into its right position. The book of Job may be mentioned as a proof of this. The obedience of the law has for its correlative the doctrine of retribution. On this Job is put to shame. Against it he has no sufficient answer. But because his heart, in every trial, maintained its faith in God, he is nevertheless justified. The book of Job is the exposition of Habakkuk 2:4. Faith is the direct way to the heart of God. He who interposes himself (his own works, his own merits, his own law, his own thoughts) perverts the way. Apostasy from faith is the beginning of sin. Iu the heart of God is imperishable life, because there is imperishable holiness. Therefore the faith of Israel is the correlative of the Holy One of Israel; and faith is the way to life, as sin is the way to death.
The characteristic mark of the kingdom of God is free-will. The world-power raffs men together; they are invited into the kingdom of God; they rise and say: Come, let us go. The coge intrare is contrary to the Scripture. (The prohibe of the enemies of missions is just as truly so. Isaiah 49:6.) He who thus gathers [men] together, brings upon himself scorn at last. All nations, which Rome has converted by force, have fallen away from her, and they sing over her a song of derision.
Property is sanctified by God; but over-grasping gain is cursed by Him. His omniscience is present in his judgment. Hidden crime is laid open and punished, as if blood, spar, and stones had speech to inform against what is concealed behind them, the guilt that is built up in them. We see in the manner in which no concealed wickedness remains unpunished, but is banished out of sight, the hand of God and the manifestation of his glory on every side, without seeing himself. The pillar of smoke and of fire over the burned city of sin is the veil of his glory. The design of the creation, according to the O. T., is the glory of God. For this the earth was made, just as the basin of the sea was made for the water.
The sinner does not find the right way: he is like a drunken man. To the upright man the ways of sinners are a reeling [an intoxication]. He who leads astray makes drunk; but he enters of himself upon the most crooked way, and hence comes to destruction. The intoxication of sin culminates in the insanity of idolatry. The idol is lifeless. Its worshipper seeks by idolatry, as the righteous man does by faith, the way of life; but he comes to the silence of death. The tranquillity of life is quite another thing. (Isaiah 30:15.)
Oetinger: Rectitude of heart is the substance and ground of truth. He who has a right heart, sees rightly and hears rightly; he who has a perverse heart heaps up falsehood, without knowing it. Nature produces all the elements at once: the upright soul attracts to it what is true and honest. Intensiveness precedes extensiveness: the moral precedes the physical; the physical, the metaphysical.
R. Joseph Albo (in Starke and Delitzsch): in the book of Chronicles if is said: believe in the prophets, and ye shall be prosperous (2 Chronicles 20:20). This proves that faith is the cause of prosperity, is well as the cause of eternal life, according to the saying of Habakkuk: the just shall live by his faith; by which he cannot mean the bodily life, since in respect to this the righteous man has no advantage over the wicked, but rather the eternal life, the life of the soul, which the righteous enjoy, and for the attainment of which they trust in God, as it is said: The righteous has still confidence in death [A. V.: The righteous hath hope in his death]. (Proverbs 14:32.)
W. Hoffmann: Abraham had a view [ausschau, outlook] through the promise, in which, at last, every streak of shadow vanished, and in the distant horizon all was light and glory. He looked beyond this world to the blessed rest of the people of God; and he could not do otherwise than this, since he acknowledged God as the restorer of the life of men, of his own life, and of the life of all his descendants and tribes,—a life perverted to sin, fallen, and burdened with the curse. It is very likely that the thoughts of the father of the faithful were dark and obscure in regard to this, for it required yet great advancement before clear language could be employed concerning this holy change; but the heart’s experience, which he enjoyed of it, was full and steadfast. Restoration of the lost, removal of sin, deliverance from spiritual death—that is the key-note of Abraham’s faith. And it was deliverance only by the manifestation of God. It was this manifestation to which all the revelations of God at that time related. God’s nearness, His dwelling with the children of men; this was the goal; hope could fasten upon no other. What else, therefore, was his faith than—although not consciously clear and grasped by the understanding—a laying hold upon the future Saviour with outstretched arms?
Delitzsch: Troublous times are at hand. What then is more consoling than the fact, that life, deliverance from destruction, is awarded to that faith, which truly rests on God, keeps fast hold of the word of promise, and in the midst of tribulation confidently waits for its fulfillment? Not the veracity, the trustworthiness, the honesty of the righteous man, considered in themselves as virtues, are, in such calamities, in danger of being shaken and of failing, but, as is shown in the prophet himself, his faith. Therefore, the great promise, expressed in the one word. Life, is connected with it.
Schmieder: All Bible prophecy looks forward to a distant time determined by God, but which we do not know. It points to the end, when the Lord by judgment and redemption shall establish his perfect kingdom. This prophecy will not lie. but will certainly be fulfilled, though its fulfillment is always longer and longer deferred.
Habakkuk 1:12. Of the great joy, which we have reason to ground upon the fact, that God is the Holy One of his people.
1. It is a joy of gratitude that He has always been with his own. Habakkuk 1:12 a, b.
2. A joy of continual confidence, that we cannot perish. Habakkuk 1:12 c.
3. A joy in chastisement, that it is only for the confirmation of his holiness, and for our purification. Habakkuk 1:12 d, e.
Habakkuk 1:13-17 : There is a limit set to the power of the wicked upon earth. For—
1. God is holy. Habakkuk 1:13 a, b.
2. But the work of the wicked is unholy. For—
(a) It is a work of hatred against the righteous. Habakkuk 1:13 c, d.
(b) It is an abuse of the powers bestowed by God. Habakkuk 1:14.
(c) It does nothing for God, but everything for itself. Habakkuk 1:15.
(d) It does not give God honor, but it makes itself an idol. Habakkuk 1:16.
3. Therefore it must have an end. Habakkuk 1:17.
Habakkuk 2:1-4. The way of patience (compare H. Müller, Erquickstunden, Nr. 97).
1. I must suffer, for God’s judgments and purifications are necessary. Habakkuk 2:1 in connection with chap. 1.
2. I can suffer; for God’s Word sustains me. Habakkuk 2:2-3.
3. I will suffer, for I believe. Habakkuk 2:4.
Or: Persevere, for the redemption draws nigh. (Advent-sermon).
1. The manner of perseverance: confidence. Habakkuk 2:1.
2. The ground of perseverance: the promise. Habakkuk 2:2-3.
3. The power [Kraft, active power, or cause] of perseverance: faith. Habakkuk 2:4.
Habakkuk 1:12 to Habakkuk 2:4. Israel’s life of promise.
1. A believing retrospect into the past.
2. A believing look into the future.
Habakkuk 2:5-20. Of shameful and hurtful avarice.
1. Avarice is contrary to the order prescribed by God; therefore God must bring it back to order by chastisement. Habakkuk 2:1; Habakkuk 2:6 b, Habakkuk 2:7.
2. It is contrary to love, therefore, it produces a harvest of hatred. Habakkuk 2:6 a.
3. It confounds the ideas of right, therefore wrong must befall it. Habakkuk 2:8 a.
4. It makes the mind timid; but where fear is there is no stability. Habakkuk 2:9.
5. It accumulates [riches] with sin, therefore for nothing. Habakkuk 2:12; Habakkuk 2:11; Habakkuk 2:13; Habakkuk 2:17.
6. It seeks false honor, therefore it acquires shame. Habakkuk 2:15-16.
7. It sets its heart upon gold and silver and lifeless things, therefore it must perish with its lifeless gods. Habakkuk 2:18-19.
8. On the whole, it provokes the judgment of God. Habakkuk 2:8 b, Habakkuk 2:14, Habakkuk 2:20.
On Habakkuk 1:12. Jehovah, the God of Shem, the God of Abraham, of Israel and of Jacob, is not a God of the dead, but of the living. He is a rock: he who stands upon Him stands firm; he who falls upon Him is crushed. Everything that God does takes place for the instruction of him, who consecrates himself to Him. The best way through the afflictive dispensations of God, is not to ask: How shall I adjust them to my mind? But how shall I make them productive of my improvement ?
Habakkuk 1:13. There is an inability, which is no want of freedom, but which is the highest freedom; and there is an ability, which is not freedom, but the deepest bondage. Matthew 4:9. There is not one absolutely righteous man, but there are relatively more righteous men; the judgment of God has respect to this fact.
Habakkuk 1:14 f. Man was made lord over the beasts. God indeed permits men to be treated sometimes like beasts, but he who does it commits sin by it; and his insolence will be changed to lamentation.
Habakkuk 1:16. The sinner perverts and vitiates the holiest thing in man, the necessity of worship. Everything is a snare to him, who forsakes God.
Habakkuk 1:17. Everything continues its time. Ecclesiastes 3:0.
Habakkuk 2:1. Although we have the Holy Spirit as a permanent possession of the Church, and are no longer referred, like the prophets, to separate acts of enlightenment, nevertheless the answers of the Holy Spirit do not come to us without prayer, and patience and quiet waiting.
Habakkuk 2:2. Everything that is necessary to know in order to salvation, is so plainly written in the Scriptures, that even one who only looks at it hastily, in passing, cannot say that he may not have understood it.
Habakkuk 2:3. It is a great consolation to know that there is One who cannot lie. Psalms 116:11. God’s time is the very best time. We should not measure God’s ways by our thoughts, nor the periods of eternity by our hours; but we should measure our ways by God’s Word.
Habakkuk 2:4. Take heed that thou think not of thyself more than it is proper for thee to think. In humility there is power. Matthew 15:28. Where there is no faith there is no righteousness. The prophet considers faith to be a self-evident possession of the righteous man. Life is the richest idea in the Scriptures. It is a great consolation to be able to say to the enemy, rage on; thou canst not do more to me than God has bidden thee, nor more than what is useful to me; and thy time is already measured.
Habakkuk 2:5. The intemperate are generally also vain-glorious. Both lead to destruction. Only a clear and sober eye finds the right way. There are many things which intoxicate. One can be intoxicated with honor, and another with hatred against honor. One can be intoxicated with science, and another with hatred against science. All partisan disposition is an intoxicating wine. Desire is insatiable: therein lies its destruction: it devours that, which produces its death.
Habakkuk 2:6. It is a miserable feeling for fallen greatness to be derided by those hitherto despised. He who gathers what is not his own does not gather it for himself. This also cannot continue long. Dignities are burdens [Würden sind Bürden, Prov. = the more worship, the more cost—C. E.] dignities fraudulently obtained are burdens.
Habakkuk 2:7. It is by [divine] ordination, when he, whom God intends to judge, nurses in his own bosom the serpent, which is to sting him. So it was with Nineveh. Thereby too [i. e., by the same appointment: darin refers to Verhängniss; see Acts 2:23—C. E.] Christ took upon himself the heaviest judgment of sin.
Habakkuk 2:8. The whole world becomes silent only before God. For all others there is a remnant of those, who have not been subdued, by whom they come to ruin. For those, who are not able to stay their hearts by faith in God, the doctrine of retribution taught in the law remains in full power. They have no desire to choose the grace, therefore wrath abides upon them. God takes care of each individual, and will require each and every abused and ruined soul from the destroyer.
Habakkuk 2:9. Flee as high as you may, God is always still higher. What profit is there in all the prudence and in all the gain of the world, if the soul is a loser by them?
Habakkuk 2:11. God has his witnesses everywhere. “If these are silent, the stones will cry out.” The blood of Abel cries from the earth, and the thorns and thistles in the field speak of Genesis 3:0.
Habakkuk 2:12. There is a building which destroys; and a destroying which builds.
Habakkuk 2:13. The blessing, or the curse, upon any work, comes after all, finally, only from above. Nothing can hinder the purposes of God concerning the world.
Habakkuk 2:15 f. The career of a great conqueror has something intoxicating. Before Napoleon not only degraded men became idolaters. There is a witchcraft in it. (Comp. Habakkuk 1:12 with the Introduction to the book of Job.) This comes finally to light, when God judges it, and bitter sobering follows the intoxication: men then have a horror of the human greatness before which they bowed.
Habakkuk 2:18. There is also in idolatry a kind of intoxication. The sober questions: What profiteth the image? How can it govern? guide? teach? do not occur to the minds of the worshippers of idols. A god that cannot speak is nothing. Without the Word of God there is no religion. Him, who is not silent before Jehovah from submission and faith, God’s judgments must make silent.
Luther: Habakkuk 1:12. The prophet calls God the Holy One of Israel, because they were holy through their God and by nothing else. And truly from all eternity God is a Holy One. For it gives great courage, when we know and firmly believe that we have a God; that He is our God, our Holy One, and that He is on our side.
Habakkuk 1:13. With these words Habakkuk shows what thoughts occur to wrestling faith, which holds that God is just; but He delays so long, and looks on the wicked, that one might almost think that He may not be just, but may have pleasure in evil men. It is a source of excessive grief that the unrighteous should be successful so long and acquire such great prosperity, though with calamity. But their success is permitted, in order that our faith, having been well tried, may become strong and abundant in God. And yet this is not grievous beyond measure, when a prophet stands by himself in such a conflict of faith; but when he stands in his official capacity and is to console and preserve an entire nation with him, then it is trouble, misery, and distress. Then the people kick, and there are scarcely two or three in the whole mass, who believe and struggle with him.—Chap. 2.Habakkuk 1:1. Such words as the following will become the common cry: Pray, where are now the prophets, who promised us salvation? What fine fools they have made of us. Believe, whoever will, that it will come to pass. Thus does reason behave, when God fulfills his Word in another way than it has imagined. It is also the case then that one will not believe God at any time. Does He threaten? Then the present prosperity hinders us [from believing]. Does He promise grace? Then the present calamity hinders us. Then the prophets first of all endeavor to labor with the unbelieving, faint-hearted people. Therefore I stand, says the prophet, as one upon a tower, and contend strongly and firmly for the weak in faith against the unbelieving.
Habakkuk 1:4. Some take up the Jewish objection, pretend to be wise, and pass judgment upon Paul, as if he had dragged in Habakkuk unfairly and forcibly by the hair, since Habakkuk speaks of his table, and not of the Gospel. Though this table also speaks of the Gospel, yet it speaks of it as future, while Paul speaks of the present Gospel. It is, however, the same Gospel, which was then future and which has come, just as Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), although He is announced in a different way before and after his coming. But that is a matter of no importance; it is nevertheless the same faith and spirit. The truth, which one has in his heart, is called Emunah [firmness, stability, faithfulness, fidelity], and by that he clings to the truth and fidelity of another. Now I let it pass, whoever may be disposed to quarrel about it, that he who has the feeling in his heart which cleaves to another as faithful and true, and depends upon him, may call it truth, or what he will; but Paul and we do not know any other name for such a disposition than faith.
Habakkuk 1:11. Not only his edifice, but also the wide world, becomes too narrow for him who has a timid, desponding heart, and when a pillar or a beam cracks in his house he is terrified. Therefore princes and nobles, if they would build durably, should see to it that they lay a right good foundation, that is, they should first pray to God for heart and courage, which in the time of trouble may be able to preserve the building. But if no care is bestowed to acquire this Courage [den Muth, by which Luther means faith, or the courage inspired by it—C. E.], but only wood and stone are reared up, it [the building] must finally, when the time comes, perish, as is here recorded.
Starke: Habakkuk 1:12. One can certainly pray to God for a mitigation, but not for an entire averting of all punishment.
Habakkuk 1:17. Plus ultra, always onward, is the maxim of heroes; how much more should it be the maxim of Christians, in regard to their constant growth and increase in spiritual life.—Chap. 2.Habakkuk 1:1. Although all Christians, by virtue of the covenant of baptism, have been appointed watchmen by God (Psalms 18:32 ff; Psalms 139:21), yet teachers particularly are called watchmen.
Habakkuk 1:2. The prophets had not only a commission to preach, but also to write. They act very wickedly who prevent plain people from reading the Holy Scriptures. God’s Word must be plainly presented, so that even the most simple may learn to understand it.
Habakkuk 1:3. Waiting comprises in it (1) faith; (2) hope; (3) patience, or waiting to the end for the time which the Lord has appointed, but which He intends us to wait for.
Habakkuk 1:5. Pride, avarice, bloodthirstiness, and debauchery God does not leave unpunished in any one.
Habakkuk 1:8. We see here that not everything which is done in accordance with international law is right before God also, and allowed by Him.
Habakkuk 1:9. Prosperity inspires courage; courage pride; and pride never does one any good.
Habakkuk 1:10. Bad counsel affects him most who gives it. When tyrants are to execute the command and sentence of God, they generally observe no moderation in doing it.
Habakkuk 1:15. One should never invite any one as a guest, against whom he cherishes a malignant heart.
Habakkuk 1:16. Those who rejoice in distressing others, will in their turn be brought to distress by God and made objects of derision.
Pfaff: Habakkuk 1:12. In times of public danger the safest and the best [means] is to have recourse to prayer. By it one can best vanquish the enemy and arrest his career.
Habakkuk 2:1. The ministers of the Gospel are spiritual watchmen, partly in relation to the souls of men, over which they are to watch, and partly in relation to the Lord to whose Word they are to give heed and which they are to preach.
Habakkuk 2:3. Ye despisers of the Word of God, do not imagine that the Word of the Lord against you will not be fulfilled.
Habakkuk 2:7 ff. To God belongs the right of retaliation. With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
Habakkuk 2:20. If the divine judgments fall also upon us, we must adore with the deepest humility of heart, and lay our finger upon our mouth.
Rieger: Habakkuk 2:1. Even those who are in true communion with God are not always in the same state of mind. They are at one time, although in a godly frame [of mind], occupied with external things; at another time they are entirely abstracted from earthly things, and placed in a condition which approaches to waiting before the throne of God. This is sometimes effected by the grace of God through the medium of an unexpected impulse; but there are also sometimes on the part of the believer a preparation and composing of the mind for it. This state of mind is indicated in the New Testament by the expression, I was in the Spirit; and the prophet calls it his tower.
Habakkuk 2:3 f. What, according to our reckoning, seems to be delayed, will be admitted not to have been delayed; but to have taken place at the appointed day and at its proper time. The promises cannot be forced [into fulfillment] by a headstrong disposition; but on the contrary one falls sooner from such busy activity back again to a state of indifference, and thereby neglects the promise.
Habakkuk 2:5 ff. Upon what must a man, who has in his heart no peace arising from faith, lean for the purpose of finding peace therein? And how is it with him who misses the path that leads to God? There is nothing else adequate to fill the abyss of his soul, even though he were able to swallow the whole world. What filth upon his soul has he in his conquests, in his forced acquisitions and possessions!
Habakkuk 2:20. The prophet had obtained this whole disclosure by quiet and persevering waiting upon the Lord, and now for the sake of its realization, also, he directs the whole world to be still before the Lord, who from his holy temple will certainly hasten the fulfillment of these his words, but who also will be honored by the respect and by the measure of the regard of his own people to his judgments. When the heart is free from its thousand cares, projects, passions, partial inclinations, then, and not till then, can it receive many a ray of divine knowledge. Faith is no sleep, but a vigilant knowledge; it is moreover no hasty and precipitate attempt to help one’s self, but a waiting upon the Lord.
Schmieder: Habakkuk 1:13. It would be in conformity to the simple arrangement of God that the pious should punish the impious, the more righteous the unrighteous, not the reverse. But the ways of God in the present government of the world are so complicated and intricate, that the reverse often actually takes place; and this is to the pious, who are not yet properly enlightened, a great trial.
Habakkuk 1:14. Then it seems as if things were directed by chance and at will. He who knows God does not trust to false appearances; but the appearance nevertheless pains him, and he would wish that even the appearance did not exist.
Habakkuk 2:2 f. The end, the very last time and the establishment of the perfected kingdom of God, is of all future things the most certain and the most important, and every intermediate prophecy of judgment and redemption has a real value only in the fact that it delineates this last end and assures us of it.
Habakkuk 2:4. Here the character of Abraham, the father of the faithful, is depicted in contrast with that of the insolent princes of the world. This character is righteousness, the source of righteousness is faith, the fruit is life in the full Biblical sense of the word. Faith has no merit on the part of man, because man cannot produce, but only receive it; for faith, as the consciousness of God, is the work of the Creator in man. It is also faith alone, which receives Christ and all the grace of God in him; but the same faith is also the essential principle of all good works. We must beware of considering the faith, which lays hold of grace and justifies the sinner, as a peculiar, separate kind of faith: faith cannot be so divided in reality; but it is an indivisible unity: so the Bible understands it. The dividing and isolation of faith into separate kinds, belongs only to the dogmatic systems of human science.
Habakkuk 2:5. Comp. Daniel 5:0.
Habakkuk 2:6. There are times, when nations, that are so often devoid of understanding, become prophets, and the voice of God becomes the voice of the people.
Habakkuk 2:18. The teacher, who makes an idol, tries to animate stone and wood. But the animation by means of human idea and art ever remains only a false animation, which, if it is considered real, is deceptive, and only nourishes superstition.
W. Hoffman: On Habakkuk 1:12 (comp. Schmieder on chap. 2.Habakkuk 2:1; Habakkuk 2:1): Among us of the evangelical church faith is not even yet the possession of every one. There is certainly need, in the Church, of the venerable form of father Abraham to cast us down; of the man who never lost sight of what had been revealed in grace and truth, who continually comforted himself with the fact, that the eternal God, who made heaven and earth, and who held with the first man a fellowship of peace, still lived, because he had continued to reveal himself during two thousand years previous.
Burck: It is something to know the final purposes of the words of God, and to be able properly to apply this knowledge in public and private affairs.
Hierom.: Habakkuk 1:13. He says this in the anguish of his heart, as if he did not know that gold is purified in the fire, and that the three men came out of the fiery furnace purer than they were when they were thrown in; as if he did not know that God, in the riches of his wisdom, sees otherwise than we do.
Burck: Habakkuk 1:14. That God watches over the smallest animals, he neither denies nor declares; but he says only that God has a particular care for men, especially for his own people.
Hengstenb. makes an effective application of Habakkuk 1:13 ff. to gambling hells (Vorw. z. Ev. K. Z. [Preface to the Evangelical Church Gazette] 1867).
Capito: Habakkuk 2:1 : While the righteous man wrestles with God by faith, he conquers at last by his indefatigable perseverance. The prophet is perplexed to the highest degree, while he considers the success of the Chaldæan and the misery of his own people, but he stands not the less constantly upon his guard, i. e., upon the Word of God, which promises reward and punishment, and he leans upon God, as upon a rock, in order that his feet may not slip upon the slippery soil of temptation. Whom does God answer? One who is almost broken under daily struggles with bitter anguish of soul, to whom nothing remains, after every protection is lost, but to stand fast upon his watch, i. e., upon the Word of God. Trial teaches such perseverance. Only the answer of God, if it is heard with the ear of the heart, leads to an unwavering hope, for it comes when man despairs of everything else.
Habakkuk 2:3. Philo: Every word of God is an oath.
Burck: O those deplorable ones, who, under whatever pretext, or self-delusion, shun trial. O the happiness of those who obtain the end of faith, and who are to be gathered to Him to be with Him. He will come, yea, certainly He will come. Yea, come, Lord Jesus! Amen!
Habakkuk 2:4. Cocceius: The soul stands right upon that which is promised, i. e., Jesus Christ, if it loves Him. If it does not love Him, it is perverse.
Burck: On every point, article, accent, on every turn and even collocation of words, which may seem to be entirely accidental, the Word of God has laid its especial emphasis. We acknowledge with humility that it is a word from God.
Talmud: In this one sentence, The just shall live by his emunah [faith], the six hundred and thirteen precepts, which God once delivered from Sinai, are collected into a compendium.
Habakkuk 2:5. Schlier: The Babylonians were a voluptuous people, notorious for their drunkenness; but this voluptuous propensity is usually with the prophet an image of the insatiable desire, by which their pride they destroyed one nation after another. And yet it is just so with wine, which is sweet to the taste and seems delicious, and nevertheless it robs the most powerful of his senses, makes him helpless and an object of universal derision. So shall it happen also to the Chaldæans with their insatiable greed: it will only plunge them [by their own agency] into destruction and make them objects of general contempt.
H. Müller: Many treasures, many nets. Whom does not the miser injure? He defrauds his neighbor of his property: he is like a thorn-bush; he grabs and holds on to whatever comes too near to him; he seeks everywhere his advantage to the disadvantage of others; he deprives himself of God’s favor and blessing, suffers shipwreck of his conscience and good name, loses the favor and love of men. Lightly won, lightly gone.
Stumpf: Habakkuk 2:11. So in Euripides, Phædra, the wife of Theseus, breaks out vehemently against adulteresses, that they should fear the very darkness and the houses the abominable deeds which they had witnessed to light.26
Schlier: The scourge of the Lord will perform its service, then it will be thrown away.
[Habakkuk 1:15.—כֻּלּה points back to the collective אָדָם, Habakkuk 1:14. Here it is the object: in Habakkuk 1:9, it is the nominative. For the form, see Green’s Heb. Gram., sec. 220, 1 b. The correct orthography is כֻּלּוֹ.
[Habakkuk 2:1.—מִשְׁמֶרֶת, observance, guard, watch, from שָׁמַר, to watch, observe, preserve, etc. Here it is used as a concrete, the place, or post of observation.
[Habakkuk 2:1.—צָפָה signifies to look out, to look out for anything, to await.
[Habakkuk 2:1.—תּוֹכַחּתִּי, my proof, contradiction, reproof, correction, complaint, refers to the complaint, which he makes against God in Habakkuk 1:13-17, that He permits the Chaldæans to multiply their conquests. The suffix is not to be taken passively, but actively,—not the complaint against me, but the complaint that I make against God. LXX.: ἐπὶ τὸν ἔλεγχόν μου; Vulgate.: et quid respondeam ad arguentem me: Luther: und was ich antworten soll dem, der mich schilt; Kleinert: was für Bescheid ich bringen soll auf meine Gegenrede.
[Habakkuk 2:2.—הָזוֹן, vision, the prophetic matter about to be communicated to the prophet.
[Habakkuk 2:2.—וּבָאֵר, and grave. The LXX. read καὶ σαφῶς; the Vulgate has: et explana eum. Luther: und male es. The idea of legibility, and not that of durability, is doubtless intended. The verb בָאֵו may, therefore, be understood as relative to כְתֹב and qualifying it. Write the vision, and that clearly.
[Habakkuk 2:3.—לַמּוֹצֵד, to the set time the time fixed by God for its realization.
[Habakkuk 2:6.—מָשָׁל, parable, apothegm, proverb, poem, song, verse; a satirical poem, Isaiah 14:4.
[Habakkuk 2:6.—מְלִיצָה from לוּץ, a song of derision.
[Habakkuk 2:6.—חידוֹת, from חוּר, intricate speech, a riddle, enigma. The LXX. render them: πρόβλημα εἰς διήγησιν; the Vulgate reads, loquelam œnigmatum; Luther: eine Sage und Sprüchwort; Kleinert: eine Stachelrede, Rathsdspiele. Delitzsch thinks that מְלִיצָה signifies a brilliant oration, oratio splendida; and hence מֵלּיץ is used to denote an interpreter, not from the obscurity of the speaking, but from his making the speech clear or intelligible. But there seem to be no instances in which לוּץ has the meaning of lucere.
[Habakkuk 2:6.—עַבְטּיט, from עָבַט, to give a Pledge, by the repetition of the last radical, signifies the mass of pledges (pignorum captorum copia). The word עַבְטִיט may from two words, so far as the sound is concerned, namely. עָב, טִיט cloud (i. e. mass) of dirt. Jerome and the Syriac take the word in this sense. The Vulgate reads: et aggravat contra se densum lutum; Luther: und ladet nur viel Schlamm auf sich.
[Habakkuk 2:7.—נשְׁכֶיךָ from נָשַׁךְ, to bite, to lend on usury. The idea seems to be, that those would arise, who would demand back from the Chaldæans, with interest, the capital of which they had unjustly taken possession. There is an antithesis to עַבְטִיט, at the close of the preceding verse.
[Habakkuk 2:15.—חֲמָתְִךָ is the construct of חֵמה heat, wrath, and not of חֵמֶת, bottle. Luther employs the second person: Wehe dir, der du deinem Nachsten einschenkest und mischest deinen Grimm darunter, etc. So also Kleinert: Wehe dir, der da zu trinken giebt seinem Nichsten, indem du deinen Zornschlauch ausgiessest.
[Habakkuk 2:16.—קִיקִלוֹן a ἁπ. λεγ., according to Keil, formed from the Pilpal, קלקל from קלל; but, according to Henderson, a reduplicated form of קָלוֹן, shame. In some MSS. it is read as two words, קיא, vomit, and קלוֹז, shame, and this etymology has been approved by both Jewish and Christian interpreters. The Vulgate reads: et vomitus ignominiæ super gloriam tuam; Luther: und musst schandlich speien fur deine Herrlichkeit; Keil: the vomiting of shame; Kleinert: Schandgespei über deine Herlichkeit.
[Habakkuk 2:17.—וְשֹׁד בְּהֵמוֹת יְחִיתַן LXX.: Καὶ τ. θ. πτοήσει σε; Vulgate: et vastitas animalium deterrebit eos; Luther: und die verstörten Thiere werden dich schrecken, Kleinert: und die Verstörung der Thiere, die er vcrscheucht. Keil considers יְחִיתַז a relative clause, and translates the clause: “and the devastation among the animals, which frightened them. According to this view, the appended Nun is not paragogic, but the verbal suffix of the third feminine plural, agreeing with בְּהֵמוֹת. For the use of the suffix fem. 3 pl. see Green’s Heb. Gram., sec. 104, g.; and for the peculiar form of the verb, sec. 141, 3. Furst’s Heb. Lexicon; die Verwüstung durch Behemot.
[Habakkuk 2:18.—אֱלִילִים אִלְּמִים; compare εἴδωλα τὰ ἄφωνα, 1 Corinthians 12:2.—C. E.]
[See the Hippolytus of Euripides, line 415 f.—C. E.]