Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, July 14th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Habakkuk 2

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations



Unto Habakkuk, waiting for an answer, Habakkuk 2:1, is showed that he must wait in faith, Habakkuk 2:2-4. The judgment of the Chaldeans for insatiableness, Habakkuk 2:5-8, ambition, Habakkuk 2:9-11, cruelty, Habakkuk 2:12-14, treacherous dealing, Habakkuk 2:15-17, and idolatry, Habakkuk 2:18-20.

Verse 1

I will stand: the first chapter ended with that difficult and perplexed question, why God suffers the wicked So long to prosper in their oppressions of the righteous? This chapter represents the prophet waiting and musing, studying with himself what account he might give to himself, and waiting what account God would give him of it. He will stand in a posture of meditating, observing, and waiting.

Upon my watch: possibly the prophet may have respect to the manner of the Jews, who in their solemn prayers and waiting on God had their stations and watches (as Buxtorf observeth in verbo עמר;) in their synagogues, or at Jerusalem. But I rather think the prophet resolveth to be like one that is to be a watchman, as prophets are, Ezekiel 3:17, for the people of God. Or passively, in my watch, i.e. where my adversaries, like besieging enemies, observe and watch me. It contains his diligent and persevering expectation and observing.

And set me; fixedly and with resolution not to leave my station, as the Hebrew implieth; it is the same thing more emphatically expressed than in the word stand.

Upon the tower; either watch-tower, or besieged tower, or within a circle, out of which I will not stir till I receive an answer.

And will watch, most attentively observe, to see what he, the Lord, Habakkuk 1:12, will say unto me, or signify unto me; waiting for mine own satisfaction, and for the information of others.

And what I shall answer: there are many that are perplexed at the intricacy of providence, and some inquire to be instructed; some propose doubts and fears; and others do quarrel and perversely wrangle with God and his prophets; and how I may answer these from the word of God is that I wait for, saith our prophet.

When I am reproved; when called to give an account of the mysteriousness of providence; when either to satisfy doubters, or to silence quarrellers.

Verse 2

And the Lord, on whom he waited, and who ruleth all affairs, answered me; did hear my desire, and gave direction what I should do.

Write; what is only spoken is soon forgot, but what is written is more lasting, therefore write thou the vision showed to thee.

The vision; the things thou seest, or which thou shalt see.

Make it plain; make the writing very plain, engrave it, as was their manner, upon tables; what was of public concern, and therefore to be published, was anciently written or engraven upon tables, smooth stones, or wood, and then hung up in a public place to be read.

That he may run that readeth it; that none may need to make a stop, but hold on his course; in the greatest haste of business, every one may plainly and clearly discern what is written.

Verse 3

For; the reason why it must be written is because it should not be forgotten, whilst the appointed time is somewhat afar off; write it that it may be preserved in memory.

The vision; the accomplishment of the things showed unto thee, what thou seest is coming, and what thou foretellest to them, will take effect.

For an appointed time; determined and fixed with God, though unknown to men.

At the end; when the period appointed of God shall come, then, and not till then, it will be accomplished.

It shall speak; be accomplished, and fully made good.

Not lie; not disappoint your expectation.

Though it tarry, from the time of the prophet’s seeing it, which was about Manasseh’s time, or from about the time of captivating the ten tribes, until Cyrus’s time.

Wait for it; expect it, then it will speak out, that every one who hath an ear may hear it.

It will surely come, when the ruin of Babylon, never to be more, built, shall proclaim the justice of God against his and his church’s enemies, and what difference there is between corrections on his people and destruction upon enemies.

It will not tarry; not beyond the appointed time, which, reckoned from the captivity of the ten tribes, was one hundred and sixty years, or from Manasseh’s captivity, was about one hundred and twenty years, more or less, to the destruction of Babylon by Cyrus, when the riddle was fully unfolded.

Verse 4

Behold; note it: there are two sorts of persons who concern themselves in this puzzling question of the Divine providence; some object. and quarrel contest with God, proudly, discontentedly, and impatiently; others inquire humbly, submitting themselves to God, and waiting for him.

His soul, the heart and mind of every such one, which is lifted up; that proudly contests with the justice and wisdom of the Divine Providence, that slights promises of deliverance at so great a distance, and provides for his own safety by his own wit;

is not upright; is very corrupt and wicked, full of (not only distrusts, but) positive conclusions against God’s future punishing the wicked: such a one is so wicked that he thinks God will not punish the violent and bloody, the superstitious and idolatrous Babylonian.

The just; the humble, upright, and comparatively righteous one, who adores the depth of Divine providence, and is persuaded of the truth of Divine promises, and doth approve the season God chooseth.

Shall live; supports himself, and quiets his own heart, whilst he foreseeth the approaching deliverance of Zion.

By his faith; his well-grounded dependence on a persuasion of the truth of God’s promises touching the relief of the faithful servants of God, whose deliverance he believes to be certain, and so waits for the performance of promises made to him and them.

Verse 5

Yea also, or

moreover, furthermore, because he, the king of Babylon, or every one of them,

transgresseth by wine; which vice destroys kings and kingdoms, and in the excesses of luxury the Babylonian king Belshazzar, his city and kingdom of Babylon, fell a prey to Darius and Cyrus.

A proud man; insolent in his behaviour towards all, both retainers, subjects, strangers, and conquered enemies: such pride shall have a fall.

Neither keepeth at home; is ever abroad warring upon some or other, which though it enlarge his countries, it weakeneth his kingdom and gives advantage to malcontents and conspirators, besides that it exposeth him to imminent and continual dangers.

Enlargeth his desire as hell; is most insatiably greedy to devour all, as far from saying It is enough as the grave is.

Is as death; as pernicious and ravenous.

Cannot be satisfied; all is too little for him, and there is no possibility to satiate his appetite. Gathereth, addeth one after another, unto him, to his kingdom, all nations, that are round about him; all he knows are designed upon, and he purposeth to engross them.

Heapeth unto him all people; another expression of the same import. Now all this, foretold of the future temper of the Babylonish kings and kingdoms, is a sure presage of their no long continuance in grandeur, but that shortly Divine vengeance will overtake them. This might be an answer to disputers.

Verse 6

Shall not? the prediction is moulded thus in a question, to give it emphasis, and make it more affective.

All these, who have been oppressed, contumeliously used, and perfidiously deceived; all the people who have feared the power and policy of Babylon.

Take up a parable; turn him and his state into a by-word and scorn.

Against him; the king of Babylon, awhile since the terror, now the scorn of nations.

Taunting; short, but smart, wounding scoffs; and whereas men usually bewail and condole the mishaps of great, brave, and just kings or kingdoms, all people shall exult and triumph in the miseries of this oppressive, luxurious, and base kingdom.

Woe! either it is a threat of like vengeance on all such transgressors, or it may be a publishing the miseries come upon Babylon.

To him that increaseth; by rapine, frauds, and injurious dealings multiplieth his treasures, as the king of Babylon did.

Not his; it was not his though he had it; it was not his right though it was in his possession. Or else thus, one misery of the Babylonians shall be, they increase wealth, but not for themselves, but for the Medes and Persians.

How long? this seems to be the sigh of the oppressed, who think it long ere the oppressor fall.

To him that ladeth himself; woe to him that is a burden to others, while he burdens himself with amassed treasures gathered by extortion and grievous, unjust taxes!

With thick clay; gold and silver, so called to lower the over-value of them, and perhaps to mind the tyrant of a clay-bed.

Verse 7

Shall they not? this question doth more fully ascertain the thing. Rise up; either grow up, or else, as men who resolve to do a thing thoroughly, get upon their feet and stand to it. The Medes and Persians were growing to power, and would ere long rise up to ruin Babylon.

Suddenly; and surprise it in security, so they were down ere they did perceive themselves falling; and such sudden ruin is most dreadful.

Bite thee; devour and eat thee up.

And awake; thou, O Belshazzar, (and Babylon with thee,) wilt in drunken slumbers (unable to resist) fall into the hands of the awakened Medes and Persians.

Vex thee; as thou hast been, O Babylon, vexation to others by thy proud and insolent behaviour, by scoffs and cruelties, so others shall now be a vexation unto thee.

Thou shalt be for booties; not only your lands, houses, and goods, but your persons, and those of your relations, shall be booties, taken and sold for slaves, to the profit of them, Medes and Persians.

Verse 8

The prophet proceeds to give account of the reasons on which the Divine nemesis moves in this affair, and these may convince and confirm us in it.

Thou hast spoiled many nations; slain their people, sacked their cities, robbed their treasuries, led captive the subjects, and deposed kings, and done this to many nations, whose cry is come up to heaven. Jeremiah 25:9, and Jeremiah 27:3, recounts some six or seven nations. It is likely all the nations that lay round about this kingdom were spoiled by it. Now shalt thou be paid in thine own coin. The remnant of the nations unspoiled by thee, shall combine against thee, and execute the Lord’s just sentence, and spoil the spoiler.

Thee, O Babylon.

Because of men’s blood; either shed by private murders which cried to Heaven for vengeance, or shed by ill application of the sword of justice, or continual needless wars upon her neighbours.

And for the violence, injustice and oppressions, of the land; of the whole land of Chaldea, if you understand it actively, or else, if passively taken, it is the violence done by Babylon to the land of Judea especially.

Of the city; either Babylon, which oppressed Jerusalem, or Jerusalem, oppressed by Babylon.

And all that dwell therein: this also, as understood actively or passively, is applicable to either Babylon’s or Jerusalem’s citizens and inhabitants.

Verse 9

Woe! it is a general and comprehensive threat against all tyrants and oppressors. To him; every one that is guilty of the sin.

That coveteth an evil covetousness; or driveth a trade of oppression, to gain by what means soever, right or wrong. This is evil of sin, and will end in evil of trouble.

To his house; his family, which he would enrich and greaten by raising it on the ruins of oppressed innocents.

That he may set his nest on high; a proverbial speech, in allusion to birds of prey, which build their nests in the greatest heights, Obadiah 1:4. Greatness and an advanced estate gotten by rapine and prey may seem, but never can be, a security to any monarch.

On high; higher than God and justice set him.

That he may be delivered; kept secure, and out of danger from all below him.

From the power of evil, Heb. from the palm of the hand of evil, that no evil may fasten on, though it may attempt against them.

Verse 10

Thou, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon,

hast consulted shame; hast mistaken thy measures, thoughtest to advance thy glory, and to illustrate thy name; but it is in very deed the shame of thy reign that it hath been bloody.

To thy house; or family, thy royal family.

By cutting off many people; destroying and impoverishing multitudes of men and cities.

Hast sinned; it was thy sin, whatever thou didst think of it.

Against thy soul; or life of thy person, and posterity, this blood and cruelty will surely ruin thy house.

Verse 11

For the stone, the strength of thy house, accuseth thee.

Shall cry out; as if it had a voice, it crieth to God for vengeance.

The beam, on which thy chambers are laid,

shall answer it; confirms the charge against thee; and that fabric cannot be long a safe or a beautiful habitation, whose stones and beams are shaken with the strong cries of innocent blood, and families ruined by the oppression of the builder.

Verse 12

Whosoever he be that lays foundations in blood, is here threatened, and none so great as to keep Off the woe, deserved and menaced.

A town, Heb. city.

With blood; in the guilt and with the cruelty of murdering the innocents it is the worst cement which is tempered with blood of murdered men, women, and children.

And stablisheth; goeth about or thinketh to establish the foundations of a city.

A city; Babylon in particular.

By iniquity; by force and fraud, by riches extorted from the just possessor.

Verse 13

Behold: the prophet calls for attention, and that we observe who it is will execute vengeance on bloody cities and kingdoms. Babylon is a mighty city, and the kingdom is over-match to any kingdom, and perhaps it may be thought none can give Babylon blood to drink, or kindle a fire in her, that shall consume her.

Is it not of the Lord of hosts? though men cannot, the Lord of hosts can; and is not this vengeance his? will not he repay?

The people shall labour in the very fire; either Babylonians and their confederates labour for that the fire shall consume; or the adversaries of Babylon shall be able to endure a service for God against Babylon hot as if they laboured in the fire. Either literally taken or figuratively will well consist with the text.

The people, either Medes and Persians against Babylon, or the Chaldeans for Babylon, shall weary themselves, spend their strength and life, for very vanity; the one to preserve what shall never profit them, which they laid up in vain, the other to destroy all (though they lose their booty by destroying it) in the fire; yet all this from the Lord of hosts, justly punishing Babylon for all her cruelties.

Verse 14

The earth; the land of Chaldea, of the Medes and Persians, and their confederates, the lands oppressed by the Chaldeans, but Judea more particularly.

Shall be filled; every eye shall see, or ear hear, or tongue speak what they know.

With the knowledge, sight and sense,

of the glory, just and glorious proceedings of God against Babylon; for when God shall appear to execute his just judgments upon his own and his church’s enemies, he will appear glorious indeed.

The Lord; the God of Israel, their Holy One, as Habakkuk 1:12.

As the waters cover the sea: it is a proverbial speech, expressing the general notice and deep sense all should have of God’s justice, truth, power, and zeal against mighty oppressors, such as Babylon was full of.

Verse 15

Another public and crying sin of this Chaldean kingdom was excessive drinking, and making one another drunk, and for this God will severely punish.

Puttest thy bottle to him; forcing them by importunity or threats to drink by greater measures then they can bear.

Makest him drunken also; never givest over till thou hast made him vile and loathsome, as well as senseless in his drink.

That thou mayest look on their nakedness; designing to put the greatest abuse on them, exposing them to view, scorn, and derision, or to beastly or not to be named uncleanness, which vice the Babylonians are charged with by Herodotus and Ctesias.

Another public and crying sin of this Chaldean kingdom was excessive drinking, and making one another drunk, and for this God will severely punish.

Puttest thy bottle to him; forcing them by importunity or threats to drink by greater measures then they can bear.

Makest him drunken also; never givest over till thou hast made him vile and loathsome, as well as senseless in his drink.

That thou mayest look on their nakedness; designing to put the greatest abuse on them, exposing them to view, scorn, and derision, or to beastly or not to be named uncleanness, which vice the Babylonians are charged with by Herodotus and Ctesias.

Verse 16

Thou, O king of Babylon,

art filled, shortly shalt be, and it is as sure as if already done, with shame for glory; as much filled with shame by the contempt they shall cast upon thee whom thou didst once vilify and contemn; thy shame shall be greater than ever was thy glory, as the Hebrew seems to import.

Drink thou also: thy sin was that thou didst drink, and madest others drink to shameless excess too; now thy punishment shall be to drink of the cup of God’s wrath, which will fill thee with astonishment and calamities.

Let thy foreskin be uncovered; let thy shame be laid open before all; this retaliation is just and necessary.

The cup; a Scripture phrase, expressing the just judgments and corrections of sinners.

Of the Lord’s right hand; it is said to be in his right hand here, and in his hand, Psalms 75:8.

Shall be turned unto thee: they turned the cup of pleasure about, God will carry the cup of indignation about also, and make them drink deep of it, they shall not escape.

Shameful spewing shall be upon thy glory; then shalt thou be as much loathed as a shameful drunkard is in his vomit.

Verse 17

The violence of Lebanon shall cover thee: this is added to all the rest, that God’s people might know this was the time of recompences for Zion, that the violence by Babylon done to Judea and its inhabitants should be avenged and no longer deferred, but now should overwhelm Babylon, in which should be made as great devastations as ever she made in the fruitful and beautiful mountain Lebanon, supposed, in Deuteronomy 3:25, to express the land of Canaan; or else by Lebanon may be meant the temple, and house of the sanctuary, (as the Chaldee paraphrast,) because it was built of the cedars of Lebanon.

Thee; Babylon.

The spoil of beasts; such spoil as by hunters is made among wild beasts, when they endeavour to destroy the whole kind of them, such havoc, and by all the ways and methods that art and subtlety can invent to extirpate them, such wastes shalt thou suffer; for thou art to be destroyed: Or else thus, such desolations shall thine enemies make in thee as wild, ravenous, and insatiable beasts make where they prevail, they shall tear and devour all they seize, and seize all that peep abroad, and this shall make all men afraid continually.

Because of men’s blood, & c.: see Habakkuk 2:8.

Verse 18

Here the prophet removes the confidences of Babylon; she would boast of her gods, and depend on them, but this will be vain and unprofitable, it is not imaginable that these idols should help these persons.

The graven image; carved in wood, or stone, for of such materials did these idolmakers sometimes make their gods.

The maker: it is brutish folly in any one to value, or desire to be helped, by such lifeless idols, but it is greatest folly for him that makes the image, that remember how it was hewed, plead, tumbled about, and all this without the least degree of sense or feeling of what it suffered; and can that be sensible of my sorrows which feels not any thing itself?

The molten image; idols made of gold or silver, or any other rustle metal, were framed out of the metal first melted, and are therefore called molten images.

A teacher of lies; but whether graven or molten, yet all such images are but teachers of lies, Jeremiah 10:8,Jeremiah 10:14. They withdraw the mind from God, our true and only helper, and bewitch men to trust to idols, in which is no help, which ever proved lies to all that trusted on them.

That the maker; who knows, for he saw that there was no life, strength, or wisdom in one or other; it is shameless in any, but most in him that made the idol, to worship his own work, and rely upon that which he knows hath no eyes, or hands, or ears, but what his tool framed for it.

His work; his own work, and yet his god! the product of his art, and yet the hope of his soul! O brutish folly, self-contradiction!

Trusteth therein; resteth confident of defence, and rescue from evil, by it.

Dumb idols; which neither can answer a question, nor give a direction in a strait; can neither promise good to a friend, nor denounce a threat against an enemy.

Verse 19

In the former verse the prophet declared the uselessness and unprofitableness of the idols of Babylon, now he threatens the idolaters. They sinned greatly by placing their confidence in them, and they should suffer the more for it.

The wood; whatever shape art may give it, or whatever veneration blind idolaters may bear to it, it is still wood, no better; a log, a worthless block.

Awake: this expresseth the idolater’s prayer to his idol. Awake; what! is he a sleepy god? No, not so much, it is a lifeless log, and its eyes never did see.

The dumb stone; another sort of their useless idols, senseless as the stones, and still as unable to rise or help as before they were graven and carved; it is a stone, no god.

Arise; another form of praying to this idol; and when the idol can rise Babylon shall be helped, till then it must abide its sorrows.

It shalt teach: sottish men! in misery to hope that lifeless idols shall counsel and direct. What! dumb, and without sense, and yet teach!

Behold; look, ye selfdeceiving idolaters, consult your own senses, see what matter they are made of.

It is laid over with gold and silver; see the facings or plates are different from that which is under, and can that be a god that is made up of such different materials? it were more like men to pull off the gold and silver, and with these to purchase your safety.

There is no breath at all; not so much as the soul of a brute in them.

Verse 20

But the Lord: what idols are. he had already showed, a doctrine of lies, impotent and lifeless statues; but the God of Israel is not like them. He is Jehovah, fountain of being, life, power, and salvation to his people; he can do all he will for or against a people.

Is in his holy temple, or palace of his holiness: he is in his temple and in heaven, every where at all times; though his people be in Babylon, yet he is where he doth hear, see, and discern their state, and whence he promised to relieve and help them.

Let all the earth; both Chaldea the oppressive, and Judea the oppressed, and Medes and Persians and all their confederates, let all these nations

keep silence before him; fear, submit, pray, wait for, and depend on him: let his enemies be silent, fear, make their peace, and prevent his displeasure; let his people be silent, reverence, hope, pray, and wait for him. who will arise and have mercy on them, and destroy their enemies; who will make it to be well with the righteous, and again will make it ill with the wicked; who will fully and satisfactorily solve the doubts and unfold the riddles of his own providence.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Habakkuk 2". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/habakkuk-2.html. 1685.
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