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the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Habakkuk 2

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary

Verses 1-4

Habakkuk 2:1-4 . The Oracle from Yahweh.— Unable to explain the mystery, the prophet stations himself on his watch-tower, and looks for the revelation of God’ s purpose. Soon the oracle comes, and he is asked to write it on tablets plainly, that one may read it running: “ Behold, the soul of the wicked shall faint in him, but the righteous shall live by his faithfulness (his loyalty to God and His promises).”

Habakkuk 2:1 . I will stand, etc.: an imaginative representation of the prophet’ s mission as tsopheh, watchman ( cf. Isaiah 21:6 ff.).— For ’ ashib, “ I shall return (answer),” read yashib, “ He will return” (Syr.).

Habakkuk 2:2 . “ That one may run while reading it” : i.e. that one may read it at a glance.

Habakkuk 2:3 . Translate, “ Though the vision may still wait (may have to wait a little longer) for the appointed time, yet it panteth (straineth) toward the end, and will fail not.”

Habakkuk 2:4 . The first half of the verse is clearly corrupt. The most satisfying solution is to read ‘ ullephah, faint, for ‘ uphph e lah, is puffed up, and to take “ not upright” personally as equivalent to “ the wicked man” ( cf. translation above).

Verses 5-20

Habakkuk 2:5-20 . Woes on the Evil-doer.

Habakkuk 2:5 f. Woe on the insatiable conqueror, who treacherously gathers to himself the heritage of all the nations, only to be the victim of their bitterest maledictions.

Habakkuk 2:5 . As Davidson acknowledges, all efforts to educe sense must fail with the present text. A few slight changes yield the following: “ Ah! proud and treacherous man, haughty and never satisfied, who enlargeth his desire as Sheol, and like Death is never satisfied,” etc.

Habakkuk 2:6 . parable: rather “ taunt-song” ( cf. Numbers 21:27).— taunting proverb: lit. “ a satire, even riddles” (dark sayings, with a sting in them, working out their curse upon their victims).

Habakkuk 2:6-8 . Woe to him that amasseth what is not his, and runneth up debts on pledge. Soon shall his victims awake and torment him, even all whom he has spoiled shall turn and spoil him.

Habakkuk 2:6 . “ How long?” a marginal note which should be omitted.— pledges: rather debts on pledge.

Habakkuk 2:7 . The word nosh e kim means both biters and payers of interest (lit. biters from the capital sum).

Habakkuk 2:9-11 . Woe to him that hath built his house on evil gains, and by cruel and oppressive means. Though he have set that house high as an eagle’ s nest, he has only brought shame upon it, besides forfeiting his own life. The very stones and beams will take up the cry of vengeance for the blood that is shed.

Habakkuk 2:10 . consulted: rather, “ planned” (the result being regarded as the deliberate intention of the act).

Habakkuk 2:11 . answer: i.e. re-echo the cry for justice.— On the sympathy of inanimate objects with the victims of oppression cf. Job 31:38.

Habakkuk 2:12-14 . Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and foundeth a city on crime. In such case shall not the peoples toil but for the fire (labour at what must soon be destroyed), and weary themselves for naught?

Habakkuk 2:13 f. The context is awkwardly broken by the citation from Isaiah 11:9, introduced by the formula, “ Behold it is (these words are) from Yahweh of Hosts.”

Habakkuk 2:15-17 . Woe to him that maketh his neighbour drunk, filling his land and cities with bloodshed and violence. To him also shall the cup pass round: he too shall be made drunk, and his glory turned into shame and ruin.

Habakkuk 2:15 . The text is somewhat confused Read perhaps, “ Woe . . . drink, from his glowing cup (or, the cup of his wrath) to utter drunkenness, that he may look on his shame.” As applied to the Chaldeans, this must be understood of the violence that laid the nations prostrate, powerless, and disgraced ( cf. Isaiah 51:17, Jeremiah 25:15 ff.).

Habakkuk 2:16 f. The oppressor is to be paid back in his own coin: the devastation he has wrought in mountain, field, and city will overwhelm himself.— For he’ arel, “ be uncircumcised,” read hera’ el, “ stagger” (LXX).— cover: overwhelm.— Read, “ the havoc thou hast made of cattle shall dismay thee” ( cf. mg.). Such ruthless destruction of forest, city, and cattle is amply attested by the Assyrian monuments.

Habakkuk 2:18-20 . Woe on the senseless idolator, who bids the wood and dumb stone rise and teach him. It may be finely overlaid with gold and silver, but there is no breath in it. As against this vain show, Yahweh dwells in His holy Temple, claiming the reverent adoration of all the earth. Him alone let men worship and serve.

Habakkuk 2:18 . the teacher of lies: rather, “ the lying oracle” (in reference to the image itself).— the maker of his work: probably just its maker” ( yots e ro).

Habakkuk 2:20 . silence: the reverential hush that befits the near presence of the Divine.

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Habakkuk 2". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/habakkuk-2.html. 1919.
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