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Bible Commentaries

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Habakkuk

- Habakkuk

by Joseph Benson

THE BOOK OF HABAKKUK.

ARGUMENT.

THE Prophet Habakkuk is said to have been of the tribe of Simeon, and a native of Beth-zaker. As he makes no mention of the Assyrians in his prophecy, and speaks of the invasions of the Chaldeans as near at hand, it is probable he prophesied after the destruction of Nineveh, and the overthrow of the Assyrian empire, and not long before the kingdom of Judah was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. It seems he was cotemporary with Jeremiah, and prophesied in the reign of Josiah, probably toward the close of his reign, and in the beginning of Jehoiakim’s. The subject of his prophecy is the same with that of Jeremiah, and upon the same occasion; namely, the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, for their idolatries and other heinous sins and provocations. This destruction he foretels in the first chapter, as also that of the adjacent countries. In the second, he predicts the overthrow of the Chaldeans, for their unprovoked invasion of other nations, and their various acts of violence, oppression, and bloodshed, and he encourages the Jews patiently to wait for it. Thus, as the preceding prophet, Nahum, foretold the destruction of the Assyrians, who carried the ten tribes captive; so Habakkuk foretels the judgments that should come upon the Chaldeans, who completed the captivity of the two remaining tribes. In the third chapter, he, in a most lofty manner, celebrates God’s former appearances for Israel, in bringing them through the Red sea; in giving his law to them; and in casting out the Canaanites before them: he professes his terrible apprehension of the Chaldean invasion; begs the Lord would at least mitigate the stroke; and concludes, rejoicing in God his Saviour. Habakkuk is repeatedly quoted as an inspired writer in the New Testament, as the reader will see if he will compare Habakkuk 1:5, with Acts 13:40-41; and Acts 2:3-4, with Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:37-38: and “his predictions of the devastations” that should be made by the Chaldeans, and of the judgments that would be inflicted on them, are considered by many as foretelling also “the temporary success and final ruin of the oppressors and corrupters of the Christian Church, and the final and universal prevalence of true religion throughout the earth.” Scott. “The Prophet Habakkuk,” says Archbishop Newcome, “stands high in the class of the Hebrew poets. The beautiful connection between the parts of his prophecy, its diction, imagery, spirit, and sublimity, cannot be too much admired.” Bishop Lowth bears a similar testimony, observing, “The style of Habakkuk is poetical, especially in his ode, chap. 3., which may deservedly be accounted among the most perfect specimens of that class.” See his 21st Prelection.