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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

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Book Overview - Habakkuk

The Book of Habakkuk
Commentary by A.R. Faussett


Habakkuk, from a Hebrew root meaning to “embrace,” denoting a “favorite” (namely, of God) and a “struggler” (for his country‘s good). Some ancient authors represent him as belonging to the tribe of Levi; others [Pseudo Epiphanius], to that of Simeon. The inscription to Bel and the dragon in the Septuagint asserts the former; and Habakkuk 3:19 perhaps favors this. Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 7.29] states that in his time Habakkuk‘s tomb was shown at Celia in Palestine.

The time seems to have been about 610 b.c. For the Chaldeans attacked Jerusalem in the ninth month of the fifth year of Jehoiakim, 605 b.c. (2 Kings 24:1; 2 Chronicles 36:6; Jeremiah 46:2; Jeremiah 36:9). And Habakkuk (Habakkuk 1:5, Habakkuk 1:6, etc.) speaks of the Chaldeans as about to invade Judah, but not as having actually done so. In the second chapter he proceeds to comfort his people by foretelling the humiliation of their conquerors, and that the vision will soon have its fulfillment. In the third chapter the prophet in a sublime ode celebrates the deliverances wrought by Jehovah for His people in times past, as the ground of assurance, notwithstanding all their existing calamities, that He will deliver them again. Habakkuk 3:16 shows that the invader is still coming, and not yet arrived; so that the whole refers to the invasion in Jehoiakim‘s times, not those under Jehoiachin and Zedekiah. The Apocryphal appendix to Daniel states that he lived to see the Babylonian exile (588 b.c.), which accords with his prophesying early in Jehoiakim‘s reign, about 610 b.c.

The position of the book immediately after Nahum is appropriate; as Nahum treated of the judgments of the Lord on Assyria, for its violence against Israel, so Habakkuk, those inflicted by, and on, the Chaldeans for the same reason.

The style is poetical and sublime. The parallelisms are generally regular. Borrowed ideas occur (compare Habakkuk 3:19, with Psalm 18:33; Habakkuk 2:6, with Isaiah 14:4; Habakkuk 2:14, with Isaiah 11:9).

The ancient catalogues imply that his book is part of the canon of Scripture. In the New Testament, Romans 1:17 quotes Habakkuk 2:4 (though not naming him); compare also Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38. Acts 13:40, Acts 13:41 quotes Habakkuk 1:5. One or two Hebrew words peculiar to Habakkuk occur (Habakkuk 1:9; Habakkuk 2:6, Habakkuk 2:16).

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Friday, January 24th, 2020
the Second Week after Epiphany
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