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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Habakkuk 3

 

 

Verses 1-19

Habakkuk 3. The Prayer of Habakkuk.

Habakkuk 3:1. Shigionoth: probably plural of shiggaion (Psalms 7:1, p. 373). But LXX reads neginoth, "on the stringed instruments" (cf. Psalms 4:1; Psalms 6:1, etc.).

Habakkuk 3:2. The poet has both heard of and seen Yahweh's doings in days gone by, and prays Him anew to reveal His saving power to His people.

For yarethi, "I was afraid," read ra'ithi, "I have seen" (LXX), to be taken with the following words: thus, "I have seen Thy work, O Lord."—in the midst of the years: i.e. in the present era (without waiting for the final judgment).—Read probably, "make Thyself known" (LXX Syr.).


Verses 3-16

Habakkuk 3:3-16. In answer to his prayer, Yahweh comes from Sinai, riding on His victorious chariots, surrounded by glory and splendour, His bow uncovered and His quiver filled with shafts, making the mountains to sink low and the earth itself to quake, the floods to roar, and the sun and moon to forget their shining, piercing the head of the enemy, while He brings salvation to His people. So awful is the sight that the poet's whole frame trembles, his lips quiver, and his footsteps shake beneath him; he cannot restrain his sympathies even for the enemy that invades his fatherland.

In the original the tenses vary between imperfect and descriptive perfect (the future being conceived as already present in imagination). It is better, therefore, to render throughout by the graphic present.

Habakkuk 3:3. Teman: on the NW. of Edom.—mount Paran: between Sinai and Kadesh-Barnea.—praise: rather, that which calls forth praise, i.e. God's splendour or majesty.

Habakkuk 3:4. Read probably, "Like fire is the brightness beneath him."—rays: lit. "horns" (cf. Exodus 34:29).—Read "at His side" (mg.).—hiding: or, veil.

Habakkuk 3:5. Read, "Before Him marcheth Pestilence; at His feet (behind Him) stalketh Plague (or Fever)."

Habakkuk 3:6. With one or two slight changes (partly suggested by LXX) read, "He standeth, and shaketh the earth; He looketh, and maketh the hills to skip. The ancient mountains are shattered, the eternal hills sink down." The last clause. "Even the eternal paths before Him," is no doubt an expansion.

Habakkuk 3:7. Read, "Afraid are the tents of Cushan."—Cushan: Judges 3:8*, cf. Numbers 12:1*.

Habakkuk 3:8. The first two clauses are variants.—Read, "Upon Thy victorious chariots," viz. the storm-clouds.

Habakkuk 3:9. For the meaningless clause, "The oaths," etc., read (with a group of LXX manuscripts) "Thy quiver is filled with shafts."—For "with rivers" read "into rivers."

Habakkuk 3:10. For "The tempest," etc., read "The clouds pour down waters" (cf Psalms 77:17).—The last clause should, no doubt, be taken with Habakkuk 3:11, and the couplet made to run as follows: "The sun forgetteth his rising, The moon standeth still in her dwelling-place" (LXX group).

Habakkuk 3:11. An alternative rendering is, "Thine arrows go forth as a flash, Thy flittering spear is as lightning."

Habakkuk 3:13. thine anointed: ere most probably the people, treated as a personified unity.—The second half of the verse is somewhat overladen and corrupt. Read probably, "Thou dost shatter the house of the wicked, Thou dost lay bare the foundation to the rook."

Habakkuk 3:14. With a few changes (noted in Battel's text) we may translate the first couplet as follows: "With thy shafts thou dost pierce his head, Like chaff his warriors are scattered." The rest of the verse is still more corrupt, and is probably interpolated. Duhm emends the text to read, "Tyrants hide a net, to devour the poor in ambush."

Habakkuk 3:15. Probably to be read before Habakkuk 3:8.

Habakkuk 3:16. belly: the bodily frame.—Rottenness: decay or mouldering (cf. Psalms 32:3).—I trembled, etc.: rather, "my footsteps tremble beneath me" (LXX).—With a slight change in the text, translate the rest of the verse, I sigh for the day (time) of trouble that doth come on the people that invadeth me (in troops)."


Verses 17-19

Habakkuk 3:17-19. A liturgical addition, expressing perfect trust in Yahweh even amid loss and grief (cf. Joel 1:17-20).

Habakkuk 3:17. For tiphrah, "blossom," read probably tiphreh, "bear fruit" (LXX).

Habakkuk 3:19. From Psalms 18:32 f.—On the musical notes, see p. 373.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Habakkuk 3:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/habakkuk-3.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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