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Habakkuk 2

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2:1 I will stand at my watch post;

I will remain stationed on the city wall. 1 

I will keep watching, so I can see what he says to me

and can know 2  how I should answer

when he counters my argument. 3 

The Lord Assures Habakkuk

2:2 The Lord responded: 4 

“Write down this message! 5  Record it legibly on tablets,

so the one who announces 6  it may read it easily. 7 

2:3 For the message is a witness to what is decreed; 8 

it gives reliable testimony about how matters will turn out. 9 

Even if the message 10  is not fulfilled right away, wait patiently; 11 

for it will certainly come to pass – it will not arrive late.

2:4 Look, the one whose desires are not upright will faint from exhaustion, 12 

but the person of integrity 13  will live 14  because of his faithfulness. 15 

2:5 Indeed, wine will betray the proud, restless man! 16 

His appetite 17  is as big as Sheol’s; 18 

like death, he is never satisfied.

He gathers 19  all the nations;

he seizes 20  all peoples.

The Proud Babylonians are as Good as Dead

2:6 “But all these nations will someday taunt him 21 

and ridicule him with proverbial sayings: 22 

‘The one who accumulates what does not belong to him is as good as dead 23 

(How long will this go on?) 24 

he who gets rich by extortion!’ 25 

2:7 Your creditors will suddenly attack; 26 

those who terrify you will spring into action, 27 

and they will rob you. 28 

2:8 Because you robbed many countries, 29 

all who are left among the nations 30  will rob you.

You have shed human blood

and committed violent acts against lands, cities, 31  and those who live in them.

2:9 The one who builds his house by unjust gain is as good as dead. 32 

He does this so he can build his nest way up high

and escape the clutches of disaster. 33 

2:10 Your schemes will bring shame to your house.

Because you destroyed many nations, you will self-destruct. 34 

2:11 For the stones in the walls will cry out,

and the wooden rafters will answer back. 35 

2:12 The one who builds a city by bloodshed is as good as dead 36 

he who starts 37  a town by unjust deeds.

2:13 Be sure of this! The Lord who commands armies has decreed:

The nations’ efforts will go up in smoke;

their exhausting work will be for nothing. 38 

2:14 For recognition of the Lord’s sovereign majesty will fill the earth

just as the waters fill up the sea. 39 

2:15 “You who force your neighbor to drink wine 40  are as good as dead 41 

you who make others intoxicated by forcing them to drink from the bowl of your furious anger, 42 

so you can look at their genitals. 43 

2:16 But you will become drunk 44  with shame, not majesty. 45 

Now it is your turn to drink and expose your uncircumcised foreskin! 46 

The cup of wine in the Lord’s right hand 47  is coming to you,

and disgrace will replace your majestic glory!

2:17 For you will pay in full for your violent acts against Lebanon; 48 

terrifying judgment will come upon you because of the way you destroyed the wild animals living there. 49 

You have shed human blood

and committed violent acts against lands, cities, and those who live in them.

2:18 What good 50  is an idol? Why would a craftsman make it? 51 

What good is a metal image that gives misleading oracles? 52 

Why would its creator place his trust in it 53 

and make 54  such mute, worthless things?

2:19 The one who says to wood, ‘Wake up!’ is as good as dead 55 

he who says 56  to speechless stone, ‘Awake!’

Can it give reliable guidance? 57 

It is overlaid with gold and silver;

it has no life’s breath inside it.

2:20 But the Lord is in his majestic palace. 58 

The whole earth is speechless in his presence!” 59 

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1 sn Habakkuk compares himself to a watchman stationed on the city wall who keeps his eyes open for approaching messengers or danger.

2 tn The word “know” is supplied in the translation for clarification.

3 tn Heb “concerning my correction [or, “reproof”].”

4 tn Heb “the Lord answered and said.” The redundant expression “answered and said” has been simplified in the translation as “responded.”

5 tn Heb “[the] vision.”

6 tn Or “reads from.”

7 tn Heb “might run,” which here probably means “run [through it quickly with one’s eyes],” that is, read it easily.

8 tn Heb “For the vision is still for the appointed time.” The Hebrew word עוֹד (’od, “still”) is better emended to עֵד (’ed, “witness”) in light of the parallelism (see the note on the word “turn out” in the following line). The “appointed time” refers to the time when the divine judgment anticipated in vv. 6-20 will be realized.

9 tn Heb “and a witness to the end and it does not lie.” The Hebrew term יָפֵחַ (yafeakh) has been traditionally understood as a verb form from the root פּוּחַ (puakh, “puff, blow”; cf. NEB “it will come in breathless haste”; NASB “it hastens toward the goal”) but recent scholarship has demonstrated that it is actually a noun meaning “witness” (cf. NIV “it speaks of the end / and will not prove false”; NRSV “it speaks of the end, and does not lie”). See J. J. M. Roberts, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah (OTL), 106. “The end” corresponds to “the appointed time” of the preceding line and refers to the time when the prophecy to follow will be fulfilled.

10 tn Heb “it”; the referent (the message) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

11 tn Heb “If it should delay, wait for it.” The Hebrew word חָזוֹן (khazon, “vision, message”) is the subject of the third person verbs in v. 3 and the antecedent of the pronominal suffix in the phrase “for it.”

12 tn The meaning of this line is unclear, primarily because of the uncertainty surrounding the second word, עֲפְּלָה (’apÿlah). Some read this as an otherwise unattested verb עָפַל (’afal, “swell”) from which are derived nouns meaning “mound” and “hemorrhoid.” This “swelling” is then understood in an abstract sense, “swell with pride.” This would yield a translation, “As for the proud, his desires are not right within him” (cf. NASB “as for the proud one”; NIV “he is puffed up”; NRSV “Look at the proud!”). A multitude of other interpretations of this line, many of which involve emendations of the problematic form, may be found in the commentaries and periodical literature. The present translation assumes an emendation to a Pual form of the verb עָלַף (’alaf, “be faint, exhausted”). (See its use in the Pual in Isa 51:20, and in the Hitpael in Amos 8:13 and Jonah 4:8.) In the antithetical parallelism of the verse, it corresponds to חָיָה (khayah, “live”). The phrase לֹא יָשְׁרָה נַפְשׁוֹ בּוֹ (loyoshrah nafsho bo), literally, “not upright his desire within him,” is taken as a substantival clause that contrasts with צַדִּיק (tsadiq, “the righteous one”) and serves as the subject of the preceding verb. Here נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) is understood in the sense of “desire” (see BDB 660-61 s.v. נֶפֶשׁ for a list of passages where the word carries this sense).

13 tn Or “righteous.” The oppressed individuals mentioned in 1:4 are probably in view here.

14 tn Or “will be preserved.” In the immediate context this probably refers to physical preservation through both the present oppression and the coming judgment (see Hab 3:16-19).

15 tn Or “loyalty”; or “integrity.” The Hebrew word אֱמוּנָה (’emunah) has traditionally been translated “faith,” but the term nowhere else refers to “belief” as such. When used of human character and conduct it carries the notion of “honesty, integrity, reliability, faithfulness.” The antecedent of the suffix has been understood in different ways. It could refer to God’s faithfulness, but in this case one would expect a first person suffix (the original form of the LXX has “my faithfulness” here). Others understand the “vision” to be the antecedent. In this case the reliability of the prophecy is in view. For a statement of this view, see J. J. M. Roberts, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah (OTL), 111-12. The present translation assumes that the preceding word “[the person of] integrity” is the antecedent. In this case the Lord is assuring Habakkuk that those who are truly innocent will be preserved through the coming oppression and judgment by their godly lifestyle, for God ultimately rewards this type of conduct. In contrast to these innocent people, those with impure desires (epitomized by the greedy Babylonians; see v. 5) will not be able to withstand God’s judgment (v. 4a).

16 tn Heb “Indeed wine betrays a proud man and he does not dwell.” The meaning of the last verb, “dwell,” is uncertain. Many take it as a denominative of the noun נָוָה (navah, “dwelling place”). In this case it would carry the idea, “he does not settle down,” and would picture the drunkard as restless (cf. NIV “never at rest”; NASB “does not stay at home”). Some relate the verb to an Arabic cognate and translate the phrase as “he will not succeed, reach his goal.”

sn The Babylonian tyrant is the proud, restless man described in this line as the last line of the verse, with its reference to the conquest of the nations, makes clear. Wine is probably a metaphor for imperialistic success. The more success the Babylonians experience, the more greedy they become just as a drunkard wants more and more wine to satisfy his thirst. But eventually this greed will lead to their downfall, for God will not tolerate such imperialism and will judge the Babylonians appropriately (vv. 6-20).

17 tn Heb “who opens wide like Sheol his throat.” Here נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) is understood in a physical sense, meaning “throat,” which in turn is figurative for the appetite. See H. W. Wolff, Anthropology of the Old Testament, 11-12.

18 sn Sheol is the proper name of the subterranean world which was regarded as the land of the dead. In ancient Canaanite thought Death was a powerful god whose appetite was never satisfied. In the OT Sheol/Death, though not deified, is personified as greedy and as having a voracious appetite. See Prov 30:15-16; Isa 5:14; also see L. I. J. Stadelmann, The Hebrew Conception of the World, 168.

19 tn Heb “he gathers for himself.”

20 tn Heb “he collects for himself.”

21 tn Heb “Will not these, all of them, take up a taunt against him…?” The rhetorical question assumes the response, “Yes, they will.” The present translation brings out the rhetorical force of the question by rendering it as an affirmation.

22 tn Heb “and a mocking song, riddles, against him? And one will say.”

23 tn Heb “Woe [to] the one who increases [what is] not his.” The Hebrew term הוֹי (hoy, “woe,” “ah”) was used in funeral laments and carries the connotation of death.

24 tn This question is interjected parenthetically, perhaps to express rhetorically the pain and despair felt by the Babylonians’ victims.

25 tn Heb “and the one who makes himself heavy [i.e., wealthy] [by] debts.” Though only appearing in the first line, the term הוֹי (hoy) is to be understood as elliptical in the second line.

26 tn Heb “Will not your creditors suddenly rise up?” The rhetorical question assumes the response, “Yes, they will.” The present translation brings out the rhetorical force of the question by rendering it as an affirmation.

sn Your creditors will suddenly attack. The Babylonians are addressed directly here. They have robbed and terrorized others, but now the situation will be reversed as their creditors suddenly attack them.

27 tn Heb “[Will not] the ones who make you tremble awake?”

28 tn Heb “and you will become their plunder.”

29 tn Or “nations.”

30 tn Or “peoples.”

31 tn Heb “because of the shed blood of humankind and violence against land, city.” The singular forms אֶרֶץ (’erets, “land”) and קִרְיָה (qiryah, “city”) are collective, referring to all the lands and cities terrorized by the Babylonians.

32 tn Heb “Woe [to] the one who profits unjustly by evil unjust gain for his house.” On the term הוֹי (hoy) see the note on the word “dead” in v. 6.

33 tn Heb “to place his nest in the heights in order to escape from the hand of disaster.”

sn Here the Babylonians are compared to a bird, perhaps an eagle, that builds its nest in an inaccessible high place where predators cannot reach it.

34 tn Heb “you planned shame for your house, cutting off many nations, and sinning [against] your life.”

35 sn The house mentioned in vv. 9-10 represents the Babylonian empire, which became great through imperialism. Here the materials of this “house” (the stones in the walls, the wooden rafters) are personified as witnesses who testify that the occupants have built the house through wealth stolen from others.

36 tn On the term הוֹי (hoy) see the note on the word “dead” in v. 6.

37 tn Or “establishes”; or “founds.”

38 tn Heb “Is it not, look, from the Lord of hosts that the nations work hard for fire, and the peoples are exhausted for nothing?”

39 tn Heb “for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, just as the waters cover over the sea.”

40 tn No direct object is present after “drink” in the Hebrew text. “Wine” is implied, however, and has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

41 tn On the term הוֹי (hoy) see the note on the word “dead” in v. 6.

42 tc Heb “pouring out your anger and also making drunk”; or “pouring out your anger and [by] rage making drunk.” The present translation assumes that the final khet (ח) on מְסַפֵּחַ (misapeakh, “pouring”) is dittographic and that the form should actually be read מִסַּף (missaf, “from a bowl”).

sn Forcing them to drink from the bowl of your furious anger. The Babylonian’s harsh treatment of others is compared to intoxicating wine which the Babylonians force the nations to drink so they can humiliate them. Cf. the imagery in Rev 14:10.

43 tn Heb “their nakedness,” a euphemism.

sn Metaphor and reality are probably blended here. This may refer to the practice of publicly humiliating prisoners of war by stripping them naked. See J. J. M. Roberts, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah (OTL), 124.

44 tn Heb “are filled.” The translation assumes the verbal form is a perfect of certitude, emphasizing the certainty of Babylon’s coming judgment, which will reduce the majestic empire to shame and humiliation.

45 tn Or “glory.”

46 tc Heb “drink, even you, and show the foreskin.” Instead of הֵעָרֵל (hearel, “show the foreskin”) one of the Dead Sea scrolls has הֵרָעֵל (herael, “stumble”). This reading also has support from several ancient versions and is followed by the NEB (“you too shall drink until you stagger”) and NRSV (“Drink, you yourself, and stagger”). For a defense of the Hebrew text, see P. D. Miller, Jr., Sin and Judgment in the Prophets, 63-64.

47 sn The Lord’s right hand represents his military power. He will force the Babylonians to experience the same humiliating defeat they inflicted on others.

48 tn Heb “for the violence against Lebanon will cover you.”

49 tc The Hebrew appears to read literally, “and the violence against the animals [which] he terrified.” The verb form יְחִיתַן (yÿkhitan) appears to be a Hiphil imperfect third masculine singular with third feminine plural suffix (the antecedent being the animals) from חָתַת (khatat, “be terrified”). The translation above follows the LXX and assumes a reading יְחִתֶּךָ (yÿkhittekha, “[the violence against the animals] will terrify you”; cf. NRSV “the destruction of the animals will terrify you”; NIV “and your destruction of animals will terrify you”). In this case the verb is a Hiphil imperfect third masculine singular with second masculine singular suffix (the antecedent being Babylon). This provides better symmetry with the preceding line, where Babylon’s violence is the subject of the verb “cover.”

sn The language may anticipate Nebuchadnezzar’s utilization of trees from the Lebanon forest in building projects. Lebanon and its animals probably represent the western Palestinian states conquered by the Babylonians.

50 tn Or “of what value.”

51 tn Heb “so that the one who forms it fashions it?” Here כִּי (ki) is taken as resultative after the rhetorical question. For other examples of this use, see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 73, §450.

52 tn Heb “or a metal image, a teacher of lies.” The words “What good is” in the translation are supplied from the previous parallel line. “Teacher of lies” refers to the false oracles that the so-called god would deliver through a priest. See J. J. M. Roberts, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah (OTL), 126.

53 tn Heb “so that the one who forms his image trusts in it?” As earlier in the verse, כִּי (ki) is resultative.

54 tn Heb “to make.”

55 tn Heb “Woe [to] the one who says.” On the term הוֹי (hoy) see the note on the word “dead” in v. 6.

56 tn The words “he who says” in the translation are supplied from the previous parallel line.

57 tn Though the Hebrew text has no formal interrogative marker here, the context indicates that the statement should be taken as a rhetorical question anticipating the answer, “Of course not!” (so also NIV, NRSV).

58 tn Or “holy temple.” The Lord’s heavenly palace, rather than the earthly temple, is probably in view here (see Ps 11:4; Mic 1:2-3). The Hebrew word ֹקדֶשׁ (qodesh, “holy”) here refers to the sovereign transcendence associated with his palace.

59 tn Or “Be quiet before him, all the earth!”



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