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Habakkuk 1:14-17


1:14 You made people like fish in the sea,

like animals in the sea 1  that have no ruler.

1:15 The Babylonian tyrant 2  pulls them all up with a fishhook;

he hauls them in with his throw net. 3 

When he catches 4  them in his dragnet,

he is very happy. 5 

1:16 Because of his success 6  he offers sacrifices to his throw net

and burns incense to his dragnet; 7 

for because of them he has plenty of food, 8 

and more than enough to eat. 9 

1:17 Will he then 10  continue to fill and empty his throw net? 11 

Will he always 12  destroy 13  nations and spare none? 14 

1 tn The Hebrew word רֶמֶשׂ (remesh) usually refers to animals that creep, but here the referent seems to be marine animals that glide through the water (note the parallelism in the previous line). See also Ps 104:25.

2 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the Babylonian tyrant) has been specified in the translation for clarity (cf. NASB “The Chaldeans”; NIV “The wicked foe”; NRSV “The enemy”). Babylonian imperialism is here compared to a professional fisherman who repeatedly brings in his catch and has plenty to eat.

3 tn Apparently two different types of fishing nets are referred to here. The חֵרֶם (kherem, “throw net”) was used by fishermen standing on the shore (see Ezek 47:10), while the מִכְמֶרֶת (mikhmeret, “dragnet”) was used by men in a boat. See R. D. Patterson, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (WEC), 165.

4 tn Heb “and he gathers.”

5 tn Heb “Therefore he is happy and rejoices.” Here two synonyms are joined for emphasis.

6 tn Heb “therefore.”

7 sn The fishing implements (throw net and dragnet) represent Babylonian military might. The prophet depicts the Babylonians as arrogantly worshiping their own power (sacrifices…burns incense, see also v. 11b).

8 tn Heb “for by them his portion is full [or, “fat”].”

9 tn Heb “and his food is plentiful [or, “fat”].”

10 tn Or “therefore.”

11 tn Heb “Will he then empty his throw net?” The words “continue to fill and” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

12 tn Or “continually.”

13 tn Heb “kill.”

14 tn Or “without showing compassion.”

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