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Habakkuk 2:9-20

Context

2:9 The one who builds his house by unjust gain is as good as dead. 1 

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

and escape the clutches of disaster. 2 

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

Because you destroyed many nations, you will self-destruct. 3 

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

and the wooden rafters will answer back. 4 

2:12 The one who builds a city by bloodshed is as good as dead 5 

he who starts 6  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. 7 

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

just as the waters fill up the sea. 8 

2:15 “You who force your neighbor to drink wine 9  are as good as dead 10 

you who make others intoxicated by forcing them to drink from the bowl of your furious anger, 11 

so you can look at their genitals. 12 

2:16 But you will become drunk 13  with shame, not majesty. 14 

Now it is your turn to drink and expose your uncircumcised foreskin! 15 

The cup of wine in the Lord’s right hand 16  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; 17 

terrifying judgment will come upon you because of the way you destroyed the wild animals living there. 18 

You have shed human blood

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

2:18 What good 19  is an idol? Why would a craftsman make it? 20 

What good is a metal image that gives misleading oracles? 21 

Why would its creator place his trust in it 22 

and make 23  such mute, worthless things?

2:19 The one who says to wood, ‘Wake up!’ is as good as dead 24 

he who says 25  to speechless stone, ‘Awake!’

Can it give reliable guidance? 26 

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. 27 

The whole earth is speechless in his presence!” 28 

1 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.

2 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.

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

4 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.

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

6 tn Or “establishes”; or “founds.”

7 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?”

8 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.”

9 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.

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

11 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.

12 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.

13 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.

14 tn Or “glory.”

15 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.

16 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.

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

18 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.

19 tn Or “of what value.”

20 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.

21 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.

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

23 tn Heb “to make.”

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

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

26 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).

27 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.

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



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