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Habakkuk 1:1--3:19

Context
Habakkuk Complains to the Lord

1:1 The following is the message 1  which God revealed to Habakkuk the prophet: 2 

1:2 How long, Lord, must I cry for help?

But you do not listen!

I call out to you, “Violence!”

But you do not intervene! 3 

1:3 Why do you force me to witness injustice? 4 

Why do you put up with wrongdoing? 5 

Destruction and violence confront 6  me;

conflict is present and one must endure strife. 7 

1:4 For this reason the law lacks power, 8 

and justice is never carried out. 9 

Indeed, 10  the wicked intimidate 11  the innocent. 12 

For this reason justice is perverted. 13 

The Lord Reveals Some Startling News

1:5 “Look at the nations and pay attention! 14 

You will be shocked and amazed! 15 

For I will do something in your lifetime 16 

that you will not believe even though you are forewarned. 17 

1:6 Look, I am about to empower 18  the Babylonians,

that ruthless 19  and greedy 20  nation.

They sweep across the surface 21  of the earth,

seizing dwelling places that do not belong to them.

1:7 They are frightening and terrifying;

they decide for themselves what is right. 22 

1:8 Their horses are faster than leopards

and more alert 23  than wolves in the desert. 24 

Their horses 25  gallop, 26 

their horses come a great distance;

like a vulture 27  they swoop down quickly to devour their prey. 28 

1:9 All of them intend 29  to do violence;

every face is determined. 30 

They take prisoners as easily as one scoops up sand. 31 

1:10 They mock kings

and laugh at rulers.

They laugh at every fortified city;

they build siege ramps 32  and capture them.

1:11 They sweep by like the wind and pass on. 33 

But the one who considers himself a god will be held guilty.” 34 

Habakkuk Voices Some Concerns

1:12 Lord, you have been active from ancient times; 35 

my sovereign God, 36  you are immortal. 37 

Lord, you have made them 38  your instrument of judgment. 39 

Protector, 40  you have appointed them as your instrument of punishment. 41 

1:13 You are too just 42  to tolerate 43  evil;

you are unable to condone 44  wrongdoing.

So why do you put up with such treacherous people? 45 

Why do you say nothing when the wicked devour 46  those more righteous than they are? 47 

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

like animals in the sea 48  that have no ruler.

1:15 The Babylonian tyrant 49  pulls them all up with a fishhook;

he hauls them in with his throw net. 50 

When he catches 51  them in his dragnet,

he is very happy. 52 

1:16 Because of his success 53  he offers sacrifices to his throw net

and burns incense to his dragnet; 54 

for because of them he has plenty of food, 55 

and more than enough to eat. 56 

1:17 Will he then 57  continue to fill and empty his throw net? 58 

Will he always 59  destroy 60  nations and spare none? 61 

2:1 I will stand at my watch post;

I will remain stationed on the city wall. 62 

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

and can know 63  how I should answer

when he counters my argument. 64 

The Lord Assures Habakkuk

2:2 The Lord responded: 65 

“Write down this message! 66  Record it legibly on tablets,

so the one who announces 67  it may read it easily. 68 

2:3 For the message is a witness to what is decreed; 69 

it gives reliable testimony about how matters will turn out. 70 

Even if the message 71  is not fulfilled right away, wait patiently; 72 

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, 73 

but the person of integrity 74  will live 75  because of his faithfulness. 76 

2:5 Indeed, wine will betray the proud, restless man! 77 

His appetite 78  is as big as Sheol’s; 79 

like death, he is never satisfied.

He gathers 80  all the nations;

he seizes 81  all peoples.

The Proud Babylonians are as Good as Dead

2:6 “But all these nations will someday taunt him 82 

and ridicule him with proverbial sayings: 83 

‘The one who accumulates what does not belong to him is as good as dead 84 

(How long will this go on?) 85 

he who gets rich by extortion!’ 86 

2:7 Your creditors will suddenly attack; 87 

those who terrify you will spring into action, 88 

and they will rob you. 89 

2:8 Because you robbed many countries, 90 

all who are left among the nations 91  will rob you.

You have shed human blood

and committed violent acts against lands, cities, 92  and those who live in them.

2:9 The one who builds his house by unjust gain is as good as dead. 93 

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

and escape the clutches of disaster. 94 

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

Because you destroyed many nations, you will self-destruct. 95 

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

and the wooden rafters will answer back. 96 

2:12 The one who builds a city by bloodshed is as good as dead 97 

he who starts 98  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. 99 

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

just as the waters fill up the sea. 100 

2:15 “You who force your neighbor to drink wine 101  are as good as dead 102 

you who make others intoxicated by forcing them to drink from the bowl of your furious anger, 103 

so you can look at their genitals. 104 

2:16 But you will become drunk 105  with shame, not majesty. 106 

Now it is your turn to drink and expose your uncircumcised foreskin! 107 

The cup of wine in the Lord’s right hand 108  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; 109 

terrifying judgment will come upon you because of the way you destroyed the wild animals living there. 110 

You have shed human blood

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

2:18 What good 111  is an idol? Why would a craftsman make it? 112 

What good is a metal image that gives misleading oracles? 113 

Why would its creator place his trust in it 114 

and make 115  such mute, worthless things?

2:19 The one who says to wood, ‘Wake up!’ is as good as dead 116 

he who says 117  to speechless stone, ‘Awake!’

Can it give reliable guidance? 118 

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. 119 

The whole earth is speechless in his presence!” 120 

Habakkuk’s Vision of the Divine Warrior

3:1 This is a prayer of Habakkuk the prophet: 121 

3:2 Lord, I have heard the report of what you did; 122 

I am awed, 123  Lord, by what you accomplished. 124 

In our time 125  repeat those deeds; 126 

in our time reveal them again. 127 

But when you cause turmoil, remember to show us mercy! 128 

3:3 God comes 129  from Teman, 130 

the sovereign 131  one from Mount Paran. 132  Selah. 133 

His splendor covers the skies, 134 

his glory 135  fills the earth.

3:4 He is as bright as lightning; 136 

a two-pronged lightning bolt flashes from his hand. 137 

This is the outward display of his power. 138 

3:5 Plague goes before him;

pestilence 139  marches right behind him. 140 

3:6 He takes his battle position 141  and shakes 142  the earth;

with a mere look he frightens 143  the nations.

The ancient mountains disintegrate; 144 

the primeval hills are flattened.

He travels on the ancient roads. 145 

3:7 I see the tents of Cushan overwhelmed by trouble; 146 

the tent curtains of the land of Midian are shaking. 147 

3:8 Is the Lord mad at the rivers?

Are you angry with the rivers?

Are you enraged at the sea? 148 

Is this why 149  you climb into your horse-drawn chariots, 150 

your victorious chariots? 151 

3:9 Your bow is ready for action; 152 

you commission your arrows. 153  Selah.

You cause flash floods on the earth’s surface. 154 

3:10 When the mountains see you, they shake.

The torrential downpour sweeps through. 155 

The great deep 156  shouts out;

it lifts its hands high. 157 

3:11 The sun and moon stand still in their courses; 158 

the flash of your arrows drives them away, 159 

the bright light of your lightning-quick spear. 160 

3:12 You furiously stomp on the earth,

you angrily trample down the nations.

3:13 You march out to deliver your people,

to deliver your special servant. 161 

You strike the leader of the wicked nation, 162 

laying him open from the lower body to the neck. 163  Selah.

3:14 You pierce the heads of his warriors 164  with a spear. 165 

They storm forward to scatter us; 166 

they shout with joy as if they were plundering the poor with no opposition. 167 

3:15 But you trample on the sea with your horses,

on the surging, raging waters. 168 

Habakkuk Declares His Confidence

3:16 I listened and my stomach churned; 169 

the sound made my lips quiver.

My frame went limp, as if my bones were decaying, 170 

and I shook as I tried to walk. 171 

I long 172  for the day of distress

to come upon 173  the people who attack us.

3:17 When 174  the fig tree does not bud,

and there are no grapes on the vines;

when the olive trees do not produce, 175 

and the fields yield no crops; 176 

when the sheep disappear 177  from the pen,

and there are no cattle in the stalls,

3:18 I will rejoice because of 178  the Lord;

I will be happy because of the God who delivers me!

3:19 The sovereign Lord is my source of strength. 179 

He gives me the agility of a deer; 180 

he enables me to negotiate the rugged terrain. 181 

(This prayer is for the song leader. It is to be accompanied by stringed instruments.) 182 

1 tn Heb “The burden” (so KJV, ASV). The Hebrew term מַשָּׂא (masa’), usually translated “oracle” (NAB, NEB, NASB, NIV, NRSV) or “utterance” (BDB 672 s.v. III מַשָּׂא), in prophetic literature is a technical term introducing a message from the Lord (see Zech 9:1; 12:1; Mal 1:1). Since it derives from a verb meaning “to carry,” its original nuance was that of a burdensome message, that is, one with ominous content.

2 tn Heb “The message [traditionally, “burden”] which Habakkuk the prophet saw.”

3 tn Or “deliver.”

4 tn Heb “Why do you make me see injustice?”

5 tn Heb “Why do you look at wrongdoing?”

sn Habakkuk complains that God tolerates social injustice and fails to intervene on behalf of the oppressed (put up with wrongdoing).

6 tn Heb “are before.”

7 tn Heb “and there is conflict and strife he lifts up.” The present translation takes the verb יִשָּׂא (yisa’) in the sense of “carry, bear,” and understands the subject to be indefinite (“one”).

8 tn Heb “the law is numb,” i.e., like a hand that has “fallen asleep” (see Ps 77:2). Cf. NAB “is benumbed”; NIV “is paralyzed.”

9 tn Heb “never goes out.”

10 tn Or “for.”

11 tn Heb “surround” (so NASB, NRSV).

12 tn Or “righteous” (KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT).

13 tn Heb “comes out crooked.”

14 tn Or “look among the nations and observe.” The imperatival forms in v. 5 are plural, indicating that the Lord’s message is for the whole nation, not just the prophet.

15 tn The Hebrew text combines the Hitpael and Qal imperatival forms of the verb תָּמַה (tamah, “be amazed”). A literal translation might read, “Shock yourselves and be shocked!” The repetition of sounds draws attention to the statement. The imperatives here have the force of an emphatic assertion. On this use of the imperative in Hebrew, see GKC 324 §110.c and IBHS 572-73 §34.4c.

16 tc Heb “for a work working in your days.” Following the LXX reading, some supply a first person singular pronoun with the participle פֹּעֵל (poel). Ellipsis of a first singular pronoun before participles is relatively rare (see GKC 360 §116.s); perhaps an original אֲנֹכִי (’anoki; or אֲנִי, ’aniy) followed the initial כִּי (ki) and was omitted by homoioteleuton.

17 tn Heb “you will not believe when it is told.” In this context the force of כִּי (ki) may be “when,” “if,” or “even though.”

18 tn Heb “raise up” (so KJV, ASV).

19 tn Heb “bitter.” Other translation options for this word in this context include “fierce” (NASB, NRSV); “savage” (NEB); or “grim.”

20 tn Heb “hasty, quick.” Some translate here “impetuous” (so NEB, NASB, NIV, NRSV) or “rash,” but in this context greed may very well be the idea. The Babylonians move quickly and recklessly ahead in their greedy quest to expand their empire.

21 tn Heb “the open spaces.”

22 tn Heb “from him his justice, even his lifting up, goes out.” In this context שְׂאֵת (sÿet) probably has the nuance “authority.” See R. D. Patterson, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (WEC), 150.

23 tn Heb “sharper,” in the sense of “keener” or “more alert.” Some translate “quicker” on the basis of the parallelism with the first line (see HALOT 291 s.v. חדד).

24 tn Heb “wolves of the evening,” that is, wolves that prowl at night. The present translation assumes an emendation to עֲרָבָה (’aravah, “desert”). On this phrase see also Zeph 3:3.

25 tn Or “horsemen,” “cavalry.”

26 tn The precise nuance of the rare verb פָּוַשׁ (parash) is unclear here. Elsewhere it is used of animals jumping or leaping (see Jer 50:11; Mal 4:2).

27 tn Or “eagle” (so NASB, NRSV). The term can refer to either eagles or vultures, but in this context of gruesome destruction and death “vulture” is preferred.

28 tn Heb “they fly like a vulture/an eagle quickly to devour.” The direct object “their prey” is not included in the Hebrew text but is implied, and has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

29 tn Heb “come.”

30 tn Heb “The totality of their faces is to the east” (or “is forward”). The precise meaning of the Hebrew term מְגַמַּת (megammat) is unclear. For a discussion of options see J. J. M. Roberts, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah (OTL), 93. NEB has “a sea of faces rolls on”; NIV “their hordes advance like a desert wind”; NRSV “with faces pressing forward.”

31 tn Heb “and he gathers like sand, prisoners.”

32 tn Heb “they heap up dirt.” This is a reference to the piling up of earthen ramps in the process of laying siege to a fortified city.

33 tn The precise meaning of v. 11a is uncertain. The present translation assumes the first line further describes the Babylonian hordes, comparing them to a destructive wind. Another option is to understand רוּחַ (ruakh) as “spirit,” rather than “wind,” and take the form וְאָשֵׁם (vÿashem) with what precedes (as suggested by the scribal punctuation). Repointing this form as a geminate verb from שָׁמַם (shamam, “be astonished”), one could then translate the line, “The spirit passed on and departed, and I was astonished.” In this case the line would describe the cessation of the divine revelation which began in v. 5. For a detailed defense of this view, see J. J. M. Roberts, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah (OTL), 97-100.

34 tn Heb “and guilty is the one whose strength is his god.” This assumes that אָשֵׁם (’ashem) is a predicate adjective meaning “guilty” and that it relates to what follows.

35 tn Heb “Are you not from antiquity, O Lord?” The rhetorical question expects the answer, “Yes, of course.” The present translation reflects the force of the rhetorical question, rendering it as an affirmation. When used in a temporal sense the phrase מִקֶדֶם (miqedem) means “from antiquity, ancient times,” often referring to earlier periods in Israel’s history. See its use in Neh 12:46; Pss 74:12; 77:11; Isa 45:21; 46:10; Mic 5:2.

36 tn Heb “My God, my holy one.” God’s “holiness” in this context is his sovereign transcendence as the righteous judge of the world (see vv. 12b-13a), thus the translation “My sovereign God.”

37 tc The MT reads, “we will not die,” but an ancient scribal tradition has “you [i.e., God] will not die.” This is preferred as a more difficult reading that can explain the rise of the other variant. Later scribes who copied the manuscripts did not want to associate the idea of death with God in any way, so they softened the statement to refer to humanity.

38 tn Heb “him,” a collective singular referring to the Babylonians. The plural pronoun “them” has been used in the translation in keeping with contemporary English style.

39 tn Heb “for judgment.”

40 tn Heb “Rock” or “Cliff.” This divine epithet views God as a place where one can go to be safe from danger. The translation “Protector” conveys the force of the metaphor (cf. KJV, NEB “O mighty God”).

41 tn Heb “to correct, reprove.”

42 tn Heb “[you] are too pure of eyes.” God’s “eyes” here signify what he looks at with approval. His “eyes” are “pure” in that he refuses to tolerate any wrongdoing in his presence.

43 tn Heb “to see.” Here “see” is figurative for “tolerate,” “put up with.”

44 tn Heb “to look at.” Cf. NEB “who canst not countenance wrongdoing”; NASB “You can not look on wickedness with favor.”

45 tn Heb “Why do you look at treacherous ones?” The verb בָּגַד (bagad, “be treacherous”) is often used of those who are disloyal or who violate agreements. See S. Erlandsson, TDOT 1:470-73.

46 tn Or “swallow up.”

47 tn Heb “more innocent than themselves.”

48 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.

49 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.

50 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.

51 tn Heb “and he gathers.”

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

53 tn Heb “therefore.”

54 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).

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

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

57 tn Or “therefore.”

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

59 tn Or “continually.”

60 tn Heb “kill.”

61 tn Or “without showing compassion.”

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

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

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

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

66 tn Heb “[the] vision.”

67 tn Or “reads from.”

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

69 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.

70 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.

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

72 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.”

73 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).

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

75 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).

76 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).

77 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).

78 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.

79 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.

80 tn Heb “he gathers for himself.”

81 tn Heb “he collects for himself.”

82 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.

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

84 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.

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

86 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.

87 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.

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

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

90 tn Or “nations.”

91 tn Or “peoples.”

92 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.

93 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.

94 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.

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

96 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.

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

98 tn Or “establishes”; or “founds.”

99 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?”

100 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.”

101 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.

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

103 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.

104 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.

105 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.

106 tn Or “glory.”

107 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.

108 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.

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

110 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.

111 tn Or “of what value.”

112 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.

113 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.

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

115 tn Heb “to make.”

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

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

118 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).

119 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.

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

121 tn The Hebrew text adds עַל שִׁגְיֹנוֹת (’al shigyonot, “upon [or, “according to”] shigyonot”). The meaning of this word is uncertain. It may refer to the literary genre of the prayer or to the musical style to be employed when it is sung. The NEB leaves the term untranslated; several other modern English versions transliterate the term into English, sometimes with explanatory notes (NASB, NRSV “according to Shigionoth”; NIV “On shigyonoth”).

122 tn Heb “your report,” that is, “the report concerning you.”

123 tn Heb “I fear.” Some prefer to read, “I saw, Lord, what you accomplished” (cf. NEB).

124 tn Heb “your work.”

125 tn Heb “in the midst of years.” The meaning of the phrase, which occurs only here in the OT, is uncertain (cf. NIV “in our day”; NEB, NASB “in the midst of the years”).

126 tn Heb “revive it” (i.e., “your work”).

127 tn Heb “make known.” The implied object is “your deeds”; the pronoun “them,” referring to “deeds” in the previous line, was employed in the translation to avoid redundancy. The suffix on the form חַיֵּיהוּ (khayyehu, “revive it”) does double duty in the parallelism.

128 tn Heb “in turmoil remember [to show] compassion.”

129 tn In vv. 3-15 there is a mixture of eleven prefixed verbal forms (without vav [ו] consecutive or with vav conjunctive), sixteen suffixed forms, and three prefixed forms with vav consecutive. All of the forms are best taken as indicating completed action from the speaker’s standpoint (all of the prefixed forms being regarded as preterites). The forms could be translated with the past tense, but this would be misleading, for this is not a mere recital of God’s deeds in Israel’s past history. Habakkuk here describes, in terms reminiscent of past theophanies, his prophetic vision of a future theophany (see v. 7, “I saw”). From the prophet’s visionary standpoint the theophany is “as good as done.” This translation uses the English present tense throughout these verses to avoid misunderstanding. A similar strategy is followed by the NEB; in contrast note the NIV and NRSV, which consistently use past tenses throughout the section, and the NASB, which employs present tenses in vv. 3-5 and mostly past tenses in vv. 6-15.

130 sn Teman was a city or region in southern Edom.

131 tn Or traditionally, “holy one.” The term קָדוֹשׁ (qadosh, “holy [one]”) here refers to God’s sovereignty. See v. 3b.

132 sn The precise location of Mount Paran is unknown, but like Teman it was located to the southeast of Israel. Habakkuk saw God marching from the direction of Sinai.

133 tn Selah. The meaning of this musical term (which also appears in vv. 9, 13, and in the Psalms as well) is unknown.

134 tn Or “heavens.”

135 tn Heb “praise.” This could mean that the earth responds in praise as God’s splendor is observed in the skies. However, the Hebrew term תְּהִלָּה (tÿhillah, “praise”) can stand by metonymy for what prompts it (i.e., fame, glory, deeds).

136 tn Heb “[His] radiance is like light.” Some see a reference to sunlight, but the Hebrew word אוֹר (’or) here refers to lightning, as the context indicates (see vv. 4b, 9, 11). The word also refers to lightning in Job 36:32 and 37:3, 11, 15.

137 tn Heb “two horns from his hand to him.” Sharp, pointed lightning bolts have a “horn-like” appearance. The weapon of “double lightning” appears often in Mesopotamian representations of gods. See Elizabeth Van Buren, Symbols of the Gods in Mesopotamian Art (AnOr), 70-73.

138 tn Heb “and there [is] the covering of his strength”; or “and there is his strong covering.” The meaning of this line is unclear. The point may be that the lightning bolts are merely a covering, or outward display, of God’s raw power. In Job 36:32 one reads that God “covers his hands with light [or, “lightning”].”

139 tn Because of parallelism with the previous line, the meaning “pestilence” is favored for רֶשֶׁף (reshef) here, but usage elsewhere suggests a destructive bolt of fire may be in view. See BDB 958 s.v.

sn There are mythological echoes here, for in Canaanite literature the god Resheph aids Baal in his battles. See J. Day, “New Light on the Mythological Background of the Allusion to Resheph in Habakkuk III 5,” VT 29 (1979): 353-55.

140 tn Heb “goes out at his feet.”

141 tn Heb “he stands.”

142 tn This verb has been traditionally understood as “measure” (from מוּד, mud), but the immediately following context (vv. 6b-7) favors the meaning “shake” from מָוד (mavd; see HALOT 555 s.v.).

143 tn Heb “makes [the nations] jump [in fear].”

144 tn Or “crumbled,” broke into pieces.”

145 tn Heb “ancient ways [or, “doings”] are his.” The meaning of this line is unclear. Traditionally it has been translated, “his ways are eternal.” However, in this context (see vv. 3, 7) it is more likely that the line speaks of the Lord taking the same route as in the days of Moses and Deborah (see Deut 33:2; Judg 5:4). See J. J. M. Roberts, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah (OTL), 154.

146 tn Heb “under trouble I saw the tents of Cushan.”

sn Cushan was located in southern Transjordan.

147 tn R. D. Patterson takes תַּחַת אֲוֶן (takhataven) in the first line as a place name, “Tahath-Aven.” (Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah [WEC], 237.) In this case one may translate the verse as a tricolon: “I look at Tahath-Aven. The tents of Cushan are shaking, the tent curtains of the land of Midian.”

148 sn The following context suggests these questions should be answered, “Yes.” The rivers and the sea, symbolizing here the hostile nations (v. 12), are objects of the Lord’s anger (vv. 10, 15).

149 tn Heb “so that.” Here כִּי (ki) is resultative. See the note on the phrase “make it” in 2:18.

150 tn Heb “you mount your horses.” As the next line makes clear, the Lord is pictured here as a charioteer, not a cavalryman. Note NRSV here, “when you drove your horses, // your chariots to victory.”

151 tn Or “chariots of deliverance.”

152 tn Heb “[into] nakedness your bow is laid bare.”

153 tn Heb “sworn in are the arrow-shafts with a word.” The passive participle of שָׁבַע (shava’), “swear an oath,” also occurs in Ezek 21:23 ET (21:28 HT) referencing those who have sworn allegiance. Here the Lord’s arrows are personified and viewed as having received a commission which they have vowed to uphold. In Jer 47:6-7 the Lord’s sword is given such a charge. In the Ugaritic myths Baal’s weapons are formally assigned the task of killing the sea god Yam.

154 tn Heb “[with] rivers you split open the earth.” A literal rendering like “You split the earth with rivers” (so NIV, NRSV) suggests geological activity to the modern reader, but in the present context of a violent thunderstorm, the idea of streams swollen to torrents by downpours better fits the imagery.

sn As the Lord comes in a thunderstorm the downpour causes streams to swell to river-like proportions and spread over the surface of the ground, causing flash floods.

155 tn Heb “a heavy rain of waters passes by.” Perhaps the flash floods produced by the downpour are in view here.

156 sn The great deep, which is to be equated with the sea (vv. 8, 15), is a symbol of chaos and represents the Lord’s enemies.

157 sn Lifting the hands here suggests panic and is accompanied by a cry for mercy (see Ps 28:2; Lam 2:19). The forces of chaos cannot withstand the Lord’s power revealed in the storm.

158 tn Heb “in their lofty dwelling places.”

159 tn Or “at the light of your arrows they vanish.”

160 tn Heb “at the brightness of the lightning of your spear.”

161 tn Heb “anointed one.” In light of the parallelism with “your people” in the preceding line this could refer to Israel, but elsewhere the Lord’s anointed one is always an individual. The Davidic king is the more likely referent here.

162 tn Heb “you strike the head from the house of wickedness.”

163 tn Heb “laying bare [from] foundation to neck.”

164 tn Some take “warriors” with the following line, in which case one should translate, “you pierce [his] head with a spear; his warriors storm forward to scatter us” (cf. NIV). The meaning of the Hebrew term פְּרָזוֹ (pÿrazo), translated here “his warriors,” is uncertain.

165 tc Heb “his shafts.” Some emend to “your shafts.” The translation above assumes an emendation to מַטֶּה (matteh, “shaft, spear”), the vav-yod (ו-י) sequence being a corruption of an original he (ה).

166 tn Heb “me,” but the author speaks as a representative of God’s people.

167 tn Heb “their rejoicing is like devouring the poor in secret.”

168 tn Heb “the foaming of the mighty [or “many”] waters.”

169 tn Heb “my insides trembled.”

170 tn Heb “decay entered my bones.”

171 tc Heb “beneath me I shook, which….” The Hebrew term אֲשֶׁר (’asher) appears to be a relative pronoun, but a relative pronoun does not fit here. The translation assumes a reading אֲשֻׁרָי (’ashuray, “my steps”) as well as an emendation of the preceding verb to a third plural form.

172 tn The translation assumes that אָנוּחַ (’anuakh) is from the otherwise unattested verb נָוָח (navakh, “sigh”; see HALOT 680 s.v. II נוח; so also NEB). Most take this verb as נוּחַ (nuakh, “to rest”) and translate, “I wait patiently” (cf. NIV).

173 tn Heb “to come up toward.”

174 tn Or “though.”

175 tn Heb “the produce of the olive disappoints.”

176 tn Heb “food.”

177 tn Or “are cut off.”

178 tn Or “in.”

179 tn Or perhaps, “is my wall,” that is, “my protector.”

180 tn Heb “he makes my feet like those of deer.”

181 tn Heb “he makes me walk on my high places.”

sn Difficult times are coming, but Habakkuk is confident the Lord will sustain him. Habakkuk will be able to survive, just as the deer negotiates the difficult rugged terrain of the high places without injury.

182 tn Heb “For the leader, on my stringed instruments.”



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