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The Habakkuk Commentary


B. The Habakkuk Commentary

Quotation. 1 ! from Habakkuk are in italics.

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( Chapter 1:4) So the law is slacked. This means that they rejected the law of God. And justice never goes forth, for the wicked man en- compasses the righteous man. This means that the wicked man is the wickod priest, and the righteous man is the teacher of righteousness.

(5) Look among the nations, and see; Wonder and be astounded. For 1 am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if it were told. This moans those who acted treacherously together with the man of the lie, for they did not heed the words of the teacher of righteousness from the mouth of God, and those who acted treacherously against the new covenant, for they did not believe the covonant of God but profaned his holy name. And truly the saying refers to those who will act treacherously at the end of days: that is, those who arc ruthless against the covenant, who do not believe when they hear all the things that are coming upon the last generation from the mouth of the priest into whose heart God put wisdom to explain all the words of his servants the prophets, through whom God declared all the things that are coming upon his people and his congregation.

(6) For lo, 1 am rousing the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation. This means the Kittim, who are swift and men of valor in battle, over- throwing rulers and subduing them in the dominion of the Kittim. They


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take possession of many lands and do not believe in the statutes of


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Over smooth ground they go, smiting and plundering the cities of the earth, for that is what it says: to seize habitations not their own.

(7) Dread and terrible is he; from himself his fustice and his ex - akedness proceed. This means the Kittim, the dread and terror of whom are on all the nations. And with deliberation all their planning is to work evil, and with cunning and deceit they proceed with all the peoples.

( 5 ) Swifter than leopards are his horses, and more fierce than evening wolves. His horsemen advance proudly, they spread out; from afar they fly like a vulture swift to devour. ($) They all come for vio- lence; the aspect of their faces is an east wind. This means the Kittim, who trample the earth with their horses and with their animals; and from afar they come, from the coasts of the sea, to devour all the peo- ples like a vulture without being satisfied. And with wrath and indigna- tion, with hot ire and furious anger they deal with all the peoples; for that is what it says: the aspect of their faces is an east wind. They gather captives like sand.


(10) At kings he scoffs, and of rulers he makes sport. This means that they mock at great ones and despise honored men; of kings and princes they make sport, and scoff at a multitude of people. He laughs at every fortress, and heaps up earth and captures it. This means the rulers of the Kittim, who despise the fortresses of the peoples and with mockery laugh at them, and with a multitude of people they surround them to seize them, and in terror and dread they are delivered into their hands; and they overthrow them because of the iniquity of those who dwell in them.

( 22 ) Then the wind changes and passes on, and he makes his might his god. This means the rulers of the Kittim, who by the counsel of a guilty house pass on, each before his fellow: their rulers come, one after another, to destroy the earth. And he makes his might his god: this means . . .

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(12) Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One P We shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained him for judgment, and thou, O Rock, hast established him to chastise him , (23) having eyes

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too pure to behold evil; and thou const not look on wrong. This saying means that God will not destroy his people by the hand of the nations, but into the hand of his elect God will deliver the judgment of all the nations and by their chastisement all the wicked among his people will be punished; because they kept his commandments when they were in distress. For as for that which it says, having eyes too pure to behold evil, this means that they did not follow the lust of their eyes in the period of wickedness. Why do ye look on faithless men, but thou art silent at the swallowing by the wicked man pf one more righteous than he? This means the houso of Absalom and the men of their party, who kept silence at the chastisement of the teacher of righteousness, and did not help him against the man of the lie, who rejected the law in the midst of their whole congregation.

(14) And thou madest man Idee the fish of the sea, like crawling things, to rule over them. (15) All of them with a hook he brings up, and drags them out with his net; he gathers them in his seine. Therefore he sacrifices to his net; therefore he rejoices and exults, (16) and bums incense to his seine; for by them fat is his portion, and his food is rich.

the Kittim, and they gather their wealth with all their booty like the fish of the sea. And as for what it says, therefore he sacrifices to his net and bums incense to his seine, this means that they sacrifice to their stand- ards, and their weapons of war are the object of their worship. For by them fat is his portion, and his food is rich: this means that they parcel out their yoke and their tribute, their food, upon all the peoples year by year, laying waste many lands.

( 17 ) Therefore he bares his sword continually, slaying nations, and has no pity. This means the Kittim, who cause many to perish by the sword — youths, men, and old men; women and little children — and on the fruit of the womb they have no mercy.

( Chapter 2:1) At my post 1 will take my stand, and station myself on my tower, and look forth to see what he will say to me, and what he will reply concerning my reproach. (2) And the LORD answered me and said, “Write the vision and make it plain upon the tablets, so that he may run who reads it.

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And God told Habakkuk to write the dungs that were to come upon the last generation, but the consummation of the period he did not make

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known to him. And as for what it says, that he may run who reads it, this means the teacher of righteousness, to whom God made known all the mysteries of the words of his servants the prophets.

(3) For still the vision is for an appointed time; it hastens to the period and does not lie. This means that the last period extends over and above all that the prophets said; for the mysteries of God are marvelous. If it tarries, wait for it, for it will surely come ; it will not delay. This means the men of truth, the doers of the law, whose hands do not grow slack from the service of the truth, when the last period is stretched out over them. For all the periods of God will come to their fixed term, as he decreed for them in the mysteries of his wisdom.

(4) Behold, puffed up, not upright is his soul in him. This means that they make double the judgment upon themselves; they do not win acceptance when they are judged, for their souls are not upright But the righteous shall live by his faith. This means all the doers of the law in the house of Judah, whom God will rescue from the house of judg- ment because of their labor and their faith in the teacher of righteous- ness.

(5) Moreover wealth is treacherous, an arrogant man, and will not abide. His greed is as wide as Sheol; and he like death has never enough. To him are gathered all the nations, and to him are assembled all the peoples. (6) Shall not all of them take up their taunt against him, in scoffing derision of him, and say, “ Woe to him who heaps up, but it is not his own I How long will he load himself with pledges F” This means the wicked priest who was named according to the truth when he first took office; but when he had begun to rule in Israel, his heart was lifted up, and he forsook God and betrayed the statutes because of wealth. He plundered and assembled the wealth of men of violence who rebelled against God. He took the wealth of peoples, adding to himself iniquity and guilt; and ways of abominations he wrought, in all im- purity of uncleanness.

(7) Will they not suddenly arise, those who torment you ; will they not awake, those who torture you? Then you will be booty for them. (8) Because you have plundered many nations, all the remainder of peoples will plunder you. This means the priest who rebelled . . .

his scourge with judgments of wickedness; and horrors of sore diseases they wrought in him, and vengeance in his body of flesh. And as for

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what it says, Because you have plundered many nations, all the remnant of peoples will plunder you ; this means the last priests of Jerusalem, who assembled wealth and booty from the spoil of the peoples, but at the end of days their wealth with their spoil will be delivered into the hand of the army of the Kittim, for they are the remainder of the peo- ples. For the blood of men and violence to the earth, to the city and aU who dwell in it: this means the wicked priest, whom, for the wrong done to the teacher of righteousness and the men of his party, God de- livered into the hand of his enemies, afflicting him with a destroying scourge, in bitterness of soul, because he acted wickedly against his elect.

(9) Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house, to set his nest on high, to be safe from the reach of harm I (20) You have devised shame to your house by cutting off many peoples; and you sin against yourself. (21) For the stone will cry out from the wall, and the beam from the woodwork respond.

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so that its stones are in oppression and its wooden beam In robbery. And as for what it says, by cutting off many peoples; and you sin against yourself; this means it is the house of judgment, of which God will set the judgment in the midst of many peoples; and thence he will bring it up for judgment, and in their midst will condemn it and punish it with fire of brimstone.

(12) Woe to him who builds a town in blood and founds a city in iniquity I (23) Is it not, behold, from Yahweh of hosts that peoples labor only for fire, and nations weary themselves for naught? This saying means the preacher of the lie, who enticed many to build a city of d el usion in blood and to establish a congregation in falsehood for the sake of its honor, making many grow weary of the service of delusion and making them pregnant with works of falsehood, that their toil may be in vain, to the end that they may come into judgments of fire, because they reviled and insulted God's elect

(14) For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. This saying means that when they repent

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the He. And afterward knowledge will be revealed to them like the waters of the sea in abundance.

(15) Woe to him who makes his neighbors drink, who pours out his

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wrath; yea, he has made them drunk, to gaze on their festivals! This means the wicked priest, who persecuted the teacher of righteousness in order to confound him in the indignation of his wrath, wishing to banish him; and at the time of their festival of rest, the day of atone- ment, he appeared to them to confound them and to make them stumble on the day of fasting, their Sabbath of rest

( 16) You are sated with ignominy instead of glory. Drink, you your- self, and stagger! The cup in the LORD'S right hand will come around to you, and shame will come upon your glory! This means the priest whose ignominy was greater than his glory, because he did not cir- cumcise the foreskin of his heart, but walked in the ways of drunken- ness, that his thirst might be removed. But the cup of tho wrath of God will confound him, increasing his confusion. And the pain . . .

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(17) For the violence done to Lebanon will overwhelm you; the destruction of the beasts will terrify you, for the blood of men and vio- lence to a land, to a city and all who dwell in it. This saying means the wicked priest, that to him may be paid Ills recompense, as ho recom- pensed tho poor; for Lebanon is the council of tho community, and the beasts are the simple ones of Judah, the doers of the law. God will executo judgment upon him and destroy him, as ho plotted to destroy the poor. And as for what it says, for the blood of a city and violence to a land, this means the city, that is Jerusalem, in which the wicked priest wrought abominablo works and defiled God’s sanctuary; and violence to a land, these are the cities of Judah, because he plundered the wealth of the poor,

( 18 ) What profit is a graven image when he who forms it has graven it, a molten image, a teacher of falsehood? For he who forms it relies on what he has formed, making dumb idols! This saying means all the graven images of the nations, who formed them to worship them and bow down to them, yet they cannot rescue them on the day of judgment.

(19) Woe to him who says to a wooden thing. Awake ; to a dumb stone, Arise! Can this give revelation? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in it. But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him! This means all the nations who worship stone and wood; and in the day of judgment God will destroy all the worshipers of idols and the wicked from the earth.

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