The Book Of HABAKKUK
Habakkuk opens by protesting God's inaction in the face of injustice and
violence: the wicked thrive at the expense of the righteous. God
responds by announcing the invasion of the Babylonians to exact
punishment. Habakkuk protests that God's use of the Babylonians is an
injustice worse than the injustice they are to punish. God responds by
announcing a future judgment of the Babylonians for their own
unrighteous acts. Habakkuk, while poised to wait for the eventual
judgment of Babylon, receives a vision that evokes memories of past
deliverance, both historic and cosmic. The vision engenders a resolve to
endure based on God's past and promised character.
The book asserts that oppressive violence is not enduring in the face of
God's opposition to it. God is involved in the ebb and flow of history
to provide refuge, even from God's own wrath. The book is conscious that
God's action on behalf of the righteous is often not immediate or
apparent. The disruptiveness of God's acting is frightful when it is
anticipated in vision and occurs in history. That same disruptiveness is
the source of life that will endure. Thus, the frightfulness is
paralleled by an even stronger confidence and exultation.
The opening verse of the book attributes the book to Habakkuk, a
prophet. The name and designation are repeated in 3:1. No other
information is given.
The Chaldeans (Babylonians) remain a threat, even in the final, edited
form of the book. Thus, a date between the invasion of 597 B.C.E. and
the destruction of 587 B.C.E. is the likely historical period for the
origin of the book of Habakkuk.
The book is about God's relationship to the present experience of
violence and injustice. Unlike most other prophetic books, it does not
directly address an audience. Instead, Habakkuk takes up the question of
the attentiveness of God to the demise of righteous sufferers and the
free range that the wicked have over against them. Through dialogue with
God, Habakkuk embodies a way to live in the time between present
suffering and future deliverance. Lamenting, petitioning, and trembling
are coupled with confident rejoicing in God's commitment to deliver.
This book is best read as a dialogue. There is no direct exhortation to
the reader. The reader can take up the role of Habakkuk in the dialogue
to ask questions about God's attention to the contemporary world. Given
its placement in the prophetic collection (unlike Job, with its similar
concerns), readers may find themselves indirectly indicted as they hear
echoes of the conduct of the oppressor in their own actions, individual
or communal. For example, "setting your nest on high to be safe from the
reach of harm" (2:9) might characterize the conduct of the more
privileged in our world. If readers find themselves in that position,
the book operates differently: it assumes that if God is attentive to
injustice, readers will not be able to use injustice to secure a place
"safe from the reach of harm."
AUTHOR: Richard W. Nysse, Professor of Old Testament
The Book Of HABAKKUK
1 The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see.
2 O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!
dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for
spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife
the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked
doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.
ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will
work a work in your days which ye will not believe, though it be told
lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall
march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwellingplaces
that are not their's.
7 They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves.
horses also are swifter than the leopards, and are more fierce than the
evening wolves: and their horsemen shall spread themselves, and their
horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth
9 They shall come all for violence: their faces shall sup up as the east wind, and they shall gather the captivity as the sand.
they shall scoff at the kings, and the princes shall be a scorn unto
them: they shall deride every strong hold; for they shall heap dust, and
11 Then shall his mind change, and he shall pass over, and offend, imputing this his power unto his god.
thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not
die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God,
thou hast established them for correction.
art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity:
wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest
thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than
14 And makest men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them?
take up all of them with the angle, they catch them in their net, and
gather them in their drag: therefore they rejoice and are glad.
they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag;
because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous.
17 Shall they therefore empty their net, and not spare continually to slay the nations?
1 I will
stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see
what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.
2 And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.
3 For the
vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and
not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it
will not tarry.
4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither
keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and
cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth
unto him all people:
not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb
against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his!
how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay!
7 Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee, and awake that shall vex thee, and thou shalt be for booties unto them?
thou hast spoiled many nations, all the remnant of the people shall
spoil thee; because of men's blood, and for the violence of the land, of
the city, and of all that dwell therein.
9 Woe to
him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his
nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil!
10 Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast sinned against thy soul.
11 For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.
12 Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity!
is it not of the LORD of hosts that the people shall labour in the very
fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity?
14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to
him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their
art filled with shame for glory: drink thou also, and let thy foreskin
be uncovered: the cup of the LORD's right hand shall be turned unto
thee, and shameful spewing shall be on thy glory.
the violence of Lebanon shall cover thee, and the spoil of beasts, which
made them afraid, because of men's blood, and for the violence of the
land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.
profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the
molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth
therein, to make dumb idols?
unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it
shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is
no breath at all in the midst of it.
20 But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.
1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth.
2 O LORD,
I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the
midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath
came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory
covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise.
4 And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power.
5 Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet.
stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations;
and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did
bow: his ways are everlasting.
7 I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble.
8 Was the
LORD displeased against the rivers? was thine anger against the rivers?
was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses
and thy chariots of salvation?
9 Thy bow
was made quite naked, according to the oaths of the tribes, even thy
word. Selah. Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers.
mountains saw thee, and they trembled: the overflowing of the water
passed by: the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high.
sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine
arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear.
12 Thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger.
wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with
thine anointed; thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked,
by discovering the foundation unto the neck. Selah.
didst strike through with his staves the head of his villages: they came
out as a whirlwind to scatter me: their rejoicing was as to devour the
15 Thou didst walk through the sea with thine horses, through the heap of great waters.
16 When I
heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness
entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in
the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade
them with his troops.
the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines;
the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat;
the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in
18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and
he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my