The Book of Habakkuk

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The Book of Habakkuk

  • Author: Habakkuk
  • Place Written: Judah
  • When Written: c. before 605 B.C.E.


The pronouncement that Habakkuk[1] the prophet saw.

Habakkuk’s Cry for Help

O Jehovah, how long must I cry for help,
    but you do not hear?
How long must I cry to you “Violence!”
    and you will not save?
Why do you make me see wickedness,
    and why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Why are destruction and violence before me;
    and why do strife and contention arise?
So the law is paralyzed,
    and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
    so justice goes forth perverted.

Jehovah’s Answer – The Chaldeans, God’s Instrument for Judgment

“Look among the nations, and see;
    be in amazement and be astounded.
For I am working a work in your days
    that you will not believe even if it is told.[2]
For look, I am raising up the Chaldeans,
    that bitter and hasty nation,
who march through the breadth of the earth,
    to seize dwelling places which are not theirs.
They are terrible and dreadful;
    their justice and dignity go proceed themselves.
Their horses are swifter than leopards,
    more fierce than the evening wolves;
    their horsemen press proudly on.
Their horsemen come from far away;
    they fly like an eagle swooping down to devour.
All of them come for violence,
    all their faces are like the east wind.[3]
    They gather captives like sand.
10 They scoff at kings,
    and at rulers they laugh.
They laugh at every fortress,
    for they pile up dirt and capture it.
11 Then they sweep by like the wind and pass on,
    guilty men, whose own power is their god!”

Habakkuk Pleads with Jehovah

12 Are you not from everlasting,
    O Jehovah my God, my Holy One?
    You shall not die.[4]
O Jehovah, you have appointed them as a judgment,
    and you, O Rock, have established them for reproof.
13 Your eyes are too pure to look on what is evil
    and cannot tolerate wickedness,
why do you tolerate those who are treacherous
    and remain silent when the wicked swallows up
    the man more righteous than he?
14 You make man like the fish of the sea,
    like crawling things that have no ruler.
15 He[5] brings all of them up with a hook;
    he drags them out with his dragnet;
he gathers them in his fishing net;
    so he rejoices and is glad.
16 Therefore he sacrifices to his dragnet
    and makes offerings to his fishing net;
for by them he is rich,
    and his food is plentiful.
17 Is he then to keep on emptying out his dragnet
    and continually slaughtering nations without mercy?


At my guard post I will stand
    and station myself on the tower,
and look out to see what he will say to me,
    and what I will answer[6] concerning my complaint.

Jehovah Answers Habakkuk – The Righteous Shall Live by His Faith

And Jehovah answered me:

“Write the vision;
    make it plain on tablets,
    so he may run who reads it.
For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
    it hastens to the end, and it will not lie.
If it seems to delay, wait for it;
    it will surely come; it will not delay.

“Look, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him,[7]
    but the righteous shall live by his faith.

“Moreover, wine is treacherous,
    an arrogant man who is never at rest.
His soul is as large as Sheol;
    like death he cannot be satisfied.
He gathers for himself all nations
    and collects for himself all the peoples.”

Five Woes to the Chaldeans

Shall not all these take up their taunt against him, with scoffing and riddles for him, and say,

“Woe to him who heaps up what is not his own,
    for how long?
    and loads himself with pledges!”
Will not your debtors rise up suddenly,
    and those awake who will make you tremble?
    Then you will be plunder for them.
Because you have plundered many nations,
    all the remnant of the peoples shall plunder you,
for the blood of man and violence to the earth,
    to cities and all who dwell in them.

“Woe to him who makes evil gain for his house,
    to set his nest on high,
    to escape the grasp of calamity!
10 You have devised shame for your house
    by cutting off many peoples;
    you have sinned against your soul.
11 For the stone will cry out from the wall,
    and a rafter will answer them from the woodwork.

12 “Woe to him who builds a town with blood
    and who establishes a town by unrighteousness!
13 Look, is it not from Jehovah of armies[8]
    that peoples labor merely for fire,
    and nations weary themselves for nothing?
14 For the earth will be filled
    with the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah
    as the waters cover the sea.

15 “Woe to him who gives his neighbors drink,
    you add rage and anger, to make them drunk,
    in order to look on their nakedness!
16 You will be glutted with dishonor rather than glory.
    Drink, yourself, and show your uncircumcision![9]
The cup in the right hand of Jehovah
    will come around to you,
    and disgrace will come upon your glory!
17 The violence done to Lebanon will cover you,
    as will the destruction of the beasts that terrified them,[10]
for the blood of man and violence to the earth,
    to cities and all who dwell in them.

18 “What benefit is a carved image
    when its maker has carved it,
    a metal image, a teacher of lies?
For its maker trusts in his own creation
    when he makes worthless idols[11] that are speechless!
19 Woe to him who says to a piece of wood, Awake;
    to a silent stone, Arise!
Can this teach?
Look, it is overlaid with gold and silver,
    and there is no breath at all in it.
20 But Jehovah is in his holy temple;
    let all the earth keep silence before him.”


Habakkuk’s Prayer for Jehovah to Act

A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth.

O Jehovah, I have heard the report of you,
    and your work, O Jehovah, do I fear.
In the midst of the years revive it;
    in the midst of the years make it known;
    in wrath remember mercy.
God came from Teman,
    and the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah
His splendor covered the heavens,
    and the earth was full of his praise.
His brightness was like the light;
    rays flashed from his hand;
    and there he hid his strength.
Before him went pestilence,
    and plague followed at his feet.
He stood and measured the earth;
    he looked and shook the nations;
then the eternal mountains were scattered;
    the everlasting hills sank low.
    His pathways are ancient.
I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction;
    the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble.
Was your wrath against the rivers, O Jehovah?
    Was your anger against the rivers,
    or your fury against the sea,
when you rode on your horses,
    on your chariot of salvation?
Your bow is uncovered and ready,
    the arrows are ready with an oath. Selah
    You split the earth with rivers.
10 The mountains saw you and writhed;[12]
    the raging waters swept through;
the deep roared with its voice;
    it lifted its hands on high.
11 The sun and moon stood still in their lofty abode
    at the light of your arrows as they sped,
    at the brightness of your shining spear.
12 You marched through the earth with indignation;
    you trampled[13] the nations in anger.
13 You went out for the salvation of your people,
    for the salvation of your anointed one.
You crushed the head of the house of the wicked,
    laying him bare from thigh to neck. Selah
14 You pierced with his own arrows the heads of his warriors,
    who came like a whirlwind to scatter me,
    rejoicing as if to devour the poor in secret.
15 You trampled the sea with your horses,
    the surging of mighty waters.

16 I heard, and my belly trembled;
    my lips quivered at the sound;
rottenness enters into my bones;
    my legs tremble beneath me.
Yet I will quietly wait for the day of distress
    to come upon people who attack us.

Habakkuk Rejoices in Jehovah

17 Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,
the yield of the olive fail
    and the fields produce no food,
the flock shall be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in Jehovah;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19 Jehovah, my Lord, is my strength;
    he makes my feet like those of a deer;
    he makes me tread on my high places.

To the choir director: with my stringed instruments.

[1] Meaning Ardent Embrace

[2] LXX “Look, you despisers, and watch! And marvel at marvelous things and be annihilated! For I am working a work in your days that you would not believe if someone should tell it.” See Ac 13:41.

[3] AT DSS “like the east wind” MT “to the east” VG “like a burning wind”

[4] MT “We shall not die” a few of the most ancient Heb. MSS “You shall not die” The latter is preferred because it is the more difficult reading that gave rise to the other. After all, scribes would not want to attribute death to God.

[5] That is, the Chaldeans

[6] MT “I will answer” SYR “he will answer”

[7] LXX “If he draws back, my life does not find pleasure in it”

[8] Jehovah of armies: (Heb. jhvh tsaba) literally means an army of soldiers, or military forces (Gen. 21:22; Deut. 20:9). It can also be used figuratively, “the sun and the moon and the stars, all the armies of heaven.” (Deut. 4:19) In the plural form, it is also used of the Israelites forces as well. (Ex. 6:26; 7:4; Num. 33:1; Psa. 44:9) However, the “armies” in the expression “Jehovah of armies” is a reference to the angelic forces primarily, if not exclusively.

[9] DSS LXX SYR VG “drink yourself and stagger

[10] DSS LXX SYR AT VG “them” MT “you”

[11] LXX “idols”

[12] Writhe means to make continual twisting, squirming movements, or contortions, usually because of pain.

[13] Lit threshed

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