Habakkuk 1 – “Yahweh Rejects Habakkuk’s Plea”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Habakkuk begs Yahweh to relieve the people’s pain, but Yahweh promises to send the mighty Babylonians instead.

II. Photo
Habakkuk laments what the Babylonians have done: “Mankind are like the fish of the sea… [Babylon] has fished them all up with a line, pulled them up in his trawl, and gathered them in his net!” (vv. 14b-15a)

III. Important Verses
2: How long, O LORD, shall I cry out And You not listen, Shall I shout to You, “Violence!” And You not save?
5-8: “Look among the nations, Observe well and be utterly astounded; For a work is being wrought in your days Which you would not believe if it were told. For lo, I am raising up the Chaldeans, That fierce, impetuous nation, Who cross the earth’s wide spaces To seize homes not their own.  They are terrible, dreadful; They make their own laws and rules. Their horses are swifter than leopards, Fleeter than wolves of the steppe. Their steeds gallop — their steeds Come flying from afar. Like vultures rushing toward food,
13: You whose eyes are too pure to look upon evil, Who cannot countenance wrongdoing, Why do You countenance treachery, And stand by idle While the one in the wrong devours The one in the right?
14-15: You have made mankind like the fish of the sea, Like creeping things that have no ruler. He has fished them all up with a line, Pulled them up in his trawl, And gathered them in his net. That is why he rejoices and is glad.

IV. Outline
1. Superscription
2-4. Petition: God only looks at the wrong
5-11. Oracle: God will bring the mighty Chaldeans
12-17. Petition: the mighty are destroying the weak

V. Comment
One of the major problems in studying the book of Habakkuk is that it isn’t known when Habakkuk lived. Sweeney writes: “the absence of personal information about Habakkuk continues to confound attempts to identify his historical background. A wide range of dates have been proposed, from Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah in the late 8th century (Betteridge 1903) to Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Near East in the 4th century (Duhm 1906; Torrey 1935). On the basis of Hab 1:6, which mentions the establishment of the Chaldeans, most contemporary scholars maintain that Habakkuk lived during the rise of the Neo-Babylonian Empire in the latter part of the 7th century, from the latter years of Josiah (640–609) to the reign of Jehoiakim (609–598) or perhaps Jehoiachin (598).” (2)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)

Sweeney, Marvin. “Habakkuk, Book Of” Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, III:2.

Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
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