God raised up certain "prophets" who were His mouthpieces.
They would speak out against their sin and idolatry and would
continually warn of God's judgment. Some of the prophets spoke
out in the North and some in the South, but God was faithfully
warning them of certain catastrophe if they would not turn to
The Book of Habakkuk is the eighth book of the 12 minor
prophets of the Hebrew Bible. It is attributed to the
prophet Habakkuk, and was probably composed in the late 7th
century BCE. A copy of chapters 1 and 2 (of 3) is included in
the Habakkuk Commentary, found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Chapters 1-2 are a dialog between Yahweh and the prophet. The
central message, that "the just shall live by his faith"
(2:4), plays an important rule in Christian thought. It is
used in the Epistle to the Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, and
the Epistle to the Hebrews 10:38 as the starting point of the
concept of faith. Chapter 3 may be an independent addition,
now recognized as a liturgical piece, but was possibly written
by the same author as chapters 1 and 2...
II. The Book.
1. Interpretation of Habakkuk 1 and 2:
It is necessary to consider the interpretation of Hab 1 and
2 before giving the contents of the book, as a statement of
the contents of these chapters will be determined by their
interpretation. The different interpretations advocated may
be grouped under three heads: (1) According to the first
view: Hab 1:2-4: The corruption of Judah; the oppression of
the righteous Jews by the wicked Jews, which calls for the
Divine manifestation in judgment against the oppressors.
1:5-11: Yahweh announces that He is about to send the
Chaldeans to execute judgment. 1:12-17: The prophet is
perplexed. He cannot understand how a righteous God can use
these barbarians to execute judgment upon a people more
righteous than they. He considers even the wicked among the
Jews better than the Chaldeans. 2:1-4: Yahweh solves the
perplexing problem by announcing that the exaltation of the
Chaldeans will be but temporary; in the end they will meet
their doom, while the righteous will live. 2:5-20: Woes
against the Chaldeans.
(2) The second view finds it necessary to change the present
arrangement of Hab 1:5-11; in their present position, they
will not fit into the interpretation. For this reason
Wellhausen and others omit these verses as a later addition;
on the other hand, Giesebrecht would place them before 1:2,
as the opening verses of the prophecy. The transposition
would require a few other minor changes, so as to make the
verses a suitable beginning and establish a smooth
transition from 1:11 to 1:2. Omitting the troublesome
verses, the following outline of the two chapters may be
given: 1:2-4: The oppression of the righteous Jews by the
wicked Chaldeans. 1:12-17: Appeal to Yahweh on behalf of the
Jews against their oppressors. 2:1-4: Yahweh promises
deliverance (see above). 2:5-20: Woes against the Chaldeans.
(3) The third view also finds it necessary to alter the
present order of verses. Again Hab 1:5-11, in the present
position, interferes with theory; therefore, these verses
are given a more suitable place after 2:4. According to this
interpretation the outline is as follows: 1:2-4: Oppression
of the righteous Jews by the wicked Assyrians (Budde) or
Egyptians (G. A. Smith). 1:12-17: Appeal to Yahweh on behalf
of the oppressed against the oppressor. 2:1-4: Yahweh
promises deliverance (see above). 1:5-11: The Chaldeans will
be the instrument to execute judgment upon the oppressors
and to bring deliverance to the Jews. 2:5-20: Woes against
the Assyrians or Egyptians.
A full discussion of these views is not possible in this
article (see Eiselen, Minor Prophets, 466-68). It may be
sufficient to say that on the whole the first
interpretation, which requires no omission or transposition,
seems to satisfy most completely the facts in the case...
(embrace), the eighth in order of the minor prophets. Of the
facts of the prophet's life we have no certain information. He
probably lived about the twelfth or thirteenth year of Josiah,
B.C. 630 or 629.
consists of three chapters, in the first of which he
foreshadows the invasion of Judea by the Chaldeans, and in the
second he foretells the doom of the Chaldeans. The whole
concludes with the magnificent psalm in ch. 3, a composition
unrivalled for boldness of conception, sublimity of thought
and majesty of diction.
embrace, the eighth of the twelve minor prophets. Of his
personal history we have no reliable information. He
probably a member of the Levitical choir. He was
with Jeremiah and Zephaniah.
were probably written about B.C. 650-627, or, as some think,
few years later. This book consists of three
contents of which are thus comprehensively
described: "When the
prophet in spirit saw the formidable power of the
approaching and menacing his land, and saw the great
would cause in Judea, he bore his complaints and
Jehovah, the just and the pure (1:2-17). And on this
the future punishment of the Chaldeans was revealed
to him (2).
In the third chapter a presentiment of the
destruction of his
country, in the inspired heart of the prophet,
contends with his
hope that the enemy would be chastised." The third
chapter is a
sublime song dedicated "to the chief musician," and
intended apparently to be used in the worship of
God. It is
"unequalled in majesty and splendour of language and
The passage in 2:4, "The just shall live by his
quoted by the apostle in Rom. 1:17. (Comp. Gal.
"The cordially embraced one (favorite of God), or the
cordial embracer." "A man of heart, hearty toward another,
taking him into his arms. This Habakkuk does in his
prophecy; he comforts and lifts up his people, as one would
do with a weeping child, bidding him be quiet, because,
please God, it would yet be better with him" (Luther). The
psalm (Habakkuk 3) and title "Habakkuk the prophet" favor
the opinion that Habakkuk was a Levite. The closing words,
"to the chief singer on my stringed instruments," imply that
Habakkuk with his own instruments would accompany the song
he wrote under the Spirit; like the Levite seers and
singers, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun (1 Chronicles 25:1-5). A
lyrical tone pervades his prophecies, so that he most
approaches David in his psalms.
The opening phrase (Habakkuk 1:1) describes his
prophecy as "the burden which," etc., i.e. the weighty,
solemn announcement. Habakkuk "saw" it with the inner eye
opened by the Spirit. He probably prophesied in the 12th or
13th year of Josiah (630 or 629 B.C.), for the words "in
your days" (Habakkuk 1:5) imply that the prophecy would come
to pass in the lifetime of the persons addressed. In
Jeremiah 16:9 the same phrase comprises 20 years, in Ezekiel
12:25 six years.
Zephaniah 1:7 is an imitation of Habakkuk 2:20; now
Zephaniah (Zephaniah 1:1) lived under Josiah, and prophesied
(compare Zephaniah 3:5; Zephaniah 3:15) after the
restoration of Jehovah's worship, i.e. after the 12th year
of Josiah's reign, about 624 B.C. So Habakkuk must have been
before this. Jeremiah moreover began prophesying in Josiah's
13th year; now Jeremiah borrows from Habakkuk (compare
Habakkuk 2:13 with Jeremiah 51:58); thus, it follows that
630 or 629 B.C. is Habakkuk's date of prophesying