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  • JAMIESON-FAUSSET-BROWN - HABAKKUK 2
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    CHAPTER 2

    Hab 2:1-20. THE PROPHET, WAITING EARNESTLY FOR AN ANSWER TO HIS COMPLAINTS (FIRST CHAPTER), RECEIVES A REVELATION, WHICH IS TO BE FULFILLED, NOT IMMEDIATELY, YET IN DUE TIME, AND IS THEREFORE TO BE WAITED FOR IN FAITH: THE CHALDEANS SHALL BE PUNISHED FOR THEIR CRUEL RAPACITY, NOR CAN THEIR FALSE GODS AVERT THE JUDGMENT OF JEHOVAH, THE ONLY TRUE GOD.

    1. stand upon . . . watch--that is, watch-post. The prophets often compare themselves, awaiting the revelations of Jehovah with earnest patience, to watchmen on an eminence watching with intent eye all that comes within their view (Isa 21:8, 11; Jer 6:17; Eze 3:17; 33:2, 3; compare Ps 5:3; 85:8). The "watch-post" is the withdrawal of the whole soul from earthly, and fixing it on heavenly, things. The accumulation of synonyms, "stand upon . . . watch . . . set me upon . . . tower . . . watch to see" implies persevering fixity of attention.
    - what he will say unto me--in answer to my complaints (Hab 1:13). Literally, "in me," God speaking, not to the prophet's outward ear, but inwardly. When we have prayed to God, we must observe what answers God gives by His word, His Spirit, and His providences.
    - what I shall answer when I am reproved--what answer I am to make to the reproof which I anticipate from God on account of the liberty of my expostulation with Him. MAURER translates, "What I am to answer in respect to my complaint against Jehovah" (Hab 1:12-17).

    2. Write the vision--which I am about to reveal to thee.
    - make it plain-- (De 27:8). In large legible characters.
    - upon tables--boxwood tables covered with wax, on which national affairs were engraved with an iron pen, and then hung up in public, at the prophets' own houses, or at the temple, that those who passed might read them. Compare Lu 1:63, "writing table," that is, tablet.
    - that he may run that readeth it--commonly explained, "so intelligible as to be easily read by any one running past"; but then it would be, "that he that runneth may read it." The true sense is, "so legible that whoever readeth it, may run to tell all whom he can the good news of the foe's coming doom, and Judah's deliverance." Compare Da 12:4, "many shall run to and fro," namely, with the explanation of the prophecy, then unsealed; also, Re 22:17, "let him that heareth (the good news) say (to every one within his reach), Come." "Run" is equivalent to announce the divine revelation (Jer 23:21); as everyone who becomes informed of a divine message is bound to run, that is, use all despatch to make it known to others [HENDERSON]. GROTIUS, LUDOVICUS DE DIEU, and MAURER interpret it: "Run" is not literal running, but "that he who reads it may run through it," that is, read it at once without difficulty.

    3. for--assigning the cause why it ought to be committed to writing: because its fulfilment belongs to the future.
    - the vision is yet for an appointed time-- (Da 10:14; 11:27, 35). Though the time appointed by God for the fulfilment be yet future, it should be enough for your faith that God hath spoken it (La 3:26).
    - at the end it shall speak--MAURER translates, "it pants for the end." But the antithesis between, "it shall speak," and "not be silent," makes English Version the better rendering. So the Hebrew is translated in Pr 12:17. Literally, "breathe out words," "break forth as a blast."
    - though it tarry, wait for it-- (Ge 49:18).

    4. his soul which is lifted up--the Chaldean's [MAURER]. The unbelieving Jew's [HENDERSON].
    - is not upright in him--that is, is not accounted upright in God's sight; in antithesis to "shall live." So Heb 10:38, which with inspired authority applies the general sense to the particular case which Paul had in view, "If any man draw back (one result of being 'lifted up' with overweening arrogancy), my soul shall have no pleasure in him."
    - the just shall live by his faith--the Jewish nation, as opposed to the unbelieving Chaldean (compare Hab 2:5, &c.; Hab 1:6, &c.; Hab 1:13) [MAURER]. HENDERSON'S view is that the believing Jew is meant, as opposed to the unbelieving Jew (compare Ro 1:17; Ga 3:11). The believing Jew, though God's promise tarry, will wait for it; the unbelieving "draws back," as Heb 10:38 expresses it. The sense, in MAURER'S view, which accords better with the context (Hab 2:5, &c.). is: the Chaldean, though for a time seeming to prosper, yet being lifted up with haughty unbelief (Hab 1:11, 16), is not upright; that is, has no right stability of soul resting on God, to ensure permanence of prosperity; hence, though for a time executing God's judgments, he at last becomes "lifted up" so as to attribute to his own power what is the work of God, and in this sense "draws back" (Heb 10:38), becoming thereby a type of all backsliders who thereby incur God's displeasure; as the believing Jew is of all who wait for God's promises with patient faith, and so "live" (stand accepted) before God. The Hebrew accents induce BENGEL to translate, "he who is just by his faith shall live." Other manuscripts read the accents as English Version, which agrees better with Hebrew syntax.

    5. Yea also, because--additional reason why the Jews may look for God punishing their Chaldean foe, namely, because . . . he is
    - a proud man--rather, this clause continues the reason for the Jews expecting the punishment of the Chaldeans, "because he transgresseth by wine (a besetting sin of Babylon, compare Da 5:1-31, and CURTIUS [5.1]), being a proud man." Love of wine often begets a proud contempt of divine things, as in Belshazzar's case, which was the immediate cause of the fall of Babylon (Da 5:2-4, 30; compare Pr 20:1; 30:9; 31:5).
    - enlargeth his desire as hell--the grave, or the unseen world, which is "never full" (Pr 27:20; 30:16; Isa 5:14). The Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar were filled with an insatiable desire of conquest. Another reason for their punishment.

    6. Shall not all these--the "nations" and "peoples" (Hab 2:5) "heaped unto him" by the Chaldean.
    - take up a parable--a derisive song. Habakkuk follows Isaiah (Isa 14:4) and Micah (Mic 2:4) in the phraseology.
    - against him--when dislodged from his former eminence.
    - Woe--The "derisive song" here begins, and continues to the end of the chapter. It is a symmetrical whole, and consists of five stanzas, the first three consisting of three verses each, the fourth of four verses, and the last of two. Each stanza has its own subject, and all except the last begin with "Woe"; and all have a closing verse introduced with "for," "because," or "but."
    - how long?--how long destined to retain his ill-gotten gains? But for a short time, as his fall now proves [MAURER]. "Covetousness is the greatest bane to men. For they who invade others' goods, often lose even their own" [MENANDER]. CALVIN makes "how long?" to be the cry of those groaning under the Chaldean oppression while it still lasted: How long shall such oppression be permitted to continue? But it is plainly part of the derisive song, after the Chaldean tyranny had passed away.
    - ladeth himself with thick clay--namely, gold and silver dug out of the "clay," of which they are a part. The covetous man in heaping them together is only lading himself with a clay burden, as he dares not enjoy them, and is always anxious about them. LEE and FULLER translate the Hebrew as a reduplicated single noun, and not two words, "an accumulation of pledges" (De 24:10-13). The Chaldean is compared to a harsh usurer, and his ill-gotten treasures to heaps of pledges in the hands of a usurer.

    7. suddenly--the answer to the question, "How long?" (Hab 2:6).
    - bite--often used of usury; so favoring LEE'S rendering (Hab 2:6). As the Chaldean, like a usurer, oppressed others, so other nations shall, like usurers, take pledges of, that is, spoil, him.

    8. the remnant of the people--Those remaining of the peoples spoiled by thee, though but a remnant, will suffice to inflict vengeance on thee.
    - the violence of the land . . . city--that is, on account of thy violent oppression of the lands and cities of the earth [GROTIUS] (compare Hab 2:5, 6, 12). The same phrase occurs in Hab 2:17, where the "land" and "city" are Judea and Jerusalem.

    9. coveteth an evil covetousness--that is, a covetousness so surpassingly evil as to be fatal to himself.
    - to his house--greedily seizing enormous wealth, not merely for himself, but for his family, to which it is destined to be fatal. The very same "evil covetousness" that was the cause of Jehoiakim's being given up to the Chaldean oppressor (Jer 22:13) shall be the cause of the Chaldean's own destruction.
    - set his nest on high-- (Nu 24:21; Jer 49:16; Ob 4). The image is from an eagle (Job 39:27). The royal citadel is meant. The Chaldean built high towers, like the Babel founders, to "be delivered from the power of evil" (Ge 11:4).

    10. Thou hast consulted shame . . . by cutting off many--MAURER, more literally, "Thou hast consulted shame . . . to destroy many," that is, in consulting (determining) to cut off many, thou hast consulted shame to thy house.
    - sinned against thy soul--that is, against thyself; thou art the guilty cause of thine own ruin (Pr 8:36; 20:2). They who wrong their neighbors, do much greater wrong to their own souls.

    11. stone . . . cry out--personification. The very stones of thy palace built by rapine shall testify against thee (Lu 19:40).
    - the beam out of the timber--the crossbeam or main rafter connecting the timbers in the walls.
    - shall answer it--namely, the stone. The stone shall begin and the crossbeam continue the cry against thy rapine.

    12. buildeth a town with blood--namely, Babylon rebuilt and enlarged by blood-bought spoils (compare Da 4:30).

    13. is it not of the Lord of hosts--JEHOVAH, who has at His command all the hosts of heaven and earth, is the righteous author of Babylon's destruction. "Shall not God have His turn, when cruel rapacious men have triumphed so long, though He seem now to be still?" [CALVIN].
    - people . . . labour in the . . . fire . . . weary themselves for . . . vanity--The Chaldeans labor at what is to be food for the fire, namely, their city and fortresses which shall be burnt. Jer 51:58 adopts the same phraseology to express the vanity of the Chaldean's labor on Babylon, as doomed to the flames.

    14. Adapted from Isa 11:9. Here the sense is, "The Jews shall be restored and the temple rebuilt, so that God's glory in saving His people, and punishing their Chaldean foe, shall be manifested throughout the world," of which the Babylonian empire formed the greatest part; a type of the ultimate full manifestation of His glory in the final salvation of Israel and His Church, and the destruction of all their foes.
    - waters cover the sea--namely, the bottom of the sea; the sea-bed.

    15. giveth . . . neighbour drink . . . puttest . . . bottle to him--literally, "skin," as the Easterns use "bottles" of skin for wine. MAURER, from a different Hebrew root, translates, "that pourest in thy wrath." English Version keeps up the metaphor better. It is not enough for thee to be "drunken" thyself, unless thou canst lead others into the same state. The thing meant is, that the Chaldean king, with his insatiable desires (a kind of intoxication), allured neighboring states into the same mad thirst for war to obtain booty, and then at last exposed them to loss and shame (compare Isa 51:17; Ob 16). An appropriate image of Babylon, which at last fell during a drunken revel (Da 5:1-31).
    - that thou mayest look on their nakedness!--with light%%%

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