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Introduction

\\INTRODUCTION TO HABAKKUK\\

This book is called, in the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions, "the
Prophecy of Habakkuk". Of this prophet, Aben Ezra and Kimchi say, we
know neither his age nor his family; which shows they paid no regard to
a tradition of their nation, mentioned by some of their ancient writers
{a}, that he was the son of the Shunammite, whom Elisha raised from the
dead; and find the etymology of his name in the words of the prophet to
her, "about this season, according to the time of life, thou shalt
embrace a son", \\#2Ki 4:16\\ where the root of his name is used; and
they account for the doubling of the last radical in his name, because
of the two embraces of him, one by his mother, and the other by the
prophet. His name indeed signifies "an embrace" {b}; or, as some, "an
embracer" {c}; and the last letter being doubled, it is with others
interpreted "the best embracer" {d}; to which name his character and
conduct agree; who, in the most tender manner, embraced the people of
God, as parents their children, and comforted them with the assurance
of their preservation, notwithstanding their captivity, and with the
promise of the Messiah's coming; suggesting to them they should live by
faith, to which he led them the way by his own example, \\#Hab 1:12\\
\\#Hab 2:3,4 3:17-19\\ but as this is placing him too early, to put him
in the times of Elisha; so it is fixing him too late, to make him to be
in the times of Daniel, and to feed him in the den of the lions, as
Joseph ben Gorion {e}, and the author of the apocryphal book of Bel and
the Dragon, say he did, which was after the Babylonish captivity was
ended; whereas it is certain this prophet prophesied of it, and must
have lived some time before it; for he speaks of the Chaldeans by name
coming against the Jews, and carrying them captive, \\#Hab 1:6,9\\. The
learned Huetius {f}, and others, think there were two prophets of this
name; one of the tribe of Simeon, who lived before the captivity; and
another of the tribe of Levi, who lived after it. The Jewish
chronologers {g} generally place this our prophet in the times of
Manasseh; with which well enough agrees the description of the times
the prophet lived in, given in \\#Hab 1:2-4\\ though some think he
lived in the latter times of Josiah {h}, or the beginning of Jehoiakim
{i}; and it is probable he was a contemporary of the Prophet Jeremiah,
with whom he agrees in many things, and prophesied of the same.
However, there is no room to doubt of the authority of this book, being
always received by the Jewish church, and agreeing with other parts of
Scripture, and especially with the prophecies of Jeremiah; and may be
further confirmed and established by the quotations out of it in the
New Testament, as \\#Hab 1:5\\ in \\#Ac 13:41\\ and \\#Hab 2:4\\ in
\\#Ro 1:17 Ga 3:11 Heb 10:38\\. The general design of the prophecy is
to comfort the people of God under the afflictions that were coming
upon them, and to encourage them to the exercise of faith and patience,
in the hope and view of the coming of the Messiah. Pseudo Epiphanius
{k} says that Habakkuk died two years before the people of the Jews
returned from Babylon, and was honourably buried in his own native
place, which he says was Bethsocher, in the tribe of Simeon. With whom
Isidore {l} agrees, as to the time of his death; but the place of his
birth, he says, was Bethacat; and of his death, Sabarta. Sozomen {m}
reports, that, in the days of Theodosius, the grave of Habakkuk was
found in Cele, formerly the city Ceila. So Eusebius says it was shown
at Kela, eight miles from Eleutheropolis; though, in another place, he
says it was to be seen at Gabbatha, twelve miles from the same place;
which may be reconciled, by observing that it might be between them
both, and be seen from each, since they were places near to each other
{n}. But the Cippi Hebraici {o} say it was at a place called Jakuk in
Galilee, not far from Sephetta, where was an academy of the Jews; and
this seems to agree with what Sanderson, a countryman of ours, as
quoted by Van Till {p}, observes; that in his journey from Damascus to
Jerusalem, between Sephet and Chapherchittin, he found a village, in
which, the Jews report, Habakkuk the prophet dwelt and died, the name
of which is Jeakoke. But these things are not to be depended on.

{a} Zohar in Gen. fol. 6. 3. Vid. Shalshelet Hakabala, fol. 12. 2.
{b} \^qwqbx\^ "amplexus", Hillerus; "amplexatio", Hieronymus.
{c} "Amplexans", ibid.
{d} "Optimus amplexator", Tarnovius.
{e} Hist. Heb. l. 1. c. 11. p. 35, 36.
{f} Demonstr. Evangel. Prop. 4. p. 284, 301.
{g} Seder Olam Rabba, p. 55. Seder Olam Zuta, p. 105. Tzemach David,
fol. 15. 1. Juchasin, fol. 12. 2.
{h} Bedford's Scripture Chronology, p. 674.
{i} Usher. Annales Vet. Test. A. M. 3395.
{k} De Prophet. Vit. & Interit. c. 18.
{l} De Vit. & Mort. Sanct. c. 47.
{m} Hist. Ecclesiast. l. 7. c. 29.
{n} Vid. Reland. Palestina Illustrata, tom. 2. p. 772.
{o} P. 63. Ed. Hottinger.
{p} Habakkuk Illustratus, p. 214.

\\INTRODUCTION TO HABAKKUK 1\\

In this chapter, after the inscription, in which are the title of the
book, the name and character of the writer, \\#Hab 1:1\\, there is a
complaint made by the prophet of his cry not being heard, and of
salvation being deferred, which was long expected, \\#Hab 1:2\\ and of the
wickedness of the times he lived in; of iniquity and trouble, rapine and
oppression, in general; and particularly of corruption in courts of
judicature, in which there were nothing but strife and contention, a
dilatoriness in proceedings at law, and justice was stopped and
suppressed, \\#Hab 1:3,4\\ then follows an answer to this, showing that some
sore judgment, amazing and incredible, would soon be executed for such
sins, \\#Hab 1:5\\ that the Chaldeans would be raised up and sent against
the Jews, and spoil them, and carry them captive; who are described by
the cruelty of their temper and disposition; by the swiftness and
fierceness of their cavalry; and by their derision of kings, princes,
and strong holds; and by their victories and success, which they should
impute to their idols, \\#Hab 1:6-11\\ and then the prophet, in the name of
the church, expresses his faith that the people of God, and his
interest, would be preserved, and not perish in this calamity; which is
urged from the eternity, holiness, faithfulness, and power of God, and
from his design in this affliction, which was correction, and not
destruction, \\#Hab 1:12\\ and the chapter is closed with an expostulation
of the prophet with God, in consideration of his purity and holiness;
how he could bear with such a wicked nation as the Chaldeans, and suffer
them to devour men as fishes, in an arbitrary way, that have no ruler;
catch them in their net, and insult them, and ascribe all to their own
power and prudence, and think to go on continually in this way,
\\#Hab 1:13-17\\.