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Habakkuk 2

Habakkuk 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.

11. stone . . . cry out--personification. The very stones of thy palace built by rapine shall testify against thee ( Luke 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 Daniel 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. Jeremiah 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 Isaiah 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 Isaiah 51:17 , Obadiah 1:16 ). An appropriate image of Babylon, which at last fell during a drunken revel ( Daniel 5:1-31 ).
that thou mayest look on their nakedness!--with light, like Ham of old ( Genesis 9:22 ).

16. art filled--now that thou art fallen. "Thou art filled" indeed (though so insatiable), but it is "with shame."
shame for glory--instead of thy former glory ( Hosea 4:7 ).
drink thou also--The cup of sorrow is now in thy turn to pass to thee ( Jeremiah 25:15-17 , Lamentations 4:21 ).
thy foreskin--expressing in Hebrew feeling the most utter contempt. So of Goliath ( 1 Samuel 17:36 ). It is not merely thy "nakedness," as in Habakkuk 2:15 , that shall be "uncovered," but the foreskin, the badge of thy being an uncircumcised alien from God. The same shall be done to thee, as thou didst to others, and worse.
cup . . . shall be turned unto thee--literally, "shall turn itself," namely, from the nations whom thou hast made to drink it. "Thou shalt drink it all, so that it may be turned as being drained" [GROTIUS].
shameful spewing--that is, vomiting; namely, that of the king of Babylon, compelled to disgorge the spoil he had swallowed. It expresses also the ignominious state of Babylon in its calamity ( Jeremiah 25:27 ). "Be drunken, spew, and fall." Less appropriately it is explained of the foe spewing in the face of the Babylonian king.

17. the violence of Lebanon--thy "violence" against "Lebanon," that is, Jerusalem ( Isaiah 37:24 , Jeremiah 22:23 , Ezekiel 17:3 Ezekiel 17:12 ; for Lebanon's cedars were used in building the temple and houses of Jerusalem; and its beauty made it a fit type of the metropolis), shall fall on thine own head.
cover--that is, completely overwhelm.
the spoil of beasts, which made them afraid--MAURER explains, "the spoiling inflicted on the beasts of Lebanon (that is, on the people of Jerusalem, of which city 'Lebanon' is the type), which made them afraid (shall cover thee)." But it seems inappropriate to compare the elect people to "beasts." I therefore prefer explaining, "the spoiling of beasts," that is, such as is inflicted on beasts caught in a net, and "which makes them afraid (shall cover thee)." Thus the Babylonians are compared to wild beasts terrified at being caught suddenly in a net. In cruel rapacity they resembled wild beasts. The ancients read, "the spoiling of wild beasts shall make THEE afraid." Or else explain, "the spoiling of beasts (the Medes and Persians) which (inflicted by thee) made them afraid (shall in turn cover thyself--revert on thyself from them)." This accords better with the parallel clause, "the violence of Lebanon," that is, inflicted by thee on Lebanon. As thou didst hunt men as wild beasts, so shalt thou be hunted thyself as a wild beast, which thou resemblest in cruelty.
because of men's blood--shed by thee; repeated from Habakkuk 2:8 . But here the "land" and "city" are used of Judea and Jerusalem: not of the earth and cities generally, as in Habakkuk 2:8 .
the violence of the land, &c.--that is, inflicted on the land by thee.

18. The powerlessness of the idols to save Babylon from its doom is a fitting introduction to the last stanza ( Habakkuk 2:19 ), which, as the former four, begins with "Woe."
teacher of lies--its priests and prophets uttering lying oracles, as if from it.
make dumb idols--Though men can "make" idols, they cannot make them speak.

19. Awake--Arise to my help.
it shall teach!--rather, An exclamation of the prophet, implying an ironical question to which a negative answer must be given. What! "It teach?" Certainly not [MAURER]. Or, "It (the idol itself) shall (that is, ought to) teach you that it is deaf, and therefore no God" [CALVIN]. Compare "they are their own witnesses" ( Isaiah 44:9 ).
Behold--The Hebrew is nominative, "There it is" [HENDERSON].
it is laid over with gold . . . no breath . . . in the midst--Outside it has some splendor, within none.

20. But the Lord--JEHOVAH; in striking contrast with the idols.
in his holy temple--"His place" ( Isaiah 26:21 ); heaven ( Psalms 11:4 , Jonah 2:7 , Micah 1:2 ). The temple at Jerusalem is a type of it, and there God is to be worshipped. He does not lie hid under gold and silver, as the idols of Babylon, but reigns in heaven and fills heaven, and thence succors His people.
keep silence--in token of reverent submission and subjection to His judgments ( Job 40:4 , Psalms 76:8 , Zephaniah 1:7 , Zechariah 2:13 ).

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