Habakkuk 2:1-5

Faith In God And His Character Is The Key To Living In Times
Of Violence And Perverted Justice!

I. Why Is Yahweh Unresponsive to My Prayers? 1:1-11
II. Yahweh’s Response Concerning Babylon, 2:1-20     
    A. Habakkuk’s Role and Expectation, 2:1    
    B. The Vision and General Indictment concerning Babylon, 2-5


עַל־מִשְׁמַרְתִּ֣י Preposition, Locative + Noun FGS Construct Personal Pronoun MGS, Subjective G, Antecedent = Habakkuk, upon my observation post. Forward emphasis.

אֶעֱמֹ֔דָה QCoh 1CS, Coh of Resolve, I am determined to stand. Disjunctive accent.

וְאֶֽתְיַצְּבָ֖ה Paratactic Conjunction, Relative + HitCoh 1CS, Coh of Resolve, and I am determined to station myself.

עַל־מָצ֑וֹר Preposition, Locative + Noun MGS Absolute, upon the watchtower. Disjunctive accent.

וַאֲצַפֶּ֗ה Preposition, Relative + PiCoh 1CS, Coh of Resolve, and I am resolved to keep watch. Disjunctive accent.

לִרְאוֹת֙ Preposition, Purpose + QInf Absolute, to see.

מַה־יְדַבֶּר־בִּ֔י Interrogative, Indirect Rhetorical Question + PiI 3MS, Future I + Preposition, Indirect Object + Personal Pronoun MGS, Antecedent = Habakkuk, what he will say to me. K&D, loc. cit. has an alternative interpretation.

וּמָ֥ה Paratactic Conjunction, Relative + Interrogative, Indirect Rhetorical Question, and what.

אָשִׁ֖יב HiI 1CS, Future I, I will return.

עַל־תּוֹכַחְתִּֽי׃ Preposition, Reference + Noun FGS Absolute + Personal Pronoun MGS, Subjective G, Antecedent = Habakkuk, concerning the reproof I gave. Disjunctive accent. The translations vary between Objective G and Subjective G. “Probably Habakkuk referred to his own complaint lodged in his dialogue with God (Hab. 1:2–4, 12–17). Some translators, however, say that the ‘complaint’ (tôḵaḥaṯ, ‘correction, rebuke, or argument’) was against the prophet rather than by the prophet. Thus they render the phrase, ‘what to answer when I am rebuked’ (niv marg.).” (BKC, loc. cit.) See KB, Lexicon, 1698 for “objection” translation; Also, Holladay, W. L., & Köhler, L. (2000). A concise Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon of the Old Testament, 387. Leiden: Brill. [Hereafter as Holladay, Lexicon]


וַיַּעֲנֵ֤נִי Paratactic Conjunction, Relative + QI 3MS + Personal Pronoun MAS, A Direct Object, Antecedent = Habakkuk, and . . . answered me.

יְהוָה֙ Noun MNS Absolute, Subject N, Yahweh.

וַיֹּ֔אמֶר Paratactic Conjunction, Relative + QI 3MS, Sequential I, and said. Disjunctive accent.

כְּת֣וֹב QImv 2MS, Imv of Command, write.

חָז֔וֹן Noun MAS Absolute, A Direct Object, the vision. Disjunctive accent.

וּבָאֵ֖ר Paratactic Conjunction, Relative + PiImv 2MS, Imv of Command, and make plain. Lewis, J. P. (1999). 194 בָּאַר. R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer Jr., & B. K. Waltke (Eds.), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (electronic ed., p. 87). Chicago: Moody Press. [Hereafter as TWOT, Lexicon]

עַל־הַלֻּח֑וֹת Preposition, Locative + Noun FGP Absolute, upon tablets. Disjunctive accent.

לְמַ֥עַן Preposition, Purpose, in order that.

יָר֖וּץ QI 3MS, Modal of Possibility I, might run. Heb ‘might run,’ which here probably means ‘run [through it quickly with one’s eyes],’ that is, read it easily. (NET, loc. cit.)

ק֥וֹרֵא QAPtc MNS, Substantival Subject N, he who reads.

בֽוֹ׃ Preposition, Direct Object (as in most translations) + Personal Pronoun MGS, Antecedent = חָז֔וֹן, in it. Disjunctive accent. “The word bô, ‘in it,’ is admittedly difficult; the sense of the preposition is hard to establish. It could be ‘from it’ or ‘by means of it.’” (Anderson, Habakkuk, 204) Also, “[T]he point is that the messenger would read it and then run to spread the news to others.” (BKC, loc. cit.)


כִּ֣י Hypotactic Conjunction, Causal, because.

ע֤וֹד Adverb of Time, still. “‘For the vision is still for the appointed time.’ The Hebrew word . . . is better emended to . . . ‘witness’ in light of the parallelism.” (NET, loc. cit.) The LXX has ἔτι. Most of the translations read as the Hebrew text.

חָזוֹן֙ Noun MNS Absolute, Subject N in Noun Clause, the vision. There are 7 references to the vision in the following clauses.

לַמּוֹעֵ֔ד Preposition, Directive + Noun MGS Absolute, [is] for an appointed time.

“The prophecy is לַמֹּועֵד, for the appointed time; i.e., it relates to the period fixed by God for its realization, which was then still (עֹוד) far off. לְ denotes direction towards a certain point either of place or time. The vision had a direction towards a point, which, when looked at from the present, was still in the future.” (K&D, loc. cit.)

וְיָפֵ֥חַ Paratactic Conjunction, Relative + HiI 3MS, Progressive I, and it pants. Found in the Dead Sea Scroll 1Q Hab יפיח לקץ meaning “to pant after.” See the following notes.

“יָפֵחַ is not an adjective, as in Ps. 27:12, but the third pers. imperf. hiphil of pūăch; and the contracted form (יָפֵחַ for יָפִיחַ), without a voluntative meaning, is the same as we frequently meet with in the loftier style of composition. וְלֹא יְכַזֵּב, “and does not deceive,” i.e., will assuredly take place.” (K&D, loc. cit.)

Heb ‘and a witness to the end and it does not lie.’ The Hebrew term יָפֵחַ (yafeakh) has been traditionally understood as a verb form from the root פּוּחַ (puakh, ‘puff, blow’; cf. NEB ‘it will come in breathless haste’; NASB ‘it hastens toward the goal’) but recent scholarship has demonstrated that it is actually a noun meaning ‘witness’ (cf. NIV ‘it speaks of the end / and will not prove false’; NRSV ‘it speaks of the end, and does not lie’). See J. J. M. Roberts, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah (OTL), 106. ‘The end’ corresponds to ‘the appointed time’ of the preceding line and refers to the time when the prophecy to follow will be fulfilled. “ (NET, loc. cit.)

“Rudolph (Micha, Nahum, Habakuk, Zephanja, 212) notes that the Dead Sea Scroll has confirmed the reading as from a verb meaning ‘pant after,’ but he contends that such a meaning does not fit the context. He suggests that Prov 12:17 is the closest parallel, giving a meaning of to make known, to state, thus leading to a translation much like NIV. Elliger (Das Buch der zwölf kleinen Propheten II, 38) questions his own conclusion as he translates reist auf, ‘set out after,’ claiming support from the LXX, but then says perhaps we can make do with the MT and translate sie raunt vom Ende, ‘it whispers of the end.’” (Quotes from Barker, Habakkuk, 323)

לַקֵּ֖ץ Preposition, Directive + Article, Particularizing, Noun MGS Absolute, to the end. Parallels לַמּוֹעֵ֔ד above.

וְלֹ֣א Paratactic Conjunction, Relative + Negative Adverb, and [the vision] . . . not.

יְכַזֵּ֑ב PiI 3MS, Future I, will . . . lie.

אִם־יִתְמַהְמָהּ֙ Hypotactic Conjunction, Conditional + HitI 3MS, Conditional I, if it should delay. Protasis of a real condition.

חַכֵּה־ל֔וֹ PiImv 2MS, Imv of Command + Preposition, Directive + Personal Pronoun MGS, Antecedent = חָזוֹן֙ above,wait for it.

כִּֽי־בֹ֥א Hypotactic Conjunction, Causal + QInf Absolute, Affirmation, because surely . . . coming.

יָבֹ֖א QI 3MS, Future I, it will . . . be coming.

לֹ֥א Negative Adverb, not. Conjunctive Asyndeton.

יְאַחֵֽר׃ PiI 3MS, Future I, it will . . . delay. Disjunctive accent.

4 Asyndetic and transitional to the contents of the vision. “God answered the prophet by means of a strong contrast. The first half of the verse apparently refers to the wicked described in 1:7, 11, 13 (without using the term).” (Barker, Habakkuk, 324) See the extensive notes at verses 4 and 5.

הִנֵּ֣ה Interjection, look! “calls attention to the following noun” (KB, Lexicon, 252) and transitions to the Babylonian leader.

עֻפְּלָ֔ה PuPf 3FS, Perfective Pf, Indefinite 3FS Subject in Noun Clause, he has been and is puffed up! Disjunctive accent. The rabia separates the clause from the following unlike many of the translations. This is seen as a general statement that is expanded in the following clause. The ellipsis brings emphasis to what is written; the NASB, NKJV, NRSV, YLT reflect this emphasis.

לֹא־יָשְׁרָ֥ה Negative Adverb + QPf 3FS, Perfective Pf, Explanatory asyndeton. [נַפְשׁ֖וֹ] has been and is not upright. ‘The thought [behind עֻפְּלָ֔ה] is explained and strengthened by לֹא יָשְׁרָה, ‘his soul is not straight.’” (K&D, loc. cit.)

נַפְשׁ֖וֹ Noun FNS Absolute, Subject N + Personal Pronoun MGS, Possessive G, Antecedent = the wicked indivdual of 1:7, 11, 13, his soul. “[The Soul] as the centre and transmitter of feelings and perceptions.” (KB, Lexicon, 713)

בּ֑וֹ Preposition, Locative + Personal Pronoun MGS, Antecedent = נַפְשׁ֖וֹ as above, in him. Disjunctive accent.

וְצַדִּ֖יק Paratactic Conjunction, Relative and Adversative + Adjective MNS Absolute, Substantival, Subject N, but the righteous. Grammatically parallel toעֻפְּלָ֔ה . Disjunctive accent. Forward emphasis.

בֶּאֱמוּנָת֥וֹ Preposition, Means + Noun FGS Construct + Personal Pronoun MGS, Subjective G, Antecedent = צַדִּ֖יק, by means of the faithfulness he exhibits.

 “Or ‘loyalty’; or ‘integrity.’ The Hebrew word אֱמוּנָה  (’emunah) has traditionally been translated ‘faith,’ but the term nowhere else refers to ‘belief’ as such. When used of human character and conduct it carries the notion of ‘honesty, integrity, reliability, faithfulness.’ The antecedent of the suffix has been understood in different ways. It could refer to God’s faithfulness, but in this case one would expect a first person suffix (the original form of the LXX has ‘my faithfulness’ here). Others understand the ‘vision’ to be the antecedent. In this case the reliability of the prophecy is in view. For a statement of this view, see J. J. M. Roberts, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah (OTL), 111–12. The present translation assumes that the preceding word ‘[the person of] integrity’ is the antecedent. In this case the Lord is assuring Habakkuk that those who are truly innocent will be preserved through the coming oppression and judgment by their godly lifestyle, for God ultimately rewards this type of conduct. In contrast to these innocent people, those with impure desires (epitomized by the greedy Babylonians; see v. 5) will not be able to withstand God’s judgment (v. 4a).” (NET, loc. cit.)

“אֱמוּנָה does not denote ‘an honourable character, or fidelity to conviction’ (Hitzig), but (from ’âman, to be firm, to last) firmness (Ex. 17:12); then, as an attribute of God, trustworthiness, unchangeable fidelity in the fulfilment of His promises (Deut. 32:4; Ps. 33:4; 89:34); and, as a personal attribute of man, fidelity in word and deed (Jer. 7:28; 9:2; Ps. 37:3); and, in his relation to God, firm attachment to God, an undisturbed confidence in the divine promises of grace,  . . . .” (K&D, loc. cit.)

יִחְיֶֽה׃ QI 3MS, Stative, lives.

“A righteous Israelite who remained loyal to God’s moral precepts and was humble before the Lord enjoyed God’s abundant life. To ‘live’ meant to experience God’s blessing by enjoying a life of security, protection, and fullness. Conversely, an apparently victorious but proud and perverse Babylonian would die. Faithfulness (niv marg.) and faith are related. One who trusts in the Lord is one who relies on Him and is faithful to Him.” (BKC, loc. cit.)

“The New Testament writers quoted the verse three times (Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38). Paul used this idea as the hallmark of his teaching concerning the primacy of faith in salvation. He took God’s message to Habakkuk to its final emphasis: those who are judged righteous as a result of their faith shall live. Habakkuk’s questions supplied Paul with his beginning and ending point that faith is the key. God recognizes the faithfulness (faith) of his people and gives life.” (Barker, Habakkuk, loc. cit.) See Archer & Chirichigno, Old Testament Quotations, Moody Press, 1983, para. #220.

“The translator of Habakkuk does not need to worry too much about Paul’s theology. However, he does need to see what Paul has done, so that he can understand the difference between the meaning Habakkuk intended and the meaning Paul later drew from these words. Among Christians, Paul’s teaching is much more familiar than Habakkuk’s, and translators must therefore be careful not to translate in such a way that they make Habakkuk sound like Paul! Habakkuk’s own meaning in its original context must be respected, and not changed to conform to the New Testament application of his words.” (Clark, D. J., & Hatton, H. A. (1989). A translator’s handbook on the book of Habakkuk, 9, New York: United Bible Societies) [Hereafter as Clark & Hatton, Habakkuk]

The promise looks beyond the temporal future of the Chaldeans and Israelites, and unto a reward that is eternal. We see how naturally the principle here enunciated is applied by the apostle to teach the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ.” (Spence-Jones, Ibid., loc. cit.)

“Habakkuk 2:4 is also cited three times in the New Testament: Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:37–38. Of the three, Hebrews 10 uses the text in a way closest to its original context in its call for the reader to persevere with confidence in the face of suffering and persecution and to do the will of God in order to receive the salvation which God has promised.” (Ham & Hahlen, Minor Prophets, 145). Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co.) [Hereafter as Ham & Hahlen, Minor Prophets]

“The focal assertion of verses 4–5 comprises the positive response to the vision: But the righteous will live by his faith. The noun ‘righteous’ (צַדִּיק, ṣaddîq) refers to one who conforms to an ethical standard (Gen 6:9; 15:6; Ezek 3:21); accordingly, the ‘righteous’ is one who serves Yahweh (Mal 3:18), obeys the commands of Yahweh (Deut 6:25; Ps 1:1–6; Ezek 18:9; Hos 14:9), remembers the covenant with Yahweh (Isa 51:1–8), cares for the poor and needy (Job 29:12–15; Ps 37:21; Prov 29:7), and lives according to the spirit of Yahweh (Isa 32:15–17; Ezek 36:25–27). Habakkuk’s use of ṣaddîq may reflect this general meaning of the term, or the prophet may use ṣaddîq more specifically to identify those who are mistreated and oppressed by the wicked (cf. 1:4, 13), a meaning of the word found elsewhere in the prophetic literature (Isa 29:20–21; Lam 4:13; Ezek 13:22; Amos 2:6–7; 5:12).” (Ham & Hahlen, Minor Prophets, 144)

וְאַף֙ Paratactic Conjunction, Copulative + Adverb, Intensive, and indeed [consider]. “אַף also, besides, even, intensive clauses.” (GKC, Grammar, 483) Disjunctive accent.

“V. 5 is closely connected with v. 4a, not only developing still further the thought which is there expressed, but applying it to the Chaldaean. אַף כִּי  does not mean ‘really if’ (Hitzig and others), even in Job 9:14; 35:14, Ezek. 15:5, or 1 Sam. 21:6 (see Delitzsch on Job 35:14), but always means ‘still further,’ or ‘yea also, that;’ and different applications are given to it, so that, when used as an emphatic assurance, it signifies ‘to say nothing of the fact that,’ or when it gives emphasis to the thing itself, ‘all the more because,’ and in negative sentences ‘how much less’ (e.g., 1 Kings 8:27). In the present instance it adds a new and important feature to what is stated in v. 4a, ‘And add to this that wine is treacherous;’ i.e., to those who are addicted to it, it does not bring strength and life, but leads to the way to ruin (for the thought itself, see Prov. 23:31, 32).’ (K&D, loc. cit.)

 כִּֽי־הַיַּ֣יִן Hypotactic Conjunction, Untranslated Object of a Nominal Clause + Article, Generic + Noun MNS Absolute, Subject N, wine. “Wine is probably a metaphor for imperialistic success. The more success the Babylonians experience, the more greedy they become just as a drunkard wants more and more wine to satisfy his thirst. But eventually this greed will lead to their downfall, for God will not tolerate such imperialism and will judge the Babylonians appropriately (vv. 6–20).” (NET, loc. cit.)

 בּוֹגֵ֔ד QAPtc MNS Absolute, Predicate N, [is] treacherous. Disjunctive accent.

גֶּ֥בֶר       Noun MNS Absolute, Rhetorical Absolute (Casus Pendens resumed by the subject of יִנְוֶ֑ה below), an . . . man. Explanatory asyndeton.

יָהִ֖יר      Adjective MNS, Attributive, arrogant. Disjunctive accent (Tiphchah). NET, loc. cit., dramatically separates these two words.

וְלֹ֣א       Paratactic Conjunction, Relative + Negative Adverb, and not.

יִנְוֶ֑ה      QI 3MS, Progressive I, he does . . . rest. Disjunctive accent. “[T]o reach an objective, achieve a result.” (KB, Lexicon, 678)

“The meaning of the last verb, ‘dwell,’ is uncertain. Many take it as a denominative of the noun נָוָה  (navah, ‘dwelling place’). In this case it would carry the idea, ‘he does not settle down,’ and would picture the drunkard as restless (cf. NIV ‘never at rest’; NASB ‘does not stay at home’). Some relate the verb to an Arabic cognate and translate the phrase as ‘he will not succeed, reach his goal.’ The Babylonian tyrant is the proud, restless man described in this line as the last line of the verse, with its reference to the conquest of the nations, makes clear. Wine is probably a metaphor for imperialistic success. The more success the Babylonians experience, the more greedy they become just as a drunkard wants more and more wine to satisfy his thirst. But eventually this greed will lead to their downfall, for God will not tolerate such imperialism and will judge the Babylonians appropriately (vv. 6–20).” (NET, loc. cit.)

“But looking to what follows, this sentence forms a protasis to v. 6, being written first in an absolute form, ‘He, the widely opened one, etc., upon him will all take up,’ etc. Hirchībh naphshō, to widen his soul, . . . , to open the mouth (Isa. 5:14), is a figure used to denote insatiable desire.” (K&D, loc. cit.)

אֲשֶׁר֩ Hypotactic Conjunction, Pronominal Relative MNS, Subject N, Antecedent = Subject of יִנְוֶ֑ה above, who.

הִרְחִ֨יב   HiPf 3MS, Persistent Pf, has enlarged.           

כִּשְׁא֜וֹל  Preposition, Comparative + Noun MGS Absolute, like Sheol. Forward emphasis.

נַפְשׁ֗וֹ Noun FAS Construct, A Direct Object + Personal Pronoun MGS, Possessive G, Antecedent = אֲשֶׁר֩, his appetite. Disjunctive accent. “Hereנֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) is understood in a physical sense, meaning ‘throat,’ which in turn is figurative for the appetite.” (NET, loc. cit.)

וְה֤וּא     Paratactic Conjunction, Relative + Personal Pronoun MNS, Subject N, Antecedent = נַפְשׁ֗וֹ, and he.

כַמָּ֙וֶת֙     Preposition, Comparative + Article, Particularizing + Noun MGS Absolute, like death. Forward emphasis.

וְלֹ֣א       Hypotactic Conjunction, Relative and Adjunctive + Negative Adverb, also . . . not.       

יִשְׂבָּ֔ע    QI 3MS, Stative I, is . . . satisfied. Disjunctive accent.

וַיֶּאֱסֹ֤ף   Paratactic Conjunction, Relative + QI 3MS, Progressive I, and gathers.

אֵלָיו֙      Preposition, Terminative + Personal Pronoun MGS, Reflexive G, Antecedent = Subject of וַיֶּאֱסֹ֤ף, to himself.

כָּל־הַגּוֹיִ֔ם          Noun MAS Construct, A Direct Object and functions adverbially (GKC, Grammar, 415, para. 128.e; KB, Lexicon, 474) + Article, Previous Reference to 1:17 + Noun MGP Absolute, Descriptive G, all the nations. Disjunctive accent.

וַיִּקְבֹּ֥ץ    Paratactic Conjunction, Relative + QI 3MS, Progressive I, and collects.

אֵלָ֖יו      Preposition, Terminative + Personal Pronoun MGS, Reflexive G, Antecedent = Subject of וַיִּקְבֹּ֥ץ , to himself.

כָּל־הָעַמִּֽים׃  Noun MAS Construct, A Direct Object and functions adverbially (GKC, Grammar, 415, para. 128.e; KB, Lexicon, 474)+ Article, Particularizing + Noun MGP Absolute, Descriptive G, all peoples. Disjunctive accent.


Verse 1

(A) I will stand on my guard post
(B) And station myself on the rampart;
(A) And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me,
(B) And how I may reply when I am reproved.

  • ABAB pattern with B adding to A.
  • Habakkuk’s Role – First A/B combination
  • Habakkuk’s Expectation – Second A/B combination.

Verse 2

Then the Lord answered me and said,

Record the vision
And inscribe it on tablets,
That the one who reads it may run.

  • Lines 1 and 2 are semantically related.
  • Line 3 represents the effect of the preceding imperatives.

Verse 3

(A) For the vision is yet for the appointed time;
(B) It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.
(B) Though it tarries, wait for it;
(A) For it will certainly come, it will not delay.

  • The verse is chiastic where A’s and B’s relate semantically.
  • The “vision” (“it”) is the subject of the verse and repeated 7 times.

Verse 4    

Behold, as for the proud one,
His soul is not right within him;
But the righteous will live by his faith.

  • Line 1 is explained by line 2.
  • “faith” and “faithfulness” translate the same word. See the notes.
  • But in line 3 provides the antithesis of lines 1 and 2.

Verse 5

Furthermore, wine betrays the haughty man,
   So that he does not stay at home.
He enlarges his appetite like Sheol,
   And he is like death, never satisfied.
He also gathers to himself all nations    And collects to himself all peoples.

  • Each line has two parts by the disjunctive accents in the notes.
  • Line 3 expands line 2.

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