Habakkuk 3:1-7

      I.    Why Is Yahweh Unresponsive to My Prayers? 1:1-11
      II.   Yahweh’s Response Concerning Babylon, 2:1-20                              III.  Habakkuk’s Prayer, 3:1-19                                                                       A.   Fear and Faith, 1-2                                                                            B.   Theophany, 3-15


“In both form and content this prayer differs from the two previous chapters. In these Yahweh and his prophet had carried on a dialogue in the form of complaint alternating with oracle, where God’s sovereignty and judgment became apparent with a declaration through a massaʾ, ‘oracle.’ Here, in lyric verse applicable to public worship, ch. 3 describes a theophany as the prophet preaches a sermon in the shape of a hymn composed of an amalgam of elements. As such it is unparalleled; in it the prophet extols the Lord who is arriving to fight and to conquer.” (Eszenyei Széles, M. (1987). Wrath and mercy: a commentary on the books of Habakkuk and Zephaniah (pp. 42–43). Grand Rapids; Edinburgh: Eerdmans; Handsel Press. [Hereafter as Wrath and Mercy]

“Despite the arguments about change of style and a separate title, the third chapter fits well in the flow of the book. The new style fits the new subject, just as the shift from the dialogue in chapter 1 to the dirge in chapter 2 indicated a changing emphasis. Furthermore, the title in 3:1 provides a clear break in the change, as “the ramparts” announced the shift at chapter 2.” (BKC, loc. cit.)


Noun FNS Absolute, N Absolute, a prayer.


Preposition, Agent + Noun MGS construct, by Habakkuk.


Article, Particularizing + Noun MGS Absolute, G in Apposition, the prophet.


Preposition, Standard, in accordance with.


Noun FGP Absolute, See Preposition, Shigionoth. “The Hebrew text adds עַל שִׁגְיֹנוֹת (’al shigyonot, ‘upon [or, ‘according to’] shigyonot’). The meaning of this word is uncertain. It may refer to the literary genre of the prayer or to the musical style to be employed when it is sung. The NEB leaves the term untranslated; several other modern English versions transliterate the term into English, sometimes with explanatory notes (NASB, NRSV ‘according to Shigionoth’; NIV ‘On shigyonoth’).” (NET loc. cit.)


Copulative Asyndeton exhibiting the contents of the prayer.


Noun MNS Absolute, V Direct Address, O Yahweh.


QPf 1CS, Pf of Past Perfect State, I have heard.


Noun MAS Construct, A Direct Object and Cognate A + Personal Pronoun MGS, Objective G, Antecedent = יְהוָ֗ה, [the] report about you. “This report about Yahweh is called ‘thy report,’ but the suffix is not the subject of the verbal root. It does not describe an account of himself given by God in an oracle; it is a report about God. It is best to identify this ‘report’ with the recital in vv 3–7.” (Anderson, Habakkuk, 276)


QPf 1CS, Pf of Present Perfect State, I fear. Asyndetic. Disjunctive accent. The LXX adds the conjunction (וְ) with no Hebrew MSS support indicated. The Asyndeton adds force to the verse.


Noun MNS Absolute, V Direct Address, O Yahweh. Disjunctive accent.


Noun MAS Construct, A Direct Object, Collective S + Personal Pronoun MGS, Subjective G, Antecedent = יְהוָ֗ה, your works. Disjunctive accent but the translations differ: disjunctive (ESV, LEB, NET); conjunctive (NASB, NKJV).

“The ‘work’ or ‘works’ of God can describe almost anything he does—works of creation, judgment, and redemption. In Hab 1:5, this language refers to an impending deed. (Anderson, Habakkuk, 276)


Preposition, Temporal + Noun MGS Construct, in [the] midst of. Forward emphasis.


Noun MGP Absolute, Partitive G, years.


PiImv 2MS, Imv of Request + Personal Pronoun MAS, A Direct Object, Antecedent = פָּֽעָלְךָ֙, revive it. Disjunctive accent.

“Based on the work of God in the past, the prophet called on God to ‘renew’ his deeds in the present day. ‘In our day’ and ‘in our time’ translate identical Hebrew expressions that begin their respective clauses, which call on God to renew his work and to make his deeds known ‘in the midst of years,’ a reference to the prophet’s time period.” (Barker, Habakkuk, 356)


Preposition, Temporal + Noun MGS Construct, in [the] midst of. Forward emphasis. Asyndetic. Most equate this with Habakkuk’s day.


Noun MGP Absolute, Partitive G, years.


HiI 2MS, I of Injunction, may you make known. Disjunctive accent. The I is a “non-perfective of injunction express[ing] the speaker’s will in a positive request or command.” (Waltke & O’Connor, Syntax, 509)


Preposition, Manner + Noun MGS Absolute, in anger. Forward emphasis.


PiInf Absolute, Inf of Purpose, to show compassion. Forward emphasis.


QI 2MS, I of Injunction, may you remember.


“God answered the prayer in verse two with a theophany in the following verses (Hab 3:3–15). ‘The passage forms the most extensive and elaborate theophany to be found in the Old Testament.’ [quoted in Achtemeier, Nahum–Malachi, 56.] A theophany describes an appearance of God in great power and glory, often looking to the events of the exodus and the giving of the law on Mount Sinai.” (Barker, Habakkuk, 358)

“In vv. 3–15 there is a mixture of eleven prefixed verbal forms (without vav [ו] consecutive or with vav conjunctive), sixteen suffixed forms, and three prefixed forms with vav consecutive. All of the forms are best taken as indicating completed action from the speaker’s standpoint (all of the prefixed forms being regarded as preterites). The forms could be translated with the past tense, but this would be misleading, for this is not a mere recital of God’s deeds in Israel’s past history. Habakkuk here describes, in terms reminiscent of past theophanies, his prophetic vision of a future theophany (see v. 7, ‘I saw’). From the prophet’s visionary standpoint the theophany is ‘as good as done.’ This translation uses the English present tense throughout these verses to avoid misunderstanding. A similar strategy is followed by the NEB; in contrast note the NIV and NRSV, which consistently use past tenses throughout the section, and the NASB, which employs present tenses in vv. 3–5 and mostly past tenses in vv. 6–15.” (NET, loc. cit.)

“As Moses depicts the appearance of the Lord at Sinai as a light shining from Seir and Paran, so does Habakkuk also make the Holy One appears thence in His glory; but apart from other differences, he changes the preterite בָּא (Jehovah came from Sinai) into the future יָבֹוא, He will come, or comes, to indicate at the very outset that he is about to describe not a past, but a future revelation of the glory of the Lord. This he sees in the form of a theophany, which is fulfilled before his mental eye; hence יָבֹוא does not describe what is future, as being absolutely so, but is something progressively unfolding itself from the present onwards, which we should express by the present tense.” (K&D, loc. cit.)


Noun MNS Absolute, Subject N, God. “The coming one is called Eloah (not Jehovah, as in Deut. 33:2, and the imitation in Judg. 5:4), a form of the name Elohim which only occurs in poetry in the earlier Hebrew writings, which we find for the first time in Deut. 32:15, where it is used of God as the Creator of Israel, and which is also used here to designate God as the Lord and Governor of the whole world. Eloah, however, comes as the Holy One (qâdōsh), who cannot tolerate sin (Hab. 1:13), and who will judge the world and destroy the sinners (vv. 12–14).” (K&D, loc. cit.) Explanatory Asyndeton and the beginning of the Epiphany of verses 3-15.


Preposition, Separation + Noun MGS Absolute, from Teman. Forward emphasis.


QI 3MS, Progressive I, comes. Disjunctive accent. On this and other verbs see the above notes.


Paratactic Conjunction, Copulative + Adjective MNS Absolute, Substantival, Subject N in Noun Clause, and the Holy One [comes].


Preposition, Separation + Noun MGS Construct + Noun MGS Absolute, from the mountain of Paran.

“Teman is associated with Edom (Jer 49:7–8, 20; Ezek 25:13; Amos 1:12; Obad 9), and Paran refers to a mountain range in the Sinai Peninsula to the south of Judah (Num 10:12; 13:3, 26; 1 Sam 25:1). These places represent points in the route by which Yahweh leads the covenant nation from Sinai to Canaan in the exodus. Just as Yahweh has led them into Canaan and enables them to gain possession of the land, Yahweh now is seen coming again in judgment. In view of 2:20, the coming forth from these points in the vicinity of Edom rather than from the heavenly temple is striking. Yahweh begins this approach not in heaven, but at specific sites on earth. This affirms that the manifestation of Yahweh’s character will not merely be a theoretical proposition, but will take place in time and space.” (Ham & Hahlen, Minor Prophets, 158-59)


Interjection, Exclamatory, Selah. Disjunctive accent.“The word Selâh does not form part of the subject-matter of the text, but shows that the music strikes in here when the song is used in the temple, taking up the lofty thought that God is coming, and carrying it out in a manner befitting the majestic appearance, in the prospect of the speedy help of the Lord. The word probably signified elevatio, from sâlâh = sâlal, and was intended to indicate the strengthening of the musical accompaniment, by the introduction, as is supposed, of a blast from the trumpets blown by the priests, corresponding therefore to the musical forte.” (K&D, loc. cit.)


PiPf 3MS, Persistent Pf, covers. See notes at יָב֔וֹא above.


Noun MAP Absolute, A Direct Object, [the] heavens.


Noun MNS Construct, Subject N + Personal Pronoun MGS, Possessive, Antecedent = קָד֥וֹשׁ, his majesty. Disjunctive accent.


Paratactic Conjunction, Relative + Noun FNS Construct, Subject N + Personal Pronoun MGS, Possessive G, Antecedent = קָד֥וֹשׁ, and his praise. Forward emphasis. The translations differ as to the syntax: subject or object.

“Grammatically considered, תְּהִלָּתֹו is the accusative governed by מָלְאָה, and הָאָרֶץ is the subject.” (K&D, loc. cit.) The NASB, ESV, NKJV has earth as subject and praise as object; but the NET, LEB, NIV has praise as the subject. The parallelism, see below, appears to have praise as subject and earth as object.


QPf 3FS, Persistent Pf, fills. See notes at יָב֔וֹא above.


Article, Particularizing + Noun FAS Absolute, A Direct Object, the earth.


A direct connection with the previous verse. “The prophet indicated a progressive quality to God’s appearance by comparing His splendor to a sunrise. The heavens are first tinted with early rays of the hidden sun, then the earth is illuminated as the ball of fire appears over the horizon, and finally everything is flooded with brilliant, glorious light.” (BKC, loc. cit.) See the notes that follow.


Paratactic Conjunction, Relative + Noun FNS Absolute, See under תִּֽהְיֶ֔ה, Subject N, and brightness. Forward emphasis.


Preposition, Comparative + Article, Particularizing + Noun FGS Absolute, like the lightning. See KB, Lexicon, 24. “Heb ‘[His] radiance is like light.’ Some see a reference to sunlight, but the Hebrew word אוֹר (’or) here refers to lightning, as the context indicates (see vv. 4b, 9, 11). The word also refers to lightning in Job 36:32 and 37:3, 11, 15.” (NET, loc. cit.)


QI 3FS, Progressive I, is. See notes at יָב֔וֹא above. Disjunctive accent. “The noun [וְנֹ֙גַהּ֙] is not necessarily masculine, making discord with the verb . . . ; the gender of some Hebrew nouns is indeterminate, being now masculine, now feminine; and BDB accepts Hab 3:4 as evidence that nōgah is feminine.” (Andersen, Habakkuk, 295) See BDB, Lexicon, 618.


Noun FND Absolute, Appositional N to וְנֹ֙גַהּ֙, rays. KB, Lexicon, 1145. Explanatory Asyndeton and Forward emphasis.


Preposition, Source + Noun FGS Construct + Personal Pronoun MGS, Possessive, Antecedent = קָד֥וֹשׁ, from his hand.


Preposition, Possessive + Personal Pronoun MGS, Possessive G, Antecedent = קָד֥וֹשׁ verse), belonging to him. Disjunctive accent. The redundant use of the pronoun is ignored by the translations.


Paratactic Conjunction, Relative + Adverb of Place, and there [is].


Noun MNS Construct, Predicate N in Noun Clause, the covering of.


Noun FGS, G of Description + Personal Pronoun MGS, Possessive, his power.

“God’s radiance is both emanating and concealing. It reveals His glory but veils His power. It is easy to forget that the light and warmth which showers the earth with blessing comes from a ball of fire that could consume the globe in a moment. So God’s power is hidden in His glory. His revelation is restrained lest it consume its beholders.” (BKC, loc. cit.)


Copulative Asyndeton.


Compounded Preposition, Locative + Personal Pronoun MGS, Antecedent = קָד֥וֹשׁ, before him. Forward emphasis.


QI 3MS, Progressive I, See notes at יָב֔וֹא above., goes forth.


Noun MNS Absolute, Subject N, plague. Disjunctive accent.


Paratactic Conjunction, Copulative + QI 3MS, Progressive I, and . . . goes forth.


Noun MNS Absolute, Subject N, plague. See KB, Lexicon, 1297. “Because of parallelism with the previous line, the meaning ‘pestilence’ is favored for רֶשֶׁף (reshef) here, but usage elsewhere suggests a destructive bolt of fire may be in view. See BDB 958 s.v. . . .  There are mythological echoes here, for in Canaanite literature the god Resheph aids Baal in his battles. See J. Day, “New Light on the Mythological Background of the Allusion to Resheph in Habakkuk III 5,” VT 29 (1979): 353–55.” (NET, loc. cit.)


Preposition, Locative + Noun MGP Construct + Personal Pronoun MGS, Possessive G, Antecedent = קָד֥וֹשׁ, at his feet.


Copulative Asyndeton. “The prophet now speaks of the effect of God’s presence on the world. The description mingles language appropriate to a thunderstorm with language appropriate to an earthquake. This kind of mixture is acceptable in Hebrew poetry, which sees God’s presence in all the major events in the world of nature.” (Clark, D. J., & Hatton, H. A. (1989). A translator’s handbook on the book of Habakkuk (p. 120). New York: United Bible Societies.) [Hereafter as Clark & Hatton, Habakkuk]

“Earlier commentators could not accept the authenticity of all five colons in v 6. The last colon attracted the most suspicion. Wade’s (1929:210) comment is typical of the older criticism: ‘The line is isolated, and is either the addition of a copyist, or else is part of a couplet of which one line is missing.’ Nowadays it is taken for granted that the pentacolon was part of the Hebrew poets’ repertoire (Watson 1984a:187–88).” (Anderson, Habakkuk, 307).


QPf 3MS, Persistent Pf, he stands. See notes at יָב֔וֹא above. On the ׀ (paseq, where 2 words are similar) see GKC, 59, footnote2 and Scott, William R. A Simiplified Guide to BHS, 3rd edition, 5 (category 2).


Paratactic Conjunction, Copulative + PoelI 3MS, Progressive I, and he caused to shudder. The poel is equivalent to piel (Waltke & O’Connor, Syntax, para. 21.2.3a). See KB, Lexicon, 555; NET, loc. cit.

“Moreover, the choice of the poel, instead of the piel, would still remain unexplained, and the parallelism of the clauses would be disregarded. We must therefore follow the Chaldee, Ges., Delitzsch, and others, who take מֹדֵד as the poel of מוּד = מוּט, to set in a reeling motion. It is only with this interpretation that the two parallel clauses correspond, in which יַתֵּר, the hiphil of נָתַר, to cause to shake or tremble, answers to יְמֹדֵד. This explanation is also required by what follows.” (K&D, loc. cit.)


Noun FAS Absolute, A Direct Object, the earth. Disjunctive accent. First colon (rebia accent).


QPf 3MS, Persistent Pf, he looks. See notes at יָב֔וֹא above. Copulative Asyndeton.


Paratactic Conjunction, Relative + HiI 3MS, Progressive I, and he causes . . . to jump. KB, Lexicon, 736.


Noun MAP Absolute, A Direct Object, nations. Disjunctive accent. Second colon (zaqep parvum accent).


Paratactic Conjunction, Relative + HitpoelI 3MP, Progressive and Reciprocal I, See notes at יָב֔וֹא above, and . . .  shattered themselves in pieces. See Waltke & O’Connor, Syntax, para. 21.2.3a.


Noun MNP Construct, Subject N + Noun MGS Absolute, Attributive G, everlasting mountains. Disjunctive accent. See KB, Lexicon, 786. Third colon (zaqep parvum accent).


QPf 3CP, Persistent Pf, See notes at יָב֔וֹא above, sink down. Copulative asyndeton.


Noun FNP Construct, Subject N, hills.


Noun MGS Absolute, Attributive G, ancient. Disjunctive accent. Fourth colon (Athnach accent).

“הַרְרֵי־עַד (= הַרְרֵי קֶדֶם, Deut. 33:15) in parallelism with גִּבְעֹות עֹולָם are the primeval mountains, as being the oldest and firmest constituents of the globe, which have existed from the beginning (מִנִּי עַד, Job 20:4), and were formed at the creation of the earth (Ps. 90:2; Job 15:7; Prov. 8:25).” (K&D, loc. cit.)


Noun FNP Construct, Subject N in Noun Clause, paths. Copulative Asyndeton.


Noun MGS Absolute, Attributive G, ancient.


Preposition, Possession + Personal Pronoun MGS, Antecedent = Subject of יַּתֵּ֣ר, his. Fifth colon (Silluq accent).


Copulative Asyndeton. “Verse 7 takes up the theme of the second line of verse 6 and speaks of the effect of God’s presence on specific peoples. There is no justification for starting a new paragraph at this point, as TEV does.” (Clark & Hatton, Habakkuk, 121)

“While v. 6 generally alludes to the shaking of the nations when the Lord manifests himself, v. 7 defines the areas more closely. It alludes to the inhabited areas of Cushan and Midian, those habitable areas nearest to Sinai on the Arabian steppes close by the Red Sea. The prophet thus sees that ‘the tents of Cushan stand under judgment’ (tahat ʾawen raʾiti ʾohole kushan), ‘and the curtains of the land of Midian tremble.’ The text is irretrievably damaged, however, leaving us with problems of interpretation. Nevertheless, seen in connection with the preceding verses, this verse means the dismay of the region’s inhabitants at the mere manifestation of the Lord as he arrives for judgment.” (Eszenyei Széles, M. (1987). Wrath and mercy: a commentary on the books of Habakkuk and Zephaniah (pp. 49–50). Grand Rapids; Edinburgh: Eerdmans; Handsel Press.) [Hereafter as Szeles, Wrath & Mercy)

“Witnesses to God’s appearance at the Exodus and in the wilderness wanderings were Cushan and Midian, nations that lay on either side of the Red Sea (or Cushan may be another name for Midian). God’s wondrous acts at the Red Sea (when He led His people from Egyptian captivity) threw neighboring nations into terror and they experienced distress (fear) and anguish. Other nations too heard of God’s mighty acts and were in fear (Ex. 15:14–16; Deut. 2:25; Josh. 2:9; 5:1). Reference to the people’s tents and dwellings (lit., “tent hangings”) seems to emphasize their precarious state. If the mountains melted away, what hope was there for those who huddled under canvas?” (BKC, loc. cit.)


Preposition, Locative (metaphorically), under. Forward emphasis.


Noun FGS Absolute, trouble.


QPf 1CS, Certitude Pf, I see in my mind. A psychological portrayal of the future. See Arnold, Bill T. and John H. Choi, A Guide to Biblical Hebrew Syntax. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003, 55 [Hereafter as Arnold & Choi, Guide to Biblical Hebrew Syntax]; Williams, Ronald J., Hebrew Syntax, 2nd ed, para. 165 [Hereafter as Williams, Syntax]; Waltke & O’Connor, Syntax, 490, labeled “accidental” pf.


Noun MAP Construct, A Direct Object, the tents of.


Noun MGS, G of Reference, Cushan. Disjunctive accent.


QI 3MP, Progressive I, in motion. Copulative asyndeton. See notes at יָב֔וֹא above.


Noun FAP Construct, A Direct Object, the tent curtains of.


Noun FGS Construct, G of Reference, the land of.

מִדְיָֽן׃ ס

Noun FGS Absolute, G of Reference, Midian.


Verses 1-2

A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth.

(A) LORD, I have heard the report about You and I fear. (B) O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years, (B) In the midst of the years make it known; (A) In wrath remember mercy.

  • The initial line is not part of the poetic development.
  • A Chiastic development.
  • Line 1 “and” is not in the text.
  • The versions and interpretations differ at where the thoughts break.

Verses 3-4

(A) God comes from Teman, (B) And the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah. (A) His splendor covers the heavens, (B) And the earth is full of His praise.

  • ABAB parallel lines with (B) expanding (A).
  • Lines 1 and 2 are grammatically parallel with an ellipsis.
  • Lines 3 and 4 are chiastic: A=covers the heavens, B=his splendor, B=his praise, A=fills the earth.

His radiance is like the sunlight; He has rays flashing from His hand, And there is the hiding of His power.

  • Radiance, sunlight, rays are related concepts.
  • Lines 2 and 3 have no verb (ellipses)

Verses 5-7

Before Him goes pestilence, And plague comes after Him.

  • “Pestilence” and “plague” are semantically related (see the notes).

(A) He stood and surveyed the earth;

(B) He looked and startled the nations.

(A) Yes, the perpetual mountains were shattered,

(B) The ancient hills collapsed.

His ways are everlasting.

  • ABAB poetic pattern.
  • Assonance in line 1 (amad “stood” and madad “surveyed”).
  • Line 2 interprets line 1 (see the notes); grammatically parallel.
  • Lines 3 and 4 are grammatically parallel and semantically related.
  • Line 5 (“are” added) sums up lines 1-4 with verbs (1-2) and effects (3-4).

I saw the tents of Cushan under distress, The tent curtains of the land of Midian were trembling.

  • The lines are semantically related with line 2 interpreting line 1.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: