Complaint against Yahweh for His Tolerance of Wrong-doing. In bitter remonstrance with Yahweh, the prophet asks how long he must cry Violence! and look on wretchedness and trouble, robbery, strife and contention, the failure of justice and the general paralysis of law, while Yahweh remains silent, indifferent, or powerless.
Habakkuk 1:2. violence: probably the burden of the cry.
Habakkuk 1:3. iniquity. perverseness: rather wretchedness or misery..·. trouble.
Habakkuk 1:4. law: moral direction or instruction from Yahweh. slacked: lit. benumbed, paralysed. compass about: i.e. circumvent in his plans, and impede in his rights.
The Chaldeans as Ministers of Divine Justice. In His answer Yahweh directly addresses the evil-doers, warning them that He is about to work a work in their days they would never have believed: He is raising against them the fierce and dreaded power of the Chaldeans, who are already carrying destruction to the ends of the earth, swooping from afar like eagles on the prey, gathering captives like the sand, scoffing at kings and princes, carrying fortresses with a rush, and making their strength a god.
Habakkuk 1:5. For baggoyim, among the nations, read bog dim, ye evil-doers (LXX). I work (ptcp.): i.e. I am just about to work.
Habakkuk 1:6. bitter and hasty: rather, fierce and impetuous (vehement).
Habakkuk 1:7. Omitting mishpaṭ? o (their judgment) as explanatory gloss, and reading she-' th, destruction, for s e etho, his dignity, translate out of him (them) goeth destruction.
Habakkuk 1:8. evening wolves: with their hunger whetted to its keenest edge.
Habakkuk 1:9. The middle clause is untranslateable, and its sense wholly uncertain.
Habakkuk 1:10. heapeth up dust: for a siege-mound.
Habakkuk 1:11. With a slight change in the verb read, Then he sweepeth along like the wind, and maketh his strength a god. The prophet here seems to combine features drawn from current report of the Chaldeans with others suggested by the Scythian invaders of Josiah's reign (cf. Jeremiah's Scythian songs).
Remonstrance over the Inhumanity of the Chaldeans. The execution of Divine judgment raises fresh questions: Why should the Holy One, whose eyes are too pure to look on evil, appoint as minister of justice a people still more faithless and corrupt than its victim? And why should He make the nations like leaderless swarms of fish, to be swept into the net, and gathered up in the seine (drag-net), then emptied out and slaughtered, while the oppressor in brutal joy offers sacrifice to his nets?
Habakkuk 1:12. Read probably, Yahweh, my Holy God, that diest not? (cf. mg.). The second part of the verse should also perhaps be taken interrogatively, Was it thou that didst ordain (appoint) him. for judgment? For tsur, Rock (which reads very awkwardly), Duhm suggests tsir, messenger or minister: thus, and established him as a minister of chastisement.
Habakkuk 1:16. The conqueror deifies his weapons of war (cf. Herodotus-' account of Scythian sacrifices to the scimitar, iv. 59f.)
Habakkuk 1:17. The word tamid, continually, should probably go with the first clause, Shall he be ever emptying his net, to slaughter nations unpitying?