Habakkuk 1:1-4 & 2:1-4

Habakkuk 1:1-4 & 2:1-4
Ordinary C45


1:1 The oracleA that the prophetB HabakkukC saw.D

Notes on verse 1:1

A “oracle” = massa. From nasa (to lift in a broad sense, literally and figuratively; to carry, take, or arise; to bring forth, advance, accept). This is burden, bearing, load, utterance, tribute, prophecy, desire, song.
B “prophet” = nabi. This is prophet, prophecy, speaker, or someone inspired.
C “Habakkuk” = Chabaqquq. 2x in OT. From chabaq (to embrace, clasp one’s hands, or cling) OR from baqaq (to empty). This is Habakkuk. It may mean “basil” or “mint” or “insect repellant” or “emptied bosom” or “the emptiness embraced.” See https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Habakkuk.html
D “saw” = chazah. This is to gaze at – to see or behold. It can also refer to perceiving as a mental process or looking at something with pleasure. It can be used particularly to mean seeing a vision.

O Lord,E how long shall I cry for help,F
    and you will not listen?G

Notes on verse 1:2a

E “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
F “cry for help” = shava. This is crying or shouting aloud, generally seeking freedom from some kind of trouble.
G “listen” = shama. This is to hear, call, consent, or consider. It implies listening intelligently, giving attention, and, because of these two factors, obedience and action are often implied.

Or cryH to you “Violence!”I
    and you will not save?J

Notes on verse 1:2b

H “cry” = zaaq. This is to cry or call out. It can be a call to assemble or gather together. By analogy, this could refer to a herald who announces a public gathering. It could also be a shriek from pain or danger.
I “violence” = chamas. From chamas (to violate, do violence, to wrong; implies mistreatment). This is violence, cruelty, damage, wrong, injustice, or unrighteous. Violence implies a wrong done. The term is also used to describe unjust gain.
J “save” = yasha. To deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue, be safe. Properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. Used causatively, it means to free.

Why do you make me seeK wrongdoingL
    and lookM at trouble?N
DestructionO and violence are beforeP me;

Notes on verse 1:3a

K “see” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
L “wrongdoing” = aven. Root may mean panting as one does when expending a lot of energy, especially when it comes to nothing. This is nothingness, trouble, sorrow, distress, wickedness, evil, harm, sorrow, misfortune, and mischief. It is also used specifically to refer to idols.
M “look” = nabat. This is to behold, look at intently, consider, or scan. It can mean to have respect or regard someone favorably.
N “trouble” = amal. From amal (to work – hard labor). This is trouble, toil, labor as well as misery, sorrow, or iniquity. It is work that wearies through effort so hence worry – can refer to body or mind.
O “destruction” = shod. From shadad (to ruin, assault, devastate, oppress, destroy completely; properly, it is being burly; figuratively it is something that is powerful). This is violence, devastation, ruin, or oppression.
P “before” = neged. From nagad (to declare, make conspicuous, stand in front, manifest, predict, explain). This is in front of, opposite to. It can refer to a counterpart or partner, one corresponding to or in the sight of.

    QstrifeR and contentionS arise.T

Notes on verse 1:3b

Q {untranslated} = hayah. Related to “Lord” in v1:2. See note E above.
R “strife” = rib.  From rib (properly to toss or grapple; used figuratively to mean wrangling and so for arguments, complaints, or disputes; used in a legal setting for pleading or defending a case). This is strife or dispute – whether a personal one or one in a court of law.
S “contention” = madon. 17x in OT. From din (to judge, defend, dispute, govern, quarrel, plead). This is contention, strife, quarrel.
T “arise” = nasa. Related to “oracle” in v1:1. See note A above.

SoU the lawV becomes slack,W

Notes on verse 1:4a

U “so” = al + ken. Ken is perhaps from kun (properly, in a perpendicular position; literally, to establish, fix, fasten, prepare; figuratively, it is certainty, to be firm, faithfulness, render sure or prosperous). This is to set upright. Generally used figuratively to mean thus, so, afterwards, rightly so.
V “law” = torah. From yarah (to throw, shoot, be stunned; to flow as water so figuratively to instruct or teach). This is law, instruction, teaching, or statute. It can also refer to the first five books of the Bible – the Torah.
W “slack” = pug. 4x in OT.  This is to be faint, sluggish, grow numb, be spent.

    and justiceX neverY prevails.Z

Notes on verse 1:4b

X “justice” = mishpat. From shaphat (to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, govern). This is a verdict or formal sentence whether from humans or from God. It includes the act of judging as well as the place that judging takes place, the suit itself, and the penalty. Abstractly, this is justice, which includes the rights of the participants.
Y “never” = lonetsach. Netsach is from natsach (something that glitters from a distance or stands out, excels, has status/standing; also to be permanent or enduring). This is properly a goal or destination as the bright focus to which one journeys. It can be splendor, truthfulness, or confidence. Most often, it refers to everlastingness, always, continually.
Z “prevails” = yatsa. This is to go or come out, bring forth, appear. It is to go out in a literal or figurative sense.

The wickedAA surroundBB the righteous;CC
    thereforeDD judgmentEE comes forthFF perverted.GG

Notes on verse 1:4c

AA “wicked” = rasha. This is morally wrong so it refers to someone who is actively bad as wicked, criminal, an evil person, offender, condemned, or ungodly.
BB “surround” = kathar. 6x in OT. This is to encircle, crown, besiege, bear with, restrain self.
CC “righteous” = tsaddiq. From the same as tsedeq (rightness, righteousness, just cause, vindication; that which is right in a natural, moral, or legal sense; abstractly equity; figuratively prosperity). This is just, innocent, righteous, righteous one, or lawful.
DD “therefore” = al + ken. Same as “so” in v1:4. See note U above.
EE “judgment” = mishpat. Same as “justice” in v1:4. See note X above.
FF “comes forth” = yatsa. Same as “prevails” in v1:4. See note Z above.
GG “perverted” = aqal. 1x in OT. This is to bend, twist, or wrong.

2:1 I will standHH at my watchpostII
    and stationJJ myself on the rampart;KK

Notes on verse 2:1a

HH “stand” = amad. This is to stand up in a literal or figurative sense. So it can be establish, continue, endure, take a stand, act, be a servant, stand still, remain, stand against an enemy.
II “watchpost” = mishmereth. From mishmar (jail, guard, watch, guard post); from shamar (to keep, watch, or preserve; to guard something or to protect it as a thorny hedge protects something). This is a guard or watch or guard post. It is used figuratively for obligation, duty, or observance, including religious observance.
JJ “station” = yatsab. This is to set oneself, take a stand, remain, continue, to station or set something in place.
KK “rampart” = matsor. From tsur (to confine, besiege, to cramp). This is besieged or fortified place, bulwark, entrenchment, tower. It is something hemmed in as a siege or distress or fastness.

I will keep watchLL to seeMM what he will sayNN to me
    and what he will answerOO concerning my complaint.PP

Notes on verse 2:1b

LL “keep watch” = tsaphah. This is to keep watch or spy – to look out. Properly, it refers to leaning forward to look out. It implies observing or awaiting.
MM “see” = raah. Same as “see” in v1:3. See note K above.
NN “say” = dabar. This is generally to speak, answer, declare, or command. It might mean to arrange and so to speak in a figurative sense as arranging words.
OO “answer” = shub. To turn back, return, turn away – literally or figuratively. Doesn’t necessarily imply going back to where you started from. This is also the root verb for the Hebrew word for repentance “teshubah.”
PP “complaint” = tokechah. From yakach (to decide, be right, argue, or convince; to decide, convict, reason together, or reprove). This is correction, rebuke, punishment. It can also be evidence used in court.

Then the Lord answeredQQ me and said:

WriteRR the vision;SS
    make it plainTT on tablets,UU
    so that a runnerVV may readWW it.

Notes on verse 2:2

QQ “answered” = anah. This is answer, respond, announce, sing, shout, or testify. It means to pay attention, which implies responding and, by extension, starting to talk. Used in a specific sense for singing, shouting, testifying, etc.
RR “write” = kathab. This is to inscribe, write, record, or decree.
SS “vision” = chazon. Related to “saw” in v1:1. From chazah (see note D above). This is a vision or a sight. It could be a dream, oracle, or revelation.
TT “make…plain” = baar. 3x in OT – 2x in Deuteronomy & 1x in Habakkuk. This is to dig, which can be used figuratively to mean engrave. By extension, this would mean to explain or declare.
UU “tablets” = luach. Root likely means glistening, so this would refer to a tablet as being polished in some sense, whether it’s made of stone, wood, or metal.
VV “runner” = ruts. This is to run or rush, divide quickly, bring swiftly. It can also refer to a footman or guard.
WW “read” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.

For there is still a vision for the appointed time;XX
    it speaksYY of the endZZ and does not lie.AAA

Notes on verse 2:3a

XX “appointed time” = moed. From yaad (to appoint, assemble or gather selves, agree). This is a meeting, assembly, fixed time. It can be used for a festival or feast. It can also refer to a meeting place.
YY “speaks” = puach. 14x in OT. This is to puff, breathe or blow, whether the breath or air. It can also mean to light a fire, utter, speak, snore, hasten, or scoff.
ZZ “end” = qets. From qatsats (to cut or chop off in a literal or figurative sense). This is outer border, end, or extremity. It can also mean infinite.
AAA “lie” = kazab. 18x in OT. This is to lie, be false or in vain, to fail. It is to deceive in a literal or figurative sense.

If it seems to tarry,BBB waitCCC for it;
    it will surely come;DDD it will not delay.EEE

Notes on verse 2:3b

BBB “tarry” = mahah. 9x in OT. Perhaps from mah (what, how long). This is to delay, question, linger, be reluctant.
CCC “wait” = chakah. 14x in OT. Perhaps related to chaqah (to carve, cut in). This is to long for, await, or lurk in ambush.
DDD “surely come” = bo + bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation. The word is repeated twice – the first time as an Infinitive Absolute. The Infinitive Absolute serves to emphasize the sentiment of the word. It is rather like Foghorn Leghorn’s speech pattern, “I said, I said.”
EEE “delay” = achar. 17x in OT. This is to remain behind, linger, continue, be behind, or delay. It can also imply procrastination.

LookFFF at the proud!GGG
    Their spiritHHH is not rightIII in them,
    but the righteous liveJJJ by their faithfulness.KKK

Notes on verse 2:4

FFF “look” = hinneh. From hen (lo! Behold! If, though; an expression of surprise). This is to draw attention, show suddenness or surprise, or to emphasize the importance of the coming statement. See! Lo! Behold!
GGG “proud” = aphal. 2x in OT. This is to swell, presume, proud.
HHH “spirit” = nephesh. Related to naphash (to refresh or be refreshed). This is soul, self, person, emotion. It is a breathing creature. Can also refer to appetites and desires.
III “is…right” = yashar. This is to be straight, right, even, smooth, or agreeable. Figuratively, it can be to make something pleasant or prosperous.
JJJ “live” = chayah. This is to live or keep alive in a literal or figurative sense. So, it can be revive, nourish, or save.
KKK “faithfulness” = emunah. From aman (to believe, endure, fulfill, confirm, support, be faithful, put one’s trust in, be steadfast. Figuratively, this is to be firm, steadfast, or faithful, trusting, believing, being permanent, morally solid). This word is literally firmness, but figuratively fidelity, faithfulness, honesty, responsibility, trust, truth, steadfastness. This word shares a root with the word “Amen.”

Image credit: “Habakkuk” by Donatello, 1423-1435. Photo by sailko, 2012.

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