Book of Habakkuk

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Habakkuk [Hebrew חֲבַקּוּק - transliterated Chabaqquq] is a book of the Bible written by the prophet Habakkuk, an ancient minor prophet of the Old Testament. The Book of Habakkuk is one of the shortest books of the Old Testament, spanning no more than three chapters long, and is primarily focused on Habakkuk's prayers to God and the responses he receives regarding Habakkuk's wishes for God to destroy the wicked and evildoers.

Overview

The Book of Habakkuk is a prophetic book, where Habakkuk pleads to God several times to punish those who afflict Judah and receives a number of responses with the words of the Lord. The narrative can be considered in the following; Habakkuk 1:1-4 (Habakkuk's First Prayer), Habakkuk 1:5-11 (God's First Answer), Habakkuk 1:12-2:1 (Habakkuk's Second Prayer And Thoughts), Habakkuk 2:2-5 (God's Second Answer), Habakkuk 2:6-20 (Woe Oracles), Habakkuk 3:1-19 (Habakkuk's Worship Of God).

Context

Authorship

The author of the Book of Habakkuk is Habakkuk himself. Habakkuk identifies himself as the author of this document in the first verse of this book, which says "The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw."[1] Habakkuk identifies himself a second time in the third chapter of the book, where he writes "A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. According to Shigionoth."[2] Thus, a man named Habakkuk clearly identifies himself as the author of this book twice throughout the document, not only showing that it is a product of his hand but his self-reference throughout the book also establishes its unity. This fact is buttressed by the fact that Habakkuk is specifically told by God to record these words in Habakkuk 2:2, which says "...The Lord answered me: Write down this vision; clearly inscribe it on tablets so one may easily read it."[3] Habakkuk is specifically told to write these words down, and so it can be safely assumed that this is indeed the ordeal that occurred.

Dating

According to David Malick, "Habakkuk 1:6 announces the Lord’s intent to raise up the Chaldeans (neo-Babylonians) to judge Judah; this would have begun with Babylon’s defeat of Egypt and Assyria at Carchemish in 605 B.C. and its subsequent entrance into Palestine (cf. Dan 1:1-2). The prophecy of Habakkuk seems to precede this event[.]"[4] In the Book of Habakkuk, God says that one day the Chaldeans will be raised up against Judah (Habakkuk 1:6), an event that took place between 597-581 BC.[5] This is God's prophecy to Habakkuk, meaning the book must predate this event. Thus, the most likely date for the Book of Habakkuk is somewhere in the last 7th century BC.

Narrative

Habakkuk's Prayers

Habakkuk prays to God twice, in Habakkuk 1:1-4 and Habakkuk 1:12-17. Both times, Habakkuk tells God that Judah is being oppressed and persecuted by the wicked, and He pleads with God to destroy and judge the oppressors. Habakkuk is first perplexed by God that He is watching the oppression of him and his fellow people without taking action,[6] asking God why He lets him watch the iniquity that is occurring around him and why He is tolerating the evil that is going. He expresses that the law is ineffective because the unrighteous restrict the righteous.

God's Answers

God gives two answers to Habakkuk, for both prayers. God first tells Habakkuk of the strength of the wicked, how they desolate and siege the most powerful of the fortresses of their enemies, and how they wage their power over the lands. God tells Habakkuk that He Himself is the one raising the Chaldeans (neo-Babylonians) to "seize territories not its own",[7] revealing that they make strength their God. Habakkuk is astonished and says that God cannot do tolerate wrongdoing, and he asks why God is allowing all this to happen. God again answers Habakkuk, revealing to him that the appointed time is coming for the Chaldeans and what will happen to them, as their ego is inflated by the territory and people they capture. Shortly after God's prophecy to Habakkuk in the 7th century BC, the Chaldeans meet their destruction.

References

  1. Habakkuk 1:1
  2. Habakkuk 3:1
  3. Habakkuk 2:2
  4. An Introduction to the Book of Habakkuk
  5. Dunn, James DG, and John William Rogerson. Eerdmans commentary on the Bible. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2003.pg. 545
  6. Davidson, Andrew Bruce, ed. The Books of Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah: With Introduction and Notes. Vol. 28. CUP Archive, 1899. pg. 66
  7. Habakkuk 1:6

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