King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Habakkuk 2

Habakkuk must wait in faith. (1-4) Judgments upon the Chaldeans. (5-14) Also upon drunkenness and idolatry. (15-20)

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Habakkuk must wait in faith

1 I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.

2 And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.

3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

Judgments upon the Chaldeans

5 Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people:

6 Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay!

7 Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee, and awake that shall vex thee, and thou shalt be for booties unto them?

8 Because thou hast spoiled many nations, all the remnant of the people shall spoil thee; because of men’s blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.

9 Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil!

10 Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast sinned against thy soul.

11 For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.

12 Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity!

13 Behold, is it not of the LORD of hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity?

14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

Also upon drunkenness and idolatry

15 Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!

16 Thou art filled with shame for glory: drink thou also, and let thy foreskin be uncovered: the cup of the LORD’s right hand shall be turned unto thee, and shameful spewing shall be on thy glory.

17 For the violence of Lebanon shall cover thee, and the spoil of beasts, which made them afraid, because of men’s blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.

18 What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols?

19 Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.

20 But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Will stand, &c. Waiting to see what the Lord will answer to my complaint, viz. that the Chaldeans, who are worse than the Jews, and who attribute all their success to their own strength, or to their idols, should nevertheless prevail over the people of the Lord. The Lord’s answer is, that the prophet must wait with patience and faith; that all should be set right iu due time; and the enemies of God and his people punished according to their deserts. Ch. — The prophet speaks, waiting for a further revelation, (W.) not seeing before the reasons of Providence in permitting the wicked to prosper. H. Ps. lxxii. 17. — He is informed that the kings of Babylon, (v. 5. 8.) Juda, (v. 11) Tyre, (v. 14) and Egypt, (v. 18) and all who trust in idols, shall suffer. v. 19. Hereupon the judgments of God are pronounced just. C. — Tower. Aq. &c. “circle.” The ancient Jews say Habacuc formed a circle, out of which he would not stir till he was satisfied, (Kimchi) as Popilius did. V. Max. vi. 4. Dan. xi. 29. C.

Ver. 2. Over it. It shall be so legible (H.) anyone may hear or take a copy. C.

Ver. 3. Slack. That which happens at the time fixed is not. W. — Heb. “the vision is for an appointed time.” Habacuc might live to see the conquest and downfall of Nabuchodonosor. Many think that the first and second coming of Christ (Heb. x. 36. Rom. i. 17.) are here insinuated, as the dominion of the aforesaid king represented the slavery of mankind under the devil, and the liberty granted by Cyrus was a type of their redemption. The felicity of the Jews is the last event which the prophet specifies, and this is here the literal sense. S. Cyr. C.

Ver. 4. Unbelieving. Prot. “lifted up.” H. — The king’s vain projects shall fail. Sept. Rom. “If he withdraw himself, my soul shall not have pleasure in him. But my just man shall live by my faith.” Others read with S. Paul, “my just man shall live by faith.” Heb. x. 38. C. — The source of content arises from faith, (without which this life would be a sort of death, as the apostle and S. Aug. Trin. xiv. 12. &c. observe) because it is the beginning of life by grace, which the works of the law could not otherwise confer. Gal. iii. W. — The Heb. will admit the sense of the Sept. and we ought rather to shew this in passages which the authors of the New Testament quote, than to excuse them. Here their version seems preferable to that given by moderns, ecce elata est, non recta anima ejus in eo, the drift of which who can guess? Beza has acted unfairly, “at si quis se subduxerit non est gratum animo meo;” whereas the text speaks of the “just man,” as Theophylactus observes. “Hence all who know his theological opinions, may see how suspicious his translation must be accounted.” Pearson. pref. Sept. H.

Ver. 5. As wine deceiveth, &c. viz. by affording only a short passing pleasure, followed by the evils and disgrace that are the usual consequences of drunkenness: so shall it be with the proud enemies of the people of God, whose success affordeth them only a momentary pleasure, followed by innumerable and everlasting evils. Ch. — Heb. “but as the proud man prevaricates in wine, he shall not succeed.” Baltassar’s reign was short. Vat. De Dieu. — Nabuchodonosor saw himself reduced to the meanest condition. — Hell. He is insatiable. Prov. xxx. 16. C. — Æstuat infelix (Alex.) augusto limite mundi. Juv. x.

Ver. 6. Parable. Lit. “marvel,” or wonderful speech; parabolam.Dark. Prot. “a taunting proverb;” (H.) when Nabuchodonosor became like a beast, and his empire was soon after divided. C. — Clay. Ill-gotten goods, that like mire both burden and defile the soul. Ch. — Gold and silver are only a sort of earth. Job xxvi. 16. Zac. ix. 2. Habacuc does not even name riches, out of contempt. Some think (C.) that he alludes to the grave. People prayed for their deceased friend: Sit tibi terra levis. Drus.

Ver. 7. Bile, like worms in the grave. Cyrus will overturn the kingdom. The Rabbins pretend that Evilmerodac caused his father’s body to be cut in pieces for the crows, lest he should return again. C.

Ver. 8. Blood. For cruelty, avarice, &c. the Chaldees shall be ruined. W. — City, different from that land of the Arabs, who dwell under tents. This city may denote Jerusalem, Babylon, &c.

Ver. 9. Wo. This is commonly understood of Nabuchodonosor; but it seems rather to designate Joakim, (Jer. xxii. 13.) whose injustice scandalized the prophet. C.

Ver. 10. House. Thinking to establish thy family for ever, thou hast proved its ruin by avarice, &c. W. — This is applied to Nabuchodonosor, but may be as well explained of Joakim, who oppressed his people, and was cast out like an ass. C.

Ver. 11. Timber. Heb. “caphis (Sept. the insect kantharos) from the wood shall answer.” H. — The signification of the Heb. term is unknown. It was customary to place beams of wood after some courses of stone, to strengthen the building. 3 K. vi. 36. C. — The crimes were so crying, that if men were silent the very stones would publish them. M.

Ver. 12. Wo. This might be explained of Nabuchodonosor; but we rather understand the king of Tyre, whose pride was intolerable. Ezec. xxviii. It seems useless to repeat so often the same threats against one king. C.

Ver. 13. Things, &c. That is, shall not these punishments that are here recorded come from the Lord upon him that is guilty of such crimes? Ch. or, are not these riches from the Lord? The king of Tyre thought himself a god. Ezec. xxviii. 2. C. — People; enemies of God’s people. Ch. — The riches of the Tyrians shall perish, so that the troops of Nabuchodonosor shall find nothing worth their trouble. Thus all were justly punished.

Ver. 14. Sea. The land and naval forces attacked Tyre. C. — Vast multitudes came against Babylon. M. — The punishment of the wicked will cause many to adore and to fear the Lord. H.

Ver. 15. Wo. All this may refer to the king of Egypt, who deceived Joakim, Sedecias, &c. C. — Sept. “O, he who giveth drink to his neighbour, a cruel overthrow, and who maketh,” &c. — Nakedness. Sept. “caverns;” deluding him, so that his places of retreat become useless. H. — The Jews relate that Sedecias was intoxicated, and then acted with indecency. S. Jer. — But these accounts deserve little credit.

Ver. 16. Glory. Egypt shall suffer at last. Is. xix. 14. Jer. xliii. &c. It was customary to hand the cup about. Jer. xxv. 17. Mat. xxvi. 27. C.

Ver. 17. Libanus. That is, the iniquity committed by the Chaldees against the temple of God, signified here by the name of Libanus. Ch. — Egypt had persuaded the governor of Cœlosyria and the Jews to revolt, and then abandoned them. — Beasts, which were adored in Egypt. Those who explain all of the Chaldees are much perplexed, understanding the army of Cyrus, or the oppressed nations, or subjects to be meant. C. — And of. Heb. “land of the city,” as v. 8.

Ver. 18. Thing, Prot. falsely, “image.” H. — This is addressed to all idolaters.

Ver. 20. Temple. Heb. “palace,” or heaven. House is generally put for the temple. — Silence, out of respect, &c. The guards of the eastern princes observe the utmost silence and modesty. God is very different from idols. He is the arbiter of life and death. C. — Silence often denotes subjection. 1 Mac. i. 3. M.