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Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 29: Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and Haggai, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at




chapter 1

1 the burden which Habakkuk the Prophet saw:

2 How long, Jehovah, shall I cry, And thou wilt not hear? And cry aloud to thee of violence, And thou wilt not save?

3 Why showest thou me iniquity, And makest me to see trouble? And why are violence and plunder in my sight, And he who excites strife and contention? (19)

4 Therefore dissolved is the law, And judgment does not continually go forth; For the wicked surrounds the just, Therefor go forth does perverted judgment. (21)

5 Look ye among the Gentiles and see, And be astonished, be astonished; For a work will I work in your days, Which ye will not believe, though it be told you:

6 For behold, I will rouse the Chaldeans — A nation bitter and hasty, Which shall march through the breadths of the earth, To possess habitations not its own:

7 Terrible and fearful shall it be, From itself shall its judgment and its dignity proceed:

8 And swifter than leopards shall be its horses, And fiercer than the evening wolves; And numerous shall be its horsemen; And its horsemen from far shall come, They shall fly as an eagle hastening to devour: (30)

9 The whole of it for booty shall come; The aspect of their faces will be like the east-wind; And he will gather captives like the sand:

10 And at kings he will laugh, And princes shall be a scorn to him: Every fortress he will scorn, He will gather dust and take it:

11 Then will be change his spirit, And pass through and act impiously, Ascribing this his power to his god. (37)

12 Art not thou, Jehovah, from the beginning, my God? My holy One! we shall not die: Thou, Jehovah, for judgment hast set him; And thou strong One, for correction hast established him.

13 Pure art thou of eyes, so as not to behold evil, And on trouble thou canst not look: — Why lookest thou on transgressors, And takest no notice, when the ungodly devours One more righteous than himself?

14 Thou makest man like the fish of the sea, Like the reptile, which is without a leader: (46)

15 The whole by his hook will he draw up, Collect into his drag, and gather into his net; He will therefore rejoice and exult: (48)

16 Hence sacrifice will he to his drag, And incense will he offer to his net; For through them fat will be his portion, And his meat will be rich. —

17 Shall he therefore extend his drag, And continue to slay the nations, so as not to spare them?


1 On my watch-tower will I stand, And set myself on a citadel; And I will watch to see what he may say to me, And what I may answer to the reproof given me.

2 Then answer me did Jehovah and said, Write the vision, and make it plain on tables, That run may he who reads it;

3 For yet the vision shall be for an appointed time, And will speak at the end, and will not deceive: If it tarry, wait for it; (66) for coming it will come, and will not delay.

4 Behold the elated! not right is his soul within him; But the just, by his faith, shall he live.” (72)

5 Yea, truly! as by wine, transgress does the proud man, And he will not rest; (87) For he enlarges as the grave his soul, And is like to death, and is not satisfied; Yea, he collects to himself all nations, And heaps together for himself all the people.

6 Shall not all these take up against him a parable, And against him an enigmatical taunt, and say, — “Ho! he multiplies what is not his own! how long! And he accumulates on himself thick clay!

7 Shall they not suddenly rise up who shall bite thee, And awake, who shall torment thee? And shalt not thou become tramplings to them?

8 As thou has spoiled many nations, Spoil thee shall all the remnant of the people, On account of men’s blood, and of violence To the land, to the city and to all its inhabitants.

9 Ho! he covets an evil covetousness to his house, In order to set on high his nest, That he may keep himself from the hand of evil!

10 Thou hast provided shame for thine own house, By cutting off many nations, And thou hast sinned against thine own soul.”

11 For the stone from the wall shall cry,  154 And the wood from the chamber shall answer it, —

12 “Ho! he builds a town by blood, And sets up a city by iniquity!”

13 Behold, shall nothing be from Jehovah of hosts? Hence labour shall the people in the fire, And weary themselves in vain;

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

15 Wo to him who gives his friend drink! — Uniting thy heat, thou makes them also to drink, That thou mayest look on their nakedness. (112)

16 Thou art filled with shame for the sake of glory; Drink thou also, and be thou uncovered: Poured forth to thee shall be the cup of Jehovah’s right hand, And shameful spewing shall be on thy glory:

17 For overwhelm thee shall the violence done to Lebanon, And the spoiling of beasts, which terrified them; On account of men’s blood, and of violence To the land, to the city, and to all its inhabitants.

18 What avails the graven image? For graven it hath its framer, Even the molten image and the teacher of falsehood; For trust does the framer in his own work, when he makes dumb idols. (122)

19 Wo to him who saith to wood, “Awake;” And “Arise,” to a dumb stone; — it will teach: Behold, it is covered with gold and silver; And there is no spirit in the midst of it. (124) But Jehovah is in his holy Temple: Silent at his presence let the whole earth be.


1 The prayer of Habakkuk the Prophet respecting ignorances:

2 Jehovah! I heard thy voice, and was terrified; Jehovah! thy work in the midst of the years, revive it; In the midst of the years, make it know; In wrath thy mercy remember. (137)

3 God! from Teman he came; And the holy One from mount Paran: Selah: Cover the heaven did his glory; Of his praise full was the earth:

4 And brightness, — as the light it was; Horns, — from his hands they were; (143) And there was the hiding of his strength:

5 Before his face walked the pestilence, And come forth did burning coals at his feet:

6 He stood, and he measured the earth; He looked, and he dissolved nations; Yea, shattered were perennial mountains, Bent down were hills of antiquity; The ways of ages were his.

7 For iniquity saw I the tents of Chusan; (150) Tremble did the curtains of the land of Madian.

8 Wert thou angry with rivers, O Jehovah? Was thine indignation against rivers? Was thy wrath against the sea? For thou didst ride on thy horses, Thy chariots were salvation.

9 Quite bare was made thy bow: The oaths to the tribes was thy word: Selah: (155) With rivers didst thou cleave the earth.

10 See thee did mountains, they fell down; The stream of waters passed away; Utter its voice did the deep, On high did it raise its hands. (158)

11 The sun and moon stood still in their habitation; At the light of thy arrows did they proceed, At the brightness of the glittering of thy spear. (160)

12 In wrath didst thou tread on the land, In anger didst thou thresh the nations:

13 Go forth didst thou for the salvation of thy people, For their salvation, with thy Christ: Strike didst thou the head From the house of the wicked, Making bare the foundation even to the neck: (164)

14 Smite didst thou with his own staffs The head of his villages: They rushed as a whirlwind to drive me away; Their joy was to devour the poor in secret:

15 A way hast thou made in the sea for thy horses, Through the heap of great waters. (168)

16 I heard, — and tremble did my bowels, At thy voice quiver did my lips; Enter did rottenness into my bones, And within me I made a great noise; That I might rest in the day of affliction, When he ascends against the people, Who shall cut them off. (171)

17 For the fig-tree shall not flourish, And no fruit shall be on the vines, Fail shall the produce of the olive, And the fields shall not bring forth food; cut off from the fold shall be the flock, And there shall be no ox in the stalls:

18 But I — in Jehovah will I exult, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation:

19 Jehovah, the Lord, is my strength; And he will set my feet as those of hinds, And on my high places will he make me to walk — To the leader on my beatings.



Calvin makes here a change in the discourse; but the whole to the end of the chapter may be viewed as the parable or the taunt mentioned in verse 6, and the particle Ho! may be retained instead of Wo. The taunt seems to have been formed so as to have been especially suitable to be used by the Jews.

By regarding the passage in this light, we can understand the sudden change off person in verse 16, if the proposed emendation be disapproved; for we see the same in the former portions of the “taunt.” See 6 and 7, and also 9 and 10. That the reader may see the whole of this passage, containing the “taunt,” in the light in which I am now fully inclined to regard it, it shall be presented to him complete: —

6. Will not these, every one of them, Raise up a proverb concerning him, And a taunt, enigmas for him, and say, — “Ho! He increases what is not his! how long! And he accumulates on himself thick clay! —

7. Will they not suddenly rise up — thy biters, And awake — thy tormentors, And thou become booties to them?

8. For thou hast spoiled many nation, And spoil thee shall all the remnant of the people, On account of men’s blood, and of violence To the land, to the city, and to all its inhabitants.”

9. “Ho! he has coveted an evil covetousness to his house, To set on high his nest, In order to save himself from the hand of evil! —

10. Thou hast consulted shame to thine house, By cutting off many nations And by sinning against thine own soul:

11. For the stone — from the wall it cries, And the beam — from the woodwork it answers it, —

12. ‘Ho! he builds a town by blood, And sets up a city by oppression!’ —

13. Shall nothing be, lo! From Jehovah of hosts? Yea, labor shall the people for the fire, And nations — for vanity shall they weary themselves:

14. For filled shall be the earth With the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah, Like the waters which spread over the sea.”

15. “Ho! he gives drink to his neighbour! — Thou addest thy bottle and also strong drink, In order to look on their nakedness!

16. Thou hast been filled with reproach rather than with glory: Drink thou also, and be uncovered; Come round to thee shall the cup Of the right hand of Jehovah; And shameful spewing shall be on thy glory:

17. For the violence done to Lebanon — it shall overwhelm thee, And the plunder of beasts — it shall rend thee; On account of men’s blood, and of violence To the land, to the city, and to all its inhabitants.”

18. “What avails the graven image! For its graver — he forms it — Even the molten image and the teacher of falsehood: Yea, trust in it does the former of its form, After having made dumb idols!

19. Ho! he saith to the wood, ‘Arise, Awake;’ To the dumb stone, ‘It will teach?’ Behold it! covered it is with gold and silver, Yet there is no spirit within it! But Jehovah is in his holy temple: Silent at his presence let the whole earth be.”

The “taunt” may be deemed as terminating at the end of the 17th verse; but I regard it as continuing to the end of the chapter. The word “neighbour,” in the 15th verse, is a collective singular, meaning every neighbour: hence “their” at the end of the verse. The same may be said of “image” in verse 18, which means every image or images, as “idols” are mentioned afterwards. Such are common instances in the Prophets. “It will teach,” in verse 19, most evidently refers to “the dumb stone” — the idol; for it is expressly called “the teacher of falsehood” in verse 17. — Ed

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