|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:1-11 The servants of the Lord are deeply afflicted by seeing ungodliness and violence prevail; especially among those who profess the truth. No man scrupled doing wrong to his neighbour. We should long to remove to the world where holiness and love reign for ever, and no violence shall be before us. God has good reasons for his long-suffering towards bad men, and the rebukes of good men. The day will come when the cry of sin will be heard against those that do wrong, and the cry of prayer for those that suffer wrong. They were to notice what was going forward among the heathen by the Chaldeans, and to consider themselves a nation to be scourged by them. But most men presume on continued prosperity, or that calamities will not come in their days. They are a bitter and hasty nation, fierce, cruel, and bearing down all before them. They shall overcome all that oppose them. But it is a great offence, and the common offence of proud people, to take glory to themselves. The closing words give a glimpse of comfort.
Verse 9. - They shall come all for violence. All, every one of the invaders, come for violence - to repay that violence of which Habakkuk complained (ver. 2). Septuagint, Συντέλεια εἰς ἀσεβεῖς ἥξει, "An end shall come upon the impious;" Vulgate, Omnes ad praedam venient. Their faces shall sup up as the east wind. The word translated "shall sup up" occasions perplexity, being an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον. The Anglican rendering is virtually supported by other versions, e.g. Symmachus, Chaldee, and Syriac. The Vulgate, too, gives, facies eorum ventus urens, which Jerome explains, "As at the blast of a burning wind all green things dry up, so at the sight of these men all shall be wasted." This is the meaning of the Anglican Version, which, however, might be improved thus: The aspect of their faces is as the east wind. The Revisers have, Their faces are set eagerly as the east wind, which does not seem very intelligible. Other renderings are, "the endeavour," or "desire of their faces is directed to the east," or "forwards." (This rendering has the support of Orelli and others.) "The crowd of their faces," as equivalent to "the multitude of the army" which is not a Hebrew phrase found elsewhere. Septuagint, ἀνθεστηκότας (agreeing with ἀσεβεῖς in the first clause) προσώποις αὐτῶν ἐξεναντίας, "resisting with their adverse front." The effects of the east wind are often noted in Scripture; e.g. Genesis 41:6, 23; Job 27:21; Hosea 13:15. They shall gather the captivity as the sand. "He collects the captives as sand" - a hyperbolical expression to denote the numbers of captives and the quantity of booty taken. The mention of the east wind brings the thought of the terrible simoom, with its columns of sand.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
They shall come all for violence,.... Or, "the whole of it" (s); the whole army of the Chaldeans, everyone of them; this would be their sole view, not to do themselves justice, as might be pretended, or avenge any injuries or affronts done to them by the Jews; but purely for the sake of spoil and plunder:
their faces shall sup up as the east wind: their countenances will appear so stern and fierce, that their very looks will so frighten, as to cause men to sink and die through terror; just as herbs and plants shrivel up and wither away, when blasted by a nipping east wind. So the Targum,
"the reception or look of their faces is like to a vehement east wind.''
Some render it,
"the look or design of their faces is to the east (t);''
when the Chaldeans were on their march to Judea, their faces were to the west or south west; but then their desire and views were, that when they had got the spoil they came for, as in the preceding clause, to carry it to Babylon, which lay eastward or north east of Judea, and thither their faces looked:
and they shall gather the captivity as the sand; or gather up persons, both in Judea, and in other countries conquered by them, as innumerable as the sand of the sea, and carry them captive into their own land. Captivity is put for captives.
(s) "illa teta", Junius & Tremellius; "sub. gens", Pagninus, Piscator; "totus exercitus", Vatablus; "populus", Calvin. (t) "ad orientem", Pagninus, Montanus, Drusius; "orientem versus", Junius & Tremellius, De Dieu, Burkius; so Abarbinel.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
9. all for violence—The sole object of all is not to establish just rights, but to get all they can by violence.
their faces shall sup up as the east wind—that is, they shall, as it were, swallow up all before them; so the horse in Job 39:24 is said to "swallow the ground with fierceness and rage." Maurer takes it from an Arabic root, "the desire of their faces," that is, the eager desire expressed by their faces. Henderson, with Symmachus and Syriac, translates, "the aspect."
as the east wind—the simoon, which spreads devastation wherever it passes (Isa 27:8). Gesenius translates, "(is) forwards." The rendering proposed, eastward, as if it referred to the Chaldeans' return home eastward from Judea, laden with spoils, is improbable. Their "gathering the sand" accords with the simoon being meant, as it carries with it whirlwinds of sand collected in the desert.
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