|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:3-15 God's people, when in distress, and ready to despair, seek help by considering the days of old, and the years of ancient times, and by pleading them with God in prayer. The resemblance between the Babylonish and Egyptian captivities, naturally presents itself to the mind, as well as the possibility of a like deliverance through the power of Jehovah. God appeared in his glory. All the powers of nature are shaken, and the course of nature changed, but all is for the salvation of God's own people. Even what seems least likely, shall be made to work for their salvation. Hereby is given a type and figure of the redemption of the world by Jesus Christ. It is for salvation with thine anointed. Joshua who led the armies of Israel, was a figure of Him whose name he bare, even Jesus, our Joshua. In all the salvations wrought for them, God looked upon Christ the Anointed, and brought deliverances to pass by him. All the wonders done for Israel of old, were nothing to that which was done when the Son of God suffered on the cross for the sins of his people. How glorious his resurrection and ascension! And how much more glorious will be his second coming, to put an end to all that opposes him, and all that causes suffering to his people!
Verses 3-15. - § 3. The prophet or the congregation depicts in a majestic theophany the coming of God to judge the world, and its effect symbolically on material nature, and properly on evil men. Verse 3. - In this episode Habakkuk takes his imagery from the accounts of God's dealings with his people in old time, in Egypt, at the Red Sea, at Sinai, at the Jordan, in Canaan; he echoes the songs of Moses and Deborah and the psalmist; and he looks on all these mighty deeds as antici-pative of God's great work, the overthrow of all that opposes and the establishment of the kingdom of Messiah. God (Eloah) came from Teman. The words are connected with Moses' description of the Lord's appearance at Sinai (Deuteronomy 33:2; comp. Judges 5:4). As he then came in glory to make a covenant with his people, so will he appear again in majesty to deliver them from the power of evil and to execute judgment. The verbs throughout are best rendered in the present. The prophet takes his stand in time preceding the action of the verb, and hence uses the future tense, thus also showing that he is prophesying of a great event to come, symbolized by these earlier manifestations. Habakkuk here and in Habakkuk 1:11 trees the word Eloah, which is not found in Jeremiah, Ezekiel, or the other minor prophets; it occurs once in Isaiah, twice in Deuteronomy, and frequently in Job. There is no ground for the contention that its employment belongs to the latest stage of Hebrew. Teman; i.e. Edom; Vulgate, ab Austro (see notes on Amos 1:12 and Obadiah 1:9). In Moses' song the Lord is said to come from Sinai. Habakkuk omits Sinai, says Pusey which was the emblem of the Law, and points to another Lawgiver, like unto Moses, telling how he who spake the Law, God. should come in the likeness of man. The Holy One. A name of God (Habakkuk 1:12), implying that he will not let iniquity pass unpunished, and that he will preserve the holy seed. Mount Paran. The mountainous district on the northeast of the desert of Et-Tih. The glory of the Lord is represented as flashing on the two hilly regions separated by the Arabah. They both lay south of Canaan; and there is propriety in representing the redeemer and deliverer appearing in the south, as the Chaldean invader comes from the north. The LXX. adds two translations of the word "Pharan," viz. "shady," "rough;" according to its etymology it might also mean "lovely." Selah; Septuagint, διάψαλμα. This term occurs also in vers. 9, 13, and frequently in the Psalms, but nowhere else, and indicates some change in the music when the ode was sung in the temple service. What is the exact change is a matter of great uncertainty. Some take it to indicate "a pause;" others, connecting it with salah, "to lift up," render it "elevation," and suppose it means the raising of the voice, or the strengthening of the accompaniment, as by the blast of trumpets. The meaning must be left undetermined, though it must be added that it is always found at the end of a verse or hemistich, where there is a pause or break in the thought, or, as some say, some strongly accented words occur. His glory covered the heavens. His majestic brightness spread over the heavens, dimming the gleam of sun and stars; or it may mean his boundless majesty fills the highest heavens and encompasses its inhabitants. His praise. This is usually explained to signify that the earth and all that dwell therein, at this glorious manifestion, utter their praise. But there is no allusion as yet to the manner in which the appearance is received, and in ver. 6 it produces fear and trembling; so it is best to take "praise" in the sense of "matter of praise," that glory "which was calculated to call forth universal adoration" (Henderson).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
God came from Teman,.... Or, "may God come from Teman" (t); since it is part of the prayer of Habakkuk: or, as "from Teman" (u); as he of old came from thence, a city in the land of Edom, Jeremiah 49:7 it was five miles from Petra, in Idumea, where was Mount Seir, from whence the Lord arose, and shone forth from Mount Paran, at the giving of the law, Deuteronomy 33:2 to which the allusion is here. So the Targum,
"at the giving of the law to his people, God was revealed from the south;''
for so Teman signifies. The prophet, to encourage his own faith, and the faith of others, takes notice, in this and the following verses, of the instances of the grace, goodness, and power of God to his people Israel, in appearing to them at Mount Sinai, going before them in the wilderness, destroying their enemies, casting them out before them, and introducing them into the land of Canaan, and settling them there; suggesting, that he that had done these great and wonderful things would support and maintain, carry on and promote, his own kingdom and interest in the world; in order to which the prophet prays to God the Father for the coming of his Son, either in the flesh, that the incarnate God would appear in the world, and set up his kingdom in it; or, in prayer, he prophesies of it, and expresses his faith in it: "God cometh from the south"; or, "he shall come" (w), as it may be rendered: he knew, from the prophecy of Micah, that he that was to be ruler in Israel was to come from Bethlehem, Micah 5:2 which lay to the south of Jerusalem; and from hence he expected him, and believed he would come, and prayed for it as being most desirable and welcome: or else this respects the coming of the Messiah, in the ministration of the word to Jews and Gentiles, after his resurrection from the dead, and ascension to heaven, and the pouring forth of his Spirit on the day of Pentecost; that as the Lord came from the places here mentioned, when he gave the law on Mount Sinai, so he would send forth his Gospel out of Zion and Jerusalem, and go forth himself along with it, riding in his glory, and in his majesty, conquering and to conquer; causing his ministers to triumph in him, and by them subdue multitudes of souls to him, both in Judea, and in the Gentile world, whereby his kingdom might appear in it:
and the Holy One from Mount Paran; or, "even the Holy One" (x); that came or shined forth "from Mount Paran" formerly; for it was Christ then that appeared on Mount Sinai, and gave to Moses the lively oracles of God; see Psalm 68:17 he, as he is truly God, God manifest in the flesh, "Immanuel", God with us; so he is the holy One of God, infinitely and essentially holy, as a divine Person; and holy, and harmless, and without sin in his human nature and life; and is the sanctifier and sanctification of his people. Mount Paran was situated to the south of the land of Canaan, as well as Teman, which so signifies, as before observed. It is called by Ptolemy, Pomponius Mela, and others, Strobilus, from its likeness to a pineapple. It had its name from the city Paran, which lay between Egypt and Arabia (y); see 1 Kings 11:18 which Jerom says (z) was three days' journey from Aila to the east; mention is made of Ail, or Elparan in Genesis 14:6 near to which was the wilderness of Paran, frequently spoken of in Scripture, Genesis 21:21 the same which Josephus (a) calls the valley or plain of Pharan, where Simon of Gerasa made caves and dens, and hid the treasure he plundered from the people: according to Adrichomius (b), it was a most dreadful barren desert, where nothing grew, or was to be had, through which the children of Israel journeyed; and was sometimes taken for the first part of the desert of Arabia, near Mount Sinai, and sometimes for the last part of it, towards the land of promise; sometimes it was called the desert of Sin, and sometimes the desert of Sinai, from that mountain; but its most general name was that of Paran, and contained eleven days' journey from Mount Sinai to Kadeshbarnea. Mount Paran (he says (c)) is thick and shady, near to Mount Sinai, and even "contiguous", as it should seem to be from Deuteronomy 33:2 to which the reference is here. So Hillerus (d) interprets it, "full of boughs", or "branches"; or else he would have it to signify "the corner of Aran", the son of Dishan, a son of Seir the Horite, who inhabited this country; see Genesis 36:20 and both Teman and Paran being to the south, may point to the place of the Redeemer, by whom the great work was to be done, referred unto. Jerom says he heard a Hebrew man discourse on this passage, thus,
"that Bethlehem lies to the south, where the Lord and Saviour was born: and that he it is of whom it is here said, "the Lord shall come from the south"; that is, shall be born in Bethlehem, and thence arise; and because he who is born in Bethlehem formerly gave the law on Mount Sinai, he is "the Holy One" that came from "Mount Paran"; seeing Paran is a place near to Mount Sinai; and the word "Selah" signifies "always"; and the sense is, he who is born in Bethlehem, and who on Mount Sinai, that is, on Mount Paran, gave the law, always is the author and giver of all blessings, past, present, and to come.''
Selah stands here in the middle of the verse. It is interpreted, by several of the Jewish writers, "for ever", as by the aforementioned Hebrew; and by others as an affirmation, and render it, "verily, truly", as answering to "Amen". Some understand it as a pause or full stop, denoting attention to something said that is remarkable; and others take it to be a note, directing the singer to the elevation of his voice, where it stands; and so it is no other than a musical note; hence the Septuagint render it A very learned man (e) has wrote a dissertation upon it, showing that it is one of the names of God; and used differently, as the sense requires, either in the vocative case, as "Selah", that is, O God; or in the other cases, of God, to God, &c.:
his glory covered the heavens; that is, the glory of God, the Holy One, when he came, or should come: this was true of him when he descended on Mount Sinai, and his glory abode upon it; and the sight of his glory was like devouring fire; and the elders saw the God of Israel, under whose feet was as a paved work of sapphire, and as the body of heaven in its clearness; yea, so great as to make the light and glory of the celestial bodies useless, even to cover and hide the shining of them; see Exodus 24:10 and may respect the glorious appearances at the birth of Christ, when the heavenly host descended, and sung Glory to God in the highest, and when the glory of the Lord shone round about the shepherds, Luke 2:9 and at his baptism, when the heavens were opened, the Father's voice was heard, and the Spirit descended on Christ, as a dove; and at his transfiguration, when his face shone as the sun; and Moses and Elias appeared in glorious forms, and a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice was heard from the excellent Glory, Matthew 3:16 or rather it may be, this may respect Christ as the brightness of his Father's glory, and the glory of God in the face of Christ, as set forth in the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, when carried throughout the world by his apostles; whereby his glory was so spread in it, that the heavens were covered with it, and declared it; yea, it was set above the heavens, and the name of the Lord became excellent in all the earth, as follows; see Psalm 19:1,
and the earth was full of his praise; with the words of his praise, as the Targum; so the fame of the mighty things done by the Lord in Egypt, at the Red sea, and in the wilderness, for his people, reached the nations of the world, and especially those of the land of Canaan, and struck them with awe and dread, Joshua 2:9 and the fame of Christ, his miracles and doctrines, went through the land of Israel, and all Syria; and multitudes glorified God, and praised him for what was done by him, Matthew 4:23 and more especially the earth was filled with his glory and praise when his Gospel was carried into all the parts of it by his apostles; which occasioned universal joy to all sensible sinners, and filled their hearts and mouths with praise to God for such a Saviour, and for such blessings of grace and good things that came by him: or, "the earth was full of his light" (f); of the light of his Gospel, and of the knowledge of himself by it.
(t) "veniet", so some in Calvin, Van Till. (u) "sicuti olim ex Theman", Van Till. (w) Venit, Grotius; "veniet", Pagninus, Montanus, Calvin, Gussetius. (x) (y) Hiller. Onomastic. p. 585, 908. (z) De locis Hebr. fol. 91. F. G. (a) De Bello Jud. l. 4. c. 9. sect. 4. (b) Theatrum Terrae Sanctae, p. 116. (c) Ibid. p. 123. (d) Ut supra, (Hiller. Onomastic.) p. 431, 477, 908. (e) Paschii Dissertatio de Selah, p. 670. in Thesaur. Theolog. Philolog. par. 1.((f) "et lux ejus implevit terram", Junius & Tremellius; "et splendoris, vel fulgoris ejus plena terra", Vatablus, Drusius; so Kimchi, Ben Melech, and R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 3. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. God—singular in the Hebrew, "Eloah," instead of "Elohim," plural, usually employed. The singular is not found in any other of the minor prophets, or Jeremiah, or Ezekiel; but it is in Isaiah, Daniel, Job, and Deuteronomy.
from Teman—the country south of Judea and near Edom, in which latter country Mount Paran was situated [Henderson]. "Paran" is the desert region, extending from the south of Judah to Sinai. Seir, Sinai, and Paran are adjacent to one another, and are hence associated together, in respect to God's giving of the law (De 33:2). Teman is so identified with Seir or Edom, as here to be substituted for it. Habakkuk appeals to God's glorious manifestations to His people at Sinai, as the ground for praying that God will "revive His work" (Hab 3:2) now. For He is the same God now as ever.
Selah—a musical sign, put at the close of sections and strophes, always at the end of a verse, except thrice; namely, here, and Hab 3:9, and Ps 55:19; 57:3, where, however, it closes the hemistich. It implies a change of the modulation. It comes from a root to "rest" or "pause" [Gesenius]; implying a cessation of the chant, during an instrumental interlude. The solemn pause here prepares the mind for contemplating the glorious description of Jehovah's manifestation which follows.
earth … full of his praise—that is, of His glories which were calculated to call forth universal praise; the parallelism to "glory" proves this to be the sense.
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