Habakkuk 1:1
The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see.
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(1-4) Habakkuk complains of the apparent triumph of wickedness among his countrymen.

(1) The prophet.—This title (han-nâbî) is applied only to Habakkuk, Haggai, and Zechariah. In the later historical books it is used to designate the members of those prophetical colleges which were founded by Samuel, and kept up, at all events, till the time of Elisha. It is uncertain whether in these three minor prophets it has a similar force, or merely, as in the Pentateuch, indicates a chosen minister whom God inspires to reveal His will. On the term burden, or sentence, see Isaiah 13:1.

Habakkuk 1:1. The burden — The grievous calamities, or heavy judgments; which Habakkuk did see — That is, foresee, and was commissioned to foretel. This burden, or prophetic vision, communicated to Habakkuk, was against the Chaldeans as well as the Jews. For while the prophet was complaining of iniquity among the Jews, 1st, God foreshows him the desolations which the Chaldeans would make in Judea and the neighbouring countries, as the ministers of divine vengeance: and, 2d, Upon the prophet’s falling into an expostulation with God about these proceedings, moved thereto probably by his compassion for his own people, God shows him the judgments which he would execute upon the Chaldeans.

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.The burden - On the word "burden" see the note at Nahum 1:1.

Which Habakkuk the prophet did see - The prophet's name signifies "strong embrace." The word in its intensive form is used both of God's enfolding the soul within His tender supporting love , and of man clinging and holding fast to divine wisdom Proverbs 4:8. It fits in with the subject of his prophecy, faith, cleaving fast to God amid the perplexities of things seen. Dion.: "He who is spiritually Habakkuk, cleaving fast to God with the arms of love, or enfolding Him after the manner of one holily wrestling, until he is blessed, enlightened, and heard by Him, is the seer here." "Let him who would in such wise fervidly embrace God and plead with Him as a friend, praying earnestly for the deliverance and consolation of himself and others, but who sees not as yet, that his prayer is heard, make the same holy plaint, and appeal to the clemency of the Creator." (Jer. Abarbanel has the like: "He strengthens himself in pleading his cause with God as to the prosperity of Nebuchadnezzar as if he were joined with God for the cause of his people" Preface to Ezekiel). "He is called 'embrace' either because of his love to the Lord; or because he engages in a contest and strife and (so to speak) wrestling with God." For no one with words so bold ventured to challenge God to a discussion of His justice and to say to Him, "Why, in human affairs and the government of this world is there so great injustice?"

The prophet - The title, "the prophet," is added only to the names of Habakkuk, Haggai, Zechariah. Habakkuk may have added it to his name instead because he prominently expostulates with God, like the Psalmists, and does not speak in the name of God to the people. The title asserts that he exercised the pastoral office of the prophets, although not directly in this prophecy.

Did see - Cyril: "God multiplied visons, as is written Hosea 12:10, and Himself spoke to the prophets, disclosing to them beforehand what should be, and all but exhibiting them to sight, as if already present. But that they determined not to speak from their own, but rather transmit to us the words from God, he persuades us at the outset, naming himself a prophet, and showing himself full of the grace belonging thereto."

THE BOOK OF HABAKKUK Commentary by A. R. Faussett


Habakkuk, from a Hebrew root meaning to "embrace," denoting a "favorite" (namely, of God) and a "struggler" (for his country's good). Some ancient authors represent him as belonging to the tribe of Levi; others [Pseudo Epiphanius], to that of Simeon. The inscription to Bel and the dragon in the Septuagint asserts the former; and Hab 3:19 perhaps favors this. Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 7.29] states that in his time Habakkuk's tomb was shown at Celia in Palestine.

The time seems to have been about 610 B.C. For the Chaldeans attacked Jerusalem in the ninth month of the fifth year of Jehoiakim, 605 B.C. (2Ki 24:1; 2Ch 36:6; Jer 46:2; 36:9). And Habakkuk (Hab 1:5, 6, &c.) speaks of the Chaldeans as about to invade Judah, but not as having actually done so. In the second chapter he proceeds to comfort his people by foretelling the humiliation of their conquerors, and that the vision will soon have its fulfilment. In the third chapter the prophet in a sublime ode celebrates the deliverances wrought by Jehovah for His people in times past, as the ground of assurance, notwithstanding all their existing calamities, that He will deliver them again. Hab 3:16 shows that the invader is still coming, and not yet arrived; so that the whole refers to the invasion in Jehoiakim's times, not those under Jehoiachin and Zedekiah. The Apocryphal appendix to Daniel states that he lived to see the Babylonian exile (588 B.C.), which accords with his prophesying early in Jehoiakim's reign, about 610 B.C.

The position of the book immediately after Nahum is appropriate; as Nahum treated of the judgments of the Lord on Assyria, for its violence against Israel, so Habakkuk, those inflicted by, and on, the Chaldeans for the same reason.

The style is poetical and sublime. The parallelisms are generally regular. Borrowed ideas occur (compare Hab 3:19, with Ps 18:33; Hab 2:6, with Isa 14:4; Hab 2:14, with Isa 11:9).

The ancient catalogues imply that his book is part of the canon of Scripture. In the New Testament, Ro 1:17 quotes Hab 2:4 (though not naming him); compare also Ga 3:11; Heb 10:38. Ac 13:40, 41 quotes Hab 1:5. One or two Hebrew words peculiar to Habakkuk occur (Hab 1:9; 2:6, 16).


Hab 1:1-17. Habakkuk's Expostulation with Jehovah on Account of the Prevalence of Injustice: Jehovah Summons Attention to His Purpose of Sending the Chaldeans as the Avengers. The Prophet Complains, that These Are Worse than Those on Whom Vengeance Was to Be Taken.

1. burden—the prophetic sentence.Unto Habakkuk, complaining of the iniquity of the land, Hab 1:14, showed the fearful vengeance by the Chaldeans, Hab 1:5-11. He complaineth that vengeance should be executed by them who are far worse, Hab 1:12-17.

The burden; see Nah 1:1; to which we may here add, as proper to this time and place, that the prophet seems to speak of the grievous things here intended as a burden to himself, a trouble he did feel and groan under.

Habakkuk: here we might, as others, guess at his country, parentage, and tribe; but no certainty appears in these: his name may perhaps intimate somewhat, either actively one that embraceth, or passively one embraced, and so may refer to God, or to his people, and intimate good to a people, whom God will ere long embrace; or it may speak one that is puzzled with the intricacy of affairs, and therefore expostulateth, as Hab 1:2,3.

The prophet; not he that is mentioned in the apocryphal book, but a prophet called and sent of God.

Did see; not only in the future certainty of it on others, but did also feel in the present trouble and perplexity wherewith it affected him.

The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see. This prophecy is called a "burden", or something took up and carried, being what the prophet received from the Lord, and went with to the people of the Jews, and was a heavy burdensome prophecy to them; declaring the calamities that should come upon them by the Chaldeans, who would invade their land, and carry them captive; and Habakkuk, that brought this account, is called a "prophet", to give the greater sanction to it; and it was what he had in vision from the Lord represented unto him, and therefore should be credited. Abarbinel inquires why Habakkuk should be called a prophet, when none of the lesser prophets are, excepting Haggai and Zechariah; and thinks the reason of it is, to give weight to his prophecy, since it might be suspected by some whether he was one; there being none of those phrases to be met with in this prophecy as in others, as "the word of the Lord came", &c. or "thus saith the Lord". The burden which Habakkuk the prophet saw.

The Argument - The Prophet complains to God, considering the great felicity of the wicked, and the miserable oppression of the godly, who endure all types of affliction and cruelty, and yet can see no end. Therefore he had this revelation shown to him by God, that the Chaldeans would come and take them away as captives, so that they could look for no end of their troubles as yet, because of their stubbornness and rebellion against the Lord. And lest the godly should despair, seeing this horrible confusion, he comforts them by this, that God will punish the Chaldeans their enemies, when their pride and cruelty will be at height. And for this reason he exhorts the faithful to patience by his own example, and shows them a form of prayer, with which they should comfort themselves.

1. The burden] the oracle. Comp. Habakkuk 2:6 “take up” a proverb. Numbers 23:7; Isaiah 14:4. See Nahum 1:1.

did see] Comp. Isaiah 2:1the word that Isaiah saw”; Isaiah 13:1 “the oracle which Isaiah did see.” Amos 1:1; Micah 1:1. In the early times of prophecy the ecstasy or exalted condition of mind was more usual and the things revealed to the prophet were seen by him. Thus Micaiah ben Jimlah said: “I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd” 1 Kings 22:17; 1 Kings 22:19. In later times these terms “see,” “vision” and the like, which had been formed in the early period, continued to be retained, and any revelation was called a “vision,” and “see” was employed of the act of receiving a revelation, even when it was a word (Isaiah 2:1). On the name Habakkuk see Introduction.

Verse 1. - § 1. The inscription of the book. The burden (see note on Nahum 1:1). The prophet (Habakkuk 3:1). This title, which is added in the inscriptions only to the names of Haggai and Zechariah, and cursorily to that of Jeremiah (46, 47, 50.), implies that he exercised the practical office of prophet, and was well known; and, as Pusey thinks, Habakkuk appended it here on account of the form in which his prophecy is cast, as being addressed almost entirely to God or the Chaldeans, not to his own people. Did see. In prophetic vision (see note on Amos 1:1). Habakkuk 1:1Habakkuk 1:1 contains the heading not only to ch. 1 and 2, but to the whole book, of which ch. 3 forms an integral part. On the special heading in Habakkuk 3:1, see the comm. on that verse. The prophet calls his writing a massâ', or burden (see at Nahum 1:1), because it announces heavy judgments upon the covenant nation and the imperial power.
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