Habakkuk 1:11
Then shall his mind change, and he shall pass over, and offend, imputing this his power to his god.
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(11) Then shall his mind change. . . .—Better, Then he sweeps by like a wind and passes. But he is guilty, making this his strength his god. By an abrupt transition the latter half of the verse diverts our attention from the human view of the world-conqueror to his appearance in God’s sight. Men only see an irresistible force sweeping over the face of the earth like a whirlwind; here to-day, and to-morrow nothing but devastation and ruin to testify to its visit. And men are dazzled by this mighty display of power. But, even as Daniel at Belshazzar’s feast, Habakkuk pronounces the oppressor’s doom in the very hour of triumph. The description of the irresistible invader drops into the sudden depths of anti-climax, “But he is (counted) guilty.” His guilt consists just in what men deem so glorious, in his self-reliant irresponsible pursuit of grandeur. The brute force of armaments is the supreme deity of the Chaldæan. His sword and spear are, as it were, his idols. (Comp. Habakkuk 1:16.) God, in whose hands his breath is, and whose are all his ways, has he not glorified. (Comp. Daniel 5:23.) Therefore that God shall bring on him ruin and ignominy, and the very nations which have marvelled at his prowess shall taunt and contemn him (Habakkuk 2:6). Here, then, is the key-note of so much of the second canto (Habakkuk 1:12 to 2 fin.) as relates to the downfall of the invader.

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.Then shall his mind change - or, better, "Then he sweeps by, חלף châlaph is used of the overflowing of a river, Isaiah 8:8, of a wind chasing, Isaiah 21:1, of the invisible presence of God passing by, Job 9:11, or a spirit, Job 4:15, of the swift passing of our days, like ship or eagle, Job 10:26, of idols utterly passing away. Isaiah 2:18, of rain past and gone, Sol 2:11. It is, together with עבר ‛âbar, used of transgressing God's law Isaiah 24:5. It is always intransitive, except as piercing the temples of man Judges 5:26, or himself Job 20:24.

A wind - רוח rûach, metaphor for simile, as Psalm 11:1; Psalm 22:14; (13 English) Psalm 90:4; Job 24:5; Isaiah 51:12)

And passes - עבר ‛âbar "pass over" (with חלף châlaph, as here,), Isaiah 8:8; Nahum 1:8; Habakkuk 3:10; "transgress," passim; "pass away," Psalm 37:6; Job 34:29; Nahum 1:12)

And is guilty; this his strength is his god - The victory was completed, all resistance ended. He sweeps by, as his own Euphrates, when over-filled by the swelling Isaiah 8:8 of all its tributary streams, riseth up over all its banks, and overwhelms all where it passes; as a wind which sweepeth Isaiah 21:1 over the desert: and passes over all bounds and laws, human and divine, and is guilty and stands guilty before God, making himself as God.

This his power is his god - God had said to Israel Exodus 6:7, "I will be to thee God." The Chaldaean virtually said, "this my strength is to me my god." This Nebuchadnezzars own words speak Daniel 4:30; "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?" And the statue which was to be worshipped, was, very probably, of himself, as the intoxication of pride has made other pagan kings or conquerors, Alexander or Darius. Belshazzar said Isaiah 14:14, "I will be like the Most High," and the prince of Tyre said Ezekiel 28:2, "I am a god, and antichrist shall "exalt himself above all that is called god, and, as God, sit in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is god" 2 Thessalonians 2:4. Such is all pride. It sets itself in the place of God, it ceases to think of itself as God's instrument, and so becomes a god to itself, as though its eminence and strength were its own, and its wisdom were the source of its power (See Ezekiel 28:2-5), and its will the measure of its greatness. The words, with a divine fullness, express severally, that the king Shall sweep along, shall pass over all bounds and all hindrances, and shall pass away, shall be guilty and shall bear his guilt ; and so they comprise in one his sin and his punishment, his greatness and his fall. And so, 40 years afterward Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 5:19-20. "whom he would, he slew; and whom he would, he kept alive; and whom he would, he set up; and whom he would, he put down; but when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him;" Daniel 4:31, "there fell a voice from heaven, The kingdom is departed from thee; and Belshazzar; Daniel 5:23, Daniel 5:30, "in the same night that he lifted up himself against the Lord of heaven, was slain."

11. Then—when elated by his successes.

shall his mind change—He shall lose whatever of reason or moderation ever was in him, with pride.

he shall pass over—all bounds and restraints: his pride preparing the sure way for his destruction (Pr 16:18). The language is very similar to that describing Nebuchadnezzar's "change" from man's heart (understanding) to that of a beast, because of pride (see on [1163]Da 4:16; [1164]Da 4:30, 31; [1165]Da 4:33, 34). An undesigned coincidence between the two sacred books written independently.

imputing this his power unto his god—(Da 5:4). Sacrilegious arrogance, in ascribing to his idol Bel the glory that belongs to God [Calvin]. Grotius explains, "(saying that) his power is his own as one who is a god to himself" (compare Hab 1:16, and Da 3:1-30). So Maurer, "He shall offend as one to whom his power is his god" (Job 12:6; see on [1166]Mic 2:1).

Then: it notes both the time and cause of what happened; extraordinary successes, and a continued series of them, attending the designs and attempts of the Chaldean kings, at last made them so haughty and proud, as to trample on kings, Habakkuk 1:10; and when their pride was at this height, it stops not here.

His mind; the spirit or wind, as the Hebrew, and so some think the prophet does foretell the change of his prosperous gales, his downfall; but it is more natural to understand it of the change of mind in the prosperous Chaldean, he will think other thoughts of himself. his affairs, and of other men.

He shall pass over; break over the bounds of all sober and modest sentiments, exceed in his value of himself, and of his achievements, as Sennacherib first did, 2 Chronicles 32:17-19, and next Nebuchadnezzar, surnamed the Great, Daniel 4:29,30.

Offend: this pride was a great sin, and highly provoked God; for the insolent tyrant idolized himself.

Imputing this his power, the strength by which he had done all this great exploits, or the might and power to which he had advanced himself, unto

his god: this at first seems a little tolerable, it seems to savour somewhat of religion, yet it is a great offence thus to ascribe his grandeur to a dumb idol, but it is worse to reckon his strength to be his god, as the words will express it in the Hebrew. See Daniel 4:29,30. Then shall his mind change,.... The mind of the king of Babylon; not that, when he had taken Jerusalem, he altered his purpose, and laid aside his designs of attacking other nations, and returned to his own country; where he became guilty of gross idolatry, in setting up the golden image in the plain of Dura, which he required all his subjects to worship, and to which he ascribed all his victories; for, five years after this, Josephus (w) says, he led his army into Coelesyria, and conquered the Moabites and Ammonites, and entered Egypt, and slew the reigning king of it: but rather the disposition of his mind changed for the worse upon his success in subduing kings and princes, and their kingdoms; for though his mind was never good, but always proud, haughty, and ambitious, insolent, cruel, and tyrannical; yet, being flushed with his conquests, he grew more and more so:

and he shall pass over (x), or "transgress", all bounds of modesty and sobriety, of humanity and goodness:

and offend, imputing this his power unto his god (y); this particularly will be the sin he will be guilty of, he will ascribe all his achievements to his idol Bel; or rather to himself, to his own prowess and valour, his wisdom and skill in military affairs; for so it will bear to be rendered, making "this his own power to be his god"; and perhaps the golden image Nebuchadnezzar set up to be worshipped was for himself; see Daniel 4:30. The Targum is,

"therefore, because of the lifting up of his spirit, his kingdom was removed from him; and he committed an offence, in that he multiplied glory to his idol;''

and some interpret the whole of this of the miserable condition Nebuchadnezzar was brought into, being a prophecy of it: "then shall his mind change"; his heart from man's to a beast's, Daniel 4:16, "and he shall pass over"; from all society and conversation with men, and have his dwelling with beasts, Daniel 4:31, "and offend", or rather "be punished", and become desolate and miserable, for his pride, and idolatry, and other sins: "this his power" is "his god" (z); spoken ironically; see what his power is now, being changed into a beast, which he reckoned his god, or gloried in as what he had from his god: but I rather think the whole is a continuation of his success, particularly in the land of Judea; and to be rendered, "then shall he pass through, as the wind, and shall pass over; and he shall bear the punishment of his sin, whose power is his god"; that is, the king of Babylon and his army, the Chaldeans, should pass through all nations and kingdoms that were between them and Judea, like a strong wind or whirlwind, to which they are compared, Jeremiah 4:13 and carry all before them, none being able to resist and oppose them; and should pass over rivers that lay in their way, and the boundaries of Judea, and spread themselves over the whole country; and then that country, and the inhabitants of it, should be punished for their sins, particularly for their confidence in themselves; in their wealth and riches; in their fortresses and strong towers; in their own works of righteousness; all which they made idols of, and trusted not in their God, as they ought to have done.

(w) Antiqu. l. 10. c. 9. sect. 7. (x) "transgredietur", Pagninus, Vatablus, Calvin, Drusius, Tarnovius. (y) "iste est, ejus robur fuit pro deo ejus", Gussetius. (z) "Tune immutatus est spiritu, et transiit et desolatus est, hoc robur ejus est dei ejus", De Dieu.

Then shall his mind change, and he shall {i} pass over, and offend, imputing this his power to his god.

(i) The Prophet comforts the faithful that God will also destroy the Babylonians, because they will abuse this victory, and become proud and insolent, attributing the praise of this to their idols.

11. Then shall his mind change] then he sweepeth onward as the wind (or, a blast), and passeth through. The two words “sweep on” and “pass through” occur again Isaiah 8:8, being said of the Assyrian armies under the figure of an overwhelming flood. But both words are used of wind-storms, the first Isaiah 21:1, and the second Proverbs 10:25. Arrested for a moment by the fortress, as soon as it is fallen he sweeps onwards, and overruns what lies still before him. The “wind” and “spirit” being the same word in Heb., A.V. rendered mind.

and offend] and becometh guilty. The rhythm of the verse would place this word in the second clause, but the sense is against this position.

Imputing this his power] Rather, this his might becometh his god. The Heb. word “this” is as in Psalm 12:7; the form is oftener a relative, and so R.V., even he whose might is his god. The clause perhaps explains how he “becomes guilty” or offends. His success intoxicates him, and in his pride of heart he deifies his own might. Comp. the words of the Assyrian king Isaiah 10:7 ff., Isaiah 10:13 ff., and those of Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 4:30. For “offends” Wellh. suggests tentatively a form of the verb to set or make: and maketh this his might to be his god. This restores the rhythm, but the order of words is strange. The text is not above suspicion.

The Chaldeans (Heb. Kasdîm), in the Assyrian inscriptions Kaldu, were properly neither Assyrians nor Babylonians, though no doubt like them a Shemitic people. Their seats were in the southmost parts of the Babylonian plain, towards and on the Persian Gulf. Here they formed a number of small states, one of which was Bît Yakin, the kingdom of Merodach Baladan, which lay on the coast and is called in inscriptions “the land of the sea.” If the Shemites penetrated into the plains of the two rivers from the north, the Chaldeans must have formed the vanguard of the immigration and been thrown into the furthest south by the successive waves of population that followed them; if they entered from the south or south-west the Chaldeans would be the latest to arrive. This is most probable, for the movement appears always to have been northward, and the steady aim of the Chaldeans was to gain possession of the country lying to the north of their abode and seat themselves upon the throne of Babylon. This their princes succeeded in doing more than once. Merodach Baladan, who gave trouble to three Assyrian monarchs, Tiglath-Pileser, Sargon and Sennacherib, appears to have occupied the throne of Babylon from b.c. 721 to 709, when after a war with Sargon he was dispossessed. The indefatigable veteran renewed the struggle for the crown of Babylon in the time of Sennacherib, but without success, and disappears from history, though his descendants are spoken of in the annals of the succeeding Assyrian kings. The Chaldean states allied themselves with Shamash-shumukin, the Babylonian viceroy, in his revolt against his brother Assurbanipal, but were severely chastised by the Assyrian king and overrun by his armies (see Introd. to Nahum, § 2). Finally, on the death of Assurbanipal (cir. 626), the Chaldean Nabopolassar, taking advantage of the weakness of Assyria, succeeded, by what steps is unknown, in placing the crown of Babylon on his head, and transmitting it to his descendants. The Chaldean empire of Babylon dates from the usurpation of Nabopolassar (b. c. 625), though it was his son Nebuchadnezzar (605), the greatest ruler of the East, to whom its splendour was due. Nebuchadnezzar was succeeded by several princes of feeble character, the last of whom was Nabonidus (Nabuna’id), in whose reign the empire fell before the attack of the Medes and Persians under Cyrus (b.c. 538), having lasted less than a century, and with its fall the empire of the East passed from the Shemites to a people of the Aryan race.Verse 11. - Then shall his mind change; Τότε μεταβαλεῖ τὸ πνεῦμα (Septuagint); Tunc mutabitur spiritus (Vulgate). From the ease and extent of his conquests the Chaldean gains fresh spirit. But it is best to translate differently, Then he sweepeth on as a wind. The Chaldean's inroad is compared to a tempestuous wind, which carries all before it. And he shall pass over. This is explained to mean, he exceeds all limits in his arrogancy, or he passes onward through the land. The former interpretation regards what is coming, the latter keeps to the metaphor of the wind. And offend. He is guilty, or offends, as the next clause explains, by attributing his success to his own prowess and skill. Thus the prophet intimates that the avenger himself incurs God's displeasure, and will suffer for it. Septuagint, καὶ ἐξιλάσεται, which St. Cyril interprets to mean that the Lord will change his purpose of punishing the Jews, and will have mercy on them - a notion quite foreign to the purport of the sentence. Imputing this his power unto his god; more literally, this his power is his god; Revised Version, even he whose might is his god. He defies the Lord, and makes his might his god. (For such pride and self-glorification, setup. Isaiah 14:13; Isaiah 47:7, etc.; Daniel 4:30.) Thus Mezentius, the despiser of the gods, speaks in Virgil, 'AEn.,' 10:773 -

"Dextra mihi deus et telum, quod missile libro,
Nunc adsint!"
Comp. Statius, 'Theb.,' 3:615 -

"Virtus mihi numen, et ensis, Quem teneo." And the judgment will not even stop at Jerusalem, but will spread still further over the land. This spreading is depicted in Micah 1:13-15 in the same manner as before. Micah 1:13. "Harness the horse to the chariot, O inhabitress of Lachish! It was the beginning of sin to the daughter Zion, that the iniquities of Israel were found in her. Micah 1:14. Therefore wilt thou give dismissal-presents to Moresheth-gath (i.e., the betrothed of Gath); the houses of Achzib (lying fountain) become a lying brook for Israel's kings. Micah 1:15. I will still bring thee the heir, O inhabitress of Mareshah (hereditary city); the nobility of Israel will come to Adullam. Micah 1:16. Make thyself bald, and shave thyself upon the sons of thy delights: spread out thy baldness like the eagle; for they have wandered away from thee." The inhabitants of Lachish, a fortified city in the Shephelah, to the west of Eleutheropolis, preserved in the ruins of Um Lakis (see at Joshua 10:3), are to harness the horses to the chariot (rekhesh, a runner; see at 1 Kings 5:8 : the word is used as ringing with lâkhı̄sh), namely, to flee as rapidly as possible before the advancing foe. רתם, ἁπ. λεγ. "to bind ... the horse to the chariot," answering to the Latin currum jungere equis. Upon this city will the judgment fall with especial severity, because it has grievously sinned. It was the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion, i.e., to the population of Jerusalem; it was the first to grant admission to the iniquities of Israel, i.e., to the idolatry of the image-worship of the ten tribes (for פּשׁעי ישׂראל, see Micah 1:5 and Amos 3:14), which penetrated even to the capital. Nothing more is known of this, as the historical books contain no account of it. For this reason, namely, because the sin of Israel found admission into Jerusalem, she (the daughter Zion) will be obliged to renounce Moresheth-gath. This is the thought of Micah 1:14, the drapery of which rests upon the resemblance in sound between Moresheth and me'orâsâh, the betrothed (Deuteronomy 22:23). Shillūchı̄m, dismissal, denotes anything belonging to a man, which he dismisses or gives up for a time, or for ever. It is applied in Exodus 18:2 to the sending away of wife and children to the father-in-law for a time; and in 1 Kings 9:16 to a dowry, or the present which a father gives to his daughter when she is married and leaves his house. The meaning "divorce," i.e., sēpher kerı̄thuth (Deuteronomy 24:1, Deuteronomy 24:3), has been arbitrarily forced upon the word. The meaning is not to be determined from shillēăch in Jeremiah 3:8, as Hitzig supposes, but from 1 Kings 9:16, where the same expression occurs, except that it is construed with ל, which makes no material difference. For נתן אל signifies to give to a person, either to lay upon him or to hand to him; נתן ל, to give to him. The object given by Zion to Moresheth as a parting present is not mentioned, but it is really the city itself; for the meaning is simply this: Zion will be obliged to relinquish all further claim to Moresheth, to give it up to the enemy. Mōresheth is not an appellative, as the old translators suppose, but the proper name of Micah's home; and Gath is a more precise definition of its situation - "by Gath," viz., the well-known Philistian capital, analogous to Bethlehem-Judah in Judges 17:7-9; Judges 19:1, or Abel-maim (Abel by the water) in 2 Chronicles 16:4. According to Jerome (comm. in Mich. Prol.), Morasthi, qui usque hodie juxta Eleutheropolin, urbem Palaestinae, haud grandis est viculus (cf. Robinson, Pal. ii. p. 423). The context does not admit of our taking the word in an appellative sense, "possession of Gath," since the prophet does not mean to say that Judah will have to give up to the enemy a place belonging to Gath, but rather that it will have to give up the cities of its own possession. For, as Maurer correctly observes, "when the enemy is at the gate, men think of defending the kingdom, not of enlarging it." But if the addition of the term Gath is not merely intended to define the situation of Moresheth with greater minuteness, or to distinguish it from other places of the same name, and if the play upon words in Moresheth was intended to point to a closer relation to Gath, the thought expressed could only be, that the place situated in the neighbourhood of Gath had frequently been taken by the Philistines, or claimed as their property, and not that they were in actual possession of Gath at this time.

The play upon words in the second clause of the verse also points to the loss of places in Judaea: "the houses of Achzib will become Achzab to the kings of Israel." אכזב, a lie, for נחל אכזב, is a stream which dries up in the hot season, and deceives the expectation of the traveller that he shall find water (Jeremiah 15:18; cf. Job 6:15.). Achzib, a city in the plain of Judah, whose name has been preserved in the ruins of Kussabeh, to the south-west of Beit-Jibrin (see at Joshua 15:44). The houses of Achzib are mentioned, because they are, properly speaking, to be compared to the contents of the river's bed, whereas the ground on which they stood, with the wall that surrounded them, answered to the river's bed itself (Hitzig), so that the words do not denote the loss or destruction of the houses so much as the loss of the city itself. The "kings of Israel" are not the kings of Samaria and Judah, for Achzib belonged to the kingdom of Judah alone, but the kings of Judah who followed one another (cf. Jeremiah 19:13); so that the plural is to be understood as relating to the monarchy of Israel (Judah). Mareshah will also pass into other hands. This is affirmed in the words, "I will bring the heir to thee again" (אבי for אביא, as in 1 Kings 21:29). The first heir of Mareshah was the Israelites, who received the city, which had been previously occupied by the Canaanites, for their possession on the conquest of the land. The second heir will be the enemy, into whose possession the land is now to pass. Mareshah, also in the lowland of Judah, has been preserved, so far as the name is concerned, in the ruins of Marash (see at Joshua 15:44, and Tobler, Dritte Wanderung, pp. 129, 142-3). To the north of this was Adullam (see at Joshua 12:15), which has not yet been discovered, but which Tobler (p. 151) erroneously seeks for in Bêt Dûla. Micah mentions it simply on account of the cave there (1 Samuel 22:1), as a place of refuge, to which the great and glorious of Israel would flee ("the glory of Israel," as in Isaiah 5:13). The description is rounded off in Micah 1:16, by returning to the thought that Zion would mourn deeply over the carrying away of the people, with which it had first set out in Micah 1:8. In קרחי וגזּי Zion is addressed as the mother of the people. קרח, to shave smooth, and גּזז, to cut off the hair, are synonyms, which are here combined to strengthen the meaning. The children of thy delights, in whom thou hast thy pleasure, are the members of the nation. Shaving the head bald, or shaving a bald place, was a sing of mourning, which had been handed down as a traditional custom in Israel, in spite of the prohibition in Deuteronomy 14:1 (see at Leviticus 19:28). The bald place is to be made to spread out like that of a nesher, i.e., not the true eagle, but the vulture, which was also commonly classed in the eagle family, - either the bearded vulture, vultur barbatus (see Oedmann, Verm. Samml. i. p. 54ff.), or more probably the carrion vulture, vultur percnopterus L., common in Egypt, and also in Palestine, which has the front part of the head completely bald, and only a few hairs at the back of the head, so that a bald place may very well be attributed to it (see Hasselquist, Reise, p. 286ff.). The words cannot possibly be understood as referring to the yearly moulting of the eagle itself.

If we inquire still further as to the fulfilment of the prophecy concerning Judah (Micah 1:8-16), it cannot be referred, or speaking more correctly, it must not be restricted, to the Assyrian invasion, as Theod., Cyril, Marck, and others suppose. For the carrying away of Judah, which is hinted at in Micah 1:11, and clearly expressed in Micah 1:16, was not effected by the Assyrians, but by the Chaldeans; and that Micah himself did not expect this judgment from the Assyrians, but from Babel, is perfectly obvious from Micah 4:10, where he mentions Babel as the place to which Judah was to be carried into exile. At the same time, we must not exclude the Assyrian oppression altogether; for Sennacherib had not only already conquered the greater part of Judah, and penetrated to the very gates of Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:13-14, 2 Kings 18:19; Isaiah 36:1-38:22), but would have destroyed the kingdom of Judah, as his predecessor Shalmaneser had destroyed the kingdom of Israel, if the Lord had not heard the prayer of His servant Hezekiah, and miraculously destroyed Sennacherib's army before the walls of Jerusalem. Micah prophesies throughout this chapter, not of certain distinct judgment, but of judgment in general, without any special allusions to the way in which it would be realized; so that the proclamation embraces all the judgments that have fallen upon Judah from the Assyrian invasion down to the Roman catastrophe.

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