Habakkuk 1:14
And make men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
1:12-17 However matters may be, yet God is the Lord our God, our Holy One. We are an offending people, he is an offended God, yet we will not entertain hard thoughts of him, or of his service. It is great comfort that, whatever mischief men design, the Lord designs good, and we are sure that his counsel shall stand. Though wickedness may prosper a while, yet God is holy, and does not approve the wickedness. As he cannot do iniquity himself, so he is of purer eyes than to behold it with any approval. By this principle we must abide, though the dispensations of his providence may for a time, in some cases, seem to us not to agree with it. The prophet complains that God's patience was abused; and because sentence against these evil works and workers was not executed speedily, their hearts were the more fully set in them to do evil. Some they take up as with the angle, one by one; others they catch in shoals, as in their net, and gather them in their drag, their enclosing net. They admire their own cleverness and contrivance: there is great proneness in us to take the glory of outward prosperity to ourselves. This is idolizing ourselves, sacrificing to the drag-net because it is our own. God will soon end successful and splendid robberies. Death and judgment shall make men cease to prey on others, and they shall be preyed on themselves. Let us remember, whatever advantages we possess, we must give all the glory to God.And makest men as the fishes of the sea - mute, helpless, in a stormy, restless element, no cry heard, but themselves swept away in shoals, with no power to resist.

As the creeping things - whether of the land (as it is mostly used), or the sea Psalm 104:25. Either way, it is a contemptuous name for the lowest of either.

That have no ruler over them - none to guide, order, protect them, and so a picture of man deprived of the care and providence of God.

14. And—that is, And so, by suffering oppressors to go unpunished, "Thou makest men as the fishes … that have no ruler"; that is, no defender. All may fish in the sea with impunity; so the Chaldeans with impunity afflict Thy people, as these have no longer the God of the theocracy, their King, to defend them. Thou reducest men to such a state of anarchy, by wrong going unpunished, as if there were no God. He compares the world to the sea; men to fishes; Nebuchadnezzar to a fisherman (Hab 1:15-17). Makest; not infusing cruel, ravenous, and unsatiable appetites, but permitting them to act according to such appetite which was already in them.

Men; who should be just to all, and wrong none, who were once framed for mutual help in civil societies, and whose life should be beneficence.

As the fishes; of which the greater live on the lesser, and do greedily and all the day long feed on the smaller fry.

Of the sea; where the devourers are more for number, of greater bulk, and swallow greater numbers of the lesser.

As the creeping things; which in the waters are food for the lesser fry; so the world, like the sea, is wholly oppression.

No ruler; none to defend the weak, to restrain the mighty, and to give law to all.

Makest; not infusing cruel, ravenous, and unsatiable appetites, but permitting them to act according to such appetite which was already in them.

Men; who should be just to all, and wrong none, who were once framed for mutual help in civil societies, and whose life should be beneficence.

As the fishes; of which the greater live on the lesser, and do greedily and all the day long feed on the smaller fry.

Of the sea; where the devourers are more for number, of greater bulk, and swallow greater numbers of the lesser.

As the creeping things; which in the waters are food for the lesser fry; so the world, like the sea, is wholly oppression.

No ruler; none to defend the weak, to restrain the mighty, and to give law to all.

Makest; not infusing cruel, ravenous, and unsatiable appetites, but permitting them to act according to such appetite which was already in them.

Men; who should be just to all, and wrong none, who were once framed for mutual help in civil societies, and whose life should be beneficence.

As the fishes; of which the greater live on the lesser, and do greedily and all the day long feed on the smaller fry.

Of the sea; where the devourers are more for number, of greater bulk, and swallow greater numbers of the lesser.

As the creeping things; which in the waters are food for the lesser fry; so the world, like the sea, is wholly oppression.

No ruler; none to defend the weak, to restrain the mighty, and to give law to all. And makest men as the fishes of the sea,.... That is, sufferest them to be used as the fishes of the sea, which are easily taken in the net, and are common to everyone; whosoever will may take them up, and kill them, and use them for their food; and which also among themselves are often hardly used, the lesser being devoured by the greater; and in like manner the prophet suggests, that the people of the Jews, who were men made after the image of God, and made for society and usefulness, and moreover were God's covenant people; and it might have been expected, that a more special providence would have attended them, more than other men, and especially than what attended the fishes of the sea; yet it looked as if there were no more care taken of them than of these:

as the creeping things that have no ruler over them; not the creeping things of the earth, but of the water, the lesser sort of fishes that move in the water; or those that more properly creep, as crabs, prawns, and shrimps; see Psalm 104:25 who have none to protect and defend them, and restrain others from taking and hurting them: this may seem contrary to what Aristotle (d) and Pliny (e) say of some fishes, that they go in company, and have a leader or governor; but, as Bochart (f) observes, it is one thing to be a leader of the way, a guide and director, which way to steer their course in swimming; and another thing to be as the general of an army, to protect and defend, or under whose directions they might defend themselves; such an one the prophet denies they had: and so, the prophet complains, this was the case of the Jews; they were exposed to the cruelty of their enemies, as if there was no God that governed in the world, and no providence to direct and order things for the preservation of men, and to keep good men from being hurt by evil men; or those that were weak and feeble from being oppressed by the powerful and mighty; this he reasons with the Lord about, and was desirous of an answer to it.

(d) Hist. Animal. l. 8. c. 13. (e) Nat. Hist. l. 9. c. 15. (f) Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 1. c. 6. Colossians 39.

And makest men as the {l} fishes of the sea, as the creeping animals, that have no ruler over them?

(l) So that the great devours the small, and the Chaldeans destroy all the world.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. And makest men] and hast made men—the condition is one that has supervened. At the last resort it is Jehovah who is the author of all this inhuman violence. Cf. Job 9:24, “if not He, who then is it?” It might be that the Chaldeans were set to chastise, but they exceeded all bounds in their inhumanity (Isaiah 47:6-7; Zechariah 1:14-15). Men under their cruel rapacity ceased to be men, the very humanity in them was disregarded, and the brutal conqueror in his pride treated them like the lower creatures.

no ruler over them] This hardly means that the creeping things have no king to protect them, but rather that, as the lowest creatures that have life, they have no higher instincts, no organization, they are a mere swarming disorder, and to this condition do the conquerors reduce mankind. Proverbs 6:7; Proverbs 30:27.Verse 14. - The prophet appeals movingly to God by showing the indignity with which the people are treated. As the fishes of the sea. Dumb and helpless, swept off by the fisherman. That have no ruler ever them. None to guide and protect them (comp. Proverbs 6:7; Proverbs 30:27). So the Jews seem to be deprived of God's care, and left to be the prey of the spoiler, as if of little worth, and no longer having God for their King (comp. Isaiah 63:19, Revised Version). The "creeping things" are worms, or small fish (Psalm 104:25). The violent acts of the great men would be punished by God with the withdrawal of the inheritance of His people, or the loss of Canaan. Micah 2:1. "Woe to those who devise mischief, and prepare evil upon their beds! In the light of the morning they carry it out, for their hand is their God. Micah 2:2. They covet fields and plunder; them, and houses and take them; and oppress the man and his house, the man and his inheritance." The woe applies to the great and mighty of the nation, who by acts of injustice deprive the common people of the inheritance conferred upon them by the Lord (cf. Isaiah 5:8). The prophet describes them as those who devise plans by night upon their beds for robbing the poor, and carry them out as soon as the day dawns. חשׁב און denotes the sketching out of plans (see Psalm 36:5); and פּעל רע, to work evil, the preparation of the ways and means for carrying out their wicked plans. פּעל, the preparation, is distinguished from עשׁה, the execution, as in Isaiah 41:4, for which יצר and עשׂה are also used (e.g., Isaiah 43:7). "Upon their beds," i.e., by night, the time of quiet reflection (Psalm 4:5; cf. Job 4:13). "By the light of the morning," i.e., at daybreak, without delay. כּי ישׁ וגו, lit., "for their hand is for a god," i.e., their power passes as a god to them; they know of no higher power than their own arm; whatever they wish it is in their power to do (cf. Genesis 31:29; Proverbs 3:27; Habakkuk 1:11; Job 12:6). Ewald and Rckert weaken the thought by adopting the rendering, "because it stands free in their hand;" and Hitzig's rendering, "if it stands in their hand," is decidedly false. Kı̄ cannot be a conditional particle here, because the thought would thereby be weakened in a manner quite irreconcilable with the context. In Micah 2:2 the evil which they plan by night, and carry out by day, is still more precisely defined. By force and injustice they seize upon the property (fields, houses) of the poor, the possessions which the Lord has given to His people for their inheritance. Châmad points to the command against coveting (Exodus 20:14-17; cf. Deuteronomy 5:18). The second half of the verse (Micah 2:2) contains a conclusion drawn from the first: "and so they practise violence upon the man and his property." Bēth answers to bottı̄m, and nachălâh to the Sâdōth, as their hereditary portion in the land - the portion of land which each family received when Canaan was divided.
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