Habakkuk 1:16
Therefore they sacrifice to their net, and burn incense to their drag; because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) The prophet has already stated that the Chaldæan deifies his own military prowess. Of this statement the present verse is an expansion. Weapons of war may have been literally worshipped by the Babylonians. Similarly, the Sarmatians offered yearly sacrifices to a sword, as the emblem of their god of war (Clem. Alex. Protrept. 64). The Romans also sacrificed to their eagles. But probably the language is metaphorical, and we need not seek a closer illustration than that of Dr. Pusey,—“So the Times said at the beginning of the late war, ‘The French almost worshipped the mitrailleuse as a goddess.’ ‘They idolised, it would say, their invention, as if it could do what God alone could.’”

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.Therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag - literally he sacrifices unto his, etc. Whatever a man trusts in is his god. If a man relies to compass his end by his strength, or his wisdom, or his forethought, or his wealth, his armies or navies, these his forces are his God. So the Assyrian said Isaiah 10:13, Isaiah 10:15, "By the strength of my hand I did it; and by my wisdom, for I am prudent;" and God answered, "Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith?" The coarse forms of idolatry only embody outwardly the deep inward idolatry of the corrupt human mind. The idol is Ezekiel 14:4 "set up in the heart" first. There have not indeed been lacking savage nations, who in very deed worshiped their arms ; those of old worshiped spears as immortal gods ; Even now we are told of some North American Indians "who designate their bow and arrow as the only beneficent deities whom they know."

Among the civilized Romans, the worship of the eagles, their standards to whom they did sacrifice , was no other nor better. The inward idolatry is only a more subtle form of the same sin, the evil spirit which shapes itself in the outward show. Here the idolatry of self is meant, which did not join creatures with God as objects of worship; but denying, Him in practice or misbelief, became aged to itself . So Habakkuk had said, this his strength is his God. His idol was himself.

Because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous - literally, is in the English margin, well-fed). All the choicest things of the world stood at his command, as Nebuchadnezzar boasted (Daniel 4:30, compare 22), and all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, all the knowledge and wisdom and learning of the world, and the whole world itself, were Satan's lawful prey Luke 4:6; John 12:31; Isaiah 49:24 Cyril: "Nebuchadnezzar, as by a hook and meshes and line, swept into his own land both Israel himself and other nations, encompassing them. Satan, as it were, by one line and net, that of sin, enclosed all, and Israel especially, on account of his impiety to Christ. "His food was choice." For Israel was chosen above the rest, as from a holy root, that of the fathers, and having the "law as a schoolmaster," and being called to the knowledge of the one true God. Yet he, having this glory and grace, was taken with the rest. They became his prey by error; but Israel, knowing Him who is by nature God, in an ungodly manner, slaying Him who was by nature His Begotten Son and who came as Man, were taken in his nets."

16. sacrifice unto their net—that is, their arms, power, and military skill, wherewith they gained their victories; instead of to God. Compare Hab 1:11, Maurer's interpretation. They idolize themselves for their own cleverness and might (De 8:17; Isa 10:13; 37:24, 25).

by them—by their net and dragnet.

their portion—image from a banquet: the prey which they have gotten.

Therefore, because they prosper and thrive, in which they should see and acknowledge thy wise and mighty providence,

they sacrifice, idolize and pay Divine honours, ascribe the praise of their victories and acquired glory, unto their net; to their own contrivances, diligence, and power, as if the fisherman should make his net his god, and offer sacrifice for a good draught of fishes taken to the net that took them.

And burn incense, another part of Divine honour, and mostly used in giving thanks and praises, to their drag; to their policy and power, their own counsel conduct, and arms, expressed in the metaphor of a fisherman’s drag.

Because by them their portion, State, condition, or interest,

is fat; great and flourishing.

Their meat; the revenues of the kingdom in general, and the revenues of particular subjects, especially of the commanders and military officers, those who help to spread, draw, and empty the net.

Plenteous; abundant, that it might seem a sufficient provision, as well as a pleasant mess, sufficient for quantity as sweet in quality. It is likely these self-admirers did not only eat the fat of the land they wasted, but laid up in store for themselves. Therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag,.... Either to their idols, to fortune and the stars, as Aben Ezra; imagining they gave them success, and prospered them in the arts and methods they used: or to their arms, as the Targum; nor was it unusual with the Heathens to worship their spears, sacrifice to them, and swear by them (g). So Justin says (h), originally the ancients worshipped spears for gods, in memory of whose religion spears are still added to the images of the gods. Lucian (i) asserts that the Scythians sacrificed to a scimitar; and Arnobius (k) says the same; and Ammianus Marcellinus (l) reports, that the Quadi worship their swords or daggers instead of gods; and that it was usual to swear by the spear is evident from others (m). Or else the sense is, they sacrificed to their own valour and courage, skill and conduct.

Because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous: that is, by their angle, net, and drag; or by those things signified by them, the arts and methods they used to subdue nations, conquer kingdoms, and bring them into subjection to them; they enlarged their dominions, increased their riches and revenues, and had plenty of everything that was desirable for food and raiment, for pleasure and profit; or to gratify the most unbounded ambition, having everything that heart could wish for and desire: the allusion is to making sumptuous feasts, and rich banquets, on occasion of victories obtained.

(g) Vid. Doughtaei Analect. Sacra, p. 494, 495. (h) E Trogo, l. 43. c. 3, 4. (i) In Jupiter Tragoedus. (k) Adv. Gentes, l. 6. p. 232. (l) Hist. l. 17. (m) ', Aeschylus.

Therefore they sacrifice to their {m} net, and burn incense to their drag; because by them their portion is fat, and their food plenteous.

(m) Meaning that the enemies flatter themselves, and glory in their own strength, power, and intellect.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. they sacrifice unto their net] he sacrificeth. The figure of “net” and “drag” was suggested by the idea that men were reduced to the level of fishes and creeping things. The net represents the means and instruments employed by the conqueror, or that by which he subdues men. This might be more generally his prowess (Habakkuk 1:11), or more particularly his weapons. Herod. iv. 62 records that the Scythians offered a yearly sacrifice of sheep and horses to the scimitar as the symbol of Mars. It may be doubted if the prophet had any knowledge of this or if his idea is so precise. The next clause “for by them his portion is fat” might suggest that his weapons were meant; but if so his “sacrificing” to them is probably not to be taken literally. He deifies his weapons, or, if Habakkuk 1:11 be followed, the might that wields them.Verse 16. - Therefore they sacrifice unto their net. This is spoken metaphorically, implying that the Babylonians recognized not God's hand, but attributed their success to the means which they employed (comp. ver. 11; Isaiah 10:13 etc.). There is no trace in the monuments of the Chaldeans paying divine honours to their weapons, as, accord-lug to Herodotus (4:62), the Scythians and other nations did (see Justin, 'Hist.,' 43:3; and Pusey's note here). What a man trusts in becomes a god to him. Their portion is fat; his portion is rich. He gains great wealth. Their meat plenteous; his meat dainty. He is prosperous and luxurious. "Therefore thus saith Jehovah, Behold, I devise evil concerning this family, from which ye shall not withdraw your necks, and not walk loftily, for it is an evil time. Micah 2:4. In that day will men raise against you a proverb, and lament a lamentation. It has come to pass, they say; we are waste, laid waste; the inheritance of my people he exchanges: how does he withdraw it from me! To the rebellious one he divides our field." The punishment introduced with lâkhēn (therefore) will correspond to the sin. Because they reflect upon evil, to deprive their fellow-men of their possessions, Jehovah will bring evil upon this generation, lay a heavy yoke upon their neck, out of which they will not be able to necks, and under which they will not be able to walk loftily, or with extended neck. המּשׁפּחה הזּאת is not this godless family, but the whole of the existing nation, whose corrupt members are to be exterminated by the judgment (see Isaiah 29:20.). The yoke which the Lord will bring upon them is subjugation to the hostile conqueror of the land and the oppression of exile (see Jeremiah 27:12). Hâlakh rōmâh, to walk on high, i.e., with the head lifted up, which is a sign of pride and haughtiness. Rōmâh is different from קוממיּוּת, an upright attitude, in Leviticus 27:13. כּי עת רעה, as in Amos 5:13, but in a different sense, is not used of moral depravity, but of the distress which will come upon Israel through the laying on of the yoke. Then will the opponents raise derisive songs concerning Israel, and Israel itself will bewail its misery. The verbs yissâ', nâhâh, and 'âmar are used impersonally. Mâshâl is not synonymous with nehı̄, a mournful song (Ros.), but signifies a figurative saying, a proverb-song, as in Isaiah 14:4; Habakkuk 2:6. The subject to ישּׂא is the opponents of Israel, hence עליכם; on the other hand, the subject to nâhâh and 'âmar is the Israelites themselves, as נשׁדּנוּ teaches. נהיה is not a feminine formation from נהי, a mournful song, lamentum lamenti, i.e., a mournfully mournful song, as Rosenmller, Umbreit, and the earlier commentators suppose; but the niphal of היה (cf. Daniel 8:27): actum est! it is all over! - an exclamation of despair (Le de Dieu, Ewald, etc.); and it is written after 'âmar, because נהיה as an exclamation is equivalent in meaning to an object. The omission of the copula Vav precludes our taking 'âmar in connection with what follows (Maurer). The following clauses are a still further explanation of נהיה: we are quite laid waste. The form נשׁדּנוּ for נשׁדּונוּ is probably chosen simply to imitate the tone of lamentation better (Hitzig). The inheritance of my people, i.e., the land of Canaan, He (Jehovah) changes, i.e., causes it to pass over to another possessor, namely, to the heathen. The words receive their explanation from the clauses which follow: How does He cause (sc., the inheritance) to depart from me! Not how does He cause me to depart. לשׁובב is not an infinitive, ad reddendum, or restituendum, which is altogether unsuitable, but nomen verbale, the fallen or rebellious one, like שׁובבה in Jeremiah 31:22; Jeremiah 49:4. This is the term applied by mourning Israel to the heathenish foe, to whom Jehovah apportions the fields of His people. The withdrawal of the land is the just punishment for the way in which the wicked great men have robbed the people of their inheritance.
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