For, see, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwelling places that are not their's.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)I raise up the Chaldeans—i.e., I am bringing up the Chaldæan or Babylonian armies into Judæa. The phrase implies that the Chaldæans were not yet in Judæa, but there is no occasion to find an allusion to the recent rise of the Chaldæan nation. We notice this point because an ethnological theory (now generally abandoned) has regarded the Chaldæans of the prophetic period as raised to national existence only a little time before the date of Habakkuk. It was supposed that they were a race distinct from the Chaldæans of earlier Scripture; being, in fact, an association of northern hordes who had but recently penetrated the lower Mesopotamian valley. Habakkuk 1:6 and Isaiah 23:13 were therefore interpreted as illustrating the fact that these new nationalities “were on a sudden ‘raised up,’ elevated from their low estate of Assyrian colonists, to be the conquering people which they became under Nebuchadnezzar.” The confutation of this theory may be found in Rawlinson’s Ancient Monarchies, i. 57, 59. It appears that Babylon was peopled at this time, not, as was formerly supposed, with hordes of Armenians, Arabs, Kurds, and Sclaves, but with a mixed population, in which the old Chaldæan and Assyrian elements preponderated. The Chaldæans of the seventh century B.C. were, in fact, as legitimate descendants of the people of Nimrod’s empire as we are of the Saxons. Certainly, the rapidity with which Babylon rose from the position of an Assyrian colony to that of ruler of Asia was marvellous. But the work which is to make the Jews wonder is not God’s choice of an agent, but that agent’s proceeding; not the elevation of one Gentile power in the place of another, but the attack which that new power is to make upon the sacred city.
Bitter and hasty.—Better, fierce and impetuous. The association of these two epithets, mar and nimhâr, is the more forcible, because of their similarity in sound. With respect to the whole passage Habakkuk 1:6-11, Kleinert well remarks, “The present passage is the locus classicus for the characteristics of this warlike people, just as Isaiah 5:26 seq. is for the characteristics of the Assyrians.”Habakkuk 1:6. For lo, I raise up the Chaldeans — This is spoken of as a matter of great wonder and astonishment, because the Chaldeans, in the times of Hezekiah, Manasseh, and Josiah, were allies of the Jewish nation, and seemed linked to them in the greatest friendship; so that they had no fear on that side, but all their fear was from the Egyptians. Therefore the coming of the Chaldeans into the country is spoken of here as a thing entirely new, and as if that people had been called into existence for the very purpose of punishing the Jewish nation. There is a prophecy similar to this in Isaiah, with regard to the Assyrians, in whom the Jewish nation then placed their chief confidence, and thought of nothing less than of the evils which Isaiah threatened should be brought upon them by that nation: so weak and short-sighted often is human policy! see Isaiah 7. That bitter and hasty nation — That people cruel, in their disposition, quick in executing their purposes, and hasty in their marches, Isaiah 5:26-27; Jeremiah 5:16-17. Which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess, &c. — This is spoken of the Chaldeans extending their conquests to a vast distance from the original seat of their empire.
I raise up - God uses the free will and evil passions of people or devils to His own ends; and so He is said to "raise up" those whom He allows to be stirred up against His people, since the events which His Providence permits, favor their designs, and it rests with Him to withhold them. They lift themselves up for some end of covetousness or pride. But there is a higher order of things, in which God orders their actions to fulfill His righteousness by their iniquities.
And hasty nation - נמהר as Isaiah 32:4. Jerome: "To its might and warlike boldness almost all the Greeks who have written histories of the barbarians, witness."
Which shall march through the breadth of the land - rather, "the earth," literally "to the breadths of the earth," reaching to its whole length and breadth, all its dimensions as in the description of Gog and Magog Revelation 20:8-9, "the number of whom is as the sand of the sea; and they went up on the breadth of the earth; unhindered, not pent up, but spreading abroad, where they will, over the whole earth." All before it, is one wide even plain which it overspreads and covers, like a flood, and yet is not spent nor exhausted.
To possess the dwelling-places that are not theirs - As God's people had done, so should it be done to them. Spoiling and violence within Habakkuk 1:2-4 attract oppression from without. The overcharged atmosphere casts down the lightning upon them. They had expelled the weak from their dwelling Micah 2:9; others shall possess theirs. Yet this scourge too shall pass by, since, although the Chaldaean did God's Will, He willed it not, but His own (See Isaiah 10:6-7). The words, "not theirs," literally, "not to him" stand with a mysterious fullness of meaning. The dwelling places not being his by right, shall not remain his, although given to him, while God wills.
bitter—that is, cruel (Jer 50:42; compare Jud 18:25, Margin; 2Sa 17:8).
hasty—not passionate, but "impetuous."For lo: now the prophet declares particularly what it is that the Lord will work.
I raise up; awaken to action, animate them in it, and strengthen them to accomplish their design.
The Chaldeans, who had subdued other nations, and had already ruined the Assyrian monarchy.
Bitter; cruel, and without mercy, Jeremiah 6:23 21:7.
Hasty; speedy and quick in executing their merciless purposes, as Isaiah 5:26,27.
Which shall march, Heb.
walk without fear, and in order, as a conqueror doth in his conquests.
Through the breadth of the land; through all parts of the land, no corner shall escape his search or cruelty.
To possess; not to spoil and be gone, but to take and keep possession, as lord and proprietor in the right of conquest.
The dwelling-places; houses, towns, cities, Jerusalem itself, which they had no right to, till Jewish sins gave occasion for the dispossessing of the Jews, and the introducing of the Chaldeans.
that bitter and hasty nation; a cruel and merciless people in their temper and disposition: "bitter" against the people of God and true religion, and causing bitterness, calamities, and distress, wherever they came: "hasty" and precipitate in their determinations; swift and nimble in their motions; active and vigorous in the prosecution of their designs:
which shall march through the breadth of the land; or "breadths of the land" (t); through the whole world, as they were attempting to do, having subdued Syria, all Asia, and great part of Africa, through which they boldly marched, bearing down all opposition that was in their way; or through the breadth of the land of Judea, taking all the fenced cities as they went along, and Jerusalem the metropolis of it; see Isaiah 8:7,
to possess the dwellingplaces that are not theirs; the cities of Judea, and houses in them, as well as the palaces and dwellingplaces in Jerusalem, which they had no right unto, but what they got by the sword; what were the legal possessions and inheritances of others from father to son for ages past, these the Chaldeans would dispossess them of; and not only take them, and the spoil and plunder of them, for the present, but retain them in their possession, as an inheritance to be transmitted to their posterity. This may have some respect to the length of the captivity of the Jews, and their land being in the hands of their enemies for the space of seventy years.For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwellingplaces that are not their's.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)6. raise up the Chaldeans] The reference in “raise up” can hardly be to the first entrance of the Chaldeans upon the stage of history; it is rather to their advance against Israel. Some MSS. of Sept. add “against you.” On Chaldeans see after Habakkuk 1:11.
bitter and hasty nation] Spoken of temper or disposition “bitter” is vehement and passionate, Jdg 18:25; 2 Samuel 17:8; and “hasty” is sudden in action, driven headlong by violent impulse.
shall march … the land] which marcheth through the breadth of the earth. His operations extend over the world, and his object is conquest, to seize for a possession the dwelling-places of other peoples. Job 18:21; Jeremiah 9:19; Jeremiah 30:18; Isaiah 32:18. The phrase “that are not his” again ch. Habakkuk 2:6; cf. Deuteronomy 6:10-11.Verse 6. - The executors of the Divine vengeance are now plainly announced. I raise up. God does it; he uses the power and passion of men to work out his designs (1 Kings 11:14, 23; Amos 6:14). The Chaldeans; Kasidim. By this appellation the prophets signify the soldiers or inhabitants of Babylon, which won its independence and commenced its wonderfully rapid career of conquest after the tall of Nineveh, between B.C. 626 and 608. At the time when Habakkuk wrote the Chaldeans had not appeared in Judaea, and no apprehension of danger from them was entertained. Bitter and hasty. The former epithet refers to their cruelty and ferocity (comp. Isaiah 14:6; Jeremiah 6:23; Jeremiah 50:42). They are called "hasty," as being vehement and impetuous in attack and rapid in movement. Which shall march through the breadth of the land; which marcheth through the breadths of the earth. The statement explains the general character of the Chaldeans, and points to the foreign conquests of Nebuchadnezzar. LXX., Τὸ πορευόμενον ἐπὶ τὰ πλάτη τῆς γῆς (comp. Revelation 20:9). Micah 1:8, Micah 1:9); and then, to confirm this, he announces to a series of cities the fate awaiting them, or rather awaiting the kingdom, by a continued play upon words founded upon their names (Micah 1:10-15); and finally he summons Zion to deep mourning (Micah 1:16). Micah 1:8. "Therefore will I lament and howl, I will go spoiled and naked: I will keep lamentation like the jackals, and mourning like the ostriches. Micah 1:9. For her stripes are malignant; for it comes to Judah, reaches to the gate of my people, to Jerusalem." על־זאת points back to what precedes, and is then explained in Micah 1:9. The prophet will lament over the destruction of Samaria, because the judgment which has befallen this city will come upon Judah also. Micah does not speak in his own name here as a patriot (Hitzig), but in the name of his nation, with which he identifies himself as being a member thereof. This is indisputably evident from the expression אילכה שׁילל וערום, which describes the costume of a prisoner, not that of a mourner. The form אילכה with י appears to have been simply suggested by אילילה. שׁילל is formed like הידד in Isaiah 16:9-10, and other similar words (see Olshausen, Gramm. p. 342). The Masoretes have substituted שׁלל, after Job 12:17, but without the slightest reason. It does not mean "barefooted," ἀνυπόδετος (lxx), for which there was already יחף in the language (2 Samuel 15:30; Isaiah 20:2-3; Jeremiah 2:25), but plundered, spoiled. ערום, naked, i.e., without upper garment (see my comm. on 1 Samuel 19:24), not merely vestitu solido et decente privatus. Mourners do indeed go barefooted (yâchēph, see 2 Samuel 15:30), and in deep mourning in a hairy garment (saq, 2 Samuel 3:31; Genesis 37:34, etc.), but not plundered and naked. The assertion, however, that a man was called ̀ârōm when he had put on a mourning garment (saq, sackcloth) in the place of his upper garment, derives no support from Isaiah 20:2, but rather a refutation. For there the prophet does not go about ‛ârōm veyâchēph, i.e., in the dress of a prisoner, to symbolize the captivity of Egypt, till after he has loosened the hairy garment (saq) from his loins, i.e., taken it off. And here also the plundering of the prophet and his walking naked are to be understood in the same way. Micah's intention is not only to exhibit publicly his mourning fore the approaching calamity of Judah, but also to set forth in a symbolical form the fate that awaits the Judaeans. And he can only do this by including himself in the nation, and exhibiting the fate of the nation in his own person. Wailing like jackals and ostriches is a loud, strong, mournful cry, those animals being distinguished by a mournful wail; see the comm. on Job 30:29, which passage may possibly have floated before the prophet's mind. Thus shall Judah wail, because the stroke which falls upon Samaria is a malignant, i.e., incurable (the suffix attached to מכּותיה refers to Shōmerōn, Samaria, in Micah 1:6 and Micah 1:7. For the singular of the predicate before a subject in the plural, see Ewald, 295, a, and 317, a). It reaches to Judah, yea, to Jerusalem. Jerusalem, as the capital, is called the "gate of my people," because in it par excellence the people went out and in. That עד is not exclusive here, but inclusive, embracing the terminus ad quem, is evident from the parallel "even to Judah;" for if it only reached to the border of Judah, it would not have been able to come to Jerusalem; and still more clearly so from the description in Micah 1:10. The fact that Jerusalem is not mentioned till after Judah is to be interpreted rhetorically, and not geographically. Even the capital, where the temple of Jehovah stood, would not be spared.
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