Habakkuk 1:9
They shall come all for violence: their faces shall sup up as the east wind, and they shall gather the captivity as the sand.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) Their faces shall sup up as the east wind.—Literally, if we could accept this interpretation, the eagerness of their faces is eastward. The passage, however, is beset with philological difficulties. If the word kâdîmâh could be translated “east wind,” the invading Chaldæan host would be compared to a blast from the east, passing over the land, and leaving it scorched and blighted. The captives (“captivity,” Authorised Version) whom the invader carries off would then be likened to the cloud of dust, sand, &c., which accompanies this withering blast. This gives a good sense. Unfortunately, however, according to all analogy, kâdîmâh must mean either “eastwards” or “forwards.” The meaning of mgammath (used here only) is probably either “crowd” or “eager desire.” Two plausible renderings are thus presented for our choice—“There is a crowd of their faces pressing forwards;” “Their faces turn eagerly forwards.” For other interpretations, we must refer the Hebrew student to the critical commentaries.

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.They shall come all for violence - "Violence" had been the sin of Judah Habakkuk 1:3-4, and now violence shall be her punishment. It had been ever before the prophet; all were full of it. Now should violence be the very end, one by one, of all the savage horde poured out upon them; they all, each one of them come for violence.

Their faces shall sup up as the east wind - קדומה occurs else only in Ezekiel 11:1, and Ezekiel 11:16 times in Ezekiel 40-48 of the ideal city and temple as "Eastwards." But except in the far-fetched explanation of Abarb (mentioned also by Tanchum) that they ravaged, not to settle but to return home with their booty, "Eastwards" would have no meaning. Yet "forwards" is just as insulated a rendering as that adopted by John and D. Kimchi, A. E. Rashi, Oh. Sip., Sal. B. Mel. Arab Tr. (following Jonathan) "the East-wind; קדומה standing as a metaphor instead of a simile the הbeing regarded as paragogic, as in לילה. So also Symmachus ἄνεμος καύσων anemos kausōn. Jerome: "ventus urens.") "As at the breath of the burning wind all green things dry up, so at sight of these all shall be wasted." They shall sweep over everything impetuously, like the east wind, scorching, blackening, blasting, swallowing up all, as they pass over, as the East wind, especially in the Holy Land, sucks up all moisture and freshness.

And they shall gather the captivity - i. e., the captives

As the sand - countless, as the particles which the East wind raises, sweeping over the sand-wastes, where it buries whole caravans in one death.

9. all for violence—The sole object of all is not to establish just rights, but to get all they can by violence.

their faces shall sup up as the east wind—that is, they shall, as it were, swallow up all before them; so the horse in Job 39:24 is said to "swallow the ground with fierceness and rage." Maurer takes it from an Arabic root, "the desire of their faces," that is, the eager desire expressed by their faces. Henderson, with Symmachus and Syriac, translates, "the aspect."

as the east wind—the simoon, which spreads devastation wherever it passes (Isa 27:8). Gesenius translates, "(is) forwards." The rendering proposed, eastward, as if it referred to the Chaldeans' return home eastward from Judea, laden with spoils, is improbable. Their "gathering the sand" accords with the simoon being meant, as it carries with it whirlwinds of sand collected in the desert.

They, Chaldeans, and in particular these fierce and swift horsemen, shall come all, with one purpose, on the same design, to enrich themselves by making a prey of all.

Their faces shall sup up as the east wind: either thus, their very countenances shall be as blasting, pestiferous, and dangerous as is the east wind in those countries; or thus, all they can sup up, or lay hold on, they will carry eastward; or thus, when you are devoured, they shall set their faces eastward to devour others in those coasts.

They shall gather the captivity; prisoners or captives, called here the captivity, to express the extremity thereof.

As the sand, both for easiness of gathering, and the multitudes of captives gathered.

They, Chaldeans, and in particular these fierce and swift horsemen, shall come all, with one purpose, on the same design, to enrich themselves by making a prey of all.

Their faces shall sup up as the east wind: either thus, their very countenances shall be as blasting, pestiferous, and dangerous as is the east wind in those countries; or thus, all they can sup up, or lay hold on, they will carry eastward; or thus, when you are devoured, they shall set their faces eastward to devour others in those coasts.

They shall gather the captivity; prisoners or captives, called here the captivity, to express the extremity thereof.

As the sand, both for easiness of gathering, and the multitudes of captives gathered.

They shall come all for violence,.... Or, "the whole of it" (s); the whole army of the Chaldeans, everyone of them; this would be their sole view, not to do themselves justice, as might be pretended, or avenge any injuries or affronts done to them by the Jews; but purely for the sake of spoil and plunder:

their faces shall sup up as the east wind: their countenances will appear so stern and fierce, that their very looks will so frighten, as to cause men to sink and die through terror; just as herbs and plants shrivel up and wither away, when blasted by a nipping east wind. So the Targum,

"the reception or look of their faces is like to a vehement east wind.''

Some render it,

"the look or design of their faces is to the east (t);''

when the Chaldeans were on their march to Judea, their faces were to the west or south west; but then their desire and views were, that when they had got the spoil they came for, as in the preceding clause, to carry it to Babylon, which lay eastward or north east of Judea, and thither their faces looked:

and they shall gather the captivity as the sand; or gather up persons, both in Judea, and in other countries conquered by them, as innumerable as the sand of the sea, and carry them captive into their own land. Captivity is put for captives.

(s) "illa teta", Junius & Tremellius; "sub. gens", Pagninus, Piscator; "totus exercitus", Vatablus; "populus", Calvin. (t) "ad orientem", Pagninus, Montanus, Drusius; "orientem versus", Junius & Tremellius, De Dieu, Burkius; so Abarbinel.

They shall come all for violence: their faces shall sup up as the {f} east wind, and they shall gather the captives {g} as the sand.

(f) For the Jews most feared this wind, because it destroyed their fruits.

(g) They will be so many in number.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. they shall come] they come all of them for violence. To rob and harry is their object.

Their faces shall sup up] R.V. paraphrastically: their faces are set eagerly as the east wind. The clause is obscure in sense, and in all likelihood the text is faulty. Two tentative senses have been suggested: (1) the word rendered in A.V. “sup up” has been connected with the term used of the war-horse, Job 39:24, he swalloweth the ground, i.e. appears to do so in his eagerness and swiftness; cf. Genesis 14:17, “Let me drink” (the same word). From this sense of swallowing or gulping up might come the more general one of straining or striving after (as in Neo-Heb.), giving some such sense as the striving of their faces is &c. Such a meaning is rather indefinite and flat, and the form of word is not easy to connect with that used in Job 39:24. (2) Others, as Gesen., would connect with the Arab. word signifying a crowd, assemblage, and render: the mass, crowd, of their faces.

as the east wind] The term properly means eastward, but as the spectator when reckoning the quarters of the heavens faced the east, it is supposed that eastwards became equivalent to forwards or onwards. The whole clause would mean: the striving (or, the crowd) of their faces is forwards; the impetuosity and rapidity of their movement being indicated. Such a sense is rather lame, even if it could be legitimately reached.

shall gather the captivity] and they gather captives like the sand. The sand is innumerable, Genesis 22:17; Genesis 41:49; 2 Samuel 17:11.

Verse 9. - They shall come all for violence. All, every one of the invaders, come for violence - to repay that violence of which Habakkuk complained (ver. 2). Septuagint, Συντέλεια εἰς ἀσεβεῖς ἥξει, "An end shall come upon the impious;" Vulgate, Omnes ad praedam venient. Their faces shall sup up as the east wind. The word translated "shall sup up" occasions perplexity, being an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον. The Anglican rendering is virtually supported by other versions, e.g. Symmachus, Chaldee, and Syriac. The Vulgate, too, gives, facies eorum ventus urens, which Jerome explains, "As at the blast of a burning wind all green things dry up, so at the sight of these men all shall be wasted." This is the meaning of the Anglican Version, which, however, might be improved thus: The aspect of their faces is as the east wind. The Revisers have, Their faces are set eagerly as the east wind, which does not seem very intelligible. Other renderings are, "the endeavour," or "desire of their faces is directed to the east," or "forwards." (This rendering has the support of Orelli and others.) "The crowd of their faces," as equivalent to "the multitude of the army" which is not a Hebrew phrase found elsewhere. Septuagint, ἀνθεστηκότας (agreeing with ἀσεβεῖς in the first clause) προσώποις αὐτῶν ἐξεναντίας, "resisting with their adverse front." The effects of the east wind are often noted in Scripture; e.g. Genesis 41:6, 23; Job 27:21; Hosea 13:15. They shall gather the captivity as the sand. "He collects the captives as sand" - a hyperbolical expression to denote the numbers of captives and the quantity of booty taken. The mention of the east wind brings the thought of the terrible simoom, with its columns of sand. Habakkuk 1:9Announcement of this work. - Habakkuk 1:6. "For, behold, I cause the Chaldaeans to rise up, the fierce and vehement nation, which marches along the breadths of the earth, to take possession of dwelling-places that are not its own. Habakkuk 1:7. It is alarming and fearful: its right and its eminence go forth from it. Habakkuk 1:8. And its horses are swifter than leopards, and more sudden than evening wolves: and its horsemen spring along; and its horsemen, they come from afar; they fly hither, hastening like an eagle to devour. Habakkuk 1:9. It comes all at once for wickedness; the endeavour of their faces is directed forwards, and it gathers prisoners together like sand. Habakkuk 1:10. And it, kings it scoffs at, and princes are laughter to it; it laughs at every stronghold, and heaps up sand, and takes it. Habakkuk 1:11. Then it passes along, a wind, and comes hither and offends: this its strength is its god." הנני מקים, ecce suscitaturus sum. הנּה before the participle always refers to the future. הקים, to cause to stand up or appear, does not apply to the elevation of the Chaldaeans into a nation or a conquering people, - for the picture which follows and is defined by the article הגּויו וגו presupposes that it already exists as a conquering people, - but to its being raised up against Judah, so that it is equivalent to מקים עליכם in Amos 6:14 (cf. Micah 5:4; 2 Samuel 12:11, etc.). Hakkasdı̄m, the Chaldaeans, sprang, according to Genesis 22:22, from Kesed the son of Nahor, the brother of Abraham; so that they were a Semitic race. They dwelt from time immemorial in Babylonia or Mesopotamia, and are called a primeval people, gōI mē‛ōlâm, in Jeremiah 5:15. Abram migrated to Canaan from Ur of the Chaldees, from the other side of the river (Euphrates: Genesis 11:28, Genesis 11:31, compared with Joshua 24:2); and the Kasdı̄m in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel are inhabitants of Babel or Babylonia (Isaiah 43:14; Isaiah 47:1; Isaiah 48:14, Isaiah 48:20; Jeremiah 21:9; Jeremiah 32:4, Jeremiah 32:24, etc.; Ezekiel 23:23). Babylonia is called 'erets Kasdı̄m (Jeremiah 24:5; Jeremiah 25:12; Ezekiel 12:13), or simply Kasdı̄m (Jeremiah 50:10; Jeremiah 51:24, Jeremiah 51:35; Ezekiel 26:29; Ezekiel 23:16). The modern hypothesis, that the Chaldaeans were first of all transplanted by the Assyrians from the northern border mountains of Armenia, Media, and Assyria to Babylonia, and that having settled there, they afterwards grew into a cultivated people, and as a conquering nation exerted great influence in the history of the world, simply rests upon a most precarious interpretation of an obscure passage in Isaiah (Isaiah 23:18), and has no higher value than the opinion of the latest Assyriologists that the Chaldaeans are a people of Tatar origin, who mingled with the Shemites of the countries bordering upon the Euphrates and Tigris (see Delitzsch on Isaiah 23:13). Habakkuk describes this people as mar, bitter, or rough, and, when used to denote a disposition, fierce (mar nephesh, Judges 18:25; 2 Samuel 17:8); and nimhâr, heedless or rash (Isaiah 32:4), here violent, and as moving along the breadths of the earth (ἑπὶ τὰ πλάτη τῆς γῆς, lxx: cf. Revelation 20:9), i.e., marching through the whole extent of the earth (Isaiah 8:8): terram quam late patet (Ros.). ל is not used here to denote the direction or the goal, but the space, as in Genesis 13:17 (Hitzig, Delitzsch). To take possession of dwelling-laces that are not his own (לא־לו equals אשׁר לא־לו), i.e., to take possession of foreign lands that do not belong to him. In Habakkuk 1:7 the fierce disposition of this people is still further depicted, and in Habakkuk 1:8 the violence with which it advances. אים, formidabilis, exciting terror; נורא, metuendus, creating alarm. ממּנּוּ וגו, from it, not from God (cf. Psalm 17:2), does its right proceed, i.e., it determines right, and the rule of its conduct, according to its own standard; and שׂאתו, its eminence (Genesis 49:3; Hosea 13:1), "its δόξα (1 Corinthians 11:7) above all other nations" (Hitzig), making itself lord through the might of its arms. Its horses are lighter, i.e., swifter of foot, than panthers, which spring with the greatest rapidity upon their prey (for proofs of the swiftness of the panther, see Bochart, Hieroz. ii. p. 104, ed. Ros.), and חדּוּ, lit., sharper, i.e., shooting sharply upon it. As qâlal represents swiftness as a light rapid movement, which hardly touches the ground, so châda, ὀξὺν εἶναι, describes it as a hasty precipitate dash upon a certain object (Delitzsch). The first clause of this verse has been repeated by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 4:13), with the alteration of one letter (viz., מנּשׁרים for מנּמרים). Wolves of the evening (cf. Zephaniah 3:3) are wolves which go out in the evening in search of prey, after having fasted through the day, not "wolves of Arabia (ערב equals ערב, lxx) or of the desert" (ערבה Kimchi).

Pâshū from pūsh, after the Arabic fâš, med. Ye, to strut proudly; when used of a horse and its rider, to spring along, to gallop; or of a calf, to hop or jump (Jeremiah 50:11; Malachi 4:2). The connection between this and pūsh (Nahum 3:18), niphal to disperse or scatter one's self, is questionable. Delitzsch (on Job 35:15) derives pūsh in this verse and the passage cited from Arab. fâš, med. Vav, in the sense of swimming upon the top, and apparently traces pūsh in Nahum 3, as well as pash in Job 35:15, to Arab. fšš (when used of water: to overflow its dam); whilst Freytag (in the Lexicon) gives, as the meaning of Arab. fšš II, dissolvit, dissipavit. Pârâshı̄m are horsemen, not riding-horses. The repetition of פּרשׁיו does not warrant our erasing the words וּפשׁוּ פּרשׁיו as a gloss, as Hitzig proposes. It can be explained very simply from the fact, that in the second hemistich Habakkuk passes from the general description of the Chaldaeans to a picture of their invasion of Judah. מרחוק , from afar, i.e., from Babylonia (cf. Isaiah 39:3). Their coming from afar, and the comparison of the rushing along of the Chaldaean horsemen to the flight of an eagle, points to the threat in Deuteronomy 28:49, "Jehovah shall bring against thee a nation from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth," which is now about to be fulfilled. Jeremiah frequently uses the same comparison when speaking of the Chaldaeans, viz., in Jeremiah 4:13; Jeremiah 48:40; Jeremiah 49:22, and Lamentations 4:19 (cf. 2 Samuel 1:23). The ἁπ. λεγ. מגמּה may mean a horde or crowd, after the Hebrew גם werbeH , and the Arabic jammah, or snorting, endeavouring, striving, after Arab. jmm and jâm, appetivit, in which case גמם would be connected with גמא, to swallow. But the first meaning does not suit פּניהם קדימה, whereas the second does. קדימה, not eastwards, but according to the primary meaning of קדם, to the front, forwards. Ewald renders it incorrectly: "the striving of their face is to storm, i.e., to mischief;" for qâdı̄m, the east wind, when used in the sense of storm, is a figurative expression for that which is vain and worthless (Hosea 12:2; cf. Job 15:2), but not for mischief. For ויּאסף, compare Genesis 41:49 and Zechariah 9:3; and for כּחול, like sand of the sea, Hosea 2:1. In Habakkuk 1:10 והוּא and הוּא are introduced, that the words בּמּלכים and לכל־מבצר, upon which the emphasis lies, may be placed first. It, the Chaldaean nation, scoffs at kings and princes, and every stronghold, i.e., it ridicules all the resistance that kings and princes offer to its advance, by putting forth their strength, as a perfectly fruitless attempt. Mischâq, the object of laughter. The words, it heaps up dust and takes it (the fortress), express the facility with which every fortress is conquered by it. To heap up dust: denoting the casting up an embankment for attack (2 Samuel 20:15, etc.). The feminine suffix attached to ילכּדהּ refers ad sensum to the idea of a city (עיר), implied in מבצר, the latter being equivalent to עיר מבצר in 1 Samuel 6:18; 2 Kings 3:19, etc. Thus will the Chaldaean continue incessantly to overthrow kings and conquer kingdoms with tempestuous rapidity, till he offends, by deifying his own power. With this gentle hint at the termination of his tyranny, the announcement of the judgment closes in Habakkuk 1:11. אז, there, i.e., in this appearance of his, as depicted in Habakkuk 1:6-10 : not "then," in which case Habakkuk 1:11 would affirm to what further enterprises the Chaldaeans would proceed after their rapidly and easily effected conquests. The perfects חלף and ויּעבור are used prophetically, representing the future as occurring already. חלף and עבר are used synonymously: to pass along and go further, used of the wind or tempest, as in Isaiah 21:1; here, as in Isaiah 8:8, of the hostile army overflowing the land; with this difference, however, that in Isaiah it is thought of as a stream of water, whereas here it is thought of as a tempest sweeping over the land. The subject to châlaph is not rūăch, but the Chaldaean (הוּא, Habakkuk 1:10); and rūăch is used appositionally, to denote the manner in which it passes along, viz., "like a tempestuous wind" (rūăch as in Job 30:15; Isaiah 7:2). ואשׁם is not a participle, but a perfect with Vav rel., expressing the consequence, "and so he offends." In what way is stated in the last clause, in which זוּ does not answer to the relative אשׁר, in the sense of "he whose power," but is placed demonstratively before the noun כּחו, like זה in Exodus 32:1; Joshua 9:12-13, and Isaiah 23:13 (cf. Ewald, 293, b), pointing back to the strength of the Chaldaean, which has been previously depicted in its intensive and extensive greatness (Delitzsch). This its power is god to it, i.e., it makes it into its god (for the thought, compare Job 12:6, and the words of the Assyrian in Isaiah 10:13). The ordinary explanation of the first hemistich is, on the other hand, untenable (then its courage becomes young again, or grows), since רוּח cannot stand for רוּחו, and עבר without an object given in the context cannot mean to overstep, i.e., to go beyond the proper measure.

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