Habakkuk 2:15
Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15-17) Woe on the cruel invader who has made the world drink of the cup of wrath.

(15, 16) Woe unto him.—It is possible that wanton outrages committed by the debauched Babylonian soldiery in the hour of triumph are here meant. And this is in accordance with the mention of drunkenness as their special sin in Habakkuk 2:5. But we much prefer to treat the language as figurative. The invader has made his neighbours drink the cup of his cruel anger till they have reached the depths of shameful degradation. He, too, shall drink “of the cup of the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God” (Revelation 16:19; see also Psalm 76:8, Jeremiah 25:26, Lamentations 4:21); and then foul shame, as of a man stupefied with drink, shall take the place of glory and dignity.

Puttest thy bottle.—It is possible to render, pourest out thy wrath, and this makes the metaphor less obscure.

Habakkuk 2:15-16. Wo unto him that giveth his neighbour drink — By the metaphorical expressions used in this verse is signified the perfidy of Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans, who gained advantage over other nations by cunning arts of policy, and taking them off their guard by pretences of friendship, and the like; just as some men gain advantage over others by persuading them to drink too much. Thou art filled with shame for glory, &c. — Thy glory shall now be turned into shame. Perhaps this might be intended to signify the rejoicing of the nations at the downfall of the Chaldean empire. Drink thou also — Now it is come to thy turn to drink of the cup of God’s anger. Be thou also naked, as thou hast made others naked. All this is spoken in derision, or by way of mockery. The cup of the Lord’s right hand shall be turned unto thee — Or, upon thee; that is, thou shalt drink out the whole cup, or experience all the indignation of God. “Grotius justly observes, that these two verses contain an allegory. The Chaldeans gave to the neighbouring nations the cup of idolatry and of deceitful alliance, and in return they received from Jehovah the cup of his fury.” — Newcome.

2:15-20 A severe woe is pronounced against drunkenness; it is very fearful against all who are guilty of drunkenness at any time, and in any place, from the stately palace to the paltry ale-house. To give one drink who is in want, who is thirsty and poor, or a weary traveller, or ready to perish, is charity; but to give a neighbour drink, that he may expose himself, may disclose secret concerns, or be drawn into a bad bargain, or for any such purpose, this is wickedness. To be guilty of this sin, to take pleasure in it, is to do what we can towards the murder both of soul and body. There is woe to him, and punishment answering to the sin. The folly of worshipping idols is exposed. The Lord is in his holy temple in heaven, where we have access to him in the way he has appointed. May we welcome his salvation, and worship him in his earthly temples, through Christ Jesus, and by the influence of the Holy Spirit.From cruelty the prophet goes on to denounce the woe on insolence. "Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor" (to whom he owes love) drink (literally, that maketh him drink); that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also , that thou mayest look (gaze with devilish pleasure) on their nakedness." This may either be of actual insults (as in the history of Noah), in keeping certainly with the character of the later Babylonians, the last wantonness of unbridled power, making vile sport of those like himself (his neighbor), or it may be drunkenness through misery Isaiah 29:9 wherein they are bared of all their glory and brought to the lowest shame. The woe also falls on all, who in any way intoxicate others with flattering words or reigned affection, mixing poison under things pleasant, to bring them to shame. 15. giveth … neighbour drink … puttest … bottle to him—literally, "skin," as the Easterns use "bottles" of skin for wine. Maurer, from a different Hebrew root, translates, "that pourest in thy wrath." English Version keeps up the metaphor better. It is not enough for thee to be "drunken" thyself, unless thou canst lead others into the same state. The thing meant is, that the Chaldean king, with his insatiable desires (a kind of intoxication), allured neighboring states into the same mad thirst for war to obtain booty, and then at last exposed them to loss and shame (compare Isa 51:17; Ob 16). An appropriate image of Babylon, which at last fell during a drunken revel (Da 5:1-31).

that thou mayest look on their nakedness!—with light, like Ham of old (Ge 9:22).

Another public and crying sin of this Chaldean kingdom was excessive drinking, and making one another drunk, and for this God will severely punish.

Puttest thy bottle to him; forcing them by importunity or threats to drink by greater measures then they can bear.

Makest him drunken also; never givest over till thou hast made him vile and loathsome, as well as senseless in his drink.

That thou mayest look on their nakedness; designing to put the greatest abuse on them, exposing them to view, scorn, and derision, or to beastly or not to be named uncleanness, which vice the Babylonians are charged with by Herodotus and Ctesias.

Another public and crying sin of this Chaldean kingdom was excessive drinking, and making one another drunk, and for this God will severely punish.

Puttest thy bottle to him; forcing them by importunity or threats to drink by greater measures then they can bear.

Makest him drunken also; never givest over till thou hast made him vile and loathsome, as well as senseless in his drink.

That thou mayest look on their nakedness; designing to put the greatest abuse on them, exposing them to view, scorn, and derision, or to beastly or not to be named uncleanness, which vice the Babylonians are charged with by Herodotus and Ctesias.

Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink,.... Before the full accomplishment of the above prophecy concerning the abundance of the knowledge of the Lord in the earth, and before the utter destruction of antichrist; between that and the Reformation, when it had its fulfilment in part; the following practices inveighed against would be used, as we find they are, and for which the man of sin and his followers will be punished: one of which is expressed by a man's "giving his neighbour drink"; which is a commendable action, when drink is given to a person in want to quench his thirst, or in sorrowful and distressed circumstances to refresh and cheer him; but when this is done to intoxicate him, and draw him into uncleanness, it is an evil one; and which is the sense of the phrase here, as appears by the "woe" denounced, and by what follows; and is to be understood, not in a literal sense, but in a figurative one; and is expressive of the various artful methods and alluring ways used by the Papists, especially the Jesuits, after the Reformation, with the Protestants, to forsake their religion, and to draw them into the superstition and idolatry of the church of Rome; and which are in the New Testament signified by "the wine of her fornication", with which the kings, nations, and inhabitants of the earth, are made drunk, Revelation 17:2 crying up the devotion and religion of their church, its antiquity, purity, holiness, and unity; pretending great love to the souls of men, that they seek nothing but their spiritual good; promising them great advantages, temporal and spiritual, worldly riches and honour, and sure and certain salvation within the pale of their church, without which they say there is none; and by such means they have intoxicated many princes, kingdoms, and multitudes of people, since the Reformation; and have drawn them off from the profession of the Protestant religion, and brought them back to Popery again, as in Poland, Bohemia, Hungary, Germany, France, and other places; and these methods they are now taking in all Protestant countries, and in ours, and that with great success, as is notorious, and time will more abundantly show; but there is a "woe" lies against them for it:

that puttest thy bottle to him; giving him not only a glass or cup at a time, but a whole bottle to drink off at once, in order to inebriate him. The word is by some translated "thy gall", or "thy poison" (k); which fitly enough expresses the poisonous doctrines of the church of Rome, which men insensibly imbibe, infused in her wine of fornication, or drink in through the alluring and ensnaring methods taken. It properly signifies "heat" or "wrath". The Targum is,

"that pours it with heat, that he may drink, and be inebriated.''

The Syriac version is,

"woe to him that gives his neighbour to drink the dregs of fury.''

The words may be truly rendered, "adding thy wrath" (l); that is, to the alluring and enticing methods before mentioned, adding menaces, wrathful words, and furious persecutions: and this the Papists do where they can; when good words and fair speeches will not prevail, and they can not gain over proselytes with flattery, deceit, and lying, they threaten them with racks and tortures, with prisons and galleys, and death itself in various shapes, to force men into their communion; and which they have put in execution in many places, in Bohemia, Hungary, and in France even to this day; and this is what in the New Testament is called "the wine of the wrath of her fornication", Revelation 14:8,

and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness! as Ham did on his father's nakedness when in such circumstances: all the above methods are taken in order to intoxicate them, deprive them of the use of their reason, as is the case of a drunken man; and so bring them to believe, with an implicit faith, as the church believes; to believe things contrary to reason; to give into the spiritual whoredom and idolatry of that church, as men when drunk are easily drawn into uncleanness; to cast off their profession of the true religion, as a garment is cast off, as men when drunk are apt to do; and particularly to reject the doctrine of justification by the righteousness of Christ, which is the only robe to cover the nakedness of men, and receive the doctrine of merit and justification by works; in short, to apostatize wholly from the religion they have professed, and join in communion with the whore of Rome, that so they may look upon their apostasy, which is their nakedness, with the utmost pleasure and delight.

(k) "venenum tuum", Montanus; so some in Drusius, and R. Jonah in Ben Melech. (l) "adjugenti, sive adhibenti furorem tuum", Tigurine version.

Woe to him that giveth his neighbour {m} drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunk also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!

(m) He reproaches by this the king of Babylon, who as he was drunken with covetousness and cruelty, so he provoked others to the same, and inflamed them by his madness, and so in the end brought them to shame.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15–17. Fourth woe: his contemptuous humiliation of prostrate potentates and nations

15. The helplessness of the nations before the power or the craft of the Chaldean and his contemptuous treatment of them when subject to him is represented under the figure of giving one to drink to intoxication and then making brutal merriment over the exposure of his nakedness (Genesis 9:21).

That puttest thy bottle to him] As the text stands the verse reads: Woe to him that giveth his neighbour drink, mixing therewith (or, adding thereto) thy wrath, and makest him drunken also. The idea would be, not that the wrath was the drink, but only mixed with it or added to it (1 Samuel 2:36; Isaiah 14:1). This is not natural. A.V. “bottle” (Genesis 21:14) is in Heb. a word similar to “wrath,” and might be read if the vowel points were altered, but its use is quite improbable. The ancient “bottle,” being a wine-skin, would not suggest the figure. Wellh. makes the ingenious conjecture that the term “mixing,” or adding to, has arisen by accidental repetition of a letter, and that its true sense is “from the cup” (Zechariah 12:2)—Woe to him that giveth his neighbour drink from the cup of his (lit. thy) wrath, and makest him drunken also.

Verses 15-17. - § 11. The fourth woe: for base and degrading treatment of subject nations. Verse 15. - Not only do the Chaldeans oppress and pillage the peoples, but they expose them to the vilest derision and contumely. The prophet uses figures taken from the conduct produced by intemperance. That giveth his neighbour drink. The Chaldeans behaved to the conquered nations like one who gives his neighbour intoxicating drink to stupefy his faculties and expose him to shame (comp. ver. 5). The literal drunkenness of the Chaldeans is not the point here. That puttest thy bottle to him. If this translation is received, the clause is merely a strengthened repetition of the preceding with a sudden change of person. But it may be rendered, "pouring out, or mixing, thy fury," or, as Jerome, "mittens fel suum," "adding thy poison thereto." This last version seems most suitable, introducing a kind of climax, the "poison" being some drug added to increase the intoxicating power. Thus: he gives his neighbour drink, and this drugged, and in the end makes him drunken also. For the second clause the Septuagint gives, ἀνατροπῇ θολερᾷ, subversione turbida and the versions collected by Jerome are only unanimous in differing from one another That thou mayest look on their nakedness. There seems to be an allusion to the case of Noah (Genesis 9:21, etc.); but the figure is meant to show the abject state to which the conquered nations were reduced, when, prostrated by fraud and treachery, they were mocked and spurned and covered with ignominy (comp. Nahum 3:5, 11). So the mystic Babylon is said to have made the nations drink of her cup (Revelation 14:8; Revelation 17:2; Revelation 18:3). Habakkuk 2:15The fourth woe is an exclamation uttered concerning the cruelty of the Chaldaean in the treatment of the conquered nations. Habakkuk 2:15. "Woe to him that giveth his neighbour to drink, mixing thy burning wrath, and also making drunk, to look at their nakedness. Habakkuk 2:16. Thou hast satisfied thyself with shame instead of with honour; then drink thou also, and show the foreskin. The cup of Jehovah's right hand will turn to thee, and the vomiting of shame upon thy glory. Habakkuk 2:17. For the wickedness at Lebanon will cover thee, and the dispersion of the animals which frightened them; for the blood of the men and the wickedness on the earth, upon the city and all its inhabitants." The description in Habakkuk 2:15 and Habakkuk 2:16 is figurative, and the figure is taken from ordinary life, where one man gives another drink, so as to intoxicate him, for the purpose of indulging his own wantonness at his expense, or taking delight in his shame. This helps to explain the משׁקה רעהוּ, who gives his neighbour to drink. The singular is used with indefinite generality, or in a collective, or speaking more correctly, a distributive sense. The next two circumstantial clauses are subordinate to הוי משׁקה, defining more closely the mode of the drinking. ספּח does not mean to pour in, after the Arabic sfḥ; for this, which is another form for Arab. sfk, answers to the Hebrew שׁפך, to pour out (compare שׁפך חמתו, to pour out, or empty out His wrath: Psalm 79:6; Jeremiah 10:25), but has merely the meaning to add or associate, with the sole exception of Job 14:19, where it is apparently used to answer to the Arabic sfḥ; consequently here, where drink is spoken of, it means to mix wrath with the wine poured out. Through the suffix חמתך the woe is addressed directly to the Chaldaean himself, - a change from the third person to the second, which would be opposed to the genius of our language. The thought is sharpened by ואף שׁכּר, "and also (in addition) making drunk" (shakkēr, inf. abs.). To look upon their nakednesses: the plural מעוריהם is used because רעהוּ has a collective meaning. The prostrate condition of the drunken man is a figurative representation of the overthrow of a conquered nation (Nahum 3:11), and the uncovering of the shame a figure denoting the ignominy that has fallen upon it (Nahum 3:5; Isaiah 47:3). This allegory, in which the conquest and subjugation of the nations are represented as making them drink of the cup of wrath, does not refer to the open violence with which the Chaldaean enslaves the nations, but points to the artifices with which he overpowers them, "the cunning with which he entices them into his alliance, to put them to shame" (Delitzsch). But he has thereby simply prepared shame for himself, which will fall back upon him (Habakkuk 2:16). The perfect שׂבעתּ does not apply prophetically to the certain future; but, as in the earlier strophes (Habakkuk 2:8 and Habakkuk 2:10) which are formed in a similar manner, to what the Chaldaean has done, to bring upon himself the punishment mentioned in what follows. The shame with which he has satisfied himself is the shamefulness of his conduct; and שׂבע, to satisfy himself, is equivalent to revelling in shame. מכּבוד, far away from honour, i.e., and not in honour. מן is the negative, as in Psalm 52:5, in the sense of ולא, with which it alternates in Hosea 6:6. For this he is now also to drink the cup of wrath, so as to fall down intoxicated, and show himself as having a foreskin, i.e., as uncircumcised ( הערל from ערלה ). This goblet Jehovah will hand to him. Tissōbh, he will turn. על (upon thee, or to thee). This is said, because the cup which the Chaldaean had reached to other nations was also handed over to him by Jehovah. The nations have hitherto been obliged to drink it out of the hand of the Chaldaean. Now it is his turn, and he must drink it out of the hand of Jehovah (see Jeremiah 25:26). וקיקלון, and shameful vomiting, (sc., יהיה) will be over thine honour, i.e., will cover over thine honour or glory, i.e., will destroy thee. The ἁπ. λεγ. קיקלון is formed from the pilpal קלקל from קלל, and softened down from קלקלון, and signifies extreme or the greatest contempt. This form of the word, however, is chosen for the sake of the play upon קיא קלון, vomiting of shame, vomitus ignominiae (Vulg.; cf. קיא צאה in Isaiah 28:8), and in order that, when the word was heard, it should call up the subordinate meaning, which suggests itself the more naturally, because excessive drinking is followed by vomiting (cf. Jeremiah 25:26-27).

This threat is explained in Habakkuk 2:17, in the statement that the wickedness practised by the Chaldaean on Lebanon and its beasts will cover or fall back upon itself. Lebanon with its beasts is taken by most commentators allegorically, as a figurative representation of the holy land and its inhabitants. But although it may be pleaded, in support of this view, that Lebanon, and indeed the summit of its cedar forest, is used in Jeremiah 22:6 as a symbol of the royal family of Judaea, and in Jeremiah 22:23 as a figure denoting Jerusalem, and that in Isaiah 37:24, and probably also in Zechariah 11:1, the mountains of Lebanon, as the northern frontier of the Israelitish land, are mentioned synecdochically for the land itself, and the hewing of its cedars and cypresses may be a figurative representation of the devastation of the land and its inhabitants; these passages do not, for all that, furnish any conclusive evidence of the correctness of this view, inasmuch as in Isaiah 10:33-34, Lebanon with its forest is also a figure employed to denote the grand Assyrian army and its leaders, and in Isaiah 60:13 is a symbol of the great men of the earth generally; whilst in the verse before us, the allusion to the Israelitish land and nation is neither indicated, nor even favoured, by the context of the words. Apart, for example, from the fact that such a thought as this, "the wickedness committed upon the holy land will cover thee, because of the wickedness committed upon the earth," not only appears lame, but would be very difficult to sustain on biblical grounds, inasmuch as the wickedness committed upon the earth and its inhabitants would be declared to be a greater crime than that committed upon the land and people of the Lord; this view does not answer to the train of thought in the whole of the ode, since the previous strophes do not contain any special allusion to the devastation of the holy land, or the subjugation and ill-treatment of the holy people, but simply to the plundering of many nations, and the gain forced out of their sweat and blood, as being the great crime of the Chaldaean (cf. Habakkuk 2:8, Habakkuk 2:10, Habakkuk 2:13), for which he would be visited with retribution and destruction. Consequently we must take the words literally, as referring to the wickedness practised by the Chaldaean upon nature and the animal world, as the glorious creation of God, represented by the cedars and cypresses of Lebanon, and the animals living in the forests upon those mountains. Not satisfied with robbing men and nations, and with oppressing and ill-treating them, the Chaldaean committed wickedness upon the cedars and cypresses also, and the wild animals of Lebanon, cutting down the wood either for military purposes or for state buildings, so that the wild animals were unsparingly exterminated. There is a parallel to this in Isaiah 14:8, where the cypresses and cedars of Lebanon rejoice at the fall of the Chaldaean, because they will be no more hewn down. Shōd behēmōth, devastation upon (among) the animals (with the gen. obj., as in Isaiah 22:4 and Psalm 12:6). יחיתן is a relative clause, and the subject, shōd, the devastation which terrified the animals. The form יחיתן for יחתּן, from יחת, hiphil of חתת, is anomalous, the syllable with dagesh being resolved into an extended one, like התימך for התמּך in Isaiah 33:1; and the tsere of the final syllable is exchanged for pathach because of the pause, as, for example, in התעלּם in Psalm 55:2 (see Olshausen, Gramm. p. 576). There is no necessity to alter it into יחיתך (Ewald and Olshausen after the lxx, Syr., and Vulg.), and it only weakens the idea of the talio. The second hemistich is repeated as a refrain from Habakkuk 2:8.

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