Habakkuk 2:17
For the violence of Lebanon shall cover you, and the spoil of beasts, which made them afraid, because of men's blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.
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(17) For the violence of Lebanon. . . .—Better, For the violence done to Lebanon shall overwhelm thee, and the destruction of the beasts which it frightened away. The rest of the verse is a refrain taken from the first woe, that of Habakkuk 2:8. The “destruction of beasts” points, we think, to a raid on the cattle feeding on the sides of Lebanon. But more than this is probably included in the phrase the violence done to Lebanon. Habakkuk probably foresees how the invader will cut down the cedar forests in Lebanon to adorn the palaces of Babylon. (Comp. Isaiah 14:7-8.) All these outrages shall in due time be Avenged on himself. Some commentators, however, explain the expression as a bold synecdoche, Lebanon representing the Holy Land (of which it was the beauty), or even the Temple, both of which Nebuchadnezzar laid waste.

Habakkuk 2:17. For the violence of Lebanon [that is, the violence done to Lebanon] shall cover thee — That is, says Grotius, thou shalt suffer the punishment of having destroyed the temple, which is here called Lebanon, because it was built, in a great measure, with the cedars of Lebanon. And the spoil of beasts, which made them afraid — The relative which, added by our translators, obscures the text, which might be more plainly rendered, The spoil of (or, made by) beasts shall make them afraid, or make thee afraid, as the LXX. and Chaldee, with very little alteration, read the text. As thou hast spoiled other, without any sense of common humanity, so the army of the conqueror shall deal by thee, and shall tear thee in pieces as wild beasts do their prey. See Isaiah 13:15-18. Because of men’s blood — See note on Habakkuk 2:8.2:15-20 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.For the violence of Lebanon - i. e., done to Lebanon, whether the land of Israel of which it was the entrance and the beauty (See Isaiah 37:24, and, as a symbol, Jeremiah 22:6, Jeremiah 22:23; Ezekiel 17:3; but it is used as a symbol of Sennacherib's army, Isaiah 10:34, and the king of Asshur is not indeed spoken of under the name as a symbol (in Ezekiel 21:3,) but is compared to it), or the temple (See the note at Zechariah 12:1), both of which Nebuchadnezzar laid waste; or, more widely, it may be a symbol of all the majesty of the world and its empires, which he subdues, as Isaiah uses it, when speaking of the judgment on the world, Isaiah 2:13, "It shall cover thee, and the spoil (i. e., spoiling, destruction) of beasts (the inhabitants of Lebanon) which made them afraid," or more simply, "the wasting of wild beasts shall crush , Proverbs 10:14; Proverbs 13:3; Proverbs 14:14; Proverbs 18:7) them (selves)," i. e., as it is in irrational nature, that "the frequency of the incursions of very mischievous animals becomes the cause that people assemble against them and kill them, so their (the Chaldaeans') frequent injustice is the cause that they haste to be avenged on thee" .

Having become beasts, they shared their history. They spoiled, scared, laid waste, were destroyed. "Whoso seeketh to hurt another, hurteth himself." The Chaldaeans laid waste Judea, scared and wasted its inhabitants; the end of its plunder should be, not to adorn, but to cover them, overwhelm them as in ruins, so that they should not lift up their heads again. Violence returns upon the head of him who did it; they seem to raise a lofty fabric, but are buried under it. He sums up their past experience, what God had warned them beforehand, what they had found.

17. the violence of Lebanon—thy "violence" against "Lebanon," that is, Jerusalem (Isa 37:24; Jer 22:23; Eze 17:3, 12; for Lebanon's cedars were used in building the temple and houses of Jerusalem; and its beauty made it a fit type of the metropolis), shall fall on thine own head.

cover—that is, completely overwhelm.

the spoil of beasts, which made them afraid—Maurer explains, "the spoiling inflicted on the beasts of Lebanon (that is, on the people of Jerusalem, of which city 'Lebanon' is the type), which made them afraid (shall cover thee)." But it seems inappropriate to compare the elect people to "beasts." I therefore prefer explaining, "the spoiling of beasts," that is, such as is inflicted on beasts caught in a net, and "which makes them afraid (shall cover thee)." Thus the Babylonians are compared to wild beasts terrified at being caught suddenly in a net. In cruel rapacity they resembled wild beasts. The ancients read, "the spoiling of wild beasts shall make THEE afraid." Or else explain, "the spoiling of beasts (the Medes and Persians) which (inflicted by thee) made them afraid (shall in turn cover thyself—revert on thyself from them)." This accords better with the parallel clause, "the violence of Lebanon," that is, inflicted by thee on Lebanon. As thou didst hunt men as wild beasts, so shalt thou be hunted thyself as a wild beast, which thou resemblest in cruelty.

because of men's blood—shed by thee; repeated from Hab 2:8. But here the "land" and "city" are used of Judea and Jerusalem: not of the earth and cities generally, as in Hab 2:8.

the violence of the land, &c.—that is, inflicted on the land by thee.

The violence of Lebanon shall cover thee: this is added to all the rest, that God’s people might know this was the time of recompences for Zion, that the violence by Babylon done to Judea and its inhabitants should be avenged and no longer deferred, but now should overwhelm Babylon, in which should be made as great devastations as ever she made in the fruitful and beautiful mountain Lebanon, supposed, in Deu 3:25, to express the land of Canaan; or else by Lebanon may be meant the temple, and house of the sanctuary, (as the Chaldee paraphrast,) because it was built of the cedars of Lebanon.

Thee; Babylon.

The spoil of beasts; such spoil as by hunters is made among wild beasts, when they endeavour to destroy the whole kind of them, such havoc, and by all the ways and methods that art and subtlety can invent to extirpate them, such wastes shalt thou suffer; for thou art to be destroyed: Or else thus, such desolations shall thine enemies make in thee as wild, ravenous, and insatiable beasts make where they prevail, they shall tear and devour all they seize, and seize all that peep abroad, and this shall make all men afraid continually.

Because of men’s blood, & c.: see Habakkuk 2:8. For the violence of Lebanon shall cover thee,.... Lebanon was a mountain on the borders of the land of Israel, from whence cedar wood was brought, of which the temple was built, and for that reason is sometimes so called, as in Zechariah 11:1 and so the Targum and Jarchi interpret it,

"the violence of the house of the sanctuary shall cover thee;''

and this was a type of the church of Christ, the violence of which is that which is offered to it, and which it suffers; and designs all the injuries, oppressions, and persecutions of it by the Papists; who shall be surrounded with the judgments of God, and covered with his wrath and vengeance for the violence done to his people, as a man is covered with a garment: or else the sense is, that the same, or a like judgment, should come upon them, as did on Lebanon, or the material temple of Jerusalem, which with great force and violence destroyed it; as that was consumed by fire for the sins of the Jews in rejecting Christ and persecuting his people, so shall Rome be burnt with fire for the opposition of the inhabitants of it to Christ, and the injuries they have done to his church and people:

and the spoil of beasts, which made them afraid; or, "the spoil of the beasts" shall cover thee, which "made them afraid"; we read of two beasts, one rising out of the sea, and the other out of the earth; and both design the pope of Rome in different capacities, as considered in his secular and ecclesiastical power; and the spoil he has made of those that oppose him, the calamities of fire and sword he has brought upon them, are what have greatly terrified the sheep of Christ; but for all the spoil and havoc he has made, the judgments of God shall come upon him on all sides, and utterly destroy him; the beast and false prophet shall be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone; see Revelation 13:1,

because of men's blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein; the same that is said in Habakkuk 2:8 and here repeated, as respecting another body of men, guilty of the same or like crimes: there Rome Pagan, concerned in the crucifixion of Christ, the desolation of the land of Judea, and city of Jerusalem, and their inhabitants, as well as in persecuting the saints, the citizens of the church of God; here Rome Papal, where our Lord has been crucified again, and his blood, and the efficacy of it, set at nought; the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus shed in great abundance, and violent persecutions of the churches of Christ, and the members of them; for all which the above judgments shall come upon them; see Revelation 11:8.

For the {o} violence of Lebanon shall cover thee, and the spoil of beasts, which made them afraid, because of men's blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell in it.

(o) Because the Babylonians were cruel not only against other nations, but also against the people of God, which is meant by Lebanon and the beast in it, he shows that the same cruelly will be executed against them.

17. violence of Lebanon] i.e. done to Lebanon. Lebanon is not a figure for the holy land, but used literally. Both Assyrians and Babylonians transported wood from Lebanon for their temples and other edifices. It is possible that their cutting down of wood may have been wanton, and perhaps the use of the cedars by the Chaldean in any form may have been considered desecration. Comp. Isaiah 14:8.

shall cover thee] Obadiah 1:10; Jeremiah 3:25. In Obadiah 1:10 shame covers the Edomites because of the violence; here the violence itself covers. The violence carries shame, its recompense, in itself.

spoil … made them afraid] and the destruction of the beasts shall terrify thee (or, break thee). The ancient versions read thee for them, no doubt rightly. The Chaldeans may have made Lebanon their hunting-ground, and possibly they carried the chase to excess, though “spoil” or destruction does not mean extermination but violent treatment. The earth, the woods and the beasts no less than man have rights; there is nothing that exists which is not moral; wanton excess on anything recoils on the head of the perpetrator. The ravage and terror carried into the world of creatures shall come back in terror and destruction on the Chaldean. The refrain is as in Habakkuk 2:11.Verse 17. - For the violence of Lebanon shall cover thee; LXX., ἀσέβεια τοῦ Λιβάνου: iniquitas Libani (Vulgate). It would be plainer if translated, "the violence against," or "practised on, Lebanon," as the sentence refers to the devastation inflicted by the Chaldeans on the forests of Lebanon (comp. Isaiah 14:8; Isaiah 37:24). Jerome confines the expression in the text to the demolition of the temple at Jerusalem in the construction of which much cedar was employed; others take Lebanon as a figure for Palestine generally, or for Jerusalem itself; but it is best understood literally. The same devastation which the Chaldeans made in Lebanon shall "cover," overwhelm, and destroy them. And the spoil of beasts, which made them afraid. The introduction of the relative is not required, and the passage may be better translated, And the destruction of beasts made them (others read "thee") afraid. Septuagint, "And the wretchedness of the beasts shall affright thee." Jerome, in his commentary, renders, "Et vastitas animalium opprimet te." The meaning is that the wholesale destruction of the wild animals of Lebanon, occasioned by the operations of the Chaldeans, shall be visited upon this people. They warred not only against men, but against the lower creatures too; and for this retributive punishment awaited them. Because of men's blood, etc. The reason rendered in ver. 8 is here repeated. Of the land, etc., means "toward" or "against" the land. In the second strophe, Micah turns from the godless princes and judges to the prophets who lead the people astray, with whom he contrasts the true prophets and their ways. Micah 3:5. Thus saith Jehovah concerning the prophets who lead my people astray, who bite with their teeth, and preach peace; and whoever should put nothing into their mouths, against him they sanctify war. Micah 3:6. Therefore night to you because of the visions, and darkness to you because of the soothsaying! and the sun will set over the prophets, and the day blacken itself over them. Micah 3:7. And the seers will be ashamed, and the soothsayers blush, and all cover their beard, because (there is) no answer of God. Micah 3:8. But I, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of Jehovah, and with judgment and strength, to show to Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin." As the first strophe attaches itself to Micah 2:1-2, so does the second to Micah 2:6 and Micah 2:11, carrying out still further what is there affirmed concerning the false prophets. Micah describes them as people who predict peace and prosperity for a morsel of bread, and thereby lead the people astray, setting before them prosperity and salvation, instead of preaching repentance to them, by charging them with their sins. Thus they became accomplices of the wicked rulers, with whom they are therefore classed in Micah 3:11, together with the wicked priests. המּתעים, leading astray (cf. Isaiah 3:12; Isaiah 9:15) my people, namely, by failing to charge them with their sins, and preach repentance, as the true prophets do, and predicting prosperity for bread and payment. The words, "who bite with their teeth," are to be connected closely with the next clause, "and they preach peace," in the sense of "who preach peace if they can bite with their teeth," i.e., if they receive something to bite (or eat). This explanation, which has already been expressed by the Chaldee, is necessarily required by the antithesis, "but whoever puts nothing into their mouth," i.e., gives them nothing to eat, notwithstanding the fact that in other passages nâshakh only signifies to bite, in the sense of to wound, and is the word generally applied to the bite of a snake (Amos 5:19; Genesis 49:17; Numbers 21:6, Numbers 21:8). If, however, we understand the biting with the teeth as a figurative representation of the words of the prophets who always preach prosperity, and of the injury they do to the real welfare of the people (Ros., Casp., and others), the obvious antithesis of the two double clauses of Micah 3:5 is totally destroyed. The harsh expression, to "bite with the teeth," in the sense of "to eat," is perfectly in harmony with the harsh words of Micah 3:2 and Micah 3:3. Qiddēsh milchâmâh, to sanctify war, i.e., to preach a holy war (cf. Joel 3:9), or, in reality, to proclaim the vengeance of God. For this shall night and darkness burst upon them. Night and darkness denote primarily the calamity which would come upon the false prophets (unto you) in connection with the judgment (Micah 2:4). The sun which sets to them is the sun of salvation or prosperity (Amos 8:9; Jeremiah 15:9); and the day which becomes black over them is the day of judgment, which is darkness, and not light (Amos 5:18). This calamity is heightened by the fact that they will then stand ashamed, because their own former prophecies are thereby proved to be lies, and fresh, true prophecies fail them, because God gives no answer. "Convicted by the result, they are thus utterly put to shame, because God does not help them out of their trouble by any word of revelation" (Hitzig). Bōsh, to be ashamed, when connected with châphēr (cf. Jeremiah 15:9; Psalm 35:26., etc.), signifies to become pale with shame; châphēr, to blush, with min causae, to denote the thing of which a man is ashamed. Qōsemı̄m (diviners) alternates with chōzı̄m (seers), because these false prophets had no visions of God, but only divinations out of their own hearts. ‛Atâh sâphâm: to cover the beard, i.e., to cover the face up to the nose, is a sign of mourning (Leviticus 13:45), here of trouble and shame (cf. Ezekiel 24:17), and is really equivalent to covering the head (Jeremiah 14:4; Esther 6:12). Ma‛ănēh, the construct state of the substantive, but in the sense of the participle; some codd. have indeed מענה. In Micah 3:8 Micah contrasts himself and his own doings with these false prophets, as being filled with power by the Spirit of Jehovah (i.e., through His assistance) and with judgment. Mishpât, governed by מלא, is the divine justice which the prophet has to proclaim, and gebhūrâh strength, manliness, to hold up before the people their sins and the justice of God. In this divine strength he can and must declare their unrighteousness to all ranks of the people, and predict the punishment of God (Micah 3:9-12).
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