Habakkuk 2:17
For the 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 therein.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(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.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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. Habakkuk 2:17The 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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