Habakkuk 2:19
Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.
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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.But then the greater is the "Woe" to him who deceiveth by them. The prophet passes away from the idols as "nothings" and pronounces "woe" on those who deceive by them. He . first expostulates with them on their folly, and would awaken them. "What hath it profited?" (As in Psalm 115:5; 1 Corinthians 12:2) Then on the obstinate he denounces "woe." "Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise." Self-made blindness alone could, in the light of truth, so speak; but yet more lies in the emphatic word, "It." The personal pronoun stands emphatically in Hebrew; He shall teach, lo, He (this same of whom he speaks) this is It which shall teach: It, and not the living God. And yet this same It (the word is again emphatic) he points, as with the finger, to it, "behold, It is laid over with, held fast by , gold and silver," so that no voice could escape, if it had any. "And there is no breath at all in the midst of it" (Compare Jeremiah 10:14 repeated Jeremiah 51:17), literally "All breath, all which is breath, there is none within it;" he first suggests the thought, breath of every sort, and then energetically denies it all ; no life of any sort, of man, or bird, or beast, or creeping thing Isaiah 41:23; Jeremiah 10:5; none, good or bad; from God or from Satan; none whereby it can do good or do evil; for which it should be loved or feared. Evil spirits may have made use of idols: they could not give them life, nor dwell in them.

The words addressed to it are the language of the soul in the seeming absence or silence of God (Psalm 7:7; Psalm 35:23; Psalm 44:24; Psalm 59:6; Isaiah 51:9; Delitszch), but mockery as spoken to the senseless stone, as Ehijah had mocked the Baal-priests, "peradventure he sleepeth and must be awaked" 1 Kings 18:26-27.

19. Awake—Arise to my help.

it shall teach!—rather, An exclamation of the prophet, implying an ironical question to which a negative answer must be given. What! "It teach?" Certainly not [Maurer]. Or, "It (the idol itself) shall (that is, ought to) teach you that it is deaf, and therefore no God" [Calvin]. Compare "they are their own witnesses" (Isa 44:9).

Behold—The Hebrew is nominative, "There it is" [Henderson].

it is laid over with gold … no breath … in the midst—Outside it has some splendor, within none.

In the former verse the prophet declared the uselessness and unprofitableness of the idols of Babylon, now he threatens the idolaters. They sinned greatly by placing their confidence in them, and they should suffer the more for it.

The wood; whatever shape art may give it, or whatever veneration blind idolaters may bear to it, it is still wood, no better; a log, a worthless block.

Awake: this expresseth the idolater’s prayer to his idol. Awake; what! is he a sleepy god? No, not so much, it is a lifeless log, and its eyes never did see.

The dumb stone; another sort of their useless idols, senseless as the stones, and still as unable to rise or help as before they were graven and carved; it is a stone, no god.

Arise; another form of praying to this idol; and when the idol can rise Babylon shall be helped, till then it must abide its sorrows.

It shalt teach: sottish men! in misery to hope that lifeless idols shall counsel and direct. What! dumb, and without sense, and yet teach!

Behold; look, ye selfdeceiving idolaters, consult your own senses, see what matter they are made of.

It is laid over with gold and silver; see the facings or plates are different from that which is under, and can that be a god that is made up of such different materials? it were more like men to pull off the gold and silver, and with these to purchase your safety.

There is no breath at all; not so much as the soul of a brute in them.

Woe to him that saith to the wood, Awake,.... That saith to a wooden image, let him go by what name he will; saint such an one, or such an one; awake, arise, exert thyself on our behalf; deliver us from present danger; save us from our enemies; or pray and intercede for us, that we may be delivered and saved, as the Papists do; addressing a block of wood as they would God himself, or as his people do, Psalm 44:23. This must be very displeasing and detestable to God, and therefore a woe is threatened to such idol worshippers: who also say

to the dumb stone, Arise; to the idol of stone, as the Targum; the stone statue, an image made of stone, such as the Papists have even of wood, and of stone, as well as of gold, and silver, and brass, Revelation 9:20 and so stupid as to say to such stocks and stones, arise, stand up, and help us:

it shall teach; the stone itself would teach them better, would they but consider what it is, look upon it, and handle it, when they would find it to be a mere stone, and no deity: or, "shall it teach?" so Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech; no, it cannot teach any true doctrine, or direct to right worship; it cannot teach men their duty, or where they may have help; it is a dumb idol; it cannot teach men the nature of God, and the knowledge of him; or instruct in his mind and will; or inform of things secret or future:

it is laid over with gold and silver; it is made of stone, and covered with gold and silver; how should it teach?

and there is no breath at all in the midst of it; or, "no spirit" (o); so far from having the spirit of divinity in it, or the Spirit of God, that it has not the spirit of a man in it, nor even the spirit of a brute creature; it has not so much as animal breath, and so no life, motion, or activity in it; and therefore must be quite unprofitable to the worshipper of it; incapable of teaching those who apply to it; and they must be stupid that do it, and most righteously bring themselves under the displeasure and wrath of God, and expose themselves to the woe here denounced against such persons.

(o) "spiritus", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Burkius.

Woe to him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! {q} Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all within it.

(q) If you will consider what it is, and how it has neither breath nor life, but is a dead thing.

19. Woe unto him … Awake] 1 Kings 18:27, “he (Baal) sleepeth and must be awaked.” The term is also used of Jehovah when He visibly interposes after apparent inactivity, Psalm 78:65; Psalm 35:23; Psalm 44:23; Psalm 59:5. As this verse begins with Woe many propose to place it before Habakkuk 2:18.

it shall teach] Or, shall it teach! as an exclamation of contempt or wonder at the infatuation of those who consult it. A full stop is to be placed at Arise! Teach is equivalent to, give an answer or oracle when consulted or appealed to. Isaiah 41:26; Isaiah 46:7.

laid over with gold] This is probably the meaning, though the term is obscure. Perhaps: set in gold.

there is no breath] Psalm 135:17; Jeremiah 10:14; cf. Jeremiah 51:17.

Verse 19. - The prophet now denounces the folly of the maker and worshipper of idols. With this and the following verses compare the taunts in Isaiah 44:9-20. The wood. From which he carves the image. Awake! Come to my help, as good men pray to the living God (comp. Psalm 35:23; 44:28; Isaiah 51:9). Arise, it shall teach! The Hebrew is bettor rendered, Arise! it teach! i.e. shall this teach? - an emphatic question expressing astonishment. Vulgate, Numquid ipse docere poterit? The LXX. paraphrases, καὶ αὐτό ἐστι φαντασία, "and itself is a phantasy." It is laid, over. "It" is again emphatic, as if pointed at with the finger. Hence the Vulgate, Ecce iste coopertus est; and Henderson, "There it is, overlaid," etc. The wooden figure was encased in gold or silver plates (see Isaiah 40:19; Daniel 3:1). Habakkuk 2:19Fifth and last strophe. - Habakkuk 2:18. "What profiteth the graven image, that the maker thereof hath carved it; the molten image and the teacher of lies, that the maker of his image trusteth in him to make dumb idols? Habakkuk 2:19. Woe to him that saith to the wood, Wake up; Awake, to the hard stone. Should it teach? Behold, it is encased in gold and silver, and there is nothing of breath in its inside. Habakkuk 2:20. But Jehovah is in His holy temple: let all the world be silent before Him." This concluding strophe does not commence, like the preceding ones, with hōi, but with the thought which prepares the way for the woe, and is attached to what goes before to strengthen the threat, all hope of help being cut off from the Chaldaean. Like all the rest of the heathen, the Chaldaean also trusted in the power of his gods. This confidence the prophet overthrows in Habakkuk 2:18 : "What use is it?" equivalent to "The idol is of no use" (cf. Jeremiah 2:11; Isaiah 44:9-10). The force of this question still continues in massēkhâh: "Of what use is the molten image?" Pesel is an image carved out of wood or stone; massēkhâh an image cast in metal. הועיל is the perfect, expressing a truth founded upon experience, as a fact: What profit has it ever brought? Mōreh sheqer (the teacher of lies) is not the priest or prophet of the idols, after the analogy of Micah 3:11 and Isaiah 9:14; for that would not suit the following explanatory clause, in which עליו (in him) points back to mōreh sheqer: "that the maker of idols trusteth in him (the teacher of lies)." Consequently the mōreh sheqer must be the idol itself; and it is so designated in contrast with the true God, the teacher in the highest sense (cf. Job 36:22). The idol is a teacher of lying, inasmuch as it sustains the delusion, partly by itself and partly through its priests, that it is God, and can do what men expect from God; whereas it is nothing more than a dumb nonentity ('elı̄l 'illēm: compare εἴδωλα ἄφωνα, 1 Corinthians 12:2). Therefore woe be to him who expects help from such lifeless wood or image of stone. עץ is the block of wood shaped into an idol. Hâqı̄tsâh, awake! sc. to my help, as men pray to the living God (Psalm 35:23; Psalm 44:24; Psalm 59:6; Isaiah 51:9). הוּא יורה is a question of astonishment at such a delusion. This is required by the following sentence: it is even encased in gold. Tâphas: generally to grasp; here to set in gold, to encase in gold plate (zâhâbh is an accusative). כּל אין: there is not at all. רוּח, breath, the spirit of life (cf. Jeremiah 10:14). Habakkuk 2:18 and Habakkuk 2:19 contain a concise summary of the reproaches heaped upon idolatry in Isaiah 44:9-20; but they are formed quite independently, without any evident allusions to that passage. In Habakkuk 2:20 the contrast is drawn between the dumb lifeless idols and the living God, who is enthroned in His holy temple, i.e., not the earthly temple at Jerusalem, but the heavenly temple, or the temple as the throne of the divine glory (Isaiah 66:1), as in Micah 1:2, whence God will appear to judge the world, and to manifest His holiness upon the earth, by the destruction of the earthly powers that rise up against Him. This thought is implied in the words, "He is in His holy temple," inasmuch as the holy temple is the palace in which He is enthroned as Lord and Ruler of the whole world, and from which He observes the conduct of men (Psalm 11:4). Therefore the whole earth, i.e., all the population of the earth, is to be still before Him, i.e., to submit silently to Him, and wait for His judgment. Compare Zephaniah 1:7 and Zechariah 2:13, where the same command is borrowed from this passage, and referred to the expectation of judgment. חס is hardly an imper. apoc. of הסה, but an interjection, from which the verb hâsâh is formed. But if the whole earth must keep silence when He appears as Judge, it is all over with the Chaldaean also, with all his glory and might.
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