Habakkuk 2:2
And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain on tables, that he may run that reads it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) On tables.—Better, on the tables. The definite article probably indicates certain well-known tables on which the prophets were wont to inscribe their utterances for public edification. These tables may have been hung up in the Temple (Calvin) or market-place (Luther and Ewald).

That he may run that readeth iti.e., the prophecy is to be inscribed plainly and legibly, so that the reader may “run his eye” quickly through it.

Habakkuk 2:2-3. The Lord said, Write the vision — Write down what I am going to say. Every divine communication, by whatever means made, is often spoken of in the prophetic writings under the title of a vision. When the prophets were commanded to write any thing, it denoted the great importance of it, and that the fulfilling of it was at some distance. Make it plain upon tables — Write it in legible characters; that he may run that readeth — That it may be read with ease. For the vision is yet for an appointed time — What I am now about to reveal to thee will not be fulfilled till a certain time which God hath appointed, but which is yet at a distance. As this vision undoubtedly related to the destruction of the Babylonish monarchy, which is plainly foretold from Habakkuk 2:5 to the end of the chapter, so that event was not to take place till about one hundred years from this time. But at the end it shall speak — When the period appointed by God shall come, it shall be accomplished, and not disappoint your expectation. The Hebrew is, At the end it shall break forth, namely, as the morning light, which the word יפח, here used, properly and emphatically expresses: that is, the event spoken of shall break forth, or appear, with great clearness and evidence, and then this prophecy shall be proved a true one. Though it tarry, wait for it — Although it may be long deferred, and much time may intervene before it be accomplished; yet, nevertheless, continue confidently to expect it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry — Hebrew, לא יאחר, It will not be prolonged, or go beyond, namely, the appointed time; that is, it will certainly be fulfilled at the time that is appointed. The word here used is not the same with that rendered tarry in the former clause. All this is addressed to the Jewish nation in answer to their complaints, represented in the foregoing chapter, respecting the success and prosperity of the Chaldeans, notwithstanding their crimes; in reply to which, God, by a prophetic vision, informs the prophet, that the Chaldean nation should not go unpunished at the appointed time, namely, when they had filled up the measure of their iniquity, but they should be involved in a much greater destruction than the nations which they had conquered; that most of these nations would survive to see the entire overthrow and final ruin of the Chaldeans. Though God may defer the execution of his promises and threatenings a long time, according to our computation, yet they are no less sure than if they were immediately accomplished; and indeed it is only long with respect to our finite and narrow capacities; for with God, the Scriptures tell us, a thousand years are but as one day. 2:1-4 When tossed and perplexed with doubts about the methods of Providence, we must watch against temptations to be impatient. When we have poured out complaints and requests before God, we must observe the answers God gives by his word, his Spirit, and providences; what the Lord will say to our case. God will not disappoint the believing expectations of those who wait to hear what he will say unto them. All are concerned in the truths of God's word. Though the promised favour be deferred long, it will come at last, and abundantly recompense us for waiting. The humble, broken-hearted, repenting sinner, alone seeks to obtain an interest in this salvation. He will rest his soul on the promise, and on Christ, in and through whom it is given. Thus he walks and works, as well as lives by faith, perseveres to the end, and is exalted to glory; while those who distrust or despise God's all-sufficiency will not walk uprightly with him. The just shall live by faith in these precious promises, while the performance of them is deferred. Only those made just by faith, shall live, shall be happy here and for ever.The answer is, that it is indeed for a long time yet. Write the vision, that it may remain for those who come after and not be forgotten, and make it plain upon the tables, whereon he was accustomed to write ; and that, in large lasting characters, that he may run that readeth it, that it may be plain to any, however occupied or in haste. So Isaiah too was commanded to write the four words, "haste-prey-speed-spoil." 2. Write the vision—which I am about to reveal to thee.

make it plain—(De 27:8). In large legible characters.

upon tables—boxwood tables covered with wax, on which national affairs were engraved with an iron pen, and then hung up in public, at the prophets' own houses, or at the temple, that those who passed might read them. Compare Lu 1:63, "writing table," that is, tablet.

that he may run that readeth it—commonly explained, "so intelligible as to be easily read by any one running past"; but then it would be, "that he that runneth may read it." The true sense is, "so legible that whoever readeth it, may run to tell all whom he can the good news of the foe's coming doom, and Judah's deliverance." Compare Da 12:4, "many shall run to and fro," namely, with the explanation of the prophecy, then unsealed; also, Re 22:17, "let him that heareth (the good news) say (to every one within his reach), Come." "Run" is equivalent to announce the divine revelation (Jer 23:21); as everyone who becomes informed of a divine message is bound to run, that is, use all despatch to make it known to others [Henderson]. Grotius, Ludovicus De Dieu, and Maurer interpret it: "Run" is not literal running, but "that he who reads it may run through it," that is, read it at once without difficulty.

And the Lord, on whom he waited, and who ruleth all affairs, answered me; did hear my desire, and gave direction what I should do.

Write; what is only spoken is soon forgot, but what is written is more lasting, therefore write thou the vision showed to thee.

The vision; the things thou seest, or which thou shalt see.

Make it plain; make the writing very plain, engrave it, as was their manner, upon tables; what was of public concern, and therefore to be published, was anciently written or engraven upon tables, smooth stones, or wood, and then hung up in a public place to be read.

That he may run that readeth it; that none may need to make a stop, but hold on his course; in the greatest haste of business, every one may plainly and clearly discern what is written.

And the Lord, on whom he waited, and who ruleth all affairs, answered me; did hear my desire, and gave direction what I should do.

Write; what is only spoken is soon forgot, but what is written is more lasting, therefore write thou the vision showed to thee.

The vision; the things thou seest, or which thou shalt see.

Make it plain; make the writing very plain, engrave it, as was their manner, upon tables; what was of public concern, and therefore to be published, was anciently written or engraven upon tables, smooth stones, or wood, and then hung up in a public place to be read.

That he may run that readeth it; that none may need to make a stop, but hold on his course; in the greatest haste of business, every one may plainly and clearly discern what is written. And the Lord answered me,.... As he does his ministers and people sooner or later, in one way or another, when they call upon him with humility and reverence, with faith and fervency:

and said, Write the vision; which the prophet now had from him, concerning the coming of the Messiah, and the destruction of the enemies of the church and people of God: and this he has orders to "write"; not only to tell it to the people then present, for their particular information and satisfaction; but to write it, that it may be read over and over, and that it may remain, and be of use in times to come:

and make it plain upon tables, engrave it in plain legible letters on tables of wood; on box tree, as the Septuagint version; on which they used to write before paper was found out and used. Writing tables are of ancient use; they were used in and before the times of Homer, for he speaks (o) of writing very pernicious things on a two leaved table; wherefore Josephus must be mistaken when he suggests (p) that letters were not found out in the times of Homer. These tables were made of wood, sometimes of one sort, and sometimes of another; sometimes they were made of the pine tree, as appears from Euripides (q) but, for the most part, of box (r), according to the Greek version as above; and consisted sometimes of two leaves, for the most part of three or five, covered with wax (s), on which impressions were easily made, and continued long, and were very legible; and these impressions or letters were formed with an iron style or pen; see Jeremiah 17:1 this the Greeks and Tuscans first used, but was afterwards forbidden by the Romans, who, instead of it, ordered an instrument of bone to be used (t): hence these tables were wont to be called "wax", because besmeared with it; and so, in wills and testaments written on them, the heirs are said to be written either in the first wax, or in the bottom of the wax (u), that is, of the will, or in the lowest part of the table, or what we should call the bottom of the leaf or page: and it was a custom among the Romans, as Cicero (w) relates, that the public affairs of every year were committed to writing by the Pontifex Maximus, or high priest, and published on a table, and set to view within doors, that the people might have an opportunity and be able to know them; yea, it was usual to hang up laws, approved and recorded, in tables of brass, in their market places, and in their temples, that (x) they might be seen and read; the same we call annals. In like manner the Jewish prophets used to write and expose their prophecies publicly on tables, either in their own houses, or in the temple, that everyone that passed by might read them.

That he may run that readeth it; may run through the whole without any difficulty, without making any stop, being written in such large capital letters; and those cut so well, and made so plain, that a man might run it over at once with ease, or even read it as he was running; nor need he stop his pace, or stand to read. The Targum is,

"write the prophecy, and explain it in the book of the law, that he may hasten to obtain wisdom, whoever he is that reads in it.''

(o) , &c. Homer. Iliad. 6. (p) Contr. Apion, l. 1. c. 2.((q) In Hippolito. (r) "Ergo tam doctae nobis periere tabellae, Non illas fixum charas effeceret aurum, Vulgari buxo sordida cera fuit. Propertius. Buxa crepent cerata------" Prudentius. (s) Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 2. c. 30. (t) Isidor. Originum, l. 6. c. 8. (u) "In ima cera", Sueton. in Vit. Jul. Caesar. c. 83. "in extrema cera", Cicero in Verrem, l. 3. Vid. Alex. ab Alex. ib. l. 1. c. 1.((w) De Oratore, l. 2. sect. 34. (x) Taciti Annales, l. 11. c. 14.

And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tablets, that he may run {b} that readeth it.

(b) Write it in great letters, that he that runneth may read it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. upon tables] upon the tablets. The art. refers either to the customary use of such tablets for public notices (Isaiah 8:1), or to the tablets to be taken in this case for the purpose.

he may run that readeth] The words explain the command to make it plain, and mean that the reader may run on in his reading without being hindered by any obscurity or unwontedness in the writing. Cf. Isaiah 8:1, R.V. margin.Verse 2. - Jehovah answers the prophet's expostulation (Habakkuk 1:12, etc.). Write. That it may remain permanently on record, and that, when it comes to pass, people may believe in the prophet's inspiration (John 13:19; comp. Isaiah 8:1; Isaiah 30:8; Jeremiah 30:2; Revelation 1:11). The vision (see Habakkuk 1:1: Obadiah 1:1). The word includes the inward revelation as well as the open vision. Upon tables; upon the tables (Deuteronomy 27:8); i.e. certain tablets placed in public places, that all might see and read them (see Isaiah, loc. cit.); Septuagint, εἰς πυξίον, "a boxwood tablet" The summary of what was to be written is given in ver. 4. This was to be "made plain," written large and legibly. Septuagint, σαφῶς. That he may run that readeth it. The common explanation of these words (unfortunately perpetuated by Keble's well known hymn, "There is a book, who runs may read"), viz. that even the runner, one who hastens by hurriedly, may be able to read it, is not borne out by the Hebrew, which rather means that every one who reads it may run, i.e. read fluently and easily. So Jerome, "Scribere jubetur planius, ut possit lector currere, et nullo impedimento velocitas ejus et legendi cupido teneatur." Henderson, comparing Daniel 12:4, "Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased," interprets the clause to signify that whosoever reads the announcement might run and publish it to all within his reach. "' To run,'" he adds, "is equivalent to 'to prophesy' in Jeremiah 23:21," on the principle that those who were charged with a Divine message were to use all despatch in making it known. In the passage of Daniel, "to run to and fro," is explained to mean "to peruse." As such a prophecy as this met with violent contradiction, not only from the corrupt great men, but also from the false prophets who flattered the people, Micah indicates it by showing that the people are abusing the long-suffering and mercy of the Lord; and that, by robbing the peaceable poor, the widows, and the orphans, they are bringing about the punishment of banishment out of the land. Micah 2:6. "Drip not (prophesy not), they drip: if they drip not this, the shame will not depart. Micah 2:7. Thou, called house of Jacob, is the patience of Jehovah short, then? or is this His doing? Are not my words good to him that walketh uprightly?" הטּיף, to drip, to cause words to flow, used of prophesying, as in Amos 7:16. The speakers in Micah 2:6 are not the Jews generally, or the rich oppressors who have just been punished and threatened. The word yattı̄phū does not agree with this, since it does not mean to chatter, but to prophesy, as Micah 2:11 and also the primary passage Deuteronomy 32:2 show. But Micah could not call the rich men's speaking prophesying. It is rather false prophets who are speaking, - namely, those who in the word 'al-tattı̄phū (prophesy not) would prohibit the true prophets from predicting the judgments of the Lord. The second hemistich is rendered by most of the modern commentators, "they are not to chatter (preach) of such things; the reproaches cease not," or "there is no end to reproaching" (Ewald, Hitzig, Maurer, and Caspari). But this is open to the following objections: (1) That הטּיף ל in Micah 2:11 means to prophesy to a person (not concerning or of anything); (2) that sūg or nâsag means to depart, not to cease; (3) that even the thought, "the reproaches to not cease," is apparently unsuitable, since Micah could not well call a prohibition against prophesying an incessant reproach; and to this we may add, (4) the grammatical harshness of taking לא יטּיפוּ as an imperative, and the following לא יסּג as an indicative (a simple declaration). Still less can the rendering, "they (the true prophets) will not chatter about this, yet the reproach will not depart" (Ros., Rckert), be vindicated, as such an antithesis as this would necessarily be indicated by a particle. The only course that remains, therefore, is that adopted by C. B. Michaelis and Hengstenberg, viz., to take the words as conditional: if they (the true prophets) do not prophesy to these (the unrighteous rich in Micah 2:1, Micah 2:2 : Hengstenberg), or on account of these things (Michaelis), the shame will not depart, i.e., shameful destruction will burst incessantly upon them. On the absence of the conditional אם, see Ewald, p. 357, b. Such addresses as these do not please the corrupt great men; but they imagine that such threats are irreconcilable with the goodness of Jehovah. This is the connection of Micah 2:7, in which the prophet meets the reproach cast upon his threatening words with the remark, that God is not wrathful, and has no love for punishing, but that He is stirred up to wrath by the sins of the nation, and obliged to punish. האמוּר is not an exclamation, "O, what is said! equals O for such talk as this!" (Ewald, Umbreit, Caspari); for it cannot be shown that the participle is ever used in this way, and it cannot be supported from הפכּכם in Isaiah 29:16, especially as here a second vocative would follow. Nor is it a question: Num dicendum? Dare one say this?" (Hitzig). For although he might be an interrogative particle (cf. Ezekiel 28:9), the passive participle cannot express the idea of daring, in support of which Hitzig is quite wrong in appealing to Leviticus 11:47 and Psalm 22:32. האמוּר is not doubt a vocative, but it is to be taken in connection with bēth-Ya‛aqōb: thou who art called house of Jacob. There is very little force in the objection, that this would have required האמוּר לך ב י, since אמר, when used in the sense of being called or being named, is always construed with ל of the person bearing the name. The part. pal of 'âmar only occurs here; and although the niphal, when used in this sense, is generally construed with ל, the same rule may apply to אמר as to קרא in the sense of naming, - namely, that in the passive construction the ל may either be inserted or omitted (cf. Isaiah 56:7; Isaiah 54:5; Deuteronomy 3:13), and האמוּר may just as well be used in the sense of dicta (domus) as הנּקראים in Isaiah 48:1 in the sense of vocati equals qui appellantur. The whole nation is addressed, although the address points especially to the unrighteous great men. Is Jehovah indeed wrathful? i.e., has He not patience, does He not exercise long-suffering? Qātsar rūăch must not be explained according to Exodus 6:9, but according to Proverbs 14:27. Or are these ('ēlleh, the punishments threatened) His deeds? i.e., is He accustomed, or does He only like to punish? The answer to these questions, or speaking more correctly, their refutation, follows in the next question, which is introduced with the assuring הלוא, and in which Jehovah speaks: My words deal kindly with him that walks uprightly. The Lord not only makes promises to the upright, but He also grants His blessing. The words of the Lord contain their fulfilment within themselves. In היּשׁר הולך, it is for the sake of emphasis that yâshâr stands first, and the article properly belongs to hōlēkh; but it is placed before yshr to bind together the two words into one idea. The reason why the Lord threatens by His prophets is therefore to be found in the unrighteousness of the people.
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