Habakkuk 2:6
Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay!
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(6-20) The destruction of the Chaldæans has hitherto been only implied. It is now plainly foretold in a denunciatory song, put into the mouths of the invader’s victims. In this song there are five strophes, of three verses each, 6-8; 9-11; 12-14; 15-17; 18-20.

(6-8) Woe on the reckless rapacity which has spared neither life nor property.

(6) How long?i.e., how long shall this continual annexation be witnessed?

That ladeth himself with thick clay.—Better, That accumulates to himself usury. So the Targum. The rendering “thick clay” originates in a false etymology of the word abtêt, which the student will find in Rashi’s Commentary. For the true derivation see Fürst’s Lexicon.

Habakkuk 2:6. Shall not these take up a parable against (or, concerning) him, and a taunting proverb — A parable, or proverb, signifies a metaphorical or figurative saying, out of the common way. And say, Wo to him that increaseth, &c. — Wo to him that is still increasing his own dominions, by invading those of his neighbours. How long? — Namely, will he be permitted to do this? Surely he will not be suffered to continue to act thus, without some remarkable check from Providence: and so what he thus increases will not be his, or for himself, (for so the words in the former part of the sentence may be translated,) but for the Medes and Persians, who shall conquer him, and enrich themselves with his spoils: see the following verse. And to him that ladeth himself with thick clay — Gold and silver, so called, being nothing originally but earth, or clay, and what should not turn to his benefit, but rather be his burden; adding weight to his sins and punishment.

2:5-14 The prophet reads the doom of all proud and oppressive powers that bear hard upon God's people. The lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, are the entangling snares of men; and we find him that led Israel captive, himself led captive by each of these. No more of what we have is to be reckoned ours, than what we come honestly by. Riches are but clay, thick clay; what are gold and silver but white and yellow earth? Those who travel through thick clay, are hindered and dirtied in their journey; so are those who go through the world in the midst of abundance of wealth. And what fools are those that burden themselves with continual care about it; with a great deal of guilt in getting, saving, and spending it, and with a heavy account which they must give another day! They overload themselves with this thick clay, and so sink themselves down into destruction and perdition. See what will be the end hereof; what is gotten by violence from others, others shall take away by violence. Covetousness brings disquiet and uneasiness into a family; he that is greedy of gain troubles his own house; what is worse, it brings the curse of God upon all the affairs of it. There is a lawful gain, which, by the blessing of God, may be a comfort to a house; but what is got by fraud and injustice, will bring poverty and ruin upon a family. Yet that is not the worst; Thou hast sinned against thine own soul, hast endangered it. Those who wrong their neighbours, do much greater wrong to their own souls. If the sinner thinks he has managed his frauds and violence with art and contrivance, the riches and possessions he heaped together will witness against him. There are not greater drudges in the world than those who are slaves to mere wordly pursuits. And what comes of it? They find themselves disappointed of it, and disappointed in it; they will own it is worse than vanity, it is vexation of spirit. By staining and sinking earthly glory, God manifests and magnifies his own glory, and fills the earth with the knowledge of it, as plentifully as waters cover the sea, which are deep, and spread far and wide.Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him? - Nebuchadnezzar gathered, Daniel 3:4-5, "all people, nations, and languages, to worship the golden image which he had set up." The second Babylon, pagan Rome, sought to blot out the very Christian Name; but mightier were the three children than the King of Babylon; mightier, virgins, martyrs, and children than Nero or Decius. These shall rejoice over Babylon, that, Revelation 18:20, "God hath avenged them on her."

Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! - Truly wealth ill-gotten by fraud or oppression, "is not his," who winneth it, before he had it, nor when he hath it, but a woe. It is not his; the woe is his. "Woe unto him." He shall have no joy in what he gaineth, and what he hath he shall lose.

How long? - What is the measure of thine impiety and greediness and cruelty? Yet if these are like hell, without measure, there remains another "How long?" How long will the forbearance of God endure thee, which thou art daily exhausting?

This is then the end of all. The conqueror sweeps to him "all nations" and gathereth to him "all peoples." To what end? As one vast choir in one terrible varied chant of all those thousand thousand voices, to sing a dirge over him of the judgments of God which his ill-doings to them should bring upon him, a fivefold Woe, woe, woe, woe, woe! Woe for its rapacity! Woe for its covetousness! Woe for its oppression! Woe for its insolence to the conquered! Woe to it in its rebellion against God! It is a more measured rhythm than any besides in Holy Scripture; each of the fivefold woes comprised in three verses, four of them closing with the ground, because, for. The opening words carry the mind back to the fuller picture of Isaiah. But Isaiah sees Babylon as already overthrown; Habakkuk pronounces the words upon it, not by name, but as certainly to come, upon it and every like enemy of God's kingdom. With each such fall, unto the end of all things, the glory of God is increased and made known. Having, for their own ends, been unconscious and even unwilling promoters of God's end, they, when they had accomplished it, are themselves flung away. The pride of human ambition, when successful, boasts "woe to the conquered." Since "whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth," the ungodly saying of the pagan is reversed, and it stands, "Man sympathizes with the conquering side, God with the conquered." It is a terrible thought that people should have been the instruments of God, that they should, through ambition or other ends short of God, have promoted His ends which they thought not of, and then should be "weighed in the balance and found wanting," and themselves be flung away.

Cyr: "Gentiles also departed from their worship under Satan, and having deserted him who aforetime called them, ran unto Christ. For Satan gathered what was not his; but Christ received what was His. For, as God, He is Lord of all."

And to him that ladeth himself with thick clay - It is the character of these proverbs to say much in few words, sometimes in one, and more than appears. So the word translated "thick-clay," as if it were two words, in another way means in an intensive sense, "a strong deep pledge." At best gold and silver are, as they have been called, red and white earth. Bern. Serm. 4. in Adv: "What are gold and silver but red and white earth, which the error of man alone maketh, or accounteth precious? What are gems, but stones of the earth? What silk, but webs of worms?" These he "maketh heavy upon" or "against himself" (so the words strictly mean). "For He weigheth himself down with thick clay, who, by avarice multiplying earthly things, hems himself in by the oppressiveness of his own sin, imprisons and, as it were, buries the soul, and heaps up sin as he heaps up wealth." With toil they gather what is not worthless only, but is a burden upon the soul, weighing it down that it should not rise Heavenwards, but should be bowed down to Hell. And so in that other sense while, as a hard usurer, he heaps up the pledges of these whom he oppresses and impoverishes, and seems to increase his wealth, he does in truth "increase against himself a strong pledge," whereby not others are debtors to him, but he is a debtor to Almighty God who careth for the oppressed Jeremiah 17:11 "He that gathereth riches had not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days and at his end shall be a fool."

6. Shall not all these—the "nations" and "peoples" (Hab 2:5) "heaped unto him" by the Chaldean.

take up a parable—a derisive song. Habakkuk follows Isaiah (Isa 14:4) and Micah (Mic 2:4) in the phraseology.

against him—when dislodged from his former eminence.

Woe—The "derisive song" here begins, and continues to the end of the chapter. It is a symmetrical whole, and consists of five stanzas, the first three consisting of three verses each, the fourth of four verses, and the last of two. Each stanza has its own subject, and all except the last begin with "Woe"; and all have a closing verse introduced with "for," "because," or "but."

how long?—how long destined to retain his ill-gotten gains? But for a short time, as his fall now proves [Maurer]. "Covetousness is the greatest bane to men. For they who invade others' goods, often lose even their own" [Menander]. Calvin makes "how long?" to be the cry of those groaning under the Chaldean oppression while it still lasted: How long shall such oppression be permitted to continue? But it is plainly part of the derisive song, after the Chaldean tyranny had passed away.

ladeth himself with thick clay—namely, gold and silver dug out of the "clay," of which they are a part. The covetous man in heaping them together is only lading himself with a clay burden, as he dares not enjoy them, and is always anxious about them. Lee and Fuller translate the Hebrew as a reduplicated single noun, and not two words, "an accumulation of pledges" (De 24:10-13). The Chaldean is compared to a harsh usurer, and his ill-gotten treasures to heaps of pledges in the hands of a usurer.

Shall not? the prediction is moulded thus in a question, to give it emphasis, and make it more affective.

All these, who have been oppressed, contumeliously used, and perfidiously deceived; all the people who have feared the power and policy of Babylon.

Take up a parable; turn him and his state into a by-word and scorn.

Against him; the king of Babylon, awhile since the terror, now the scorn of nations.

Taunting; short, but smart, wounding scoffs; and whereas men usually bewail and condole the mishaps of great, brave, and just kings or kingdoms, all people shall exult and triumph in the miseries of this oppressive, luxurious, and base kingdom.

Woe! either it is a threat of like vengeance on all such transgressors, or it may be a publishing the miseries come upon Babylon.

To him that increaseth; by rapine, frauds, and injurious dealings multiplieth his treasures, as the king of Babylon did.

Not his; it was not his though he had it; it was not his right though it was in his possession. Or else thus, one misery of the Babylonians shall be, they increase wealth, but not for themselves, but for the Medes and Persians.

How long? this seems to be the sigh of the oppressed, who think it long ere the oppressor fall.

To him that ladeth himself; woe to him that is a burden to others, while he burdens himself with amassed treasures gathered by extortion and grievous, unjust taxes!

With thick clay; gold and silver, so called to lower the over-value of them, and perhaps to mind the tyrant of a clay-bed.

Shall not all these take up a parable against him,.... A proverbial expression, a short sentence, a laconic speech, delivered in a few words, which contains much in them concerning the vices of these emperors, and imprecating judgments upon them for them; took up and expressed by the nations brought into subjection unto them, and especially by the Christians in those nations spoiled and persecuted by them:

and a taunting proverb against him; or, "whose explanation are riddles to him" (y); the proverb, when explained, would be a riddle to him, which he could not understand, nor would give any credit to; taking it not to belong to him or them, and in which they had no concern; though afterwards would find they had, to their great mortification:

and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! substance or goods, not his own, as the Targum explains it; which they had no right unto, nor property in, but were another's; and therefore guilty of great injustice in taking it from them, and might justly expect vengeance would pursue them for it; such were the goods they spoiled the Christians of for not worshipping their idols, and for professing and abiding by the Christian religion:

how long? that is, how long shall they go on increasing their substance by such unjust and unlawful methods? how long shall they keep that which they have so unjustly got? this suggests as if it was a long time, which, as Cocceius observes, does not so well agree with the Babylonian as the Roman empire, which stood much longer:

and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay: such is gold and silver, no other than yellow and white dust and dirt; and may be called clay, because dug out of the earth, as that; and as clay is defiling, so are gold and silver, when ill gotten, or ill used, or the heart set too much upon them; and as that is very ponderous and troublesome to carry, so an abundance of riches bring much care with them, and often are very troublesome to the owners of them, and frequently hinder their sleep, rest, and ease; and as clay when it sticks to the heels hinders walking, so riches, when the affections are too much set on them, are great obstacles in the way of true religion and godliness; hence our Lord observes, "how hard it is them, that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God", Mark 10:24 they are even a weight, a clog to good men. The phrase seems to point at the meanness of them, as well as the hurt that sometimes comes by them, and the contempt they should be had in, in comparison of the true riches; hence, agreeable to this way of speaking, a good man Drusius makes mention of used to call gold "yellow earth": and a certain Greek writer (z) says gold is ashes, and so is silver. The word used is a compound; and, as Kimchi observes, signifies an abundance of riches; but our countryman Mr. Fuller (a) chooses rather to render it an "abundance of pledges"; and thinks it has respect to the many pledges which the person here spoken of, by whom he supposes is meant the Babylonian monarch, had in an unjust manner took of several nations, and heaped up like an usurer; and which should in due time be taken from him, by those whom he had plundered of them: but this expresses the greedy desire of the Romans after money, as well as the unlawful methods they took to acquire wealth, and the vast sums they became masters of, so that they were even loaded with it; but, getting it in an unrighteous manner, it brought the curses and imprecations of the people upon them, especially those they defrauded of it. Joseph Kimchi, as his son David observes, interprets it,

"he shall make thick clay lie heavy on his grave;''

and it was a custom with the Romans, as Drusius (b) relates, that when one imprecated evil upon another, he used to wish a heavy load of earth upon him, that is, when he was dead; as, on the contrary, when one was wished well after death, it was desired he might have a light earth upon him: so Julian the emperor, speaking of Constantius, says (c),

"when he is become happy, or departs out of this life, may the earth be light upon him;''

which is wishing all felicity, and freedom from punishment; whereas the contrary, to have a load of earth or thick clay, is an imprecation of the heaviest punishment.

(y) "et interpretationem aenigmata ei", Drusius, Burkius; "et interpretatio erit aenigmata ipsi", Cocceius; "cujus explicatio illi erit aenigmatum loco", Van Till. (z) , , Naumachius apud Grotium in loc. (a) Miscel. Sacr. l. 5. c. 8. (b) Observat. l. 15. c. 18. (c) Epist. Hermogeni, Ephesians 23. p. 141.

Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! {f} how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay!

(f) Signifying that all the world will wish the destruction of tyrants, and that by their oppression and covetousness, they heap but upon themselves more heavy burdens: for the more they get, the more are they troubled.

6–8. First woe: the Chaldean lust of conquest

6. Shall not all these] i.e. all the nations whom he has drawn into his net, and heaped together as his own possession.

take up a parable] The word may mean originally a saying containing a comparison or similitude; in a wider sense, a figurative speech or song. For the phrase “take up a parable” cf. Numbers 23:7; Numbers 23:18; Job 27:1.

taunting proverb against him] Or, in regard to him. Taunting proverb is lit. an enigma, riddles, Proverbs 1:6; Psalm 49:4; Daniel 8:23. Both words suggest a song or poem with concealed taunting allusions.

increaseth that which is not his] The reference is to his insatiable lust of conquest and robbery of the nations.

that ladeth himself with thick clay] and that ladeth himself with pledges. That which he compels the nations to give him or takes from them by force is compared to pledges which he heaps up upon himself. The day will come when their restitution shall be exacted of him. Job 20:10; Job 20:15; Job 20:20. The rendering “thick clay” is obtained by taking the word “pledges” as a compound; cf. Exodus 19:9, thick cloud.

6–20. Five woes pronounced against the Chaldean From the mouth of the nations whom he has desolated

Habakkuk 2:5 does not belong to the vision Habakkuk 2:4, but forms the transition to the taunting proverb taken up against the Chaldean by the nations. This proverb is in the form of a prophecy in which woes are pronounced on the lust of conquest, rapacity, selfish pride and idolatry of the people, and their ruin is predicted, for their vices carry in them their own recompense. The woes are five in number, beginning with Habakkuk 2:6; Habakkuk 2:9; Habakkuk 2:12; Habakkuk 2:15; Habakkuk 2:18. Though the nations take up the woes, as the passage proceeds the prophet himself appears to speak.

Verses 6-8. - § 8. The destruction of the Babylonians is announced by the mouth of the vanquished nations, who utter five woes against their oppressor. The first woe: for their rapacity. Verse 6. - All these. All the nations and peoples who have been subjugated and barbarously treated by the Babylonians (comp. Isaiah 14:4). A parable. A sententious song (see note on Micah 2:4). A taunting proverb. The Anglican Version combines the two Hebrew words, which stand unconnected, into one notion. So the Vulgate, loquelam aenigmatum. The latter of the two generally means "riddle," "enigma;" the other word (melitzah) is by some translated, "a derisive satirical song," or "an obscure, dark saying;" but, as Keil and Delitzsch have shown, is better understood of a bright, clear, brilliant speech. So the two terms signify "a speech containing enigmas," or a song which has double or ambiguous meanings (comp. Proverbs 1:6). Septuagint, Πρόβλημα εἰς διήγησις, αὐτοῦ. Woe (Nahum 3:1). This is the first of the five "woes," which consist of three verses each, arranged in strophical form. Increaseth that which is not his. He continues to add to his conquests and possessions, which are not his, because they are acquired by injustice and violence. This is the first denunciation of the Chaldeans for their insatiable rapacity. How long? The question comes in interjectionally - How long is this state of things to continue unpunished (comp. Psalm 6:3; Psalm 90:13)? That ladeth himself with thick clay; Septuagint, βαρύνων τὸν κλοιὸν αὐτοῦ στιβαρῶς, "who loadeth his yoke heavily;" Vulgate, aggravat contra se densum lutum. The renderings of the Anglican and Latin Versions signify that the riches and spoils with which the conquerors load themselves are no more than burdens of clay, which are in themselves worthless, and only harass the bearers. The Greek Version seems to point to the weight of the yoke imposed by the Chaldeans on them; but Jerome explains it differently, "Ad hoc tantum saevit ut devoret et iniquitatis et praedarum onere quasi gravissima torque se deprimat." The difficulty lies in the ἄπαξ λεγόμενον αβτιτ, which forms an enigma, or dark saying, because, taken as two words, it might pass current for "thick clay," or "a mass of dirt," while regarded as one word it means "a mass of pledges," "many pledges." That the latter is the signification primarily intended is the view of many modern commentators, who explain the clause thus: The quantity of treasure and booty amassed by the Chaldeans is regarded as a mass of pledges taken from the conquered nations a burden of debt to be discharged one day with heavy retribution. Pusey, "He does in truth increase against himself a strong pledge, whereby not others are debtors to him, but he is a debtor to Almighty God, who careth for the oppressed (Jeremiah 17:11)." Habakkuk 2:6In Habakkuk 2:6-20 the destruction of the Chaldaean, which has been already intimated in Habakkuk 2:4, Habakkuk 2:5, is announced in the form of a song composed of threatening sentences, which utters woes in five strophes consisting of three verses each: (1) upon the rapacity and plundering of the Chaldaean (Habakkuk 2:6-8); (2) upon his attempt to establish his dynasty firmly by means of force and cunning (Habakkuk 2:9-11); (3) upon his wicked ways of building (Habakkuk 2:12-14); (4) upon his base treatment of the subjugated nations (Habakkuk 2:15-17); and (5) upon his idolatry (Habakkuk 2:18-20). These five strophes are connected together, so as to form two larger divisions, by a refrain which closes the first and fourth, as well as by the promise explanatory of the threat in which the third and fifth strophes terminate; of which two divisions the first threatens the judgment of retribution upon the insatiableness of the Chaldaean in three woes (Habakkuk 2:5), and the second in two woes the judgment of retribution upon his pride. Throughout the whole of the threatening prophecy the Chaldaean nation is embraced, as in Habakkuk 2:4, Habakkuk 2:5, in the ideal person of its ruler.

(Note: The unity of the threatening prophecy, which is brought out in the clearest manner in this formal arrangement, has been torn in pieces in the most violent manner by Hitzig, through his assumption that the oracle of God includes no more than Habakkuk 2:4-8, and that a second part is appended to it in Habakkuk 2:9-20, in which the prophet expresses his own thoughts and feelings, first of all concerning king Jehoiakim (Habakkuk 2:9-14), and then concerning the Egyptians (Habakkuk 2:15-20). This hypothesis, of which Maurer observes quite correctly, Qua nulla unquam excogitata est infelicior, rests upon nothing more than the dogmatic assumption, that there is no such thing as prophecy effected by supernatural causality, and therefore Habakkuk cannot have spoken of Nebuchadnezzar's buildings before they were finished, or at any rate in progress. The two strophes in Habakkuk 2:9-14 contain nothing whatever that would not apply most perfectly to the Chaldaean, or that is not covered by what precedes and follows (compare Habakkuk 2:9 with 6b and 8a, and Habakkuk 2:10 with 5b and 8a). "The strophe in Habakkuk 2:9-11 contains the same fundamental thought as that expressed by Isaiah in Isaiah 14:12-14 respecting the Chaldaean, viz., the description of his pride, which manifests itself in ambitious edifices founded upon the ruins of the prosperity of strangers" (Delitzsch). The resemblance between the contents of this strophe and the woe pronounced upon Jehoiakim by Jeremiah in Jeremiah 12:13-17 may be very simply explained from the fact that Jehoiakim, like the Chaldaean, was a tyrant who occupied himself with the erection of large state buildings and fortifications, whereas the extermination of many nations does not apply in any respect to Jehoiakim. Lastly, there is no plausible ground whatever for referring the last two strophes (Habakkuk 2:15-20) to the Egyptian, for the assertion that Habakkuk could not pass over the Egyptian in silence, unless he meant to confine himself to the Chaldaean, is a pure petitio principii; and to any unprejudiced mind the allusion to the Chaldaean in this verse is placed beyond all possible doubt by Isaiah 14:8, where the devastation of Lebanon is also attributed to him, just as it is in Habakkuk 2:17 of our prophecy.)

Habakkuk 2:6-8

Introduction of the ode and first strophe. - Habakkuk 2:6. "Will not all these lift up a proverb upon him, and a song, a riddle upon him? And men will say, Woe to him who increases what is not his own! For how long? and who loadeth himself with the burden of pledges. Habakkuk 2:7. Will not thy biters rise up suddenly, and thy destroyers wake up, and thou wilt become booty to them? Habakkuk 2:8. For thou hast plundered many nations, all the rest of the nations will plunder thee, for the blood of men and wickedness on the earth, the city, and all its inhabitants." הלוא is here, as everywhere else, equivalent to a confident assertion. "All these:" this evidently points back to "all nations" and "all people." Nevertheless the nations as such, or in pleno, are not meant, but simply the believers among them, who expect Jehovah to inflict judgment upon the Chaldaeans, and look forward to that judgment for the revelation of the glory of God. For the ode is prophetical in its nature, and is applicable to all times and all nations. Mâshâl is a sententious poem, as in Micah 2:4 and Isaiah 14:4, not a derisive song, for this subordinate meaning could only be derived from the context, as in Isaiah 14:4 for example; and there is nothing to suggest it here. So, again, melı̄tsâh neither signifies a satirical song, nor an obscure enigmatical discourse, but, as Delitzsch has shown, from the first of the two primary meanings combined in the verb לוּץ, lucere and lascivire, a brilliant oration, oratio splendida, from which מליץ is used to denote an interpreter, so called, not from the obscurity of the speaking, but from his making the speech clear or intelligible. חידות לו is in apposition to מליצה and משׁל, adding the more precise definition, that the sayings contain enigmas relating to him (the Chaldaean). The enigmatical feature comes out more especially in the double meaning of עבטיט in Habakkuk 2:6, נשׁכיך in Habakkuk 2:7, and קיקלון in Habakkuk 2:16. לאמר serves, like לאמר elsewhere, as a direct introduction to the speech. The first woe applies to the insatiable rapacity of the Chaldaean. המּרבּה לא־לו, who increases what does not belong to him, i.e., who seizes upon a large amount of the possessions of others. עד־מתי, for how long, sc. will he be able to do this with impunity; not "how long has he already done this" (Hitzig), for the words do not express exultation at the termination of the oppression, but are a sign appended to the woe, over the apparently interminable plunderings on the part of the Chaldaean. וּמכבּיד is also dependent upon hōi, since the defined participle which stands at the head of the cry of woe is generally followed by participles undefined, as though the former regulated the whole (cf. Isaiah 5:20 and Isaiah 10:1). At the same time, it might be taken as a simple declaration in itself, though still standing under the influence of the hōi; in which case הוּא would have to be supplied in thought, like וחוטא in Habakkuk 2:10. And even in this instance the sentence is not subordinate to the preceding one, as Luther follows Rashi in assuming ("and still only heaps much slime upon himself"); but is co-ordinate, as the parallelism of the clauses and the meaning of עבטיט require. The ἁπ. λεγ. עבטיט is probably chosen on account of the resemblance in sound to מכבּיד, whilst it also covers an enigma or double entendre. Being formed from עבט (to give a pledge) by the repetition of the last radical, עבטיט signifies the mass of pledges (pignorum captorum copia: Ges., Maurer, Delitzsch), not the load of guilt, either in a literal or a tropico-moral sense. The quantity of foreign property which the Chaldaean has accumulated is represented as a heavy mass of pledges, which he has taken from the nations like an unmerciful usurer (Deuteronomy 24:10), to point to the fact that he will be compelled to disgorge them in due time. הכבּיד, to make heavy, i.e., to lay a heavy load upon a person. The word עבטיט, however, might form two words so far as the sound is concerned: עב טיט, cloud (i.e., mass) of dirt, which will cause his ruin as soon as it is discharged. This is the sense in which the Syriac has taken the word; and Jerome does the same, observing, considera quam eleganter multiplicatas divitias densum appellaverit lutum, no doubt according to a Jewish tradition, since Kimchi, Rashi, and Ab. Ezra take the word as a composite one, and merely differ as to the explanation of עב. Grammatically considered, this explanation is indeed untenable, since the Hebrew language has formed no appellative nomina composita; but the word is nevertheless enigmatical, because, when heard from the lips, it might be taken as two words, and understood in the sense indicated.

In Habakkuk 2:7 the threatening hōi is still further developed. Will not thy biters arise? נשׁכיך equals נשׁכתם אתך, those who bite thee. In the description here given of the enemy as savage vipers (cf. Jeremiah 8:17) there is also an enigmatical double entendre, which Delitzsch has admirably interpreted thus: "המּרבּה," he says, "pointed to תּרבּית (interest). The latter, favoured by the idea of the Chaldaean as an unmerciful usurer, which is concentrated in עבטיט, points to נשׁך, which is frequently connected with תּרבּית, and signifies usurious interest; and this again to the striking epithet נשׁכתם, which is applied to those who have to inflict the divine retribution upon the Chaldaean. The prophet selected this to suggest the thought that there would come upon the Chaldaean those who would demand back with interest (neshek) the capital of which he had unrighteously taken possession, just as he had unmercifully taken the goods of the nations from them by usury and pawn." יקצוּ, from יקץ, they will awake, viz., מזעזעך, those who shake or rouse thee up. זעזע, pilel of זוּע, σείω, is used in Arabic of the wind (to shake the tree); hence, as in this case, it was employed to denote shaking up or scaring away from a possession, as is often done, for example, by a creditor (Hitzig, Delitzsch). משׁסּות is an intensive plural.

So far as this threat applies to the Chaldaeans, it was executed by the Medes and Persians, who destroyed the Chaldaean empire. But the threat has a much more extensive application. This is evident, apart from other proofs, from Habakkuk 2:8 itself, according to which the whole of the remnant of the nations is to inflict the retribution. Gōyı̄m rabbı̄m, "many nations:" this is not to be taken as an antithesis to kol-haggōyı̄m (all nations) in Habakkuk 2:5, since "all nations" are simply many nations, as kol is not to be taken in its absolute sense, but simply in a relative sense, as denoting all the nations that lie within the prophet's horizon, as having entered the arena of history. Through ישׁלּוּך, which is placed at the head of the concluding clause without a copula, the antithesis to שׁלּות is sharply brought out, and the idea of the righteous retaliation distinctly expressed. כּל־יתר עמּים, the whole remnant of the nations, is not all the rest, with the exception of the one Chaldaean, for yether always denotes the remnant which is left after the deduction of a portion; nor does it mean all the rest of the nations, who are spared and not subjugated, in distinction from the plundered and subjugated nations, as Hitzig with many others imagine, and in proof of which he adduces the fact that the overthrow of the Chaldaeans was effected by nations that had not been subdued. But, as Delitzsch has correctly observed, this view makes the prophet contradict not only himself, but the whole of the prophetic view of the world-wide dominion of Nebuchadnezzar. According to Habakkuk 2:5, the Chaldaean has grasped to himself the dominion over all nations, and consequently there cannot be any nations left that he has not plundered. Moreover, the Chaldaean, or Nebuchadnezzar as the head of the Chaldaean kingdom, appears in prophecy (Jeremiah 27:7-8), as he does in history (Daniel 2:38; Daniel 3:31; Daniel 5:19) throughout, as the ruler of the world in the highest sense, who has subjugated all nations and kingdoms round about, and compelled them to serve him. These nations include the Medes and Elamites ( equals Persians), to whom the future conquest of Babylon is attributed in Isaiah 13:17; Isaiah 21:2; Jeremiah 51:11, Jeremiah 51:28. They are both mentioned in Jeremiah 25:25 among the nations, to whom the prophet is to reach the cup of wrath from the hand of Jehovah; and the kingdom of Elam especially is threatened in Jeremiah 49:34. with the destruction of its power, and dispersion to all four winds. In these two prophecies, indeed, Nebuchadnezzar is not expressly mentioned by name as the executor of the judgment of wrath; but in Jeremiah 25 this may plainly be inferred from the context, partly from the fact that, according to Jeremiah 25:9, Judah with its inhabitants, and all nations round about, are to be given into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, and partly from the fact that in the list of the nations enumerated in Jeremiah 25:18-26 the king of Sesach (i.e., Babel) is mentioned as he who is to drink the cup "after them" (Jeremiah 25:26). The expression 'achărēhem (after them) shows very clearly that the judgment upon the nations previously mentioned, and therefore also upon the kings of Elam and Media, is to occur while the Chaldaean rule continues, i.e., is to be executed by the Chaldaeans. This may, in fact, be inferred, so far as the prophecy respecting Elam in Jeremiah 49:34. is concerned, from the circumstance that Jeremiah's prophecies with regard to foreign nations in Jeremiah 46-51 are merely expansions of the summary announcement in Jeremiah 25:19-26, and is also confirmed by Ezekiel 32:24, inasmuch as Elam is mentioned there immediately after Asshur in the list of kings and nations that have sunk to the lower regions before Egypt. And if even this prophecy has a much wider meaning, like that concerning Elam in Jeremiah 49:34, and the elegy over Egypt, which Ezekiel strikes up, is expanded into a threatening prophecy concerning the heathen generally (see Kliefoth, Ezech. p. 303), this further reference presupposes the historical fulfilment which the threatening words of prophecy have received through the judgment inflicted by the Chaldaeans upon all the nations mentioned, and has in this its real foundation and soil.

History also harmonizes with this prophetic announcement. The arguments adduced by Hvernick (Daniel, p. 547ff.) to prove that Nebuchadnezzar did not extend his conquests to Elam, and neither subdued this province nor Media, are not conclusive. The fact that after the fall of Nineveh the conquerors, Nabopolassar of Babylonia, and Cyaxares the king of Media, divided the fallen Assyrian kingdom between them, the former receiving the western provinces, and the latter the eastern, does not preclude the possibility of Nebuchadnezzar, the founder of the Chaldaean empire, having made war upon the Median kingdom, and brought it into subjection. There is no historical testimony, however, to the further assertion, that Nebuchadnezzar was only concerned to extend his kingdom towards the west, that his conquests were all of them in the lands situated there, and gave him so much to do that he could not possibly think of extending his eastern frontier. It is true that the opposite of this cannot be inferred from Strabo, xvi. 1, 18;

(Note: This passage is quoted by Hitzig (Ezech. p. 251) as a proof that Elam made war upon the Babylonians, and, indeed, judging from Jeremiah 49:34, an unsuccessful war. But Strabo speaks of a war between the Elymaeans (Elamites) and the Babylonians and Susians, which M. v. Niebuhr (p. 210) very properly assigns to the period of the alliance between Media (as possessor of Susa) and Babylon.)

but it may be inferred, as M. v. Niebuhr (Gesch. Assurs, pp. 211-12) has said, from the fact that according to Jeremiah 27 and 28, at the beginning of Zedekiah's reign, and therefore not very long after Nebuchadnezzar had conquered Jerusalem in the time of Jehoiachin, and restored order in southern Syria in the most energetic manner, the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Zidon, entered into negotiations with Zedekiah for a joint expedition against Nebuchadnezzar. M. v. Niebuhr infers from this that troublous times set in at that period for Nebuchadnezzar, and that this sudden change in the situation of affairs was connected with the death of Cyaxares, and leads to the conjecture that Nebuchadnezzar, who had sworn fealty to Cyaxares, refused at his death to do homage to his successor; for fidelity to a father-in-law, with whose help the kingdom was founded, would assume a very different character if it was renewed to his successor. Babel was too powerful to accept any such enfeoffment as this. And even if Nebuchadnezzar was not a vassal, there could not be a more suitable opportunity for war with Media than that afforded by a change of government, since kingdoms in the East are so easily shaken by the death of a great prince. And there certainly was no lack of inducement to enter upon a war with Media. Elam, for example, from its very situation, and on account of the restlessness of its inhabitants, must have been a constant apple of discord. This combination acquires extreme probability, partly from the fact that Jeremiah's prophecy concerning Elam, in which that nation is threatened with the destruction of its power and dispersion to all four winds, was first uttered at the commencement of Zedekiah's reign (Jeremiah 49:34), whereas the rest of his prophecies against foreign nations date from an earlier period, and that against Babel is the only one which falls later, namely, in the fourth year of Zedekiah (Jeremiah 51:59), which appears to point to the fact that at the commencement of Zedekiah's reign things were brewing in Elam which might lead to his ruin. And it is favoured in part by the account in the book of Judith of a war between Nabuchodonosor (Nebuchadnezzar) and Media, which terminated victoriously according to the Rec. vulg. in the twelfth year of his reign, since this account is hardly altogether a fictitious one. These prophetic and historical testimonies may be regarded as quite sufficient, considering the universally scanty accounts of the Chaldaean monarchy given by the Greeks and Romans, to warrant us in assuming without hesitation, as M. v. Niebuhr has done, that between the ninth and twentieth years of Nebuchadnezzar's reign - namely, at the commencement of Zedekiah's reign - the former had to make war not only with Elam, but with Media also, and that it is to this eastern war that we should have to attribute the commotion in Syria.

From all this we may see that there is no necessity to explain "all the remnant of the nations" as relating to the remainder of the nations that had not been subjugated, but that we may understand it as signifying the remnant of the nations plundered and subjugated by the Chaldaeans (as is done by the lxx, Theodoret, Delitzsch, and others), which is the only explanation in harmony with the usage of the language. For in Joshua 23:12 yether haggōyı̄m denotes the Canaanitish nations left after the war of extermination; and in Zechariah 14:2 yether hâ‛âm signifies the remnant of the nation left after the previous conquest of the city, and the carrying away of half its inhabitants. In Zephaniah 2:9 yether gōi is synonymous with שׁארית עמּי, and our יתר עמּים is equivalent to שׁארית הגּוים in Ezekiel 36:3-4. מדּמי אדם: on account of the human blood unjustly shed, and on account of the wickedness on the earth (chămas with the Genesis obj. as in Joel 3:19 and Obadiah 1:10). 'Erets without an article is not the holy land, but the earth generally; and so the city (qiryâh, which is still dependent upon chămas) is not Jerusalem, nor any one particular city, but, with indefinite generality, "cities." The two clauses are parallel, cities and their inhabitants corresponding to men and the earth. The Chaldaean is depicted as one who gathers men and nations in his net (Habakkuk 1:14-17). And so in Jeremiah 50:23 he is called a hammer of the whole earth, in Jeremiah 51:7 a cup of reeling, and in Jeremiah 51:25 the destroyer of the whole earth.

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