Habakkuk 2:7
Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite you, and awake that shall vex you, and you shall be for booties to them?
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(7) Bite.—This verb nâshac also means “to oppress with usury,” and this is its force here. Thy turn shall come, and men shall exact usury from thee. Similarly, the verb translated “vex” is, literally, to shake violently, in allusion to a creditor’s forcible seizure of his debtor. (Comp. Matthew 18:28.) The prediction of Habakkuk in these verses was fulfilled by the rise of the Medo-Persian power, and the capture of Babylon by the forces of Cyrus, cir. B.C. 538.

Habakkuk 2:7-8. Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee? — Is it not just, or what thou deservest, that others should suddenly rise against thee, and bite and tear thee? It is a metaphor taken from the hunting of wild beasts. And awake that shall vex thee — As thou hast been a vexation to others by thy tyranny and cruelty. And thou shalt be for booties unto them — Unto the Medes and Persians. The expression, rise up suddenly, very fitly describes the suddenness with which the Babylonian empire was afterward overthrown. For though Cyrus could not be said to come upon them suddenly, or unexpectedly, yet the blow, whereby the Babylonian empire was overturned, was struck extremely suddenly; for, after all Cyrus’s victories, they thought themselves very secure within the walls of Babylon; and that Cyrus must be wearied out, and his army mouldered away, before he could make himself master of it: but by an unexpected stratagem, in draining the Euphrates, he got possession of the city, and destroyed the king and all his principal men in a few hours time: see notes on Isaiah 13:20; Jeremiah 50:38; and Daniel 5:30. Because, &c. — The prophet proceeds to give an account of the reasons on which divine vengeance proceeded in this affair. Thou hast spoiled many nations —

Hast slain or led captive their people, destroyed their cities, robbed their treasuries, deposed their kings; and hast done this to many nations, whose cry for vengeance is come up to heaven. All the remnant of the people shall spoil thee — Now shalt thou be paid in thine own coin: the remnant of the nations, unspoiled by thee, shall combine against thee, and execute the Lord’s just sentence upon thee. This was evidently verified in the destruction of the Babylonian empire; for Cyrus’s army was made up of a great many different nations. Because of men’s blood — As a just return for thy cruelty, in the slaughter thou hast made of mankind. And for the violence of — Or rather, against, the land — And particularly for the violence offered to the land of Judea, and the city of Jerusalem, and its temple and inhabitants.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 they rise up suddenly that shall bite thee, and awake that shall vex thee? - The destruction of the wicked is ever sudden at last. Such was the flood Luke 17:26-27, the destruction of Sodom, of Pharaoh, of the enemies of God's people through the Judges, of Sennacherib, Nineveh, Babylon by the Medes and Persians. Such shall the end be Matthew 24:43-44; Matthew 25:13; Luke 17:26-30; Luke 21:34-35; 1 Thessalonians 5:3; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 16:15. As he by his oppressions had pierced others (it is the word used of the oppression of usury), so should it be done to him. "The Medes and Persians who were before subject to the Babylonian empire, and whose kings were subject to Nebuchudnezzar and his successors, rose up and awaked, i. e., stirred themselves up in the days of Belshazzar to rebel against the successors of Nebuchadnezzar which sat on his throne, like a man who awaketh from sleep." The words "awake," "arise," are used also of the resurrection, when the worm of the wicked gnaweth and dieth not (See Isaiah 14:11; Isaiah 66:24).

And thou shall be for booties unto them? - The common phrase is modified to explain the manifoldness of the plunder which he should yield. So Jeremiah Jer 50:10, "Chaldaea shall be a spoil; all that spoil her shall be satisfied, saith the Lord." See Cyr: "We may hear Him who saith Matthew 12:29, 'How can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.' For, as soon as He was born of the holy Virgin, He began to 'spoil his goods.' For the Magi came from the East - and worshiped Him and honored Him with gifts and became a first-fruits of the Church of the Gentiles. And being vessels of Satan, and the most honored of all his members, they hastened to Christ."

7. suddenly—the answer to the question, "How long?" (Hab 2:6).

bite—often used of usury; so favoring Lee's rendering (Hab 2:6). As the Chaldean, like a usurer, oppressed others, so other nations shall, like usurers, take pledges of, that is, spoil, him.

Shall they not? this question doth more fully ascertain the thing. Rise up; either grow up, or else, as men who resolve to do a thing thoroughly, get upon their feet and stand to it. The Medes and Persians were growing to power, and would ere long rise up to ruin Babylon.

Suddenly; and surprise it in security, so they were down ere they did perceive themselves falling; and such sudden ruin is most dreadful.

Bite thee; devour and eat thee up.

And awake; thou, O Belshazzar, (and Babylon with thee,) wilt in drunken slumbers (unable to resist) fall into the hands of the awakened Medes and Persians.

Vex thee; as thou hast been, O Babylon, vexation to others by thy proud and insolent behaviour, by scoffs and cruelties, so others shall now be a vexation unto thee.

Thou shalt be for booties; not only your lands, houses, and goods, but your persons, and those of your relations, shall be booties, taken and sold for slaves, to the profit of them, Medes and Persians. Shall not they rise up suddenly that shall bite thee,.... Or, "thy usurers", or "creditors" (d), as some render it; the Christians, whose money, goods, and substance, they had spoiled them of, but now should be repaid with great usury and gain; these, that is, their princes and emperors, as Constantine and Theodosius, rose up suddenly, and conquered the heathen emperors, and took away their power and authority from them, and their wealth and riches, and gave them to the Christians, what they and those under them had plundered them of:

and awake that shall vex thee, or "move thee" (e); the emperor, from the throne of the empire; and other subordinate magistrates from their places of dignity, trust, and profit; the priests out of their temples; and change the face of things everywhere; and which is expressed in language agreeable to this, in Revelation 6:14, and has respect to the same times and things, "and the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together, and every mountain and island were moved out of their place"; which is to be understood of the fall of the Pagan Roman empire:

and thou shalt be for booties unto them? the wealth and riches found in the Roman empire, as it fell into the hands of Constantine, were converted to the use of the Christians for the building of their temples, and the maintenance of their ministers, the relief of their poor, and for the reparation of losses others had sustained under the persecutions: thus the Christian emperors rose up at once, and exerted themselves; and who before seemed to be asleep awoke, and seized upon the empire, and the riches of it, and divided the spoil among themselves and their people.

(d) "foeneratores tui, seu creditores tui", Cocceius, Van Till. (e) "qui commoveant te", Pagninus, Vatablus; so R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 56. 1. "excutientes", Cocceius, Van Till; "commoventes te", Burkius.

Shall {g} they not rise suddenly that shall bite thee, and awake that shall oppress thee, and thou shalt be for booty to them?

(g) That is, the Medes and persians, that would destroy the Babylonians?

7. that shall bite thee] Such is the usual sense of the word, which is used of the serpent, Genesis 49:17; Numbers 21:8-9; cf. Micah 3:5. The term is employed here in a figurative sense of the attack of enemies. In one form the verb means to exact usury from one, Deuteronomy 23:20, and some would render here thy creditors. This double sense is supposed by some to be one of the taunting allusions (Habakkuk 2:6).

shall vex thee] Or, violently shake thee. Ecclesiastes 12:3; Esther 5:9; cf. Daniel 5:19; Daniel 6:27; Deuteronomy 28:25; Isaiah 28:19.Verse 7. - That shall bite thee. As thou hast cruelly treated others, so shall they, like fierce vipers (Jeremiah 8:17), bite thee. Henderson, Delitzsch, Keil, and others see in the word a double entendre connected with the meaning of "lending on interest," so the "biting" would signify "exacting a debt with usury." Such a term for usury is not unknown to classical antiquity; thus (quoted by Henderson) Aristoph., 'Nub.,' 12 -

Δακόμενος`ΝΛ´Υπὸ τὴς δαπάνης καὶ τῆς φάτνης καὶ τῶν χρεῶν

"By the expenditure deep bitten,
And by the manger and the debts"
Lucan, 'Phars.,' 1:181," Hinc usura vorax, avidumque in tempore faenus." The "biters" rising up suddenly are the Persians who destroyed the Babylonian power as quickly and as unexpectedly as it had arisen. Vex; literally, shake violently, like διασείσητε (Luke 3:14), or like the violent arrest of a creditor (Matthew 18:28); Septuagint, οἱ ἐπίβουλοί σου, "thy plotters;" Vulgate, lacerantes te. So of the mystic Babylon, her end comes suddenly (Revelation 18:10, 17). Such conduct as this must be followed by banishment from the land. Micah 2:10. "Rise up, and go; for this is not the place of rest: because of the defilement which brings destruction, and mighty destruction. Micah 2:11. If there were a man, walking after wind, who would lie deceit, 'I will prophesy to thee of wine and strong drink,' he would be a prophet of this people." The prophet having overthrown in Micah 2:7-9 the objection to his threatening prophecies, by pointing to the sins of the people, now repeats the announcement of punishment, and that in the form of a summons to go out of the land into captivity, because the land cannot bear the defilement consequent upon such abominations. The passage is based upon the idea contained in Leviticus 18:25, Leviticus 18:28, that the land is defiled by the sins of its inhabitants, and will vomit them out because of this defilement, in connection with such passages as Deuteronomy 12:9-10, where coming to Canaan is described as coming to rest. זאת (this) refers to the land. This (the land in which ye dwell) is not the place of rest (hammenūchâh, as in Zechariah 9:1 and Psalm 132:14). If "this" were to be taken as referring to their sinful conduct, in the sense of "this does not bring or cause rest," it would be difficult to connect it with what follows, viz., "because of the defilement;" whereas no difficulty arises if we take "this" as referring to the land, which the expression "rise up and go" naturally suggests. טמאה equals טמאה, defilement; תּחבּל is to be taken in a relative sense, "which brings destruction," and is strengthened by לחבל, with an explanatory ו: and indeed terrible destruction. חבל, perditio; and נמרץ as in 1 Kings 2:8. The destruction consists in the fact that the land vomits out its inhabitants (Leviticus 18:25). Such prophecies are very unwelcome to the corrupt great men, because they do not want to hear the truth, but simply what flatters their wicked heart. They would like to have only prophets who prophesy lies to them. הולך רוּח, walking after the wind; the construction is the same as הולך צדקות in Isaiah 33:15, and rūăch is a figure signifying what is vain or worthless, as in Isaiah 26:18; Isaiah 41:29, etc. The words אטּיף לך וגו are the words of a false prophet: I prophesy to thee with regard to wine. The meaning is not "that there will be an abundant supply of wine," or "that the wine will turn out well" (Rosenmller and others); but wine and strong drink (for shēkhâr, see Delitzsch on Isaiah 5:11) are figures used to denote earthly blessings and sensual enjoyments, and the words refer to such promises as Leviticus 26:4-5, Leviticus 26:10, Deuteronomy 28:4, Deuteronomy 28:11, Joel 2:24; Joel 3:18., which false prophets held out to the people without any regard to their attitude towards God. "This people," because the great men represent the nation. With this explanation pointing back to Micah 2:6, the threatening is brought to a close.
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