Habakkuk 3:10
The mountains saw thee, and they trembled: the overflowing of the water passed by: the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(10-18) All the verbs in these verses are misrendered as regards tense. (See note on 3-15.)

(10) The mountains saw thee.—The earthquake at Sinai and the dividing of the Red Sea, the waters of which were lifted up “as a wall on the right hand and on the left” of Israel, lie at the basis of this description. This imagery, however, of sweeping floods and quaking mountains is usual in poetical accounts of Divine interposition.

3:3-15 God's people, when in distress, and ready to despair, seek help by considering the days of old, and the years of ancient times, and by pleading them with God in prayer. The resemblance between the Babylonish and Egyptian captivities, naturally presents itself to the mind, as well as the possibility of a like deliverance through the power of Jehovah. God appeared in his glory. All the powers of nature are shaken, and the course of nature changed, but all is for the salvation of God's own people. Even what seems least likely, shall be made to work for their salvation. Hereby is given a type and figure of the redemption of the world by Jesus Christ. It is for salvation with thine anointed. Joshua who led the armies of Israel, was a figure of Him whose name he bare, even Jesus, our Joshua. In all the salvations wrought for them, God looked upon Christ the Anointed, and brought deliverances to pass by him. All the wonders done for Israel of old, were nothing to that which was done when the Son of God suffered on the cross for the sins of his people. How glorious his resurrection and ascension! And how much more glorious will be his second coming, to put an end to all that opposes him, and all that causes suffering to his people!The mountains saw Thee and they trembled - literally, "they tremble." While man is insensate, inanimate nature feels and attests the presence of its Maker. "It saw it trembles." To see, feel, tremble were one. The prophet does not follow a bare order of events, or bind himself to miracles which actually took place. The mountains tremble with earthquakes, or seem to be shaken by the thunders which they re-echo. And so they are signs, how what is firmest and closes up the way to man, trembles at the Presence of God. Whatever is lifted up shall be bowed down before Him. (See Zechariah 4:7.). But the word "trembled" is that which is especially used of travail pangs and so it may spiritually denote that "they who conceive the fear of God shall bring forth unto salvation." "The overflowing," i. e., the impetuous, sweeping, flow, of the water (or, of waters), such as in themselves would bear all before them, pass by harmless. The more they swell, the more they expend themselves, and pass away. "The whole force of persecution, wherewith they vexed Thy people, at sight of Thee passed away," like a torrent which rages and disappears, and, by raging, the sooner wastes itself.

The deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands - רום equals מרום mârôm which stands as the accusative of direction with "lifted up the eyes" Isaiah 37:23; Isaiah 40:26.

On high - The noise of the waves, when God brought the strong East wind over it and Psalm 106:9. rebuked it, was as a cry to God; the waves, as they swelled, were like hands lifted up to Him, and stricken one against the other. There is no distinct ground against a slightly different rendering it: "the deep uttered his voice, the height lifted up his hands" i. e., to One yet higher, whom height and depth owned as their Lord and worshipped.

10. The mountains—repetition with increased emphasis of some of the tremendous phenomena mentioned in Hab 3:6.

overflowing of the water passed by—namely, of the Red Sea; and again, of the Jordan. God marked His favor to His people in all the elements, causing every obstacle, whether mountains or waters, which impeded their progress, to "pass away" [Calvin]. Maurer, not so well, translates, "torrents (rains) of water rush down."

lifted … hands on high—namely, its billows lifted on high by the tempest. Personification. As men signify by voice or gesture of hand that they will do what they are commanded, so these parts of nature testified their obedience to God's will (Ex 14:22; Jos 3:16; Ps 77:17, 18; 114:4).

The mountains; literally taken, it is an elegant hyperbole, expressing to us the glorious effects of God’s power and presence; and thus Sinai and the contiguous hills, the whole mount, Exodus 19:18, are intended: or if you take it figuratively, these are kings and states, whose hieroglyphics in Scripture are mountains.

Saw; were sensible of, showed they were sensible of his approach and presence.

Trembled; were grieved; so it will well suit to mountains metaphorically taken, it was grief to the kings and states to see God own, conduct, and prosper Israel, Numbers 22:3; Josh. it. 9-11: or

trembled, i.e. were shaken as with an earthquake, Exodus 19:18 Psalm 68:8 114:4,6; so it suits the letter of the text.

The overflowing; the inundation, which at that season was wont to be very great, the mighty floods on Jordan.

Passed by; passed away, i.e. at the word of God the waters below flowed and ran away from those above, which stood on a heap, to make a path for Israel.

The deep; either the deep channel in which Jordan flowed, the very bottom of the river, appeared; or the deep, i.e. the Red Sea.

Uttered his voice; with dreadful roaring, like a mighty voice, parted its waters; divided, but with great and terrible noise, in this unusual commotion.

Lifted up his hands; testified its obedience to the command of God, as by lifting up the hand one doth at distance signify his ready compliance with the command, or direction: or

hands, i.e. sides; so when the upper waters stood on a heap, both in Jordan and the Red Sea, they appeared as with sides or flankers unto the Israelites.

On high; like a mountain, visible and conspicuous to all.

The mountains; literally taken, it is an elegant hyperbole, expressing to us the glorious effects of God’s power and presence; and thus Sinai and the contiguous hills, the whole mount, Exodus 19:18, are intended: or if you take it figuratively, these are kings and states, whose hieroglyphics in Scripture are mountains.

Saw; were sensible of, showed they were sensible of his approach and presence.

Trembled; were grieved; so it will well suit to mountains metaphorically taken, it was grief to the kings and states to see God own, conduct, and prosper Israel, Numbers 22:3; Josh. it. 9-11: or

trembled, i.e. were shaken as with an earthquake, Exodus 19:18 Psalm 68:8 114:4,6; so it suits the letter of the text.

The overflowing; the inundation, which at that season was wont to be very great, the mighty floods on Jordan.

Passed by; passed away, i.e. at the word of God the waters below flowed and ran away from those above, which stood on a heap, to make a path for Israel.

The deep; either the deep channel in which Jordan flowed, the very bottom of the river, appeared; or the deep, i.e. the Red Sea.

Uttered his voice; with dreadful roaring, like a mighty voice, parted its waters; divided, but with great and terrible noise, in this unusual commotion.

Lifted up his hands; testified its obedience to the command of God, as by lifting up the hand one doth at distance signify his ready compliance with the command, or direction: or

hands, i.e. sides; so when the upper waters stood on a heap, both in Jordan and the Red Sea, they appeared as with sides or flankers unto the Israelites.

On high; like a mountain, visible and conspicuous to all.

The mountains; literally taken, it is an elegant hyperbole, expressing to us the glorious effects of God’s power and presence; and thus Sinai and the contiguous hills, the whole mount, Exodus 19:18, are intended: or if you take it figuratively, these are kings and states, whose hieroglyphics in Scripture are mountains.

Saw; were sensible of, showed they were sensible of his approach and presence.

Trembled; were grieved; so it will well suit to mountains metaphorically taken, it was grief to the kings and states to see God own, conduct, and prosper Israel, Numbers 22:3; Josh. it. 9-11: or

trembled, i.e. were shaken as with an earthquake, Exodus 19:18 Psalm 68:8 114:4,6; so it suits the letter of the text.

The overflowing; the inundation, which at that season was wont to be very great, the mighty floods on Jordan.

Passed by; passed away, i.e. at the word of God the waters below flowed and ran away from those above, which stood on a heap, to make a path for Israel.

The deep; either the deep channel in which Jordan flowed, the very bottom of the river, appeared; or the deep, i.e. the Red Sea.

Uttered his voice; with dreadful roaring, like a mighty voice, parted its waters; divided, but with great and terrible noise, in this unusual commotion.

Lifted up his hands; testified its obedience to the command of God, as by lifting up the hand one doth at distance signify his ready compliance with the command, or direction: or

hands, i.e. sides; so when the upper waters stood on a heap, both in Jordan and the Red Sea, they appeared as with sides or flankers unto the Israelites.

On high; like a mountain, visible and conspicuous to all.

The mountains; literally taken, it is an elegant hyperbole, expressing to us the glorious effects of God’s power and presence; and thus Sinai and the contiguous hills, the whole mount, Exodus 19:18, are intended: or if you take it figuratively, these are kings and states, whose hieroglyphics in Scripture are mountains.

Saw; were sensible of, showed they were sensible of his approach and presence.

Trembled; were grieved; so it will well suit to mountains metaphorically taken, it was grief to the kings and states to see God own, conduct, and prosper Israel, Numbers 22:3; Josh. it. 9-11: or

trembled, i.e. were shaken as with an earthquake, Exodus 19:18 Psalm 68:8 114:4,6; so it suits the letter of the text.

The overflowing; the inundation, which at that season was wont to be very great, the mighty floods on Jordan.

Passed by; passed away, i.e. at the word of God the waters below flowed and ran away from those above, which stood on a heap, to make a path for Israel.

The deep; either the deep channel in which Jordan flowed, the very bottom of the river, appeared; or the deep, i.e. the Red Sea.

Uttered his voice; with dreadful roaring, like a mighty voice, parted its waters; divided, but with great and terrible noise, in this unusual commotion.

Lifted up his hands; testified its obedience to the command of God, as by lifting up the hand one doth at distance signify his ready compliance with the command, or direction: or

hands, i.e. sides; so when the upper waters stood on a heap, both in Jordan and the Red Sea, they appeared as with sides or flankers unto the Israelites.

On high; like a mountain, visible and conspicuous to all.

The mountains saw thee, and they trembled,.... At the power and presence of God, as Sinai of old; See Gill on Habakkuk 3:6 by which are signified mighty people and nations, kings and great men, struck with terror at the amazing providence of God in the world, on the behalf of his own people, and against their enemies; see Revelation 6:14,

the overflowing of the water passed by; which is usually referred to the overflowing of the river Jordan at the time of the passage of the Israelites through it, when the waters above stood and rose up as a heap, and those below failed, and were cut off, and passed away into the salt sea, Joshua 3:15 but perhaps it may refer to the times of David, when he conquered all his enemies round about, who were like an overflowing flood; but now passed away, particularly the Philistines, who had always been very troublesome to Israel, but now were overcome by David at Baalperazim; where the Lord, on the contrary, broke forth upon his enemies as the breach of waters, from whence the place had its name, 2 Samuel 5:20 and as this respects time that was then to come, when this prayer was made, it may regard the flood of persecution, which ceased in Constantine's time, when Paganism was abolished, and Christianity established; concerning which it might be said, "the winter is past, the rain is over and gone", Sol 2:11 and the word (n) here used signifies a large shower of rain, causing an inundation, a storm, a tempest; and so fitly expresses the violence of persecution, now at an end:

the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up hands on high; language very poetical, exceeding striking, very beautiful and elegant. It is generally understood of the deep waters of the Red sea, or of Jordan, or both, when divided for the Israelites to pass through; at which time, when they rose up, they made a great noise, and stood on a heap; and so the phrases are expressive of the roaring and raging of them as they rose up, which was as if they had spoken; and of the position in which they were, standing up on high, as if they had hands, and these lifted up: but rather they figuratively refer to the mighty nations conquered by David, who asked favour and mercy of him, and signified their subjection to him; and, having respect to times to come, may denote the subjection of the multitude of people and nations in the Roman empire to Christ, when heathenism was abolished in it; and the joy and rejoicing of Christians upon it, and the ceasing of persecution in it, even high and low, rich and poor, all ranks and degrees of men; height and depth, men in high or low circumstances, signified by the depth uttering his voice, and the height lifting up its hands, in token of praise and thankfulness; for so the latter clause may be rendered, "the height lifted up his hands" (o); and answers to the deep in the preceding clause; agreeable to this sense is Jarchi's note,

""the deep uttered his voice": the inhabitants of the earth praised him; "the height lifted up his hands"; the host of heaven confessed unto him;''

every creature in heaven, on the earth, and under the earth, and in the sea, ascribed blessing, honour, glory, and power, to the Lord on this occasion, Revelation 5:13. The Targum is,

"the powers on high stood wondering;''

amazed at what was done, and lifted up their hands with astonishment.

(n) "nimbus", Tigurine version; "impetus", Munster; "imber aquosus", Cocceius, Van Till; "inundatio aquarum", Burkius. (o) "altitudo manum suam sublevavit", Munster; "tudo manus suas tulit", Burkius.

The mountains saw thee, and they trembled: the overflowing of the water {n} passed by: the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high.

(n) He alludes to the Red Sea and Jordan, which gave passage to God's people, and showed signs of their obedience as it were by the lifting up of their hands.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
10. The mountains saw thee, and] the mountains see thee, they tremble. The other verbs in the verse should also be in the present.

The overflowing of the water] the rainflood of waters passeth (driveth) along. Ch. Habakkuk 1:11; the reference is to a rainstorm.

The deep uttered] uttereth. The “deep” (tehôm, Assyr. tiamat) is properly the primal ocean, subterranean source of the visible sea, but here the latter itself. The reference is probably to the Red Sea; Psalm 106:9, “he led them through the depths”; so Isaiah 63:13. The roaring of the troubled and smitten sea is described.

lift up his hands] lifteth up. The reference appears to be to the mounting heavenwards of the waves. It is doubtful, however, if uttering its voice and lifting up its hands are meant to express an appeal on the part of the sea for mercy (Ew.). Comp. Psalm 77:16.

Verse 10. - The mountains saw thee, and they trembled; literally, were in pain, Septuagint, ὠδινήσουσι. The words point to the phenomena of an earthquake, as Sinai shook at the presence of the Lord (Exodus 19:18; Psalm 114:6). So Virgil, 'AEn.,' 6:256 -

"Sub pedibus mugire solum, et juga coepta moveri
Silvarum... Adventante des."
For "mountains," the LXX. reads, "peoples" The overflowing of the water passed by; the talent of water passed along. Cataracts of rain fell, as in the Deluge. "The windows on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake" (Isaiah 24:18). Those who confine the reference to past events see here an intimation of the passage of the Jordan (Joshua 3:15, 16). The deep uttered his voice. The mass of waters in the ocean and under the earth rears mightily as it bursts forth (Genesis 49:25; Deuteronomy 33:13). His hands. Its waves (Psalm 98:8). Septuagint, ὕψος φαντασίας αὐτῆς, "the height of its form." Habakkuk 3:10"The mountains see Thee, they writhe: a shower of waters passes along: the abyss lifts up its voice, it lifts up its hands on high. Habakkuk 3:11. Sun, moon, enter into their habitation at the light of Thine arrows which shoot by, at the shining of the lightning of Thy spear." The effect of the coming of God upon the mountains was already referred to in Habakkuk 3:6. There they crumbled into ruins, here they writhe with terror. This difference is to be explained from the fact that there (Habakkuk 3:6) the general effect of the omnipotence of God upon nature was intended, whereas here (Habakkuk 3:10, Habakkuk 3:11) the special effect is described, which is produced upon nature by the judgment about to be executed by God upon the nations. The perfects in the description represent this effect as following immediately upon the coming of God. But in the first clause of Habakkuk 3:10 the perfect ראוּך is followed by the imperfect יחילוּ, because the writhing is a lasting condition. The force of the description is heightened by the omission of the copula before the clauses and the particular objects. The two verbs of the first clause stand in the relation of cause and effect to one another: when the mountains have seen Thee, they writhe with terror. The further description is not founded upon the idea of a terrible storm; for there is no reference to thunder, nor even to lightnings, but only to the arrows (Habakkuk 3:11), which may be explained from the idea of God, as a warlike hero, making bare His bow. The colours and different features of the description are borrowed from the judgment of the flood. Habakkuk 3:10 (a and b) points to this divine judgment of the olden time, both the coming of the showers of water (geshem as in Genesis 7:12 and Genesis 8:2, and strengthened by mayim, analogous to hammabbūl hâyâh mayim in Genesis 7:6; ‛âbhar as in Nahum 3:19; Psalm 48:5), and also the nâthan tehōm qōlō, the raging outburst of the abyss. Tehōm is the mass of water in the abyss, not merely that of the ocean, but that of the subterranean waters also (Genesis 49:25; Deuteronomy 33:13), the "great deep" (tehōm rabbâh), whose fountains were broken up at the flood (Genesis 7:11); and not the ocean of heaven, as Hitzig erroneously infers from Genesis 7:11; Genesis 8:2, and Proverbs 8:27. To this mass of water, which is called tehōm from its roaring depth, the prophet attributes a voice, which it utters, to express the loud, mighty roaring of the waters as they rush forth from the bursting earth. As at the time of the flood, which was a type of the last judgment (Isaiah 24:18), the windows of heaven and the fountains of the deep were opened, so that the upper and lower waters, which are divided by the firmament, rushed together again, and the earth returned, as it were, to its condition before the second day of creation; so here also the rivers of the earth and rain-showers of heaven come together, so that the abyss roars up with a loud noise (Delitzsch). This roaring outburst of the mass of waters from the heart of the earth is then represented as a lifting up of the hands to heaven, with reference to the fact that the waves are thrown up. Rōm equals rūm (Proverbs 25:3; Proverbs 21:4) is an accusative of direction, like mârōm in 2 Kings 19:22. ידיהוּ, for ידיו, a full-sounding and more extended form, possibly to express by the rhythm the greatness of the prodigy, how magna vi brachii tollunt (Delitzsch). The lifting up of the hands is not a gesture denoting either an oath or rebellion; but it is an involuntary utterance of terror, of restlessness, of anguish, as it were, with a prayer for help (Delitzsch).
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