Habakkuk 3:11
The sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) The sun and moon stand still in their habitationscil., where they were at the beginning of the judgment. Here, of course, Habakkuk has in mind Joshua 10:12-13. The rest of the verse is best rendered, at the light of Thine arrows which go abroad, at the bright glancing of Thy spear. Apparently, the conception is that the surpassing brightness of the theophany shames the heavenly bodies, which accordingly cease to pursue their journey.

Habakkuk 3:11-12. The sun and moon stood still in their habitation — At the command of Joshua. At the light of thine arrows they went — Or rather, by their light (namely, the light of the sun and moon) thine arrows flew abroad, and by their shining, thy glittering spear. It was to give the Israelites time for the destruction of their enemies, that God caused the sun and moon to stand still; and while these gave them light, Jehovah sent out his arrows and scattered them, &c., Psalm 18:14. He alludes to God’s casting down great hailstones and lightnings from heaven, to discomfit the Amorites: see the margin. Thou didst march, &c. — Jehovah is here represented as marching before his people, through the land of Canaan, in his chariot of war, and trampling under foot those that rose up against him; which seems to be the meaning of the second clause, Thou didst thrash, &c.

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!Sun and moon stood still (as one act retiring into) in their habitation - They withdrew, as it were, in the midst of the great tempest, wherein Joshua 10:11-13. "God cast down great stones from heaven upon" His enemies and they died; and "the sun stood still, and the moon stayed." The sun too withdrew itself in the great darkness at the crucifixion, as not bearing to look upon the death of its Maker, when the majesty of the Sun of Righteousness was darkened o'er; and signs in the sun and in the moon there shall be to the end.

At the light of Thine arrows they went - A. E.: "There was no need of the sun by day, nor of the moon by night; for by the light of Thine arrows can the sons of men hold their way." Tanchum: "This is a mystical interpretation, as you see; this is like the promise of the Most High; Isaiah 60:19. 'the sun shall be no more for thy light by day, neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee, and the Lord shall be to thee an everlasting light.'" The judgments of God are a light to His people, while they are the destruction of His enemies; in them they "learn righteousness" Isaiah 26:9. The arrows are God's judgments, as they threaten and wound from afar;

The shining of Thy glittering spear - literally, of the lightning of Thy spear, when close at hand. When all other light is withdrawn, and the Sun, our Lord, is hardly beheld in the darkness of the last days, and the moon, the Church, shall not give her light, Christ not shining upon her as before, because "iniquity shall abound, and the love of many shall wax cold," and "stars," many who seem to shine with the light of grace, "shall fall from heaven," His own shall walk on and advance in holiness. Dion.: "from strength to strength, Psalm 84:7. from good to better, from the way to their home," by the bright light of the lightning of God's Judgments, wherein His glory shall be manifested. Arrows and spears are part of the spiritual armory of God, wherewith the people are subdued unto Him. Cyril: "armory, not wherewith He is girt but which He giveth to those who are meet; bright and as it were full of lightning. For most transparent is virtue." They went then at the light of Thine arrows. Cyril: "because to those who love sin virtue has no beauty, nor, as yet, any brightness. But to those who know her she is nothing less than lightning, bright and transparent, so that whoso hath her is easily known to all around. The disciples then, first having the lightning of Thine arms, shall lead others also to its Light. Admiring and conceiving in themselves those virtues which are the arms of Christ, they shine forth to others, a gleam, as it were, of the bright flash of light inherent in those graces." Rup.: "They were enlightened and began, by preaching, to send forth shining words of truth. But those words are Thine arrows, shining arrows, showing by their light the way of life, and by their sharp point pricking the hearts of people unto repentance."

11. sun … moon stood still—at Joshua's command (Jos 10:12, 13). Maurer wrongly translates, "stand" (withdrawn, or hidden from view, by the clouds which covered the sky during the thunders).

light of thine arrows—hail mixed with lightnings (Jos 10:10, 11).

they went—The sun and moon "went," not as always heretofore, but according to the light and direction of Jehovah's arrows, namely, His lightnings hurled in defense of His people; astonished at these they stood still [Calvin]. Maurer translates, "At the light of Thine arrows (which) went" or flew.

The sun and moon stood still: though the sun rejoice as a giant to run his race, and had constantly come out of his chamber to run it about two thousand five hundred years past, yet now he stops his course, and with his stay puts stop to the motion of moon and stars, at the command of God’s minister and Israel’s captain, Joshua 10:12,13.

Habitation; so the psalmist, Psalm 19:4, speaks of a pavilion or tabernacle pitched for the sun, where at Joshua’s word, seconded with the word of Joshua’s and Israel’s God, he makes a halt as it were, stands at the door of his tabernacle to behold and forward the strange work, the miraculous overthrow of the five conspiring kings.

At the light of thine arrows they went: as we read the words they seem somewhat obscure and perplexed, yet very intelligible in this paraphrase: at the light, according to the light which thine arrows gave by their glittering heads, polished shafts, and bright feathers; in their flight thine arrows, O God, for these were the arrows of Israel and thine arrows too, as the sword of Gideon was the sword of the Lord.

They, i.e. sun and moon, went, directed their course, and took their way compliant with the flights of these arrows, not hastening to the place of their going down whilst Israel had arrows to shoot, or enemies that day to discomfit, whilst they were to lift up a spear against any enemy that day. The marginal reading of these words is much plainer:

thine arrows walked in the light, ( which was miraculously continued,) and thy spears walked in the brightness of the lightning (as I venture for once to read the words from the Hebrew); so dreadful was that day to the enemy, so joyful to Israel. O let some such day arise on captive Jews, revive thy works of old: so the prophet prays.

The sun and moon stood still in their habitation,.... This is generally thought to refer to the miracle in the times of Joshua, Joshua 10:12 but a different word is there used, especially of the standing still of the sun; nor are the sun and moon said there to stand in their habitation; nor will the series of the history of times past, or the thread of prophecy of things to come, admit of this reference; nor do the words express the clear shining of the sun and moon at their standing still, but the reverse; for the phrase, "in their habitation", may be rendered, "within their tent" (p), or pavilion; See Gill on Psalm 19:4; which is no other than their being encompassed and covered with clouds; which is just such a pavilion as God is said to be in, when "darkness was his secret place; his pavilion round about him dark waters and thick clouds of the skies", Psalm 18:11 and so is expressive of the dark times of antichrist, which followed, when the Pagan persecutions were over, Christianity supported by secular powers, and the Christian churches raised to the height of riches and honour; and then the man of sin showed himself, the pope of Rome took upon him the title of universal bishop, and introduced false doctrines, strange worship, and bad discipline, into the church, and obscured the glorious light of it; and Mahomet also arose with his locusts, the Saracens, out of the bottomless pit opened, from whence came a smoke which darkened the sun and air, Revelation 9:1,

at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear; the commonly received sense of the words is, either at the light and shining of the sun and moon, when they stood still in Joshua's time; the arrows of the Almighty, and the lightning of his spear, that is, hailstones mingled with fire, and thunder, and lightning, which the heathens call Jupiter's arrows; these steered their course, being directed against the enemies of the Lord's people, and fought for them, Joshua 10:10 or at the light of these, which looked very bright and dazzling through the rays of the sun upon them, the Israelites marched against their enemies, and avenged themselves on them: but these bright arrows and glittering spear, and the light and shining of them, seem to design no other than the weapons of the Christian ministry or warfare; the Gospel, and the doctrines of it; the light of which broke forth at the Reformation, the same that is meant by the "morning star", Revelation 2:28 irradiated by which, the ministers of it especially went forth with courage against their antichristian enemies, and prevailed, and spread the Gospel in many countries. It may be rendered as a petition, "let them walk at the light" (q), &c.; a prayer of faith that it might be, and which is a prophecy that it would be.

(p) "intra habitaculum", Cocceius, Van Till, "vel in tugurio", ib. (q) "ambulent ad lucem", &c. Van Till.

The {o} sun and moon stood still in their habitation: {p} at the light of thy arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear.

(o) As appears in Jos 10:12.

(p) According to your command the sun was directed by the weapons of your people, that fought in your cause, as though it dare not go forward.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. The sun and moon stood still] stand still, i.e. do not come forth, being behind the storm-cloud. The word possibly means retreat, withdraw into their habitation, hiding themselves from the light of the flying arrows of Jehovah. They are scared and outshone by the terrible brightness of His lightnings; cf. Isaiah 24:23. Sept. joins “lifted up” of preceding verse to this one, making “the sun” the subject. No acceptable sense is given by the Sept., but certainly the balance of the rhythm seems to require a separate predicate to “the sun”: the sun …, the moon withdraws.

At the light of thine arrows they went] at the light of thine arrows as they go. The “arrows” and “spear” both refer to the lightnings.

The strophe reads as a whole:

  8.  Art thou displeased against the rivers, O Lord?

Is thine anger against the rivers,

Or thy wrath against the sea,

That thou dost ride upon thine horses,

Upon thy chariots of salvation?

  9.  Thy bow is made bare

… Selah.

Thou cleavest the rivers into dryland.

  10.  The mountains see thee, they tremble,

The rainflood of waters passeth on;

The deep uttereth his voice,

And lifteth up his hands on high.

  11.  The sun, the moon stand still in their habitation,

At the light of thine arrows as they go,

At the shining of thy glittering spear.

Verse 11. - The sun and moon stood still in their habitation; or, stand still, or withdraw into their habitation. They hide themselves in the tabernacles whence they are said to emerge when they shine (Psalm 19:4, etc.). Overpowered with the splendour of God's presence, the heavenly luminaries hide their light in this day of the Lord (comp. Isaiah 13:10; Joel 2:2, 10, 31; Joel 3:15; Amos 5:20; Matthew 24:29). The miracle of Joshua (Joshua 10:12, etc.) may have suggested some of the language here, but the idea is quite different. At the light of thine arrows they went; i.e. the sun and moon fled away discomfited at the glory of God's weapons, his arrows gleaming with light. The idea may be that, in the absence of the sun and moon, the terrific scene was illuminated only by flashes of lightning. "Lightnings" are sometimes celled God's "arrows," as in Psalm 18:14; Psalm 77:17, etc.; but the image here is rather of the arms of a warrior. Many supply the relative in the sentence, and render, "arrows which shoot along." This seems to be unnecessary, and is not supported by the versions. There is no special reference to the hailstorm at Beth-horon, which discomfited the Cananites, but enabled the Israelites to pass on to victory (Joshua, loc. cit.). It is the terror of the judgment that is adumbrated, when the Lord shall come in flames of fire (2 Thessalonians 1:8), and the heavens shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat (2 Peter 3:12). Habakkuk 3:11The chaotic condition into which the earth has been brought is heightened by the darkness in which the heaven clothes itself. Sun and moon, which give light to day and night, have put themselves, or entered, into their habitation. זבוּל with ה local, a dwelling-place, is, according to oriental view, the place from which the stars come out when they rise, and to which they return when they set. Nevertheless it is not actual setting that is spoken of here, but simply their obscuration, which is not the effect of heavy clouds that pour out their water in showers of rain, but is caused by the shining of the arrows of God (ל in לאור and לנגהּ denoting the outward cause or occasion). It is not, however, that they "turn pale in consequence of the surpassing brilliancy of the lightnings" (Ewald), but that they "withdraw altogether, from the fear and horror which pervade all nature, and which are expressed in the mountains by trembling, in the waters by roaring, and in the sun and moon by obscuration" (Delitzsch). The idea that this verse refers to the standing still of the sun and moon at the believing word of Joshua (Joshua 10:12.), in which nearly all the earlier commentators agreed, is quite untenable, inasmuch as עמד זבוּלה cannot mean to stand still in the sky. The arrows and spear (chănı̄th) of God are not lightnings, as in Psalm 77:18-19; Psalm 18:15, etc., because this theophany is not founded upon the idea of a storm, but the darts with which God as a warrior smites down His foes, as the instruments and effects of the wrath of God. A brilliant splendour is attributed to them, because they emanate from Him whose coming, like the sunlight, pours out its rays on both sides (Habakkuk 3:4). בּרק חנית has the same meaning here as in Nahum 3:3 : the flashing, because naked and sharpened, spear. And just as we cannot understand the "bright sword" of Nahum 3:3 as signifying flashes of lightning, so here we cannot take the arrows as lightnings. יהלּכוּ is to be taken relatively, "which pass alone, or shoot by."
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