Habakkuk 3:15
Thou didst walk through the sea with thine horses, through the heap of great waters.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) Thou didst walk.—Better, Thou walkest. “Heap” is probably the correct translation of chômer here, as in Exodus 8:10. With this glance at the miraculous passage of the Red Sea (see Habakkuk 3:8) this prophetic poem comes to a sudden termination. The new paragraph begins with Habakkuk 3:16, not, as is indicated in the Authorised Version, with Habakkuk 3:17.

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!Thou didst walk through the sea with Thine horses - God Himself is pictured as leading them on the way, Himself at the head of their multitude, having, as Asaph said of old "His path in the sea." So Isaiah Isa 63:13. "who leddest them in the depths;" and Zechariah Zechariah 10:11. "And he shall pass through the sea." God was literally there; for Acts 17:28. "in Him we live and move and have our being." He who "is wholly everywhere but the whole of Him nowhere" manifested His Presence there. Such anthropomorphisms have a truth, which people's favorite abstractions have not.

Through the heap - o of great waters as of old Exodus 15:8; Psalm 78:13. "the waters stood us a heap, and He made the waters to stand a a heap." The very hindrances to deliverance are in God's hands a way for His ends. The waves of the Red Sea rose in heaps, yet this was but a readier way for the salvation of His people and the destruction of their enemies. Dion.: "God prepareth ever a way for His elect in this present evil world, and leadeth them along the narrow way which leadeth unto life."

15. Thou didst walk through the sea with thine horses—(Hab 3:8). No obstacle could prevent Thy progress when leading Thy people in safety to their inheritance, whether the Red Sea, Jordan, or the figurative waves of foes raging against Israel (Ps 65:7; 77:19). Thou, O God, or thou, O Israel, notwithstanding all plots and opposition,

didst walk; heldest on thy way, and walkedst from thy entering on the east of the land to the west thereof; from Beth-el, Jordan, and Jericho on the east, where they entered the land that lay within Jordan.

Through, rather to, (as Junius, Tremellius, and Grotius,)

the sea, the most western parts Of all the land God gave; they took possession from east to west, to the great sea, the western sea, the mightiest sea the Jews of that time knew, called here by way of eminency

the heap of great waters; called

the great sea, Ezekiel 47:10,15,19,20, as Joshua 9:1. So was fulfilled what was promised, and they took possession of that was estated on them, Joshua 1:3,4. I rather refer this 15th verse in this manner, than, with most interpreters, to the Red Sea, which is to me a repetition unseemly for so short and elegant an enumeration of God’s wonderful deliverances and blessings to Israel, from their leaving Egypt to their settling in Canaan.

Thou didst walk through the sea with thine horses,.... And as thou didst of old, so do again; as Jehovah walked through the Red sea in a pillar of cloud and fire, which were his horses and chariots, and destroyed the Egyptians; so may he walk through another sea by his instruments, and destroy the enemies of his church and people; See Gill on Habakkuk 3:8. The "sea" here signifies the world, compared to it for the multitude of its people; the noise, fluctuation, and uncertainty of all things in it; and particularly the Roman empire, the sea out of which the antichristian beast arose, Revelation 13:1. The "horses" are the angels or Christian princes, with whom the Lord will walk in majesty, and in the greatness of his strength, pouring out the vials of his wrath on the antichristian states:

through the heap of many waters; or "the clay", or "mud of many waters" (w); that lies at the bottom of them; which being walked through and trampled on by horses, is raised up, and "troubles" them, as the Septuagint and Arabic versions render it: these "many waters" are those on which the whore of Rome is said to sit; and which are interpreted of people, multitudes, nations, and tongues, Revelation 17:1 and the "mud" of them is expressive of their pollution and corruption, with her false doctrines, idolatry, superstition, and immoralities; and of their disturbed state and condition, through the judgments of God upon them, signified by his horses walking through them; trampling upon them in fury; treating them with the utmost contempt; treading them like mire and clay, and bringing upon them utter ruin and destruction.

(w) "in luto aquarum multarum", Tigurine version; "calcasti lutum aquarum multarum", Cocceius, Van Till; "lutum, aquae multae", Burkius.

Thou didst walk through the sea with thine horses, through the heap of great waters.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. Thou didst walk through the sea] Thou hast gone through the sea (Isaiah 11:15). The verse refers to the passage of the Red Sea; and the thought remains unexpressed, though it is understood, that with this was completed the destruction of the enemy and the deliverance of the people. The strophe reads as a whole:

  12.  In indignation thou marchest through the earth,

Thou dost thresh the nations in anger.

  13.  Thou art come forth for the salvation of thy people,

For the salvation of thine anointed.

Thou hast shattered the head from the house of the wicked,

Laying bare the foundation unto the neck.

  14.  Thou hast pierced through with thy spears the head of his warriors,

Which were come out as a whirlwind to scatter me,

Exulting as about to devour the afflicted in secret places.

  15.  Thou hast gone through the sea with thy horses,

The heap of great waters.

  16.   Habakkuk 3:16 returns to Habakkuk 3:2, taking up the words “I heard the report of thee” and “I feared.”

When I heard] I heard (or, have heard) and my belly, i.e. heart or inward parts.

My lips quivered at the voice] i.e. the report or voice which he heard.

Rottenness entered] Or, entered. “Rottenness” is a figure for utter failure of strength.

I trembled in myself] I tremble in my place, or, where I stand. 2 Samuel 2:23.

That I might rest in the day of trouble] The words on to the end of the verse are very obscure. The first half of the verse describes the terror and paralysis that came upon the poet (or community) from what he “heard”; there appears no connexion between this idea and A.V. that I might rest. R.V. renders that I should rest, which appears to mean, that I must rest or remain quiet in the day of trouble, i.e. probably, endure patiently the day of trouble. R.V. marg. suggests: that I should rest waiting for the day of trouble, i.e. wait patiently for (or unto) the day of trouble. The term rest has nowhere else such a sense.

When he cometh up unto the people] The words might possibly mean: the day of trouble, which is to come up against the people, to invade them (like a troop). The “people” might be the speaker’s own people, for the day of trouble is universal; or possibly it might mean the people of the earth universally (Psalm 22:6; Isaiah 40:7; Isaiah 42:5). The day of trouble is a day resembling that of which the speaker has “heard” (Habakkuk 3:3-15), the report of which makes his lips tremble, and such a day can hardly be a time of calamity to come on Israel from any invader, it must rather be the day of general judgment and of the divine Theophany prayed for in ch. Habakkuk 3:2. For this reason the other marginal suggestion of R.V. is not probable: the day of trouble, when he that shall invade them cometh up against the people. The hard ellipses which this rendering assumes in the Heb. text are also against it. Owing to the ambiguity of the pronouns in Heb. another rendering still is possible: the day of trouble, which is to come up against the people that invades (assails) us. So Wellh. Certainty as to the exact meaning is not attainable. The “day of distress,” however, is the Theophany of the judge, in conformity with the whole scope of the poem. Zephaniah 1:15 also calls the day of the Lord “a day of distress.” This manifestation of the great God is terrible even to Israel, notwithstanding that the issue of it will be the deliverance of the people of God and the destruction of their adversaries. The “day” is personified and spoken of as coming on mankind (“the people”) like an invader.

Verse 15. - The Exodus is the type of the deliverance of God's people. Thou didst walk through (didst tread) the sea with thine horses; literally, thou treadest the sea, thy horses, the horses being explanatory. The prophet takes his imagery from Exodus 15:1-19. He represents God as a warrior in his chariot, leading the way through the waters to the destruction of his enemies and to the salvation of his own people. Through the heap of great waters; or, upon the surge of mighty waters. The verse may also be rendered, Thou treadest the sea - thy horses (tread) the heap of great waters (Psalm 77:19). Past mercies and deliverances are types and pledges of future. Habakkuk 3:15In Habakkuk 3:12 there follows a description of the judgment upon the nations for the rescue of the people of God. Habakkuk 3:12. "In fury Thou walkest through the earth, in wrath Thou stampest down nations. Habakkuk 3:13. Thou goest out to the rescue of Thy people, to the rescue of Thine anointed one; Thou dashest in pieces the head from the house of the wicked one, laying bare the foundation even to the neck. Selah. Habakkuk 3:14. Thou piercest with his spears the head of his hordes, which storm hither to beat me to powder, whose rejoicing is, as it were, to swallow the poor in secret. Habakkuk 3:15. Thou treadest upon the sea: Thy horses, upon the heap of great waters." The Lord, at whose coming in the terrible glory of the majesty of the Judge of the world all nature trembles and appears to fall into its primary chaotic state, marches over the earth, and stamps or tramples down the nations with His feet (compare the kindred figure of the treader of the winepress in Isaiah 63:1-6). Not all nations, however, but only those that are hostile to Him; for He has come forth to save His people and His anointed one. The perfects in Habakkuk 3:13-15 are prophetic, describing the future in spirit as having already occurred. יצא, referring to the going out of God to fight for His people, as in Judges 5:4; 2 Samuel 5:24; Isaiah 42:13, etc. ישׁע, rescue, salvation, is construed the second time with an accusative like an inf. constr. (see Ewald, 239, a). The anointed of God is not the chosen, consecrated nation (Schnur., Ros., Hitzig, Ewald, etc.); for the nation of Israel is never called the anointed one (hammâshı̄ăch) by virtue of its calling to be "a kingdom of priests" (mamlekheth kohănı̄m, Exodus 19:6), neither in Psalm 28:8 nor in Psalm 84:10; Psalm 89:39. Even in Psalm 105:15 it is not the Israelites who are called by God "my anointed" (meshı̄chai), but the patriarchs, as princes consecrated by God (Genesis 23:6). And so here also משׁיחך is the divinely-appointed king of Israel; not, however, this or that historical king - say Josiah, Jehoiakim, or even Jehoiachin - but the Davidic king absolutely, including the Messiah, in whom the sovereignty of David is raised to an eternal duration, "just as by the Chaldaean king here and in Psalm 2:1-12 we must understand the Chaldaean kings generally" (Delitzsch), wince the prophecy spreads from the judgment upon the Chaldaeans to the universal judgment upon the nations, and the Chaldaean is merely introduced as the possessor of the imperial power. The Messiah as the Son of David is distinguished from Jehovah, and as such is the object of divine help, just as in Zechariah 9:9, where He is called נושׁע in this respect, and in the royal Messianic psalms. This help God bestows upon His people and His anointed, by dashing in pieces the head from the house of the wicked one. The râshâ‛ (wicked one) is the Chaldaean, not the nation, however, which is spoken of for the first time in Habakkuk 3:14, but the Chaldaean king, as chief of the imperial power which is hostile to the kingdom of God. But, as the following clause clearly shows, the house is the house in the literal sense, so that the "head," as part of the house, is the gable. A distinction is drawn between this and yeshōd, the foundation, and צוּאר, the neck, i.e., the central part looking from the gable downwards. The destruction takes place both from above and below at once, so that the gable and the foundation are dashed in pieces with one blow, and that even to the neck, i.e., up to the point at which the roof or gable rests upon the walls. עד, inclusive, embracing the part mentioned as the boundary; not exclusive, so as to leave the walls still rising up as ruins. The description is allegorical, the house representing the Chaldaean dynasty, the royal family including the king, but not "including the exalted Chaldaean kingdom in all its prosperity" (Hitzig). ערות, a rare form of the inf. abs., like שׁתות in Isaiah 22:13 (cf. Ewald, 240, b), from ערה, to make bare, to destroy from the very foundation, the infinitive in the sense of the gerund describing the mode of the action.

The warlike nation meets with the same fate as the royal house (Habakkuk 3:14). The meaning of the first clause of the verse depends upon the explanation to be given to the word perâzâv. There is no foundation for the meaning leaders or judges, which has been claimed for the word perâzı̄m ever since the time of Schroeder and Schnur. In Hebrew usage perâzı̄ signifies the inhabitant of the plain (Deuteronomy 3:5; 1 Samuel 6:18), and perâzōth the plains, the open flat land, as distinguished from walled cities (Ezekiel 38:11). Perâzōn has the same meaning in Judges 5:7 and Judges 5:11. Consequently Delitzsch derives perâzâv from a segholate noun perez or pērez, in the sense of the population settled upon the open country, the villagers and peasantry, whence the more general signification of a crowd or multitude of people, and here, since the context points to warriors, the meaning hordes, or hostile companies, which agrees with the Targum, Rashi, and Kimchi, who explain the word as signifying warriors or warlike troops. ראשׁ, the head of his hordes, cannot be the leader, partly because of what follows, "who come storming on," which presupposes that not the leader only, but the hordes or warriors, will be destroyed, and partly also because of the preceding verse, in which the destruction of the king is pronounced, and also because the distinction between the king and the leader of the army is at variance with the complex character of the prophetic description. We must take ראשׁ in the literal sense, but collectively, "heads." The prophet was led to the unusual figure of the piercing of the head by the reminiscence of the piercing of Sisera's head by Jael (Judges 5:26). The suffixes in בּמטּיו and פּרזו refer back to רשׁע. מטּיו, sticks, for lance or spears, after 2 Samuel 18:14. The meaning of the words is this: with the spear of the king God pierces the heads of his warlike troops; and the thought expressed is, that the hostile troops will slay one another in consequence of the confusion, as was the case in the wars described in 1 Samuel 14:20 and 2 Chronicles 20:23-24, and as, according to prophecy, the last hostile power of the world is to meet with its ruin when it shall attack the kingdom of God (Ezekiel 38:21; Zechariah 14:13). יסערוּ להף is to be taken relatively: "which storm hither (sâ‛ar, approach with the swiftness and violence of a storm) to destroy me." The prophet includes himself along with the nation, and uses hēphı̄ts with reference to the figure of the dispersion or powdering of the chaff by a stormy wind (Isaiah 41:16; Jeremiah 13:24; Jeremiah 18:17). עליצתם forms a substantive clause by itself: "their rejoicing is," for they who rejoice, as if to swallow, i.e., whose rejoicing is directed to this, to swallow the poor in secret. The enemies are compared to highway murderers, who lurk in dark corners for the defenceless traveller, and look forward with rejoicing for the moment when they may be able to murder him. עני forms the antithesis to רשׁע. Inasmuch as "the wicked" denotes the Chaldaean; "the poor" is the nation of Israel, i.e., the congregation of the righteous, who are really the people of God. To devour the poor, i.e., to take violent possession of his life and all that he has (cf. Proverbs 30:14, and for the fact itself, Psalm 10:8-10), is, when applied to a nation, to destroy it (vid., Deuteronomy 7:16 and Jeremiah 10:25).

In order that these enemies may be utterly destroyed, God passes through the sea. This thought in Habakkuk 3:15 connects the conclusion of the description of the judicial coming of God with what precedes. The drapery of the thought rests upon the fact of the destruction of Pharaoh and his horsemen in the Red Sea (Exodus 14). The sea, the heap of many waters, is not a figurative expression for the army of the enemy, but is to be taken literally. This is required by דּרכתּ ביּם, since דּרך with ב, to tread upon a place, or enter into it (cf. Micah 5:4; Isaiah 59:8; Deuteronomy 11:24-25), does not suit the figurative interpretation; and it is required still more by the parallel passages, viz., Psalm 77:20 (בּיּם דּרכּך), which floated before the prophet's mind, and Zechariah 10:11. Just as God went through the Red Sea in the olden time to lead Israel through, and to destroy the Egyptian army, so will He in the future go through the sea and do the same, when He goes forth to rescue His people out of the power of the Chaldaean. The prophet does not express the latter indeed, but it is implied in what he says. סוּסיך is an accusative, not instrumenti, however, but of more precise definition: thou, namely, according to thy horses; for "with thy horses," as in Psalm 83:19; Psalm 44:3 (אתּה ידך); cf. Ewald, 281, c, and 293, c. The horses are to be taken, as in Habakkuk 3:8, as harnessed to the chariots; and they are mentioned here with reference to the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, which were destroyed by Jehovah in the sea. Chōmer, in the sense of heap, as in Exodus 8:10, is not an accusative, but is still dependent upon the ב of the parallel clause. The expression "heap of many waters" serves simply to fill up the picture, as in Psalm 77:20.

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