Habakkuk 3:6
He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting.
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(6) He stood, and measured the earth . . .—Better, He has taken His stand and measured the earth, He has looked and made the heathen tremble; and the primeval mountains are broken up, the ancient hills sink down; His goings are as of old; i.e., His proceedings are the same as of old time, when He brought up Israel from Egypt. God measures or parcels out the earth; and the usurping invader is put to confusion. The mountains are convulsed, as was Sinai of old. (Comp. Judges 5:5, Psalm 68:8.)

Habakkuk 3:6. He stood and measured the earth — “It was customary for a conqueror, as soon as he became possessed of a country, to measure it out, and divide it among his people. Thus David, (Psalm 60:6,) I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth. Hence Jehovah, who takes possession of the land of Canaan, upon the flight and cession of its guilty inhabitants, is represented as dividing it among the tribes of Israel.” — Green, who translates the former part of the verse thus: He stood and measured out the land; he beheld and scattered the nations: the eternal mountains dispersed, the perpetual hills bowed. The passage is certainly extremely poetical; representing, not only the inhabitants of Canaan, but the land itself, as struck with conscious terror at the approach of Jehovah. His ways are everlasting — His purposes, foreknown from all eternity, will infallibly be executed in their appointed time: or, his wisdom, goodness, justice, holiness, and power, exerted and manifested in governing his people, are immutable and eternal.

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!He stood - It is "a metaphor of his giving victory to Israel" Tanchum.

And measured - So Kimchi, A. E., Rashi, Tanchum, Vulgate. It is borne out by Hithpolel. "extended himself," 1 Kings 17:21. By an interchange of dentals; מוד might be equals מוט, and so the Aramaic and the Septuagint but in no other case do the two forms co-exist in Hebrew.

The earth - Joshua, after he had conquered the land, meted it out and divided it among the people. He who should come, should measure out the earth in its length and breadth, that earth which His glory filleth. "He stood," as Stephen saw Him, Acts 7:56, "standing at the right hand of God." Isaiah saith, Isaiah 3:13 : "The Lord standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people." He had not need to go forth, but, in the abode of His glory, "He stood" and beheld and with His eye "measured the earth," as His own, whereas, before the cross, it lay under 1 Corinthians 2:5, "the Prince of this world," and he had said, Luke 4:6, "it is delivered unto me, and unto whomsoever I will, I give it." "He measureth it," and gave it to His apostles. Mat 28:18; Mark 16:15 : "all power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature," and, Psalm 19:4, "their sound is gone out into all lands, and their words into the ends of the world." He measureth it also, surveying and weighing all who dwell therein, their persons, qualities, deeds, good or bad, to requite them, as "Judge of quick and dead;" as David cast down Moab and measured them with a line, 2 Samuel 8:2, "to put to death and to keep alive."

He beheld, and drove asunder the nations - or, "made the nations to tremble." When Israel came out of Egypt and God divided the Red Sea before them, they sang: Exodus 15:15-16 "The people shall hear and be afraid; terror shall take hold of the inhabitants of Palestine; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold of them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away; fear and dread shall fall on them; by the greatness of Thy power they shall be still as a stone." Fear and awe were to be renewed. All nearness of God brings terror to sinful man. When the news came through the wise men, that they had, Matthew 2:1-3, "seen in the East the star of Him who was born, King of the Jews," not only was Herod the King troubled, but "all Jerusalem with him." Pilate John 19:8 "was afraid" when he condemned Jesus; the high priests wondered "whereunto this should grow," and expostulated, Acts 5:24, Acts 5:28, "ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man's blood upon us." Pagandom was as a beleaguered city, mastered by an ubiquitous Presence, which they knew not how to meet . "The state is beset: the Christians are in their fields. in their forts, in their islands. Every sex, age, condition, and now even rank is going over to this sect." The fierceness of the persecutions was the measure of their fear. They put forth all human might to stamp out the spark, lest their gods, and the greatness of the empire which they ascribed to their gods, should fall before this unknown Power.

And the everlasting mountains were scattered; the perpetual hills did bow - all power, great or small, gave way before Him. All which withstood was scattered asunder, all which in pride lifted itself up was brought low, although before the coming of the Saviour it had ever gone with neck erect, and none could humble its pride. There is something so marvelous about those ancient mountains. There they stood before man was on the earth; they are so solid, man so slight; they have survived so many generations of man; they will long survive us; they seem as if they would stand forever; nothing could stand before the might of God. What symbol could be more apt? To the greater pride the heavier lot is assigned; the mountains lifted on high above the earth and, as it were, looking down upon it, are scattered or dispersed, as when a stone flieth in pieces under the stroke of the hammer. The "hills" are bowed down only; and this may be the pride of man humbled under the yoke of Christ.

His ways are everlasting - "Everlasting" is set over against "everlasting." The "everlasting" of the creature, that which had been as long as creation had been, co-existing with its whole duration, its most enduring parts, are as things past and gone; "the everlasting mountains, the hills of eternity," have been scattered in pieces and bowed, and are no more. Over against these stands the everpresent eternity of God. "His ways are everlasting," ordered everlastingly, existing everlastingly in the Divine Mind, and, when in act among us, without change in Him. The prophet blends in these great words, things seemingly contrary, ways which imply progress, eternity which is unchangeable "God ever worketh, and ever resteth; unchangeable, yet changing all; He changeth His works, His purpose unchanged" . "For Thou art Most High, and art not changed, neither in Thee doth today come to a close; yet in Thee it doth come to a close; because all such things also are in Thee. For they had no way to pass away, unless Thou heldest them together. 'And since Thy years fail not,' Thy years are one Today. How many of our's and our fathers' years have flowed away through Thy today; and from it received the measure and the mould of such being as they had; and still others shall flow away, and so receive the mould of their degree of being. But Thou art still the Same; and all things of tomorrow, and all beyond, and all of yesterday, and all behind it, Thou wilt do in this today, Thou hast done in this today"

To these His goings, a highway is made by the breaking down of all which exalted itself, as Isaiah had said, "The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low and the Lord Alone shall be exalted in that day" Isaiah 2:17; and "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low" Isaiah 40:3.

Bernard in Ps. Qui habitat. Serra. xi. 8: "The Everlasting ways of the Everlasting God are Mercy and Truth, by these Ways are the hills of the world and the proud demons, the princes of the darkness of this world, bowed down, who knew not the way of mercy and truth nor remembered its paths. What hath he to do with truth, who is a liar and the father of it, and of whom it is written, 'he abode not in the Truth?' But how far he is from Mercy, our misery witnesseth, inflicted on us by him. When was he ever merciful, 'who was a murderer from the beginning?' So then those swelling hills were bowed down from the Everlasting Ways, when through their own crookedness they sunk away from the straight ways of the Lord, and became not so much ways as precipices. How much more prudently and wisely are other hills bowed down and humbled by these ways to salvation! For they were not bowed from them, as parting from their straightness, but the Everlasting Ways themselves bowed down. May we not now see the hills of the world bowed down, when those who are high and mighty with devoted submission bow themselves before the Lord. and worship at His Feet? Are they not bowed down, when from their own destructive loftiness of vanity and cruelty, they are turned to the humble way of mercy and truth?"

6. He stood, and measured the earth—Jehovah, in His advance, is represented as stopping suddenly, and measuring the earth with His all-seeing glance, whereat there is universal consternation. Maurer, from a different root, translates, "rocked the earth"; which answers better to the parallel "drove asunder"; the Hebrew for which latter, however, may be better translated, "made to tremble."

everlasting mountains—which have ever been remembered as retaining the same place and form from the foundation of the world.

did bow—as it were, in reverent submission.

his ways are everlasting—His marvellous ways of working for the salvation of His people mark His everlasting character: such as He was in His workings for them formerly, such shall He be now.

He stood; gave his presence with Joshua and others, as one that stood by while the work was done.

Measured: he divided to them their inheritance, and did this without toil or difficulty, his very presence with his people was enough to make it known what he allotted to them. The earth; the Promised Land.

He beheld; looked with a frowning countenance, with anger in his eye.

Drove asunder; cast them out, or caused them to flee, as many did out of that country; his eye did this, for he looked on them and did this.

The nations; the cursed nations.

The everlasting mountains were scattered; either literally understood, as Nahum 1:5, and may relate to that the psalmist minds, Psalm 114:4,6, when the whole mount, all the mountainous parts of Sinai, tremble, Exodus 19:18, &c.; or figuratively, the state of these nations, seeming as immovable as mountains, yet soon shook and dissolved, before the rebuke of the Lord.

The perpetual hills did bow; an elegant immutation of the phrase, to illustrate and confirm the same thing.

His ways are everlasting; the wisdom, goodness, justice, holiness, faithfulness, and power of God, which he showeth in the methods of his governing his church and people, are everlasting, they are the same, and where the same circumstances concur the same effects of his power may be hoped for. So the prophet pursueth the argument; they are everlasting loving-kindnesses with which he embraceth his church.

He stood and measured the earth,.... This alludes to the ark of the Lord, the symbol of his presence, standing and abiding at Gilgal for the space of fourteen years, while the land of Canaan was subdued by Joshua; and then measured out by him, and divided by lot, as an inheritance to the children of Israel, according to the direction and appointment of the Lord, Joshua 13:1 &c.: here it may have respect to the mission of the apostles into the various parts of the world, and the distribution of it among them; some being sent into one part, and some into another, called their particular line and measure, 2 Corinthians 10:14 some into India, others into Ethiopia; some into Asia, and others into Europe; by which means the Gospel was preached everywhere, and great part of the world became Christians:

he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; with a look of his he made them give way; he drove the Canaanites out of the land, and separated them from one another, and scattered them about, to make room for his people Israel, Psalm 78:55,

and the everlasting mountains were scattered; or, "were broken" (i):

the perpetual hills did bow; the mountains and hills that were from the beginning of the creation, that were settled upon their bases, and never moved, now trembled, shook, and bowed, as Sinai and others did, at the presence of the God of Israel; see Judges 5:5 or rather, figuratively, these may design the kingdoms and states, kings and princes, greater and lesser, belonging to the land of Canaan, which were shaken, moved, and taken by the Israelites, and brought into subjection to them; and in like manner kings and kingdoms, comparable to mountains and hills, through the preaching of the Gospel, and the power of Christ attending it, were brought to yield unto him, at the downfall of Paganism in the Roman empire: this is signified by every mountain and island being moved out of their places, and kings and great men calling to the rocks and mountains to fall on them, and hide them from the wrath of the Lamb, Revelation 6:14,

his ways are everlasting; and what he has done in ages past he can do again; his power, his wisdom, and his grace, are unchangeably the same; and all he does in time, every step he takes, is according to his counsels, purposes, and decrees in eternity, which infallibly come to pass; nor can he be hindered and frustrated in the execution of them; as he has begun, he will go on; as he has set up his kingdom in the world, he will support and maintain it; and though there are many obstructions and remoras in the way of it, he will go on, and remove them, until he has thoroughly established it, and brought it to its highest glory, which he has designed; all mountains and hills are nothing before him; he can soon make them a plain; see Revelation 11:15, or, "the ways of the world (k) are his"; the world is under his government, and all things in it subject to his providence; he can rule and overrule all things for his own glory, and the good of his interest, and he will do it; everything is subject to his control, and under his direction; not a step can be taken without his will. This the prophet observes along with the above things, to encourage the faith and expectation of the saints, that the work of the Lord will be revived, and his kingdom and interest promoted and established in the world; though there may, and will, be many difficulties and distresses previous to it.

(i) "contriti sunt", Pagninus, Montanus; so R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 95. 1.((k) "itinera mundi", Vatablus, Tigurine version.

He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his {f} ways are everlasting.

(f) Signifying that God has wonderful means, and always has a marvellous power when he will deliver his Church.

6. stood, and measured] “Measured” could only mean surveyed, measured with His eyes, and this might be supposed taken up again in “he looked” of next clause; but the parallelism with the next clause rather requires that the effect of His standing or taking His stand should be stated. Possibly the word “measured” has the sense of a similar word used Isaiah 24:19, he made the earth to rock. Sept. renders in the pass., the earth was shaken. The preceding verses describe the Theophany as seen in heaven, it has not yet touched the earth, though its baleful accompaniments of pestilence and fever-glow are spoken of. Now the tempest in which the Deity is shrouded descends and touches the earth, enfolding the heights within it. “He stood” means He took his stand, He set His foot; 2 Samuel 20:4; Isaiah 1:8; Ezekiel 22:30. The earth felt His tread and rocked, Micah 1:3-4. Or, “stood” might describe an apparent stationariness of the storm-cloud during which it discharged itself, making the earth rock. Cf. Psalm 29:4-5.

He beheld, and drove asunder] He looked, and His look scared the nations into violent commotion. The term means to make one spring, up from terror, Job 37:1.

mountains were scattered] Or, do cleave asunder. The sense is scarcely that the hills were scattered from one another, rather that the individual mountains were cleft. Cf. Zechariah 14:4, “His feet shall stand on the mount of Olives, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof, toward the east and toward the west.”

perpetual hills did bow] Or, eternal hills.—Genesis 49:26; Deuteronomy 33:15. Their bowing refers to the sinking and rising motion, as in an earthquake, under the feet of Jehovah in the tempest.

His ways are everlasting] R.V. his goings were as of old. If this sense were adopted it would decide that the previous description referred to a Theophany about to appear, which is compared to the former historical one, the term “going” being equivalent to way. The term “goings” however might be in apposition to “eternal hills,” and the meaning be that these hills were Jehovah’s eternal pathways—the trailing tempests, in which Jehovah moves, are seen passing over the mountains, and thus these are considered the pathways of the Lord. Cf. Amos 4:13, “he treadeth upon the high places of the earth”; Micah 1:3.

The past tenses of A.V. might be retained in the verse, but as the poet feels himself in presence of the imposing phenomenon, it is perhaps better to throw them into the present:

He taketh his stand, and maketh the earth to quake,

He looketh, and causeth the nations to tremble;

And the everlasting mountains are cleft asunder,

The eternal hills do bow;

Even his pathways from of old.

The last line overloads the parallelism, and in whatever sense it be taken rather drags.

Verse 6. - He stood, and measured the earth. God takes his stand, and surveys the earth which he is visiting in judgment. As his glory filled the heavens, so now he with his presence paces the earth, measuring it, as it were, with his foot. He considers, too, all the doings of the children of men, and requites them accordingly. Vulgate, Stetit, et mensus est terram. So the Syriac. On the other hand, the LXX. gives, Αστη καὶ ἐσαλέυθη ἡ γῆ, "The earth stood and quaked." Thus the Chaldee, and many modern commentators, "rocketh the earth." This rendering seems to anticipate what follows, and is not so suitable as the other, though it is quite admissible. Drove asunder. Dispersed and scattered. Septuagint, διετάκη ἔθνη, "nations melted away." Others translate, "made to tremble" (Exodus 15:15, etc.). The everlasting mountains. Mountains that have lasted as long as creation, and are emblems of stability and permanence (Deuteronomy 33:15). Were scattered; or, were shattered (comp. Micah 1:4; Nahum 1:5). His ways are everlasting. This is best taken alone, not as connected grammatically with the preceding clause, and epexegetical of the "hills and mountains," which are called God's "ways," i.e. his chief creative acts, as Job 40:19; Proverbs 8:22; but it means that, as God acted of old, so he acts now; "The ancient ways of acting are his" (Proverbs 31:27). "He reneweth his progresses of old time" (Delitzsch). The eternal, unchangeable purpose and operation of God are contrasted with the disruption of "the everlasting hills." The Greek and Latin Versions connect the words with what precedes. Septuagint, Ἐτάκησαν βουνοὶ αἰώνιοι πορείας αἰωνίας, "The everlasting hills melted at his everlasting goings;" Vulgate, Incurvati sunt colles mundi ab itineribus aeternitatis ejus, where the idea seems to be that the high places of the earth are God's paths when he visits the world. Habakkuk 3:6"He stands, and sets the earth reeling: He looks, and makes nations tremble; primeval mountains burst in pieces, the early hills sink down: His are ways of the olden time. Habakkuk 3:7. I saw the tents of Cushan under affliction: the curtains of the land of Midian tremble." God coming from afar has now drawn near and taken His stand, to smite the nations as a warlike hero (cf. Habakkuk 3:8, Habakkuk 3:9, and Habakkuk 3:11, Habakkuk 3:12). This is affirmed in עמד, He has stationed Himself, not "He steps forth or appears." This standing of Jehovah throws the earth and the nations into trembling. ימדד cannot mean to measure here, for there is no thought of any measuring of the earth, and it cannot be shown that mâdad is used in the sense of measuring with the eye (Ros. and Hitzig). Moreover, the choice of the poel, instead of the piel, would still remain unexplained, and the parallelism of the clauses would be disregarded. We must therefore follow the Chaldee, Ges., Delitzsch, and others, who take מדד as the poel of מוּד equals טוּט, to set in a reeling motion. It is only with this interpretation that the two parallel clauses correspond, in which יתּר, the hiphil of נתר, to cause to shake or tremble, answers to ימדד. This explanation is also required by what follows. For just as Habakkuk 3:7 unquestionably gives a further expansion of יתּר גּוים, so does לולם ... יתפּצצוּ contain the explanation of ימדד ארץ. The everlasting hills crumble (יתפּצצוּ from פּוּץ), i.e., burst and resolve themselves into dust, and the hills sink down, pass away, and vanish (compare the similar description in Nahum 1:5 and Micah 1:4). הררי־עד ( equals הררי קדם, Deuteronomy 33:15) in parallelism with נּבעות עולם are the primeval mountains, as being the oldest and firmest constituents of the globe, which have existed from the beginning (מנּי עד, Job 20:4), and were formed at the creation of the earth (Psalm 90:2; Job 15:7; Proverbs 8:25). הליכות עולם לו is not to be taken relatively, and connected with what precedes, "which are the old paths," according to which the hills of God are called everlasting ways (Hitzig); because this does not yield a sense in harmony with the context. It is a substantive clause, and to be taken by itself: everlasting courses or goings are to Him, i.e., He now goes along, as He went along in the olden time. הליכה, the going, advancing, or ways of God, analogous to the דּרך עפולם, the course of the primitive world (Job 22:15). The prophet had Psalm 68:25 floating before his mind, in which hălı̄khōth 'ĕlōhı̄m denote the goings of God with His people, or the ways which God had taken from time immemorial in His guidance of them. As He once came down upon Sinai in the cloudy darkness, the thunder, lightning, and fire, to raise Israel up to be His covenant nation, so that the mountains shook (cf. Judges 5:5); so do the mountains and hills tremble and melt away at His coming now. And as He once went before His people, and the tidings of His wondrous acts at the Red Sea threw the neighbouring nations into fear and despair (Exodus 15:14-16); so now, when the course of God moves from Teman to the Red Sea, the nations on both sides of it are filled with terror. Of these, two are individualized in Habakkuk 3:7, viz., Cushan and Midian. By Cushan we are not to understand the Mesopotamian king named Cushan Rishathaim, who subjugated Israel for eight years after the death of Joshua (Judges 3:8.); for this neither agrees with אהלי, nor with the introduction of Midian in the parallel clause. The word is a lengthened form for Such, and the name of the African Ethiopians. The Midianites are mentioned along with them, as being inhabitants of the Arabian coast of the Red Sea, which was opposite to them (see at Exodus 2:15). אהלי כ, the tents with their inhabitants, the latter being principally intended. The same remark applies to יריעות, lit., the tent-curtains of the land of Midian, i.e., of the tents pitched in the land of Midian.
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