in our time reveal them again. 7
But when you cause turmoil, remember to show us mercy! 8
His splendor covers the skies, 14
his glory 15 fills the earth.
a two-pronged lightning bolt flashes from his hand. 17
This is the outward display of his power. 18
3:5 Plague goes before him;
with a mere look he frightens 23 the nations.
The ancient mountains disintegrate; 24
the primeval hills are flattened.
He travels on the ancient roads. 25
the tent curtains of the land of Midian are shaking. 27
3:8 Is the Lord mad at the rivers?
Are you angry with the rivers?
Are you enraged at the sea? 28
your victorious chariots? 31
you commission your arrows. 33 Selah.
You cause flash floods on the earth’s surface. 34
3:10 When the mountains see you, they shake.
The torrential downpour sweeps through. 35
The great deep 36 shouts out;
it lifts its hands high. 37
the flash of your arrows drives them away, 39
the bright light of your lightning-quick spear. 40
3:12 You furiously stomp on the earth,
you angrily trample down the nations.
3:13 You march out to deliver your people,
to deliver your special servant. 41
You strike the leader of the wicked nation, 42
laying him open from the lower body to the neck. 43 Selah.
They storm forward to scatter us; 46
they shout with joy as if they were plundering the poor with no opposition. 47
3:15 But you trample on the sea with your horses,
on the surging, raging waters. 48
[3:1] 1 tn The Hebrew text adds עַל שִׁגְיֹנוֹת (’al shigyonot, “upon [or, “according to”] shigyonot”). The meaning of this word is uncertain. It may refer to the literary genre of the prayer or to the musical style to be employed when it is sung. The NEB leaves the term untranslated; several other modern English versions transliterate the term into English, sometimes with explanatory notes (NASB, NRSV “according to Shigionoth”; NIV “On shigyonoth”).
[3:2] 7 tn Heb “make known.” The implied object is “your deeds”; the pronoun “them,” referring to “deeds” in the previous line, was employed in the translation to avoid redundancy. The suffix on the form חַיֵּיהוּ (khayyehu, “revive it”) does double duty in the parallelism.
[3:3] 9 tn In vv. 3-15 there is a mixture of eleven prefixed verbal forms (without vav [ו] consecutive or with vav conjunctive), sixteen suffixed forms, and three prefixed forms with vav consecutive. All of the forms are best taken as indicating completed action from the speaker’s standpoint (all of the prefixed forms being regarded as preterites). The forms could be translated with the past tense, but this would be misleading, for this is not a mere recital of God’s deeds in Israel’s past history. Habakkuk here describes, in terms reminiscent of past theophanies, his prophetic vision of a future theophany (see v. 7, “I saw”). From the prophet’s visionary standpoint the theophany is “as good as done.” This translation uses the English present tense throughout these verses to avoid misunderstanding. A similar strategy is followed by the NEB; in contrast note the NIV and NRSV, which consistently use past tenses throughout the section, and the NASB, which employs present tenses in vv. 3-5 and mostly past tenses in vv. 6-15.
[3:3] 15 tn Heb “praise.” This could mean that the earth responds in praise as God’s splendor is observed in the skies. However, the Hebrew term תְּהִלָּה (tÿhillah, “praise”) can stand by metonymy for what prompts it (i.e., fame, glory, deeds).
[3:4] 16 tn Heb “[His] radiance is like light.” Some see a reference to sunlight, but the Hebrew word אוֹר (’or) here refers to lightning, as the context indicates (see vv. 4b, 9, 11). The word also refers to lightning in Job 36:32 and 37:3, 11, 15.
[3:4] 17 tn Heb “two horns from his hand to him.” Sharp, pointed lightning bolts have a “horn-like” appearance. The weapon of “double lightning” appears often in Mesopotamian representations of gods. See Elizabeth Van Buren, Symbols of the Gods in Mesopotamian Art (AnOr), 70-73.
[3:4] 18 tn Heb “and there [is] the covering of his strength”; or “and there is his strong covering.” The meaning of this line is unclear. The point may be that the lightning bolts are merely a covering, or outward display, of God’s raw power. In Job 36:32 one reads that God “covers his hands with light [or, “lightning”].”
[3:5] 19 tn Because of parallelism with the previous line, the meaning “pestilence” is favored for רֶשֶׁף (reshef) here, but usage elsewhere suggests a destructive bolt of fire may be in view. See BDB 958 s.v.
[3:5] sn There are mythological echoes here, for in Canaanite literature the god Resheph aids Baal in his battles. See J. Day, “New Light on the Mythological Background of the Allusion to Resheph in Habakkuk III 5,” VT 29 (1979): 353-55.
[3:6] 22 tn This verb has been traditionally understood as “measure” (from מוּד, mud), but the immediately following context (vv. 6b-7) favors the meaning “shake” from מָוד (mavd; see HALOT 555 s.v.).
[3:6] 25 tn Heb “ancient ways [or, “doings”] are his.” The meaning of this line is unclear. Traditionally it has been translated, “his ways are eternal.” However, in this context (see vv. 3, 7) it is more likely that the line speaks of the
[3:7] sn Cushan was located in southern Transjordan.
[3:7] 27 tn R. D. Patterson takes תַּחַת אֲוֶן (takhat ’aven) in the first line as a place name, “Tahath-Aven.” (Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah [WEC], 237.) In this case one may translate the verse as a tricolon: “I look at Tahath-Aven. The tents of Cushan are shaking, the tent curtains of the land of Midian.”
[3:8] 28 sn The following context suggests these questions should be answered, “Yes.” The rivers and the sea, symbolizing here the hostile nations (v. 12), are objects of the Lord’s anger (vv. 10, 15).
[3:8] 30 tn Heb “you mount your horses.” As the next line makes clear, the Lord is pictured here as a charioteer, not a cavalryman. Note NRSV here, “when you drove your horses, // your chariots to victory.”
[3:9] 33 tn Heb “sworn in are the arrow-shafts with a word.” The passive participle of שָׁבַע (shava’), “swear an oath,” also occurs in Ezek 21:23 ET (21:28 HT) referencing those who have sworn allegiance. Here the
[3:9] 34 tn Heb “[with] rivers you split open the earth.” A literal rendering like “You split the earth with rivers” (so NIV, NRSV) suggests geological activity to the modern reader, but in the present context of a violent thunderstorm, the idea of streams swollen to torrents by downpours better fits the imagery.
[3:9] sn As the
[3:13] 41 tn Heb “anointed one.” In light of the parallelism with “your people” in the preceding line this could refer to Israel, but elsewhere the Lord’s anointed one is always an individual. The Davidic king is the more likely referent here.
[3:14] 44 tn Some take “warriors” with the following line, in which case one should translate, “you pierce [his] head with a spear; his warriors storm forward to scatter us” (cf. NIV). The meaning of the Hebrew term פְּרָזוֹ (pÿrazo), translated here “his warriors,” is uncertain.
[3:14] 45 tc Heb “his shafts.” Some emend to “your shafts.” The translation above assumes an emendation to מַטֶּה (matteh, “shaft, spear”), the vav-yod (ו-י) sequence being a corruption of an original he (ה).