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10.0 Introduction

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Title: 10.0 Introduction


1
10.0 Introduction Studies in Habakkuk
  • Studies in the Scroll of the Twelve

2
1. General Introduction
  • "Our prophet's book is quite unique among all the
    prophetic literature both in form and in content.
    It is noticeable that we do not find in it
    prophecies couched in the "messenger's speech"
    formulas . . . . Instead they appear in the shape
    of a personal psalm of complaint, a prophetic
    oracle, or a hymn showing an amalgam of visual
    and audible elements in a dialogue that the
    prophet carries on with God." Szeles, Wrath and
    Mercy a commentary on Habakkuk and Zephaniah
    ITC, 7
  • "Habakkuk is not a typical prophetic book. Like
    other prophetic books, it consists of oracles
    that were given on different occasions during the
    ministry of the prophet, but unlike the typical
    prophetic book,

3
1. General Introduction
  • these oracles have been arranged in the book of
    Habakkuk to develop a coherent, sequentially
    developed argument that extends through the whole
    book and to which each individual oracle
    contributes its part." Roberts, Nahum, Habakkuk,
    and Zephaniah OTL, 81

4
2. The Text
  • "The text of Habakkuk presents scholars with a
    number of problematic readings, not only because
    of the difficulties presented in the MT, but also
    because of the many variant readings found in
    ancient manuscripts and versions. Consequently,
    many scholars consider the MT of Habakkuk to be
    quite corrupt (e.g., Delcor 1961 399). Earlier
    scholars generally assumed that these manuscripts
    and versions represented variant Hebrew originals
    and corrected the MT accordingly (Lachmann 1932
    Good 1958). Recent advances in text-critical
    methodology which emphasize the interpretative
    character and intent of many text witnesses call
    this judgment into question (Sanders 1979). At
    present the issue is divided some studies show
    great confidence in the MT (e.g., Haak 1986),
    whereas others rely heavily on textual on textual
    emendation (e.g., Hiebert, 1986)." Sweeney,
    "Habakkuk, Book of," ABD, III, 2

5
3. Relationship of Habakkuk with Nahum
  • "Habakkuk and Nahum were contemporaries, Habakkuk
    slightly later than Nahum. There are similarities
    between their books and messages as well as
    contrasts. Each of their books consist of three
    chapters. Nahum begins with a psalm Habakkuk
    ends with one. Each spoke to a crisis situation
    and was convinced that Yahweh was Lord of the
    universe and history. Nahum wrote to assure his
    people that Nineveh was going to fall. Her enemy
    and oppressor would be overthrown. Nahum's
    message was basically an oracle against a foreign
    nations. Although Habakkuk addressed five woes to
    Babylon, his primary message was one of
    commitment to Yahweh even when a cruel, godless
    tyrant was poised on the boarder ready to overrun
    one's land." Smith, ibid., 97

6
3. Relationship of Habakkuk with Nahum
  • "There is a very pointed relationship between
    Nahum and the Habakkuk collection which follows
    it. All the confident assertions in Nahum
    concerning the destruction of the wicked and the
    triumph of good over evil are called into
    question by Habakkuk "O Lord, how long shall I
    cry for help, and thou wilt not hear?... Why dost
    thou look on faithless men and art silent when
    the wicked swallows up the man more righteous
    than he?" (Hab 1.2-4 and 12-13). It is the
    thematic relationships as much as any historical
    considerations that have determined the
    positioning of Habakkuk in between Nahum and
    Zephaniah." Collins, T., The Mantle of Elijah
    The Redaction Criticism of the Prophetic Books,
    74

7
4. Date
  • "A wide range of dates have been proposed, from
    Sennacherib's invasion of Judah in the late 8th
    century (Betteridge, 1903) to Alexander the
    Great's conquest of the Near East in the 4th
    century (Duhm, 1906 Torrey, 1935). On the basis
    of Hab 1.6, which mentions the establishment of
    the Chaldeans, most contemporary scholars
    maintain that Habakkuk lived during the rise of
    the Neo-Babylonian Empire in the latter part of
    the 7th century, from the latter years of Josiah
    (640-609) to the reign of Jehoiakim (609-598) or
    perhaps Jehoiachin (598)." Sweeney, "Habakkuk,
    the Book," ABD, III, 2

8
4. Date
  • ". . . some of the oracles date from before 605
    BCE and others after 597 BCE In other words the
    prophet or a very creative editor has taken
    oracles originally given by Habakkuk over a
    period of years and has put them together in a
    connected meditation over the problem of divine
    justice. The book is composed sometime after 597
    BCE, and it addresses the problem from that
    historical perspective, but it incorporates
    oracles from an earlier period to illustrate
    solutions to the problem that cannot be the final
    answer." Roberts, ibid., 83

9
5. Historical Setting
  • "It was at a critical period in Israel's history
    that Habakkuk's prophecy sounded forth. It was
    the year 612 BCE, when the sun of Assyria's glory
    finally set for after just a short time there
    began the Neo-Babylonian empire's successful but
    short-lived orbit. This was in the last decade of
    the 7th century BCE and in the first years of the
    6th century. It brought destruction and complete
    annihilation upon Israel. The year 609 forms one
    boundary that we can be sure of in relationship
    to the period of the prophet's service. That was
    the year when King Josiah lost the battle at
    Megiddo and so was the year of his death. The
    other is the year 597, when the first deportation
    of Jerusalem's citizens to Babylon took place.
    This

10
5. Historical Setting
  • threw a shadow over the period that ended in 587
    with the final fall of the city. Josiah's reform
    of the cult in 622 had fallen into oblivion. The
    pure worship of Yahweh had been outwardly
    combined once again with pagan elements. Public
    morality had also crumbled the prophet sees this
    happening (Hab 1.2-4), and his contemporary,
    Jeremiah, declares this to be so too (Jer
    5.26-29 7.1-15). After Josiah's death, Pharaoh
    Neco II of Egypt initiated repressive activity,
    as is evident when, at Riblah, he "put in bonds"
    King Jehoahaz, the lawful successor to the throne
    (2 Kgs 23.31-33), and placed Eliakim on the
    throne instead. The latter turned out for a while
    to be a subservient vassal. The tribute he laid
    upon the nation proved to be a heavy burden on
    the economic life of the country,

11
5. Historical Setting
  • reduced as it now was in sized. In any case
    Eliakim was a useless ruler. He was extravagant
    with money, politically irresponsible, and
    repressive (Jer 22.13-19 26.20-23 36), so as
    merely to deepen the moral and religious crisis.
    Nebuchadnezzar's victory at Carchemish in 605,
    put the seal finally upon Assyria's fate while
    destroying the power of Egypt's armies, whom the
    fleeing Assyrians had sought to aid at Haran.
    This disruption of the balance of power between
    the world powers affected Judah too (Jer 36.9)
    and because of the Babylonian victory Jehoiakim
    had to become a vassal of the Babylonians. In the
    following years Babylon and Egypt spent their
    time quarreling. Once when Nebuchadnezzar won an
    indecisive battle with Neco II Eliakim saw that
    the

12
5. Historical Setting
  • moment had arrived to throw off the feudal yoke
    and to give up paying tribute. But meanwhile the
    Babylonians gained new strength and retaliated.
    In 597 their army stormed and took Jerusalem.
    They deported Jehoiakin, along with his court,
    the government officials, and the treasures of
    the capital, to Babylon (2 Kgs 24.8-16)."
    Szeles, Wrath and Mercy a commentary on
    Habakkuk and Zephaniah ITC, 3-4

13
6. Habakkuk, the Prophet
  • 1. Name
  • 1.1 "Habakkuk appears to derive from Akkadian
    habbaququ, the name of a garden plant. The Greek
    form Ambakoum is the result of simple
    dissimulation it does not suggest a different
    derivation of the name. Thus the name Habakkuk
    belongs to a common Israelite name type in which
    plant names are used. Other examples of this name
    type include Tamar, Elon, Keziah, and Hadassah.
    The presence of such an Akkadian loanword in
    seventh-century Judah is not surprising, given
    Assyria's domination of Palestine since the late
    eighth century." Roberts, ibid., 86

14
6. Habakkuk, the Prophet
  • 2. A Cult Prophet?
  • 2.1 "The question of the prophet's vocation is...
    dependent on the assessment of the book's
    literary genre. Many scholars follow Mowinckel
    (1921-24 3.27-29), who argued that Habakkuk was
    a temple cult prophet on the basis of liturgical
    forms found in the book (cf. Sellin KAT 1930
    Eaton TBC 1961 Watts CBC 1975 Széles ITC
    1987). This view is supported by Jeremias
    (1970 103-7), who notes the parallels between
    Habakkuk's watch station (2.1) and those of the
    postexilic Levites and priests in the Temple (Neh
    13.20 2 Chr 7.6 8.14 35.2 cf. Isa 21.8) as
    well as the temple context of the terms nab),
    "prophet," massa),

15
6. Habakkuk, the Prophet
  • "pronouncement" (RSV "oracle"), and haza, "to
    see" (i.e., have a vision). A dissenting view
    sees Habakkuk as a visionary prophet without
    cultic connections (Rudolph KAT 1975 Jöcken
    1977). Others stress his wisdom background (Gowan
    1968, 1976 Uffenheimer 1987) or his concern as
    an individual with the troubling events of his
    day (Keller CAT 1971 1973). Finally a number
    of scholars note his connections with the Isaiah
    tradition (Brownlee 1971 Janzen 1982 Peckham
    1986)." Sweeney, ibid., 2

16
6. Habakkuk, the Prophet
  • 3. Hypothesis Based on the Text
  • 3.1 "Habakkuk's individuality as a prophet
    reveals two features - he is a praying person and
    he is a seeing person." Szeles, ibid., 6
  • 3.2 "Habakkuk the prophet is an educated man. His
    prayers (chap. 3) especially show how well
    acquainted he is with the historical traditions
    of his people (Ex 15.1-21 Deut 33.2 Josh 3.16
    10.12-13 Judg 5), but he also knows the creation
    myths of the Babylonians and the Canaanites, as
    well as their gods - Baal, Yam, Anat, Marduk,
    Tiamat, all of whom are implied in chap. 3."
    Szeles, ibid., 6
  • 3.3 "Especially prominent is the prophet's
    understanding of moral issues as well as his deep
    humanity." Szeles, ibid., 6

17
7. The Message of Habakkuk
  • 1. Theodicy
  • 1.1 "An even more serious problem for Habakkuk
    was the seeming inactivity of God in the face of
    unrelenting evil. The problem of theodicy was
    great for the conscientious, thoughtful
    worshipers of Yahweh. Why would a righteous,
    sovereign God continually allow sin to go
    unpunished? The answer came from God and is
    capsulated in 24-5. The sinner is arrogant he
    thinks too highly of himself. He will not
    survive. But the righteous shall live abundantly
    in his faithfulness. The ultimate fate of the
    righteous and the wicked may be slow in
    appearing, but the outcome is certain because of
    the nature of God. The righteous is to keep on

18
7. The Message of Habakkuk
  • trusting God and keeping his commandments even
    if there is no visible sign of God's presence or
    favor." Smith, ibid., 95-96
  • 1.2 "The prophet is deeply concerned about the
    injustice he sees in Judean life, and he is
    dissatisfied with prophetic theologies of history
    that resolve that injustice through the use of
    foreign agents as God's chastening rod. To
    Habakkuk, such a solution simply appears to
    compound the problem. Such a response could at
    best be only a partial answer. There must be
    something beyond punishment for the people of
    God. Habakkuk finds his answer in the powerful
    testimony of the ancient communal hymns of his

19
7. The Message of Habakkuk
  • people. One such hymn provides the catalyst for
    the prophet's own powerful vision of the coming
    intervention of Yahweh on behalf of his people.
    Habakkuk's vision of God as the mighty conqueror
    of chaos endows him with hope for the future and
    instills within him the triumphant courage to
    endure a dismal present in the joyous confidence
    that this vision of God will prove reliable."
    Roberts, ibid., 85

20
7. The Message of Habakkuk
  • 2. Dialogical Relationship with God
  • 2.1 "Essentially each prophecy is a dialogue in
    which the prophet as spokesman mediates between
    the covenanting God and his people. God's
    presence becomes evident to the people of the
    prophet's period through this prophetic service
    as he preaches both God's judgment and his mercy.
    In this way Yahweh's royal prerogative intervenes
    and his will is effected. This remarkable and
    peculiar character is apparent in Habakkuk's
    prophecies, but it is also the penetrating stamp
    of the whole OT proclamation. C. Westermann would
    suggest that this dialogue

21
7. The Message of Habakkuk
  • between God and his people is actually the
    structural feature peculiar to the whole OT."
    Szeles, ibid., 10

22
8. Structure
  • "Most scholars maintain that the book of Habakkuk
    contains three major literary units a dialogue
    between the prophet and God in 1.1-2.4/5 a
    section containing a series of woe oracles in
    2.5/6-20 and a psalm in chap. 3." Sweeney,
    ibid., 3
  • "The division of the book is clear a lament by
    the prophet is twice (1.2-4, 12-17) followed by a
    divine answer (1.5-11 2.1-5) the second answer
    is followed by a series of woes (2.6-20)
    concluded by a psalm (chap. 3), which is provided
    with an introduction of its own (v.1) and a
    closing note about the musical way in which it is
    to be performed (v. 19b)." Rendtorff, The Old
    Testament An Introduction, 232

23
9. Outline
  • I. The problem of divine justice
  • A. Superscription (1.1)
  • B. Habakkuk's initial lament (1.2-4)
  • C. God's response (1.5-11)
  • D. Habakkuk's second lament (1.12-2.1)
  • 1. God's answer unsatisfactory (1.12-17)
  • 2. Habakkuk awaits new answer (2.1)

24
9. Outline
  • II. God's announcement of a resolving vision
  • A. Instructions about the vision (2.2-4)
  • 1. Record it (2.2)
  • 2. Wait for it (2.3)
  • 3. Trusting in it means life (2.4)
  • B. Wealth is far more deceitful than the vision
    (2.5-20)
  • 1. The greedy oppressor will not succeed (2.5)
  • 2. The nations will make fun of him (2.6-19)
  • 3. Yahweh is still in control (2.20)

25
9. Outline
  • III. The resolution
  • A. Liturgical superscription (3.1)
  • B. Habakkuk's third prayer (3.2)
  • C. The vision of God's coming (3.3-15)
  • D. Habakkuk accepts the vision (3.16-19)
  • 1. Will wait for Yahweh's intervention (3.16)
  • 2. Vow of trust (3.17-18)
  • 3. Statement of confidence (3.19a)
  • E. Final liturgical subscription (3.19b)
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