The Almighty Holy One (Hab 3:3-3:3)

“Elohim,

The Almighty One,

Came from Teman.

The Holy One

Came from Mount Paran.”

            Selah

Habakkuk has a series of names for Yahweh.  He was called Elohim, the Almighty One, and the Holy One.  This Almighty One was coming from Teman in Edom, the territory south of Judah.  Paran was a mountain in Edom.  Thus, Yahweh was going to enter Judah from the south.  Like in many of the psalms, there is an indication for a pause with the Selah.

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The first curse against their greed (Hab 2:6-2:8)

“Shall not everyone

Taunt such people,

With mocking riddles?

Let them say about them!

‘Woe to you!

You heap up

What is not your own!’

How long will you

Load yourselves

With goods

Taken in pledge?

Will not your own creditors

Suddenly rise up?

Those who make you tremble

Will wake up.

Then you will be booty

For them.

Because you have plundered

Many nations,

All that survive of the peoples

Shall plunder you.

Human bloodshed,

With the violence

To the earth,

Is in the cities,

As well as to all

Who live in them.”

Habakkuk has a series of taunts against the Chaldeans because of their behavior.  These 5 woes or curses were delivered in mocking riddles.  First of all, they have stored up things that were not their own.  How long would they continue to take things as pledges for the future?  Those creditors would rise up against them, and make them tremble and shake.  Then, they would become the booty of the people whom they plundered.  They have plundered so many countries, that the surviving countries would plunder them.  There was so much violence and bloodshed in the cities where people lived.  Does that sound familiar?

The seven-day offerings (Ezek 45:23-45:24)

“During the seven days

Of the festival,

The prince shall provide,

As a burnt offering

To Yahweh,

Seven young bulls,

As well as seven rams

Without blemish.

This will be done

On each of the seven days.

He shall also provide

A male goat daily

For a sin offering.

He shall provide

As a grain offering

An ephah for each bull,

An ephah for each ram,

With a hin of oil

For each ephah.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, also mentioned that the prince had to provide a series of animals and grains for the 7 day Passover celebration. This was on top of eating the unleavened bread for 7 days. There was a burnt offering of a bull and an unblemished ram each day of the weeklong festival. Besides the bull and the ram, the prince had to provide a goat each day for a sin offering. He also had to provide a grain offering for each bull and ram. This grain offering was to be an ephah or 2/3rds of a bushel with a hin or a gallon of oil for each ephah of grain.

 

The unreachable wisdom (Bar 3:29-3:31)

“Who has

Gone up into heaven?

Who has

Taken her?

Who has

Brought her down

From the clouds?

Who has

Gone over the sea?

Who has

Found her?

Who will buy her

For pure gold?

No one knows

The way to her.

No one is concerned

About the path to her.”

Next Baruch asked a series of questions about wisdom. Who has ever gone up to heaven and took wisdom away? Who has brought her down from the clouds? Who has gone over the seas and then found her? Who was able to buy wisdom with pure gold? The answer, of course, is no one. No one knows the way to wisdom. In fact, most people are not concerned about the paths to wisdom. There is no broad highway to wisdom.

The satirical questions to the king (Isa 14:16-14:19)

“Those who see you

Will stare at you.

They will ponder over you.

‘Is this the man

Who made the earth tremble?

Is this the man

Who shook kingdoms?

Is this the man

Who made the world

Like a desert?

Is this the man

Who overthrew its cities?

Is this the man

Who would not let his prisoners go home?’

All the kings of the nations

Lie in glory,

Each in their own tomb.

But you are cast out.

You are away from your grave,

Like loathsome carrion.

You are clothed with the dead,

Those pierced by the sword.

You go down to the stones of the Pit,

Like a corpse trampled underfoot.”

Isaiah then has his companions ask this king a series of satirical questions. They were staring at this king as they thought about him. He had made the earth tremble. He had shook up kingdoms. He had made the world a desert. He had overthrown cities. He had never let prisoners go. But look at him now! Is this the same man? Most kings are buried in their own tombs. However, he was cast out of his grave so that he became rotten flesh for birds to eat. He was pierced by the sword so that he was not in a grave, but in a pit, so that his corpse was trampled on as people walked by.

The oracle against Babylon (Isa 13:1-13:1)

“The oracle

Concerning Babylon

That Isaiah

Son of Amoz

Saw.”

Now begins a series of divine oracles against foreign countries. Obviously despite the title indicating that Isaiah, the son of Amoz, saw this, the Babylonian captivity did not happen in the 8th century BCE, but in the 6th and 7th century BCE. Babylon was the largest city in the world with over 200,000 people, probably the first city to have this many people living in one place during the 18th century BCE (Hammurabi, 1792–1750 BCE), and 6th-7th century BCE (Nebuchadnezzar II, 604–561 BC). This city was located about 50 miles south of present day Baghdad, in present day Hillah, Iraq, between the Tigris River and the Euphrates River, but mostly on the Euphrates River. Babylon was the capital city of the Assyrian Empire from around 911-609 BCE. In 539 BCE, the Persians put an end to the Assyrians after a century of disputes. In the 4th century BCE the Greeks under Alexander the Great took over Babylon. Babylon may have been the inspiration for the story about the Tower of Babel in Genesis, chapter 11.

The rhetorical questions (Isa 10:15-10:15)

“Shall the axe vaunt itself

Over the one who wields it?

Can the saw magnify itself

Against the one who handles it?

Can the rod

Raise the one who lifts it up?

Can the staff

Lift the one who is not wood?”

Isaiah asks a series of rhetorical questions about the proud King Tiglath-Pileser III (745-727 BCE) of Assyria. The axe cannot wield itself. Someone, like Yahweh, has to wield the axe, who is the king. A saw, like the king, will not work unless someone is making it work, like Yahweh. The rod by itself, the king, is useless unless Yahweh lifts it up for punishment. Can a staff of wood do anything without someone controlling it like Yahweh. Yahweh is controlling this proud king, but he thinks that he is in charge.