The second curse against their evil gains (Hab 2:9-2:11)

“Woe to you!

You get evil gain

For your houses!

You set your nest

On high,

To be safe

From the reach of harm.

You have devised shame

For your house,

By cutting off many people.

You have forfeited

Your life.

The very stones

Will cry out

From the wall.

The plaster

Will respond

From the woodwork.”

Habakkuk’s 2nd woe or curse against the Chaldeans was about their house or dynasty.  They had gathered evil things, so that they could build up their dynasty or houses.  They set their houses on high perches, safe from the reach of any harm.  By cutting off so many people to protect their own lives, they have brought shame to their dynasty.  Thus, the very stones and the plaster of their walls and woodwork would respond and cry out to them.

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The response to the trumpet blast (Ezek 33:4-33:5)

“Then if anyone

Who hears the sound

Of the trumpet

Does not take the warning,

The sword comes.

The sword takes them away.

Their blood shall be

Upon their own heads.

They heard

The sound

Of the trumpet,

But they did not

Take the warning.

Their blood shall be

Upon themselves.

But if they had taken warning,

They would have saved

Their lives.”

What were you to do when the trumpet sounded? If anyone heard the sound of the trumpet about the impending coming of the enemy with the sword, and did pay attention to this warning, it was his own fault. When the sword came, and took them away, their blood would be on their own heads, since they had not heeded the warning of the trumpet blast. If they had taken the warning from the sentinel’s trumpet, they could have saved their own lives.

Pestilence (Ezek 14:19-14:20)

“‘Or if I send

A pestilence

Into that land,

I would pour out

My wrath

Upon it

With blood,

To cut off

Humans

With animals

From it.

Even if

Noah,

Daniel,

Job,

Were in that land,

As I live,

They would save

Neither son

Nor daughter.

They would save

Only their own lives

By their righteousness.’

Says Yahweh God.”

Once again, we have the same concept of limited human power. If Yahweh sent a pestilence to the land, the humans and animals would die. Even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in that land, they would not be able to save their sons or daughters. They would only be able to save their own lives by their own righteousness. Individual righteousness brought individual salvation. The idea of group salvation seems to be diminishing.

The three great men (Ezek 14:14-14:16)

“‘Even if

These three men,

Noah,

Daniel,

Job,

Were in that land,

They would save

Only their own lives

By their righteousness.’

Says Yahweh God.

‘If I send

Wild animals

Through the land,

To ravage it,

Thus it is made desolate,

So that no one

May pass through

Because of the animals.

Even if these three men

Were in that land,

As I live,

They would deliver

Neither sons,

Nor daughters.

They alone

Would be saved.

But the land

Would be desolate.’

Says Yahweh God.”

Yahweh seems to single out 3 great men, Noah, Daniel, and Job. Strangely enough, all 3 are not mainstays of Israelite history. Noah, in Genesis, precedes Abraham, thus is pre-Israelite. Daniel is a prophet who lived after the time of Ezekiel, with a book named after him. Job was, of course, not an Israelite in his famous book. They seem like unlikely heroes for the exiles. The point of this oracle was that individuals could not save a country of wicked people. Their righteousness would only save their own lives. Quite often this is used as an example of individual responsibility. However, it can be seen as an example of the limited impact of good people. The land would be devastated by wild animals, despite these 3 good men. They would not even be able to save their own sons or daughters. Only they would be saved since the land would be desolate.

Useless wealth (Ps 49:5-49:9)

“Why should I fear in times of trouble?

The iniquity of my persecutors surrounds me.

They are those who trust in their wealth.

They are those who boast of the abundance of their riches.

Truly,

No one can ransom himself.

Ther is no price

That one can give to God for it.

The ransom of his life is costly.

The ransom can never suffice.

How can one continue to live on forever?

How can they never see the pit?”

The psalmist wanted to know why he should be afraid. His persecutors were wicked iniquitous men who trusted and boasted about their abundant wealth. Nobody could ransom themselves. There was no price that they could give to God to save their own lives. No ransom could save a person’s life forever. Everyone would die and go down to the pit or the grave.