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?

Yahweh will not forget (Am 8:7-8:8)

“Yahweh has sworn

By the pride of Jacob,

‘Surely,

I will never forget

Any of their deeds.

Shall not the land tremble

On this account?

Every one mourns

Who lives in it.

All of it rises

Like the Nile.

They will be tossed about.

They will sink again,

Like the Nile of Egypt.’”

Yahweh swore by the pride of Jacob, that is the land itself.  He was not going to forget their evil deeds.  The land would tremble on their account.  Everyone who lived there would be in mourning, since the land would move up and down.  They would be tossed about, as if they were on the Nile River in Egypt.

A vision of the day of Yahweh (Joel 2:10-2:11)

“The earth quakes

Before them.

The heavens tremble.

The sun is darkened.

The moon is darkened.

The stars

Withdraw their shining.

Yahweh utters

His voice

Before his army.

How vast is his host!

Numberless are

Those who obey

His command.

Truly,

The day of Yahweh

Is great.

It is so terrible!

Who can endure it?”

Thus, there is a fusion of the swarm of locusts with the day of Yahweh. The earth would quake. The heavens would tremble. The sun and the moon would become dark. The stars would not shine. Yahweh would utter his strong voice before this vast numberless army. They all would obey his command. The day of Yahweh would be a terrible, but great day. Who would be able to endure this?

The day of Yahweh is coming (Joel 2:1-2:1)

“Blow the trumpet

In Zion!

Sound the alarm

On my holy mountain!

Let all the inhabitants

Of the land

Tremble!

The day of Yahweh

Is coming!

It is near!”

The day of Yahweh was coming to Zion. Thus, they had to blow the ram’s horn or the trumpet. They had to sound the alarm on the holy mountain in Jerusalem. Everyone in the land should tremble, because the day of Yahweh was coming. In fact, the day was near.

The death of Ephraim (Hos 13:1-13:1)

“When Ephraim spoke,

There was trembling.

He was exalted

In Israel.

But he incurred guilt

Through Baal.

Thus,

He died.”

People used to tremble when the territory and people of Ephraim spoke. Among the people of the northern kingdom of Israel, Ephraim was exalted. However, Ephraim incurred guilt with their sacrificial altars to Baal. Thus, Ephraim, like Israel, died. This statement assumes the Assyrian capture of the northern kingdom.

The shame of Samaria (Hos 10:5-10:6)

“The inhabitants of Samaria

Tremble

Before the calf of Beth-aven.

Its people shall mourn

For it.

Its idolatrous priests

Shall wail over it.

Its glory

Has departed from it.

The thing itself

Shall be carried

To Assyria,

As tribute

To the great king.

Ephraim

Shall be put to shame.

Israel

Shall be ashamed

Of his idol.”

Hosea said that the people of Samaria would tremble before the idol calf at Beth-aven, the house of wickedness, that was close to Ai and Bethel. Maybe it was Bethel itself. However, the people and its priests would mourn for the soon to be departed glorious calf. What happened to it? Assyrians would take it as a tribute to their great king. Thus, Ephraim and Israel would be ashamed of this lost idol.

The alarming situation in Benjamin (Hos 5:8-5:8)

“Blow the horn

In Gibeah!

Blow the trumpet

In Ramah!

Sound the alarm

At Beth-aven!

Tremble!

O Benjamin!”

Yahweh, via Hosea, wanted them to blow the horn in Gibeah, a hill about 5 miles north of Jerusalem. They were to blow the horn at Ramah, a place near Mizpah. Then they were to sound the alarm at Beth-aven, Bethel, the capital of the northern Israelite kingdom. Benjamin should also tremble, because it was between Ephraim and Judah.