Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Burden. Such prophecies more especially are called burdens, as threaten grievous evils and punishments. (Challoner) — He says not against whom, because the menace is directed to persecutors in general. (Worthington)
Ver. 2. Save. Some think that he expresses the sentiments of the weak, like David, (Psalms lxxii. 2.) or what he had formerly entertained. The language of the prophets is very bold, Exodus xxxii. 32., Job iii. 3., Jeremias xx. 14., and Jonas iv. 8. (Calmet)
Ver. 3. Opposition. Septuagint, “the judge receives” bribes. (Haydock) — Such was the state of Juda after Josias, Jeremias xxi. 12.
Ver. 5. Among. Septuagint ye despisers. St. Paul nearly agrees with this version, Acts xiii. 41. The copies vary, as the Hebrew has done. (Calmet) — The apostle gives the mystical sense; the literal is very obscure. (Worthington) — God answers the prophet’s complaints, and shews that the Chaldeans shall punish the guilty, and afterwards be themselves chastised.
Ver. 6. Chaldeans. Nabuchodonosor was the first of this nation who attacked Joakim, and having conquered all as far as the Nile, returned to succeed Nabopolassar. He afterwards came upon Jechonias and Sedecias, &c. The prophet might have all this in view, particularly the first invasion. (Calmet) — Bitter; warlike, as all the Greek historians remark. (St. Jerome) — The Chaldeans were not yet arrived at such greatness, and of course this is not the Habacuc specified [in] Daniel xiv. (Worthington) — Yet the same prophet might foresee it. (Haydock)
Ver. 7. Proceed. They admit no authority but their own. (Calmet) — This pride will prove their ruin. (Haydock)
Ver. 8. Leopards: the swiftest quadrupeds. (Calmet) — The horses near the Euphrates were swift and warlike. (Oppian.) — Swifter. Hebrew, “sharper” (Haydock) in seeing, even when there is no moon. (Elian x. 26.) — Evening. Septuagint, “Arabian.” (Haydock) — It may denote the hyena of that country, which is most terrible. (Guevar.)
Ver. 9. Burning. Hebrew also, “eastern,” which is hot, and raises the sand of Arabia so as to be very detrimental. (Calmet) — Out of 2,000 travellers from Mecca to Aleppo, only twenty-nine escaped such a storm, or kamsin, in that vast desert, August 23, 1813. (Rock. 312.) (Haydock) — Sand, from various countries, Isaias xx. 4. (Beros. cited [by Josephus,] contra Apion i.)
Ver. 10. Prince, or “it,” the nation, ver. 10. Hebrew, “They,” &c. — Laughingstock, (ridicule.) Nabuchodonosor raised or deposed princes as in jest. (Haydock) — Sennacherib’s officers were or had been kings, Isaias x. 8. — Mount. Thus cities were chiefly taken, Ezechiel iv. 1. (Calmet)
Ver. 11. Spirit; viz., the spirit of the king of Babylon. It alludes to the judgment of God upon Nabuchodonosor, recorded [in] Daniel iv., and to the speedy fall of the Chaldean empire. (Challoner) — It shall yield to the Medes, &c., after conquering the Assyrians. (Worthington) — Fall. Hebrew, “sin.” Septuagint, “obtain pardon.” — God: “idol,” Chaldean. “This is the strength of my God,” Septuagint. God forced the proud king to confess that his great exploits were not to be attributed to himself or to idols. (Haydock)
Ver. 12. Die? We hope that this scourge will not entirely ruin us. — Correction, like Pharao, Exodus ix. 16.
Ver. 13. Look, with approbation (Calmet) or connivance.
Ver. 14. Ruler. People are subdued by Nabuchodouosor. (Haydock) — They make little resistance. (Calmet)
Ver. 16. Drag, adoring his own arms and prowess, (Sanct.) like Mezentius and Capaneus:
—— Dextra mihi Deus, (Virgil, Æneid x.)
Te voco, te solum, superum contemptor, adoro. (Stat. x.)
— Guevare thinks fishes were adored, as they were among the Syrians. Nabuchodonosor attributed all to his own genius, or to Bel, whose statue he set up, Daniel iii. (Calmet) — Victorious nations thus honour themselves and not God.
Ver. 17. Nations, of every country. (Worthington) — Few have been so much addicted to war as Nabuchodonosor. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The prophet complains of the wickedness of the people; God reveals to him the vengeance he is going to take of them by the Chaldeans.
1 The burden *that Habacuc, the prophet, saw.
2 How long, O Lord, shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear? shall I cry out to thee, suffering violence, and thou wilt not save?
3 Why hast thou shewn me iniquity and grievance, to see rapine and injustice before me? and there is a judgment, but opposition is more powerful.
4 Therefore the law is torn in pieces, and judgment cometh not to the end: because the wicked prevaileth against the just, therefore wrong judgment goeth forth.
5 *Behold ye among the nations, and see: wonder, and be astonished: for a work is done in your days, which no man will believe when it shall be told.
6 For behold, I will raise up the Chaldeans, a bitter and swift nation, marching upon the breadth of the earth, to possess the dwelling places that are not their own.
7 They are dreadful and terrible: from themselves shall their judgment, and their burden proceed.
8 Their horses are lighter than leopards, and swifter than evening wolves: and their horsemen shall be spread abroad: for their horsemen shall come from afar, they shall fly as an eagle that maketh haste to eat.
9 They shall all come to the prey, their face is like a burning wind: and they shall gather together captives as the sand.
10 And their prince shall triumph over kings, and princes shall be his laughingstock: and he shall laugh at every strong hold, and shall cast up a mount, and shall take it.
11 Then shall his spirit be changed, and he shall pass, and fall: this is his strength of his god.
12 Wast thou not from the beginning, O Lord, my God, my holy one, and we shall not die? Lord, thou hast appointed him for judgment: and made him strong for correction.
13 Thy eyes are too pure to behold evil, and thou canst not look on iniquity. Why lookest thou upon them that do unjust things, and holdest thy peace when the wicked devoureth the man that is more just than himself?
14 And thou wilt make men as the fishes of the sea, and as the creeping things that have no ruler.
15 He lifted up all them with his hook, he drew them in his drag, and gathered them into his net: for this he will be glad and rejoice.
16 Therefore will he offer victims to his drag, and he will sacrifice to his net: because through them his portion is made fat, and his meat dainty.
17 For this cause, therefore, he spreadeth his net, and will not spare continually to slay the nations.
1: Year of the World about 3404, Year before Christ 600.
5: Acts xiii. 34.