BOOK ENDS. Seraphim, April 2009.
JB HABAKKUK Chapter 1
1:1 The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet received in a vision.
- DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE PROPHET AND HIS GOD
First complaint of the prophet: lawlessness prevails
1:2 How long, Yahweh, am I to cry for help while you will not listen; to cry ‘Oppression!’ in your ear and you will not save?
1:3 Why do you set injustice before me, why do you look on where there is tyranny? Outrage and violence, this is all I see, all is contention, and discord flourishes.
1:4 And so the law loses its hold, and justice never shows itself. Yes, the wicked man gets the better of the upright, and so justice is seen to be distorted.
First oracle. The Chaldaeans the instrument of God’s justice
1:5 Cast your eyes over the nations, look, and be amazed, astounded. For I am doing something in your own days that you would not believe if you were told of it.
1:6 For now I am stirring up the Chaldaeans, that fierce and fiery people who march miles across country to seize the homes of others.
1:7 A people feared and dreaded, from their might proceeds their right, their greatness.
1:8 Their horses are swifter than leopards, fiercer than wolves in the dark; their horsemen gallop on, their horsemen advance from afar, swooping like an eagle to stoop on its prey.
1:9 They come for plunder, all of them, their faces scorching like an east wind; they scoop up prisoners like sand.
1:10 They are a people that scoff at kings, and laugh at princes. They make light of all fortresses: they heap up earth and take them.
1:11 Then the wind changes and is gone… Sinful, he who makes his own strength his god.
Second complaint of the prophet: the tyranny of the conqueror
1:12 Are not you, from ancient times Yahweh, my God, my Holy One, who never dies? Yahweh, you have made this people an instrument of justice, set it firm as a rock in order to punish.
1:13 Your eyes are too pure to rest on wickedness, you cannot look on at tyranny. Why do you look on while men are treacherous, and stay silent while the evil man swallows a better man than he?
1:14 You treat mankind like fishes in the sea, like creeping, masterless things.
1:15 A people, these, who catch all on their hook, who draw them with their net, in their dragnet gather them, and so, triumphantly, rejoice.
1:16 At this, they offer a sacrifice to their net, and burn incense to their dragnet, for providing them with luxury and lavish food.
1:17 Are they then to empty their net unceasingly, slaughtering nations without pity?
JB HABAKKUK Chapter 2
Second oracle: the upright man will live by faithfulness
2:1 I will stand on my watchtower, and take up my post on my battlements, watching to see what he will say to me, what answer he will make to my complaints.
2:2 Then Yahweh answered and said, ‘Write the vision down, inscribe it on tablets to be easily read,
2:3 since this vision is for its own time only: eager for its own fulfilment, it does not deceive; if it comes slowly, wait, for come it will, without fail.
2:4 ‘See how he flags, he whose soul is not at rights, but the upright man will live by his faithfulness.’
- CURSES ON OPPRESSORS
2:5 Wealth is indeed a treacherous thing. Haughty and unable to rest is he who is as greedy as Sheol, who is like death, insatiable, who assembles all the nations for his own ends, collects all the peoples to his own advantage.
2:6 On him, will not all men make satires, and turn an epigram against him? They will say:
Trouble is coming to the man who amasses goods that are not his, (for how long?) and loads himself with pledges.
2:7 Will not your creditors suddenly rise, will not your duns awake? Then you will be their victim.
2:8 Since you have plundered many nations, all that remains of the peoples will plunder you; for you have shed men’s blood and ravished the country, the city and all who live in it.
2:9 Trouble is coming to the man who grossly exploits others for the sake of his House, to fix his nest on high and so evade the hand of misfortune.
2:10 You have contrived to bring shame on your House; by making an end of many peoples you have worked your own ruin.
2:11 For the stone from the very walls cries out, and the beam responds from the framework.
2:12 Trouble is coming to the man who builds a town with blood and founds a city on crime.
2:13 Is it not the will of Yahweh Sabaoth that the labouring of peoples should end in fire, and the toiling of nations come to nothing?
2:14 For the country shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Yahweh as the waters swell the sea.[*a]
2:15 Trouble is coming to the man who makes his neighbours drink, who pours his poison until they are drunk, to look at their nakedness.
2:16 You are drunk with ignominy, not with glory. Your turn now to drink and show your foreskin. The cup from Yahweh’s right hand comes round to you, and disgrace will overshadow your glory.
2:17 For the violence done to Lebanon is going to overwhelm you, so will the slaughter of terrified beasts, for you have shed men’s blood and ravished the country, the city and all who live in it.
2:19 Trouble is coming to the man who says to the piece of wood, ‘Wake up!’ to the dumb stone, ‘On your feet!’ (And that is the oracle.) Plated it may be with gold and silver, but not a breath of life inside it.
2:18 What is the use of a carved image, or for its maker to carve it at all? lt is a thing of metal, a lying oracle. What is the use of its maker trusting this and fashioning dumb idols?
2:20 But Yahweh is in his holy Temple: let the whole earth be silent before him.
JB HABAKKUK Chapter 3
III. PLEA TO YAHWEH FOR DELIVERANCE
3:1 A prayer[*a] of Habakkuk the prophet; tone as for dirges.
3:2 Yahweh, I have heard of your renown, your work, Yahweh, inspires me with dread. Repeat it in our own time, reveal it in our time. For all yourwrath, remember to be merciful.
3:3 Eloah is coming from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran.[*b] (Pause) His majesty veils the heavens, the earth is filled with his glory.
3:4 His brightness is like the day, rays flash from his hands, that is where his power lies hidden.
3:5 Plague goes in front of him, fever follows on his heels.
3:6 When he stands up he makes the earth tremble, with his glance he makes the nations quake. Then the ancient mountains are dislodged, the everlasting hills sink down, his pathway from of old.
3:7 I have seen the tents of Cushan terrified, the pavilions of the land of Midian shuddering.[*c]
3:8 Yahweh, is your anger blazing against the rivers, or your fury against the sea, that you come mounted on your horses, on your victorious chariots?
3:9 You uncover your bow, you ply its string with arrows. (Pause) You trench the soil with torrents;
3:10 the mountains shiver when they see you; great floods sweep on their way, the abyss[*d] roars aloud, high it lifts its hands.
3:11 Sun and moon stay in their houses, avoiding the flash of your arrows, the gleam of your glittering spear.
3:12 Raging, you stride the earth, in anger you trample the nations.
3:13 You have marched to save your people, to save your own anointed; you have beaten down the wicked man’s house, bared its foundations to the rock. (Pause)
3:14 With your shafts you have pierced the leader of his warriors who stormed out with shouts of joy to scatter us, as if they meant to devour some poor wretch in their lair.
3:15 You have trampled the sea with your horses, the surge of great waters.
3:16 I have heard. My whole body trembles, my lips quiver at the sound; decay creeps into my bones, my steps falter beneath me. Calmly I awaitthe day of anguish which is dawning on the people now attacking us.
3:17 (For the fig tree is not going to blossom, nor will there be any fruit on the vine, the yield of the olive will fail, the fields afford no food; the sheep will vanish from the fold, nor will there be any cattle in the stalls.)
3:18 But I will rejoice in Yahweh, I will exult in God my saviour.
3:19 Yahweh my Lord is my strength, he makes my feet as light as a doe’s, he sets my steps on the heights. (For the choirmaster; on stringed instruments.)
END OF JB HABAKKUK [3 Chapters].