[CF Devotionals] 2015-12-06 - Habakkuk

Author and Date

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There is a unique quality to this work. Habakkuk doesn’t function as the usual prophet, and therefore his writing doesn’t follow the usual form. Feinberg notes:

“The book of Habakkuk differs from the regular addresses of prophets who ministered to Israel. His is a record of his own experience of soul with God. Prophets spoke for God to men; he expostulates with God about His dealings with men.” 1

“Among the twelve books known as the minor prophets, none is of more significance than Habakkuk. Its author struggles with the deepest questions of God’s ways with men and nations; the truth he proclaims is in the mainstream of redemptive religion; and he mounts to some of the loftiest ground reached by any Old Testament writer. In three brief chapters, the prophet compresses a wealth of spiritual insight expressed in beauty of style unsurpassed by the other minor prophets. The most philosophical of the prophets, Habakkuk is strikingly original both in the content and expression of his book.” 2

We don’t have a lot of information of “what, who, when, and where” regarding any of the minor prophets. This is certainly the case, when discussing the writings of Habakkuk. Consider the following.

  1. Author: Armerding, speaking about Habakkuk, notes:

    “Nothing is known of Habakkuk except his name, which does not lend itself to attempts at finding a Hebrew meaning …. Of his temperament and personal situation, we know only what may be inferred from the book. Literary dependences and early canonical reception leave no doubt that Habakkuk’s work was circulated and accepted early, but the details remain lost.” 3

    There is some disagreement over the meaning of Habakkuk’s name. Regardless of Armerding’s view, Dr. McGee notes that others do find a meaning to his name.

    “The name Habakkuk means “to embrace.” Dr. Charles Feinberg (Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, p. 11) described Martin Luther’s striking definition of the name:” 4

    “Habakkuk signifies an embracer, or one who embraces another, takes him into his arms. He embraces his people, and takes them to his arms, i.e., he comforts them and holds them up, as one embraces a weeping child, to quiet it with the assurance that, if God wills, it shall soon be better.” 5

  2. Date: The NIV Study Bible Notes state the following regarding the possible date of this piece:

    “The prediction of the coming Babylonian invasion (1:6) indicates that Habakkuk lived in Judah toward the end of Josiah’s reign (640-609 B.C.) or at the beginning of Jehoiakim’s (609-598). The prophecy is generally dated a little before or after the battle of Carchemish (605), when Egyptian forces, who had earlier gone to the aid of the last Assyrian king, were routed by the Babylonians under Nabopolassar and Nebuchadnezzar and were pursued as far as the Egyptian border (Jer 46). Habakkuk, like Jeremiah, probably lived to see the initial fulfillment of his prophecy when Jerusalem was attacked by the Babylonians in 597.” 6

To be continued.

  1. Feinberg, Charles L., The Minor Prophets, Moody Press, Chicago IL, 1990, p. 205
  2. Gaebelein, Frank E., Four Minor Prophets, Moody Press, Chicago, IL, 1970, p. 141
  3. Amerding, Carl E., The Expositor's Bible Commentary, "Habakkuk," Zonderman Interactive Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI, 1990.
  4. McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. 3, Proverbs-Malachi, Thomas Nelson Inc., Nashville TN, 1982, p. 835
  5. Feinberg, Charles L., The Minor Prophets, Moody Press, Chicago IL, 1990, p. 205
  6. NIV Study Bible Notes, Zonderman Interactive Publishing House, Grand Rapds MI, 1999.

[email geoff] GKragen@aol.com
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All verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.
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