I. NAME OF THE BOOK
A. It is named after the prophet.
B. The name Habakkuk means "to caress" or "to embrace."
C. In the Septuagint, he is called "Hambakoum," which is an Assyrian term that means "vegetable."
A. This book is part of the "latter prophets" (Ecclesiasticus 49:10).
B. It is one of "the Twelve," a grouping of minor prophets (Baba Bathra 14b)
1. Like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, they fit on one scroll.
2. Represents the twelve tribes or the symbolic number of organization.
3. Reflects traditional view of the books chronology.
C. The order of "the Twelve," or Minor Prophets, has been linked by many scholars to a chronological sequence. It is obvious that Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah for a unit.
A. Hebrew Prophetic Poetry
B. The first chapter is a diatribe or a means of communicating truth through a supposed dialogue
C. It is very unusual for a prophet to speak to God on behalf of the people
A. This prophet speaks with YHWH concerning Judah. All other prophets speak to the people for YHWH.
B. This prophet fits into the same general period as Daniel, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Nahum, and Zephaniah. We call these men the Seventh Century Prophets.
C. He is possibly a musician related to the Temple Choir because:
1. The use of the term Shigionoth in 3:1. The NASB footnote calls it a "highly emotional poetic form," this is a musical term of unknown meaning, possibly a rest or crescendo.
2. the use of another possible musical term, Selah in 3:3, 9, 13
3. use of the phrase, "for the choir director, on my stringed instruments" in 3:19
V. DATE (There have been two major theories)
A. The reign of Manasseh (687-642 b.c.). This is usually linked to Habakkuk's place in the Twelve and the rise of the Chaldeans, neo-Babylonian empire (cf. Habakkuk 1:5).
B. The reign of Jehoiakim (609-598 b.c.). This would put it in the period of Pharaoh-Necco II sacking of the city and later Nebuchadnezzar's take-over of the entire area after his defeat of the remnant of the Assyrian army and the Egyptians at Carchemish in 605 b.c.
C. Pseudo-Epiphanius, in Lives of the Prophets, says that he is from the tribe of Simeon. He fled Nebuchadnezzar II's advance in 586 b.c. and returned after the fall of the city and died two years before the return from exile. However, this source is late and unreliable.
VI. HISTORICAL SETTING – see Historical Setting in Jeremiah
VII. LITERARY UNITS
A. The book falls into two major sections:
1. chapters 1 & 2 – a dialogue between the prophet and God
2. chapter 3 – a poem of praise for God's control of history
B. The dialogue between God and His prophet, 1:2-2:20
1. Habakkuk's complaint against God's slowness to punish, 1:2-4
2. God's first answer, 1:5-11
3. Habakkuk's moral problem with God's answer, 1:12-2:1
4. God's second response, 2:2-5
a. God's plan is sure, write it down, 2:20
3) blessing on faith, 2:4, 14, 20
4) judgment on evil, 2:5, 6-20
b. God's people are responsible for covenant fidelity, 2:4-5 (3:16-19)
c. God will punish pagan aggression and godlessness, 2:6-20 (5 woes)
1) 2:6-8, violent aggression
2) 2:9-11, violent aggression
3) 2:12-14, violent aggression
4) 2:15-17, violent aggression
5) 2:18-20, idolatry
C. A psalm blessing for God's faithful acts of deliverance in the past and hope for deliverance in the future, 3:1-19
1. God's past acts of deliverance expressed in highly poetic form, using metaphors from (3:1-15):
a. the exodus
c. the conquest
2. the prophet's faith and patience in God's deliverance though there is no outward sign, (2:4; 3:16-19)
VIII. MAIN TRUTHS
A. This is a moral universe. Sin will be judged. Even God's chosen people are responsible for their acts (Gal. 6:7).
B. Even in this fallen world God is still in control of events. He uses evil for His purposes, but it will also be judged!
C. It is acceptable to question God. However, often it is God's presence not rational answers that satisfy.
D. This book is the source of Paul's famous theological theme "justification by faith" (cf. 2:4). Evil will destroy itself eventually. God's people must exercise faith in the midst of evil days! Faith must not be linked to current circumstances, 3:17-19.
IX. TERMS AND/OR PHRASES AND PERSONS TO BRIEFLY IDENTIFY
A. Terms and/or Phrases
1. "their justice and authority originate with themselves," 1:7 (cf. 1:11c; NIV, "they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor")
2. "O Lord, my God, my Holy One," 1:12 (NASB & NIV)
3. "O Rock," 1:12 (NASB & NIV)
4. "they offer sacrifices to their net," 1:15-17 (NIV, "he sacrifices to his net")
5. "but the righteous will live by his faith," 2:4 (NASB & NIV)
6. Sheol, 2:5 (NIV, "the grave")
7. taunt-sing, 2:6 (NIV, "taunt")
8. "the cup is in the Lord's right hand," 2:16 (NASB & NIV)
9. Shigionoth, 3:1 (NASB & NIV)
10. Selah, 3:3,9,13 (NASB & NIV)
11. thine anointed, 3:13 (NIV, "your anointed one")
12. "He has made my feet like hind's feet," 3:19 (NIV, "he makes my feet like the feet of a deer")
B. Persons – none
X. MAP LOCATIONS
1. Chaldea, 1:6 (NIV, "Babylonians")
2. Teman, 3:3
3. Mount Paran, 3:3
4. Midian, 3:7
XI. STUDENT CONTENT QUESTIONS
1. How is the book so different from the other minor prophets?
2. Outline the dialogue between God and the prophet in chapters 1-2.
3. Why is it thought that Habakkuk was a musician?
4. Explain the imagery of 1:16-17.
5. What does 2:4 mean in context? How does Paul use it in Rom. 1:17 and Gal. 3:11?