Habakkuk – Chapter 3

Oops. Sorry.

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Habakkuk had questioned G-d in the previous chapter, and G-d answered his questions. Now Habakkuk apologizes for daring to question Him.

The prophet says that he always heard that G-d punished the evil, but he saw that Nebuchadnezzar was being permitted to thrive. When he had a prophecy that Israel would be punished, Habakkuk feared that they might not be able to endure it. He asked that G-d punish Israel’s enemies for the troubles inflicted upon them and have mercy on His people.

Habakkuk alludes to the incident in which G-d offered the Torah to the descendants of Esau and Ishmael (who refused it) before He gave it to the Jews at Mt. Sinai. At Sinai, G-d’s glory filled the Heavens and the Earth and He revealed His normally-hidden might. The angel of death was diverted and other Heavenly beings stood at the ready for G-d’s command.

G-d was the One Who punished the world through the flood and the dispersion (after the incident with the “Tower of Babel”). The mighty were humbled before Him and He controls everything in the world.

Because of their sins, Israel was made vulnerable to their enemies, but they turned to G-d and He saved them. When G-d split the Red Sea and the Jordan River (in the Book of Joshua), it wasn’t because He was angry with the bodies of water; He did it to save His people. He reveals His might and the promise that He made to the Tribes of Israel lasts forever. He brought them water from rocks and saved them from the ambush at Arnon. The very Heavens thank G-d; He made them stand still for Joshua (see chapter 10 of that Book).

G-d drove the Canaanite nations out before Israel. Just as He saved them then, He will do so again. Similarly, He will crush Gog, king of the evil nation of Magog. G-d will defeat Gog’s many invading forces, just as He defeated the “unbeatable” Egyptian and Assyrian armies. Babylonia trembles at the thought of what G-d did to Egypt that the same will happen to them. Babylonia is on the decline; their efforts will be fruitless. (Literally, as the prophet speaks of their crops failing.) Israel will rejoice in G-d, Who saves them. He gives them strength and guides them, so they will sing praises to Him!

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