Habakkuk – Chapter 2 – Minor Prophets By Rabbi Gail Diamond

Habakkuk Chapter 2

Study Sheet

1) Reading exercise: Read through the chapter for familiar verses or phrases.

2) Verse 1 - Compare these interpretations of the meaning of תוכחתי

The use of the term my reproof (tokahti) shows that the prophet characterized his second lament as a reproof or rebuke of [Hashem]. He was unwilling to accept G-ds first response as appropriate, and certainly not as the final response to the problem he had originally raised, so Habakkuk talked back to G-d just as other men of faith in the Old Testament had done or were to do. One thinks especially of Abraham, Moses, Amos, Jeremiah, and Job, to mention only the most prominent.

J. J. M. Roberts, Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah: A Commentary (Louisville, Westminster/John Knox Press, 1991) p. 108

Rashi on Habakkuk 2:1

רש”י חבקוק פרק ב פסוק א

על תוכחתי – שהם מוכיחים אותי בפני שיש להרהר על מדת הדין:

To my reproof That they reprove me because they say there is [one should] question the attribute of [divine] justice.

How do Professor Roberts and Rashi differ in their understanding of the word tochachti? Compare also the commentary of Radak.

Radak on Habakkuk 2:1

רד”ק חבקוק פרק ב פסוק א

א) על משמרתי אעמודה – אמר הנביא על זאת המבוכה שאני בה אני שומר ומצפה מה יענני האל יתברך בהצלחת הרשע:

מה ידבר בי – ברוח הנבואה כמו רוח ה’ דבר בי

ומה שאמר ומה אשיב ר”ל מה אשיב לשואלים אותי כי לא אני לבדי נבוך על זה הענין ומה שאמר ואתיצבה על מצור ר”ל מצור כאדם שצרים עליו ואין לו מנוס כן אני אין לי מנוס מזאת המבוכה מדוע דרך רשעים צלחה ורבותינו פירשו מה שאמר על מצור שעג עוגה ועמד בתוכה ואמר איני זז מכאן עד שתאמר לי מפני מה הארכת לרשעים:

I will stand on my watch. The prophet said, in this confusion that I am in, I watch and expect for what G-d who is blessed will answer me about the success of the wicked. What will he say to me. In the spirit of prophecy, as in “the spirit of G-d spoke to me.” (2 Samuel 23:2)

And what the text says and what I will answer. He wants to say, what will I respond to those who ask me, for I am not the only one who is confused about this issue. And when it says, and set me on the tower it means to say tower (matzor) like a person who is being attacked (shetzarim alav) and he has no refuge. So too, I, I have no refuge from this confusion about why the wicked succeed. And our sages explained regarding the tower, that Habakkuk drew a circle and stood in it and said, I am not moving from here until you tell me why you lengthen the days of the evildoers.

3) Structure of the chapter – Review how breaks are set in the text in verses 6, 9, 12, 15 & 19. We can see that this part of the chapter forms a poem with verses. The beginning of verse 6 describes what this poem is. How do you understand the meaning of משל and מליצה חידות? If you have time, compare Isaiah 14:4-23. For the meaning of becoming a proverb (mashal), see Jeremiah 24:9, Ezekiel 14:8.

4) In these stanzas, what values of Babylon are being attacked? What would you say is the religious message of the poem?

5) Is verse 14 out of place? Compare it to Isaiah 11:9

6) Is verse 20 related to verse 14? How do you understand verse 20? Compare and contrast Rashi and Radaks comments below on verse 20. How do they differ?

רש”י חבקוק פרק ב פסוק כ

כ) וה’ בהיכל קדשו – מוכן ליפרע: הס מפניו כל הארץ – הס לשון שיתוק ודמימת חורבן:

Hashem is in his Holy Sanctuary Ready to exact punishment.

Be silent before Him all the earthHass language of silence and the stillness of destruction.

רד”ק חבקוק פרק ב פסוק כ

כ) הס מפניו כל הארץ – יראו מפניו כל יושבי הארץ כי הוא המשגיח בהם ורואה כל מעשיהם כמו שאמר משמים הביט ה’ ראה את כל בני האדם:

Be silent before Him all the earth Be in fear before him all the inhabitants of the earth for he watches over you and sees all your deeds as it is said, from heaven Hashem looks down and sees all people. (Psalm 33:13)

Video Conclusion