Book of Habakkuk
Habakkuk or The Book of Habakkuk is a prophetic text belonging to the Nevi’im section of the Jewish Bible Tanakh. Its authorship is attributed to Habakkuk, a prophet who lived approximately during the 7th century BC. Habakkuk has a unique position among prophets as he openly questions wisdom of God. Among the three chapters that make up the book, chapters one and two present a dialogue between God and the prophet.
The opening verse of the book identifies Habakkuk as a prophet. Scholars debate the possibility of Habakkuk being a temple prophet. Very little is known about Habakkuk, except what is expressed in the eponymous book itself. The name “Habakkuk” is probably derived from a Hebrew word “khavak” which means “embrace”, or an Akkadian term hambakuku that points to a type of plant.
The primary theme discussed in the Book of Habakkuk is the transformation of the author’s mental state from a point of doubt and perplexity about God’s motives to a state of complete trust in Him. At the beginning of the book, Habakkuk is deeply concerned about the fact that God will execute His judgment on the kingdom of Judah for their sinful acts through the rulers of the evil Babylonian empire. The prophet has grown weary by looking at the prevailing injustice among the people of his native kingdom and he asks why Yahweh is not taking any action.
In the middle portion of the first chapter, God replies that it is not that he is doing nothing to put an end to the prevailing injustice; he is in fact preparing Chaldeans to condemn his people. God further says that punishing the wicked people of Judah with attacks from an even more immoral country might sound like a contradiction, which is why the prophet won’t believe what the Lord has planned for them. This truly shocks and surprises the prophet, and he asks why God lets people who have committed sins get away with it and does nothing when the treacherous and wicked people treat righteous humans in an unfair way.
In Chapter 2, Habakkuk waits for Yahweh’s response to his allegations. Yahweh says that He will also bestow His judgment on the Chaldeans/Babylonians, and they will be treated even more harshly. God says that even though it might seem that the proud ones are succeeding, their joy will be temporary and they will not prosper in the long run. People who practice idolatry, who are greedy, violent, cruel or covetous will surely meet their doom one day.
Finally, in the third chapter, we find that Habakkuk’s faith in the wisdom and justice of the Lord is restored. He understands that even if God has planned to unleash his divine punishment on Israel through the Babylonians, even this is an act that will eventually lead to the salvation of his countrymen. Habakkuk declares that no matter what might happen, even if the fig tree do not blossom, the vines do not bear fruit or the fields grow no crops, he will still rejoice in the Lord’s ways, as He will definitely show him the path to salvation.