Add parallel Print Page Options

The Lord’s Surprising Answer

“Look at the nations and pay attention![a]
You will be shocked and amazed![b]
For I will do something in your lifetime[c]
that you will not believe even though you are forewarned.[d]
Look, I am about to empower[e] the Babylonians,
that ruthless[f] and greedy[g] nation.
They sweep across the surface[h] of the earth,
seizing dwelling places that do not belong to them.
They are frightening and terrifying;
they decide for themselves what is right.[i]

Read full chapter


  1. Habakkuk 1:5 tn Or “look among the nations and observe.” The imperatival forms in v. 5 are plural, indicating that the Lord’s message is for the whole nation, not just the prophet.
  2. Habakkuk 1:5 tn The Hebrew text combines the Hitpael and Qal imperatival forms of the verb תָּמַה (tamah, “be amazed”). A literal translation might read, “Shock yourselves and be shocked!” The repetition of sounds draws attention to the statement. The imperatives here have the force of an emphatic assertion. On this use of the imperative in Hebrew, see GKC 324 §110.c and IBHS 572-73 §34.4c.
  3. Habakkuk 1:5 tc Heb “for a work working in your days.” Following the LXX reading, some supply a first person singular pronoun with the participle פֹּעֵל (poʿel). Ellipsis of a first singular pronoun before participles is relatively rare (see GKC 360 §116.s); perhaps an original אֲנֹכִי (ʾanoki; or אֲנִי, ʾani) followed the initial כִּי (ki) and was omitted by homoioteleuton.
  4. Habakkuk 1:5 tn Heb “you will not believe when it is told.” In this context the force of כִּי (ki) may be “when,” “if,” or “even though.”
  5. Habakkuk 1:6 tn Heb “raise up” (so KJV, ASV).
  6. Habakkuk 1:6 tn Heb “bitter.” Other translation options for this word in this context include “fierce” (NASB, NRSV); “savage” (NEB); or “grim.”
  7. Habakkuk 1:6 tn Heb “hasty, quick.” Some translate here “impetuous” (so NEB, NASB, NIV, NRSV) or “rash,” but in this context greed may very well be the idea. The Babylonians move quickly and recklessly ahead in their greedy quest to expand their empire.
  8. Habakkuk 1:6 tn Heb “the open spaces.”
  9. Habakkuk 1:7 tn Heb “from him his justice, even his lifting up, goes out.” In this context שְׂאֵת (seʾet) probably has the nuance “authority.” See R. D. Patterson, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (WEC), 150.