Old Testament

The threatening oracle of Habakkuk warns of the divine judgment that is coming against Judah and Babylon. Habakkuk complains that Judah is filled with injustice, so the Lord announces that Babylon will bring judgment on Judah for its injustice. Habakkuk complains about this solution to injustice. The Lord responds that judgment will also come on Babylon for its injustice. The only satisfying solution to the problem of injustice will occur when the Messiah comes and the righteous live by faith. Habakkuk learns to trust the Lord in good times and in bad.
The book was written sometime between 650 and 620 BC, before the Babylonian threat had become obvious. Babylon began to carry out the Lord's judgment on Judah in 605 BC, when Daniel went into captivity. Nothing is known about the life of Habakkuk.
11The threatening oracle which the prophet Habakkuk saw.
Habakkuk's Complaint About Judah's Corruption
2How long, Lord, must I cry for help, but you do not listen?
I call out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save!
3Why do you cause me to see injustice?
Why do you overlook misery?
Devastation and violence confront me.
There is strife, and tensions rise.
4For this reason the law has become powerless.[]
Justice is never carried out.
In fact, the wicked overwhelm the righteous
so that justice is perverted.
The Lord's Response to Judah's Corruption
5Look at the nations and pay attention! Be completely dumbfounded, because I will do something in your lifetime that you will not believe, even though you are warned ahead of time. 6Watch, I am raising up the Chaldeans,[] that savage, reckless nation. They will sweep across the whole width of the earth, seizing lands and homes that do not belong to them. 7They are frightening and terrifying. They invent their own standard of justice and their own values. 8Their horses are quicker than leopards and fiercer than wolves that prowl at night. Their war horses come galloping. Their war horses come from far away. They fly like vultures[] swooping down to devour. 9All of them come to commit violence. Their hordes blow by like the desert wind and sweep up prisoners like sand. 10They mock kings, and rulers are subjected to scorn. They laugh at every fortified city. They heap up siege ramps and capture cities. 11But then the wind blows and passes over them,[] and they will bear their guilt—these men whose own strength is their god.
Habakkuk Questions God's Solution to Judah's Corruption
12Are you not from ancient times, O Lord?
My God, my Holy One, you will not die.[]
Lord, you have made them your instrument of judgment.
You, our Rock, have established them as your instrument of discipline.[]
13You whose eyes are too pure to tolerate evil,
you who are not able to condone wrongdoing,
why do you put up with treacherous people?
Why do you keep silent
when the wicked swallow up those who are more righteous than they are?
14You treat people like fish in the sea,
like creeping creatures that have no ruler.
15The wicked man[] pulls them all up on a fishhook.
He hauls them in with a net.
He gathers them with his dragnet and is very happy about it.
16Therefore he offers sacrifices to his nets
and burns incense to his dragnet,
because, through these, his catch is large,
and his food is plentiful.
17Will he empty one net after another
and continue to destroy nations without sparing any?


  • 1:4 Or paralyzed or ineffective
  • 1:6 The Chaldeans were the ethnic group ruling Babylon.
  • 1:8 Or eagles
  • 1:11 Or then the wind blows and they move on. The meaning of this sentence is uncertain.
  • 1:12 The translation follows the alternate Hebrew reading, known as a correction of the scribes. The standard Hebrew text reads we will not die, likely because scribes did not want to mention death and God in the same sentence.
  • 1:12 In this verse it is uncertain whether the Lord made the Babylonians recipients of judgment because of their godlessness or whether he made them instruments of judgment against Israel. The translation follows the second option.
  • 1:15 The subject the wicked man is supplied for clarity.