I must confess, I don’t understand much of this chapter.  I can’t tell what Habakkuk is getting at in many of the verses.  He seems to be interspersing a period of retribution with a period of rejoicing with a period of a threatening invader with occasional allusion to the end times.  I have a distinct feeling that the verses could be rearranged to make them more coherent and flow more naturally in an orderly manner without changing any meaning that Habakkuk intended.

תְּפִלָּה לַחֲבַקּוּק הַנָּבִיא עַל שִׁגְיֹנוֹת׃   3:1

Haba. 3:1   A prayer according to Habakkuk, the prophet,

                              on musical instruments:

The meaning of the word שִׁגְיֹנוֹת is not completely understood.  Some believe its root could mean hymn, song, enthusiastic music, or paean.  Because the word is plural, I think the translation musical instruments works the best.

יְהוָה שָׁמַעְתִּי שִׁמְעֲךָ יָרֵאתִי יְהוָה פָּעָלְךָ בְּקֶרֶב שָׁנִים חַיֵּיהוּ בְּקֶרֶב שָׁנִים תּוֹדִיעַ בְּרֹגֶז רַחֵם תִּזְכּוֹר׃   3:2

Haba. 3:2   Lord, I have heard Your report.

                               I am afraid, Lord, of Your work amidst the years!

                     Revive it!  In the midst of the years let be known:

                               In turmoil You will remember compassion.

אֱלוֹהַ מִתֵּימָן יָבוֹא וְקָדוֹשׁ מֵהַר־פָּארָן סֶלָה כִּסָּה שָׁמַיִם הוֹדוֹ וּתְהִלָּתוֹ מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ׃   3:3

Haba. 3:3   Let God come from Teman,

                               and the Holy One from Mount Paran.            Selah.

                     His splendor spreads over the heavens,

                               and His praise fills the earth.

Teman is thought to be northwest of Edom, and Paran is thought to be west of Edom, each signifying God’s route to His destination, of which we are not clearly informed.  This verse sounds a bit like the end times. 

In addition, this is the first time in the bible that the word Selah has been encountered.  It appears in many psalms, and this chapter bears some similarity to the Psalms in many respects.  The word’s meaning is not understood, but it is thought to be an indication of a pause or start of accompaniment, or a different musical direction.  However, it must have something to do with the musical accompaniment (as indicated in the first and last verses).  If it indicates a change in the music, the chapter begins in one mode, goes to a new mode in this verse, returns to the first mode (or goes to a third mode) in v. 3:9 below, and then does something else in v. 3:13.  I suspect that this is an incorrectly understood effect of the word.  I imagine it may more likely relate to a pause.  Thus there would be three pauses in the music (and the chanting).

                                                                                                                              [Return to Psal. 3:3]

וְנֹגַהּ כָּאֹור תִּהְיֶה קַרְנַיִם מִיָּדֹו לֹו וְשָׁם חֶבְיֹון עֻזֹּה׃   3:4

Haba. 3:4   And a brightness shall become like light;

                               rays from His “hand” shall be His,

                     and His power shall be out of sight there.

לְפָנָיו יֵלֶךְ דָּבֶר וְיֵצֵא רֶשֶׁף לְרַגְלָיו׃   3:5

Haba. 3:5   Before Him pestilence shall proceed,

                               and a fire bolt shall go out at His “feet.”

This could sound like the awful period before the end times.

עָמַד וַיְמֹדֶד אֶרֶץ רָאָה וַיַּתֵּר גֹּויִם וַיִּתְפֹּצְצוּ הַרְרֵי־עַד שַׁחוּ גִּבְעֹות עֹולָם הֲלִיכֹות עֹולָם לֹו׃   3:6

Haba. 3:6   He stands and gauges the earth;

                               He looks and starts up nations;

                     and mountains of eternity are shattered,

                               hills of antiquity are bowed down.

                     His are the doings of old.

תַּחַת אָוֶן רָאִיתִי אָהֳלֵי כוּשָׁן יִרְגְּזוּן יְרִיעוֹת אֶרֶץ מִדְיָן׃   3:7

Haba. 3:7   I see the tents of Cushan will be in trouble;

                               the curtains of the land of Midian will tremble.

Cushan, a neighbor of Midian, was in the Sinai peninsula.

הֲבִנְהָרִים חָרָה יְהוָה אִם בַּנְּהָרִים אַפֶּךָ אִם־בַּיָּם עֶבְרָתֶךָ כִּי תִרְכַּב עַל־סוּסֶיךָ מַרְכְּבֹתֶיךָ יְשׁוּעָה׃   3:8

Haba. 3:8   Shall the anger of the Lord be in the rivers?

                              Whether Your anger shall be in the rivers

                     or Your outpouring in the sea,

                               surely You shall ride on Your horses,

                     Your chariots of victory.

עֶרְיָה תֵעוֹר קַשְׁתֶּךָ שְׁבֻעוֹת מַטּוֹת אֹמֶר סֶלָה נְהָרוֹת תְּבַקַּע־אָרֶץ׃   3:9

Haba. 3:9   The raw essence of Your bow shall be exposed;

                                the shafts shall be oaths of the word.            Selah.

                      You shall split the rivers of the earth.

Verses 3:8 and 9 sound again like the time before the end times.  They and the next three verses sound like possible earthquakes, rivers and the sea overflowing, rivers breaking up, storms and something happening to the sun and moon..

רָאוּךָ יָחִילוּ הָרִים זֶרֶם מַיִם עָבָר נָתַן תְּהוֹם קוֹלוֹ רוֹם יָדֵיהוּ נָשָׂא׃   3:10

Haba. 3:10   Mountains seeing You, shall tremble;

                                The storm of water passes through;

                        the deep produces its sound,

                                  lifting its extensions upward.

שֶׁמֶשׁ יָרֵחַ עָמַד זְבֻלָה לְאוֹר חִצֶּיךָ יְהַלֵּכוּ לְנֹגַהּ בְּרַק חֲנִיתֶךָ׃   3:11

Haba. 3:11   The sun stands, the moon is elevated;

                                  they shall proceed in the light of Your arrows,

                         in the brightness of the lightning flash of Your spear.

בְּזַעַם תִּצְעַד־אָרֶץ בְּאַף תָּדוּשׁ גּוֹיִם׃   3:12

Haba. 3:12   With “indignation” You shall stride the earth;

                                  with “anger” You shall trample nations.

יָצָאתָ לְיֵשַׁע עַמֶּךָ לְיֵשַׁע אֶת־מְשִׁיחֶךָ מָחַצְתָּ רֹּאשׁ מִבֵּית רָשָׁע עָרוֹת יְסוֹד עַד־צַוָּאר סֶלָה׃   3:13

Haba. 3:13   You come forth for the deliverance of Your people,

                                   to deliver Your anointed one.

                        You shatter any head from the house of the wicked,

                                   baring foundation up to the neck.            Selah.

End times again?

נָקַבְתָּ בְמַטָּיו רֹאשׁ (פְּרָזֹו) [פְּרָזָיו] יִסְעֲרוּ לַהֲפִיצֵנִי עֲלִיצֻתָם כְּמֹו־לֶאֱכֹל עָנִי בַּמִּסְתָּר׃   3:14

Haba. 3:14   You pierce with his own shafts the head of its chief;

                                   they will be driven by the storm to scatter me;

                        their exultation would have been like secretly consuming the poor.

דָּרַכְתָּ בַיָּם סוּסֶיךָ חֹמֶר מַיִם רַבִּים׃   3:15

Haba. 3:15   You lead Your horses on the sea

                                   of surging abundant waters.

שָׁמַעְתִּי וַתִּרְגַּז בִּטְנִי לְקֹול צָלֲלוּ שְׂפָתַי יָבֹוא רָקָב בַּעֲצָמַי וְתַחְתַּי אֶרְגָּז אֲשֶׁר אָנוּחַ לְיֹום צָרָה   3:16          לַעֲלֹות לְעַם יְגוּדֶנּוּ׃

Haba. 3:16   I hear, and I tremble in my belly;

                                   my lips quiver to the sound;

                      decay could enter into my bones,

                                   and I must tremble in my place

                       that I must wait for the day of trouble coming up,

                                   for the people that would attack us.

Now who would be attacking?  Is it the Chaldeans coming against Jerusalem?  I wish I knew.

כִּי־תְאֵנָה לֹא־תִפְרָח וְאֵין יְבוּל בַּגְּפָנִים כִּחֵשׁ מַעֲשֵׂה־זַיִת וּשְׁדֵמֹות לֹא־עָשָׂה אֹכֶל גָּזַר מִמִּכְלָה   3:17       צֹאן וְאֵין בָּקָר בָּרְפָתִים׃

Haba. 3:17   When the fig tree will not bloom

                                   and there is no fruit on the vines,

                        the labor failing of the olive,

                                    and of the fields, there is no yield of food,

                        the flock is cut off from the fold

                                    and there is no herd in the stalls,

וַאֲנִי בַּיהוָה אֶעְלֹוזָה אָגִילָה בֵּאלֹהֵי יִשְׁעִי׃   3:18

Haba. 3:18   still I will rejoice in the Lord,

                                    exult in the God of my salvation.

יְהוִה אֲדֹנָי חֵילִי וַיָּשֶׂם רַגְלַי כָּאַיָּלֹות וְעַל בָּמֹותַי יַדְרִכֵנִי לַמְנַצֵּחַ בִּנְגִינֹותָי׃   3:19

Haba. 3:19   The Lord, the Master, is my strength,

                                   and He makes my feet like the hind's feet,

                        and He shall have me walk upon my high places.


                        For the leader, with my music.


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Habakkuk 3