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Habakkuk 2:7

7. Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee, and awake that shall vex thee, and thou shalt be for booties unto them?

7. Annon repente consurgent qui te mordeant, et evigilabunt qui te exagitent, et eris in conculcationes ipsis?


The Prophet proceeds with the subject which we have already begun to explain; for he introduces here the common taunts against the king of Babylon and the whole tyrannical empire, by which many nations had been cruelly oppressed. He therefore says that enemies, who should bite him, 3434     This is rendered by Henderson, "that have lent thee on usury;” but incorrectly, as the corresponding clause is found in the following, and not, as he says, in the preceding line. The literal version is as follows,—
   Shall not suddenly arise thy biters,
And awake thy tormentors,
And thou become for spoils to them?

   Now, the two corresponding words are “biters” and “tormentors;” and the idea of lending on usury cannot be admitted; and the common meaning of the word [נשך], is to bite, and means lending on usury only in Hiphil. What the Septuagint gives is δακνοντες— biters.

   Here is an instance of the peculiar manner of the Prophets, and also of the writers of the New Testament; the most obvious act is mentioned first “arise,” and then what is previous to it, “awake.” There is also a similar difference in “biters” and “tormentors,” or those who vex and harass: to torment or vex is not so great an evil as to bite, as it were, like a serpent; for such is the biting meant here.—Ed.
would suddenly and unexpectedly rise up. Some expound this of worms, but not rightly: for God not only inflicted punishment on the king when dead, but he intended also that there should be on earth an evident and a memorable proof of his vengeance on the Babylonians, by which it might be made known to all that their cruelty could not be suffered to go unpunished.

The words, Shall not they rise suddenly, are emphatical, both as to the question and as to the word, פתע, peto, suddenly. We indeed know that interrogations are more common in Hebrew than in Greek and Latin, and that they are stronger and more forcible. Our Prophet then speaks of what was indubitable. He adds, suddenly; for the Babylonians, relying on their own power, did not think that any evil was nigh them; and if any one dared to rise up against them, this could not have been so sudden, but they could have in time resisted and driven far away every danger. They indeed ruled far and wide; and we know that the wicked often sleep when they find themselves fortified on all sides. But the Prophet declares here that evil was nigh them, which would suddenly overwhelm them. It now follows—

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