This post offers a few insights about the Book of Habakkuk.
The theme of the Book of Habakkuk is: The just shall live by faith. The name Habakkuk comes from a Hebrew root, meaning, “to embrace.” When writing his name, the last consonant is doubled, thus intensifying the meaning. The name Habakkuk, then, means “full embrace.” Outside of that, nothing else is known about him or his family. There is a Jewish tradition that says Habakkuk was the son of the Shunammite woman. This is based on II Kings 4:16, where Elisha tells the Shunammite woman that she will “embrace a son.” Since the name Habakkuk means “full embrace,” this Jewish tradition claims that Habakkuk was the son of the Shunammite woman. But that is purely traditional and there is no real historical validity to that particular claim.
When the Book of Habakkuk was written can be determined with a fair degree of accuracy from certain statements made within this particular book. For example, it is obvious from Habakkuk 1:1‑5 that Babylonhad not yet risen to empire status, since the appearance of Babylonis prophesied as being a work of God at which Israelwill wonder with great wonder. So the book was obviously written before Babylonbecame a major power. This also means that the book was written before the fall of Nineveh, which occurred in 612 B.C. Ninevehwas destroyed by the Babylonians, so by then, the rise of Babylonto empire status would no longer have been a surprise. Therefore, the Book of Habakkuk must have been written before 612 B.C. It would also appear that the book was written some time after 640 B.C., because the rise of Babylonwas a work that would be done within their lifetime. Habakkuk used the term your days in verse 5, which would put it roughly about 640 B.C. Another clue comes from the superscription in Habakkuk 3:19. Based upon that superscription, the indication is that the book was written at a time when the Levitical priesthood was in full session and operating correctly. The best time to put the writing of the Book of Habakkuk would be during the reign of Josiah, and that fits all of the facts. So the book was written some time between 640‑622 B.C., and more likely during the latter reign of Josiah, after he had thoroughly cleansed theTemple, probably between 630‑622 B.C.
It is obvious from the context that Habakkuk was a prophet living in Judah, since Israel, the northern kingdom, was no longer in existence by then. Based on the superscription of Habakkuk 3:19, it would appear that he was also living in the City ofJerusalem. The locale, then, was definitelyJudah, and most likelyJerusalem.
The historical setting was the time of the reign of good King Josiah. It was a time of great outward prosperity, but the people themselves were inwardly corrupt. Although Josiah’s own heart was right, as far as the people were concerned, much of his reformation was merely external conformity, rather than internal conformity. On the international scene, the Assyrians were no longer an immediate threat toJudah, but they were still a strong power in the days of Habakkuk.
The Book of Habakkuk makes four major points. First, the fact of divine discipline: at some point, God will discipline sin. Secondly, sin is self‑destructive: sin carries within itself the seeds of its own destruction. Thirdly, the just shall live by faith. And fourthly, all injustices will be rectified by the Second Coming of the Messiah.
The uniqueness of the Book of Habakkuk is threefold. First, Habakkuk did not prophesy to the nation or to the people as other prophets did, but he spoke to God alone. Secondly, he was not concerned with delivering a message, but the content of his burden is solving a problem. Thirdly, he imparted God’s message, not by prophetic discourse as other prophets did; rather, he imparted God’s message as it came to him through dialogue with God, then he recorded it.
As far as exposition is concerned, the book is divided into three main units. The first unit is the introduction in verse 1; the second unit is comprised of chapters 1:2‑2:20, which deal with the burden of Habakkuk; the third unit is chapter 3, which contains the prayer of Habakkuk.
 This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.