Habakkuk

This post offers a few insights about the Book of Habakkuk.[1]

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.

In the New Testament, Habakkuk is quoted four times. Habakkuk 1:5 is quoted in Acts 13:41. Habakkuk 2:4 is quoted twice in the New Testament: in Romans 1:17 and in Galatians 3:11. It is significant that this verse is quoted by these two particular New Testament books, because it is Habakkuk 2:4 that teaches the theme of the book: the just shall live by faith. In these two books written by Paul, the apostle was particularly concerned with the issue of living by faith. Salvation by faith, justification by faith, sanctification by faith, glorification by faith—the entire life of the believer is a life of faith. Also Habakkuk 2:3‑4 is quoted is in Hebrews 10:37‑38.


[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

One thought on “Habakkuk

  1. i’ve just been lost, seems like the lord has been after me and idk why, first off i had to stand my ground for 6 months in front of church and it left me burden, come to find out my birth marks are special and i never knew, turns out they are from daniel chapter 2 i can tell time but idk when he is coming he has been giving me hawks on the regular it just depend on if i’m walking or in car if i can get close to one, i always keep a certain distance idk, i get a good nervous when i see one. i’m tired of being evil but i can’t help but be this way i’m sick and i’ll admit that. mount diablo burned in the 925 area code of california the same year i was dying for the lord, i’m Pentecostal as well, i just remember going into church letting a woman and child go in first they said my name like three times as the say across but a little down the street, i came out scared and and but they were gone i was in there for 30 minutes sweating bricks, i just want to know what to do i was trying to tell pastor but he didn’t know what i was talking about now i’m telling everybody else and i’m tired of being satan i left a link to my face book perhaps the images on there can give you a better clue of what i’m trying to say i just need feed back on who am i and what am i to do all i know is he named me the leopard on the holy mountain a shirt confirmed that thats how i knew i complete the statue i had revelations as i go i might stop at something than i think about the lord and i get it forgive me if i caused anyone to fall

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