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Calvin’s Preface to Habakkuk

Now follows The Prophet Habakkuk; 66     Who Habakkuk was is uncertain. Some have concluded, from chapter 3:19, that he was of the tribe of Levi; but the premises do not warrant the conclusion. “He was probably,” says Adam Clarke, “of the tribe of Simeon, and a native of Beth-zacar.” The grounds for this probability are not stated.—Ed. but the time in which he discharged his office of a Teacher is not quite certain. The Hebrews, according to their usual manner, unhesitatingly assert that he prophesied under the king Manasseh; but this conjecture is not well founded. We are however led to think that this prophecy was announced when the contumacy of the people had become irreclaimable. It is indeed probable, from the complaint which we shall have presently to notice, that the people had previously given many proofs of irremediable wickedness. To me it appears evident that the Prophet was sent, when others had in vain endeavored to correct the wickedness of the people. But as he denounces an approaching judgement on the Chaldeans, he seems to have prophesied either under Manasseh or under the other kings before the time of Zedechiah; but we cannot fix the exact time. 77     Newcome’s opinion is the following:—“It seems probable that Habakkuk lived after the taking of Nineveh, as he prophesies of the Chaldeans, and is silent on the subject of the Assyrians. We have also reason to conclude that he prophesied not long before the Jewish captivity. See chapter 1:5; 2:3; 3:2,6-19. He may therefore be placed in the reign of Jehoiakim, between the years 606 and 598 before Christ.”
   Henderson agrees with this view.

   “Hunc librum canonicum esse constat,”—tum 1. quia in Bibliis Hebrais extat; tum 2. quia in N.T. allegatum, Acts 13:41; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38. It appears that this book is canonical, 1., because it is extant in Hebrew; 2., because it is quoted in the New Testament,” etc.—Tarnovius.

The substance of the Book may be thus stated:—In the First chapter he complains of the rebellious obstinacy of the people, and deplores the corruptions which then prevailed; he then appears as the herald of God, and warns the Jews of their approaching ruin; he afterwards applies consolation, as God would punish the Chaldeans when their pride became intolerable. In the second chapter he exhorts the godly to patience by his own example, and speaks at large of the near ruin of Babylon; and in the third chapter, as we shall see, he turns to supplication and prayer.

We shall now come to the words.


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