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Habakkuk 3:4

4. And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power.

4. Et splendor quasi lux fuit; cornua e manu ejus ei, et ibi absconsio fortitudinis ejus.


He confirms the declaration which I have explained that God, when he intended his presence to be made known to his people, gave evidences of his wonderful power, capable of awakening the minds of all. He then says, that the brightness was like light. By the word אור, aur, is doubtless meant the light, which diffuses itself through the whole world, and proceeds from the sun. Then he says, that the brightness which appeared on mount Sinai was equal to the light of the sun, capable of filling the whole world. He adds, that horns were to him from the hand. Some render it, splendor; but קרן, coren, properly means a horn, and קרנים, corenium, is here in the dual number: it is therefore more probable, that the Prophet ascribes horns to God, carried in both hands; and it more corresponds with what immediately follows, that “there was the hiding of his strength,” or that “there was his power hidden.” They who render the word, splendours, think that what had been said is repeated, that is, that the brightness was like light; but they are mistaken, for we may collect from the verse that two different things are expressed by the Prophet: he first speaks of the visible form of God; and then he adds his power, designating it metaphorically by horns, which is common in Scripture. Indeed this mode of speaking occurs often. He then says, that God came armed with power, when he gave the law to his people; for he bore horns in his hands, where his strength was hid. 5353     That [קרז] means to irradiate or to shine, is clear from Exodus 34:29,30,35; “for shine did the skin of his face,” [כי קרז עור פניי]. Most critics consider that the noun here, though in this sense in no other instance, means rays, or beams of light; and this corresponds with the description given elsewhere of God’s appearance on mount Sinai. Drusius, Marckius, Newcome, and Henderson, render it “rays.” The line then would literally be —
   Rays from his hand were to him.

   or, to retain the English idiom.

   He had rays from his hand.

   To render the line, “Rays streamed from his hand,” is to give a paraphrase.

   The objection of Calvin as to the next line, seems not valid; for the hiding of strength may refer to the hand, or to the place, Sinai, whether we render the previous word, rays or horns;—to the place, if we retain our present reading, [עזה], “of its strength;” but to the hand, if we adopt the reading of many copies, [עזו] “of his strength,” which is perhaps the most accordant with the passage.—Ed.

As to the word hiding, some indeed give this refined view, that God then put forth his strength, which was before hidden. But this is a very strained explanation. To me it seems evident, that the Prophet in the first place says, that God’s glory was conspicuous, capable of irradiating the whole world like the light of the sun; and he then adds, that this splendor was connected with power, for God carried horns in both his hands, where his strength was laid: and he says, that it was hid, because God did not intend to make known his power indiscriminately throughout the world, but peculiarly to his own people; as it is also said in Psalm 31:20, that

“the greatness of his goodness is laid up for the faithful alone,
who fear and reverence him.”

As then it is said, that the goodness of God is laid up for the faithful, for they enjoy it as children and members of the household; so also the power of God is said to be laid up, because he testifies that he is armed with power to defend his Church, that he may render safe the children of Abraham, whom he has taken under his protection. It afterwards follows—

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