Chapter 2

1On my watch I will stand, and I will set myself upon a fortress, and I will look out to see what He will speak to me and what I will reply when I am reproved.   אעַל־מִשְׁמַרְתִּ֣י אֶֽעֱמֹ֔דָה וְאֶתְיַצְּבָ֖ה עַל־מָצ֑וֹר וַֽאֲצַפֶּ֗ה לִרְאוֹת֙ מַה־יְדַבֶּר־בִּ֔י וּמָ֥ה אָשִׁ֖יב עַל־תּֽוֹכַחְתִּֽי:
On my watch I will stand: Habakkuk dug a circular hole, stood within it, and said, “I will not budge from here until I hear what He will say to me concerning this, my question why He looks and sees the prosperity of a wicked man.”  
and what I will reply: to those who come to contend with me.  
when I am reproved: mon aprobement in O.F.; the reproach one addresses to me.  
when I am reproved: For they reprove me to my face that one should criticize the Divine standard of justice.  
2And the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision and explain it upon the tablets, so that one may read it swiftly.   בוַיַּֽעֲנֵ֚נִי יְהֹוָה֙ וַיֹּ֔אמֶר כְּת֣וֹב חָז֔וֹן וּבָאֵ֖ר עַל־הַלֻּח֑וֹת לְמַ֥עַן יָר֖וּץ ק֥וֹרֵא בֽוֹ:
And the Lord answered me and said: Write: for yourself the vision that will be revealed to you, and explain it well on the tablets so that one may read it swiftly. And this is the vision that you shall write.  
3For there shall be another vision for the appointed time; and He shall speak of the end, and it shall not fail; though it tarry, wait for it, for it shall surely come; it shall not delay.   גכִּ֣י ע֚וֹד חָזוֹן֙ לַמּוֹעֵ֔ד וְיָפֵ֥חַ לַקֵּ֖ץ וְלֹ֣א יְכַזֵּ֑ב אִם־יִתְמַהְמַהּ֙ חַכֵּה־ל֔וֹ כִּי־בֹ֥א יָבֹ֖א לֹ֥א יְאַחֵֽר:
For there shall be another vision for the appointed time: A prophet shall yet arise at the end of the years, to whom a vision shall be revealed concerning when the appointed time shall be for the downfall of Babylon and the redemption of Israel.  
and He shall speak of the end: The speech that He shall say to him concerning the end of Babylon, (Jer. 29: 10) “For at the completion of seventy years of Babylon.” וְיָפֵחַ is an expression of speech; and there are many uses of this root with similar meaning in the Book of Proverbs. Since speech is only the wind emanating from the mouth, he [the writer of the Scriptures] calls it פִּיחַ, blowing, and he calls it wind, e.g., (Ps. 33:6) “And with the wind of His mouth all their host.”  
and it shall not fail; though it tarry: it shall not fail to come, though that appointed time may take long to come.  
wait for it for…; it shall not delay: at all after the seventy years. This clause can also be explained to mean: though he tarry, meaning the prophet Jeremiah. Jonathan renders: the prophecy is written and explained in the Book of the Torah. He translated כְּתֹב as כָּתוּב. It has already been alluded to in the Torah (Lev. 26:34): “Then shall the land placate [God concerning] its Sabbaths.” Israel sinned by violating seventy Sabbatical Years, in which they did not release the land, and, corresponding to them, they were exiled therefrom for seventy years. And so it is stated in II Chronicles (36:21): “Until the land placated its Sabbaths; all the days it lay waste, it rested to complete seventy years.” And so you find in Ezekiel (4:5): “And I have given you the years of their iniquity according to the number of days, three hundred and ninety days… (verse 6) I gave you a day for a year.” And Scripture says (verse 4): “And you lie on your left side, etc.” You are found saying that Israel provoked God for three hundred and ninety years until the Ten Tribes were exiled, and the tribe of Judah sinned for forty years, and from the time the Ten Tribes were exiled until the destruction of Jerusalem are the twenty-two years of Manasseh. The rest of Manasseh’s years were spent in repentance, for it is stated concerning him (II Kings 21:2f.) “And he did what was evil, etc.,… as Ahab… had made.” Therefore we count Manasseh’s evil years according to the number of Ahab’s years, and he reigned for twenty-two years. With two years of his son Amon’s reign, and eleven of Jehoiakim’s, and eleven of Zedekiah’s, the evil years total forty-six, and this prophecy was said to Ezekiel in the fifth year of Zedekiah. In any case, we find the time of their sinning four hundred and thirty years, for after this prophecy they tarried there six years. [I.e., the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained in the land for six more years] In four hundred years, there are eight Jubilee Years, and in every Jubilee cycle there are seven Release Years, making a total of fifty-six Release Years and eight years consecrated as Jubilee Years making all together sixty-four. In thirty-six years there are five Release Years, totaling sixty-nine consecrated years, and this final Jubilee year is also counted in the number, since it was not completed because of their iniquity. And here, this is what the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Habakkuk: A vision is already written in the Torah, but it is sealed. You write and explain on the tablets, for a vision of this appointed time will yet be revealed.  
and He shall speak: It is an expression [denoting] speech, and there are many similar instances throughout the book of Proverbs. Since speech is merely wind that goes out of the mouth, it is called פיח or רוח, wind, as in (Psalms 33:6) “and with the breath of His mouth, all their host.”  
4Behold, it is puffed up-his soul is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.   דהִנֵּ֣ה עֻפְּלָ֔ה לֹא־יָֽשְׁרָ֥ה נַפְשׁ֖וֹ בּ֑וֹ וְצַדִּ֖יק בֶּֽאֱמוּנָת֥וֹ יִחְיֶֽה:
Behold, it is puffed up: The soul of the wicked man is always wroth and full of desire, longing to swallow and never satisfied. עֻפְּלָה is an expression of insolence, as in (Num. 14:44) “And they acted insolently (וַיַעְפִּילוּ)” ; and (Isa. 32:14) “Rampart (עֹפֶל) and tower.”  
his soul is not upright within him: His spirit is not satisfied within him, and he does not say, “What I have already acquired is enough.” Therefore, retribution shall come upon him.  
but the righteous shall live by his faith: Jeconiah the king, whom this wicked man is destined to exile - his righteousness shall stand for him, and on the day this one is cast out of his grave, Evil-merodach shall raise Jehoiachin’s head and place his throne above the thrones of the kings.  
5And surely he, whom wine betrays, a haughty man whose dwelling shall not remain, who widened his desire like the nether- world-and he is like death and shall never be sated, and he gathered all the nations to himself and collected to himself all peoples.   הוְאַף֙ כִּֽי־הַיַּ֣יִן בֹּגֵ֔ד גֶּ֥בֶר יָהִ֖יר וְלֹ֣א יִנְוֶ֑ה אֲשֶׁר֩ הִרְחִ֨יב כִּשְׁא֜וֹל נַפְשׁ֗וֹ וְה֚וּא כַמָּ֙וֶת֙ וְלֹ֣א יִשְׂבָּ֔ע וַיֶּֽאֱסֹ֚ף אֵלָיו֙ כָּל־הַגּוֹיִ֔ם וַיִּקְבֹּ֥ץ אֵלָ֖יו כָּל־הָֽעַמִּֽים:
And surely he, whom wine betrays: And surely, when Belshazzar, this one’s grandson, comes; the one whose wine shall betray him for he drank as much wine as a thousand (Dan. 5:1).  
a haughty man whose dwelling shall not remain: [Belshazzar’s] dwelling and his residence shall not remain in existence, for he was haughty and said, with the counsel of the wine, to bring the vessels of the Temple; and he drank with them. That shall cause him to be slain, and the seed of Nebuchadnezzar to be destroyed, for a haughty man is a scorner; he shall not have a dwelling. Neither he nor his dwelling shall remain in existence.  
who widened: Nebuchadnezzar  
his desire like the nether-world: to attain all his desire with a full heart.  
and he is like death: Like the angel of death, who is not sated with slaying. So is this one not sated with all his possessions.  
6Shall not all these take up a parable against him and a figure of a riddle against him? And he shall say, "Woe to him who increases what is not his! How long? And who loads himself with a beam of mud!"   והֲלוֹא־אֵ֣לֶּה כֻלָּ֗ם עָלָיו֙ מָשָׁ֣ל יִשָּׂ֔אוּ וּמְלִיצָ֖ה חִיד֣וֹת ל֑וֹ וְיֹאמַ֗ר הוֹי הַמַּרְבֶּ֣ה לֹּא־ל֔וֹ עַד־מָתַ֕י וּמַכְבִּ֥יד עָלָ֖יו עַבְטִֽיט:
Shall not all these: whom he [Belshazzar] collected for himself to pay himself tribute?  
take up a parable against him and a figure: they shall take up in their mouth an expression of a riddle concerning him.  
against him: like עָלָיו, upon him.  
And he shall say: The one who says the figure of the riddle  
Woe to him who increases what is not his!: This is the figure: Woe to him who increases wealth and kingdom, and it is not his, for the kings of Media shall come and take everything.  
How long?: will he continue to increase when he is only loading upon himself a burden of iniquity like a beam of mud? עַב is an expression of a heavy beam, as we find concerning the Tabernacle of Ezekiel (Ezek. 41: 25): “And a wooden beam (וְעָב) ,” and (ibid. 26) “The casings of the House and the beams (וְהָעֻבִּים).”  
7Will not those who bite you arise suddenly, and those who startle you awaken? And you shall become plunder for them.   זהֲל֣וֹא פֶ֗תַע יָק֙וּמוּ֙ נֹֽשְׁכֶ֔יךָ וְיִֽקְצ֖וּ מְזַעְזְעֶ֑יךָ וְהָיִ֥יתָ לִמְשִׁסּ֖וֹת לָֽמוֹ:
awaken: like וְיָקִּיצוּ  
8Since you have cast away many nations, all remaining peoples shall cast you away, because of the blood of man and the violence done to the land, the city, and all its inhabitants.   חכִּֽי אַתָּ֚ה שַׁלּ֙וֹתָ֙ גּוֹיִ֣ם רַבִּ֔ים יְשָׁלּ֖וּךָ כָּל־יֶ֣תֶר עַמִּ֑ים מִדְּמֵ֚י אָדָם֙ וַֽחֲמַס־אֶ֔רֶץ קִרְיָ֖ה וְכָל־י֥שְׁבֵי בָֽהּ:
Since you have cast away many nations: You have cast them and thrown them from their place.  
all remaining peoples shall cast you away: The nations that escaped.  
because of the blood of man: As revenge for the blood of Israel, called ‘man,’ as it is said (Ezek. 34: 31): “You are man.”  
and the violence done to the land: The land of Israel.  
the city: Jerusalem.  
9Woe to him who gains evil gains for his house to place his nest on high, to be saved from the hand of an evil one.   טה֗וֹי בֹּצֵ֛עַ בֶּ֥צַע רַ֖ע לְבֵית֑וֹ לָשׂ֚וּם בַּמָּרוֹם֙ קִנּ֔וֹ לְהִנָּצֵ֖ל מִכַּף־רָֽע:
Woe to him who gains evil gains: Who robs money which is harmful to him.  
for his house: To build a house for himself  
to place his nest on high: As it is written in the Book of Daniel (4:27): “Is this not the great Babylon, which I built up as a royal residence with the might of my power, etc.?” At the time this statement emanated from his mouth, [Nebuchadnezzar] was driven away from men, as it is said (ibid. 28): “When this word was still in the king’s mouth, etc.”  
10You have advised shame for your house, to cut off many peoples, and you have sinned against your life.   ייָעַ֥צְתָּ בֹּ֖שֶׁת לְבֵיתֶ֑ךָ קְצֽוֹת־עַמִּ֥ים רַבִּ֖ים וְחוֹטֵ֥א נַפְשֶֽׁךָ:
With this matter, you advised shame for your house: For you advised to cut off many peoples, and you caused a loss for yourself.  
to cut off: an expression of stripping and peeling, as in (Lev. 14:43) “Scraping the house.”  
and you have sinned against your life: As in (Prov. 20:2) “He who provokes him sins against his life.” He sins to lose his life; forsfait sa arme in O.F. he forfeits his soul.  
11For a stone shall cry from the wall, and a chip shall answer it from a beam.   יאכִּי־אֶ֖בֶן מִקִּ֣יר תִּזְעָ֑ק וְכָפִ֖יס מֵעֵ֥ץ יַֽעֲנֶֽנָּה:
For a stone: For the stones that you stole shall cry from the wall.  
and a chip: of the wood shall answer it [the stone]. It shall answer aloud the stone that is opposite it; hence both of them cry.  
and a chip shall answer it from a beam: Jonathan renders: וְשִׁפָּא מִגּו ֹמָרֵישָׁא. שִׁפָּא is an expression of a chip; שְׁפָאִים in the language of the Sages; dokldours in O.F. - chips. מָרֵישׁ is a beam.  
12Woe to him who builds a city with blood and establishes a city with injustice.   יבה֛וֹי בֹּנֶ֥ה עִ֖יר בְּדָמִ֑ים וְכוֹנֵ֥ן קִרְיָ֖ה בְּעַוְלָֽה:
13Behold, is it not from the Lord of Hosts? And peoples shall toil until they are sated with fire, and nations shall weary themselves only for vanity.   יגהֲל֣וֹא הִנֵּ֔ה מֵאֵ֖ת יְהֹוָ֣ה צְבָא֑וֹת וְיִֽיגְע֚וּ עַמִּים֙ בְּדֵי־אֵ֔שׁ וּלְאֻמִּ֖ים בְּדֵי־רִ֥יק יִעָֽפוּ:
Behold, is it not from the Lord: that the retribution has been requited to the perpetrators of wickedness?  
And peoples shall toil until they are sated with fire: When My wrath, which is like fire, shall come upon them until they are sated. בְּדֵי אֵשׁ - Asec in O.F.; enough; assez in modern French.  
14For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord-as the water covers the seabed.   ידכִּי תִּמָּלֵ֣א הָאָ֔רֶץ לָדַ֖עַת אֶת־כְּב֣וֹד יְהֹוָ֑ה כַּמַּ֖יִם יְכַסּ֥וּ עַל־יָֽם:
15Woe to him who gives his friend to drink, who adds Your venom and also makes him drunk in order to gaze upon their nakedness.   טוהוֹי מַשְׁקֵ֣ה רֵעֵ֔הוּ מְסַפֵּ֥חַ חֲמָֽתְךָ֖ וְאַ֣ף שַׁכֵּ֑ר לְמַ֥עַן הַבִּ֖יט עַל־מְעֽוֹרֵיהֶֽם:
Woe to him who gives his friend to drink: wine; and into that drink he adds and gathers his venom upon him, and also makes him [his friend] drunk with his venom. All this he does…  
in order to gaze upon their nakedness: Upon their exposure, to see their nakedness. This is the wicked Nebuchadnezzar, who would give the kings wine to drink, intoxicate them, and practice pederasty upon them, as we state in Tractate Shabbath (149b). Another explanation.  
Woe to him who gives his friend to drink: In Seder Olam, it [this verse] is expounded regarding Belshazzar, who gave the princes to drink with the vessels of the Temple, because of which they were smitten with zaraath and intoxicated by the wrath of the Holy One, blessed be He. On that night he [Belshazzar] was slain.  
upon their nakedness: So that their disgrace be revealed, and their enemies see their disgrace.  
16You have become sated more from disgrace than from honor. You, too, drink and become clogged up. The cup of the right hand of the Lord shall be turned upon you, and disgrace upon your glory.   טזשָׂבַ֚עְתָּ קָלוֹן֙ מִכָּב֔וֹד שְׁתֵ֥ה גַם־אַ֖תָּה וְהֵֽעָרֵ֑ל תִּסּ֣וֹב עָלֶ֗יךָ כּוֹס יְמִ֣ין יְהֹוָ֔ה וְקִֽיקָל֖וֹן עַל־כְּבוֹדֶֽךָ:
and become clogged up: The “he” serves in this word as an expression of the reflexive, as in (Deut. 32:50) “And you shall be gathered to your people.” Here, too, הֵעָרֵל - you shall become clogged up with bewilderment and with astonishment of heart. Every expression of עָרְלָה is an expression of clogging, like (Jer. 6:10) “Their ear is clogged” and (Ezek 44:7) “Of clogged heart and of uncircumcised flesh.” Jonathan rendered: And become naked, an expression of (ibid. 16:7) “Naked and bare.”  
17For the violence of the Lebanon shall cover you, and the plunder of cattle shall break them, because of the blood of man and the violence of the land, a city, and all its inhabitants.   יזכִּֽי־חֲמַ֚ס לְבָנוֹן֙ יְכַסֶּ֔ךָּ וְשֹׁ֥ד בְּהֵמ֖וֹת יְחִיתַ֑ן מִדְּמֵ֚י אָדָם֙ וַֽחֲמַס־אֶ֔רֶץ קִרְיָ֖ה וְכָל־י֥שְׁבֵי בָֽהּ:
the violence of the Lebanon: the Temple.  
and the plunder of cattle: The plunder of your cattle, and your hordes that plundered My people Israel, shall break you.  
because of the blood of man: Because of the violence done to the blood of Israel.  
and the violence of the land: The land of Israel.  
a city: Jerusalem.  
18What did a graven image avail that its maker has graven it? A molten image and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusted in it to make dumb idols?   יחמָה־הוֹעִ֣יל פֶּ֗סֶל כִּ֚י פְסָלוֹ֙ יֹֽצְר֔וֹ מַסֵּכָ֖ה וּמ֣וֹרֶה שָּׁ֑קֶר כִּ֣י בָטַ֞ח יֹצֵ֚ר יִצְרוֹ֙ עָלָ֔יו לַֽעֲשׂ֖וֹת אֱלִילִ֥ים אִלְּמִֽים:
What did a graven image avail: Babylon?  
that the maker of his work trusted: The man who formed it, who is the maker of this god of his.  
in it: He trusts in this creation of his, that it assists him, so he comes to make dumb idols.  
19Woe to him who says to the wood, "Awaken!"; to the dumb stone, "Arise!" Shall it teach? Behold it is overlaid with gold and silver, and no spirit is within it.   יטה֣וֹי אֹמֵ֚ר לָעֵץ֙ הָקִ֔יצָה ע֖וּרִי לְאֶ֣בֶן דּוּמָ֑ם ה֣וּא יוֹרֶ֔ה הִנֵּה־ה֗וּא תָּפוּשׂ֙ זָהָ֣ב וָכֶ֔סֶף וְכָל־ר֖וּחַ אֵ֥ין בְּקִרְבּֽוֹ:
Shall it teach?: This is a question.  
20But the Lord is in His Holy Temple. Silence the whole earth before Him.   כוַֽיהֹוָ֖ה בְּהֵיכַ֣ל קָדְשׁ֑וֹ הַ֥ס מִפָּנָ֖יו כָּל־הָאָֽרֶץ:
But the Lord is in His Holy Temple: ready to exact retribution.  
Silence the whole earth before Him: הַס is an expression of silencing and the silence of destruction.