Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Study of the Prophets: Habakkuk (Cont.) November 4,2016
This week we begin at Chapter 2:15-20 “Woe to him who gives his fellow to drink: You gather your anger and intoxicate[them] so that you may look upon their nakedness. You are sated more with shame than with glory.
We gain interesting insight into the wickedness of Nebuchadnezzar beyond pillaging and destruction of others’ land. Nebuchadnezzar had a bad habit of forcibly intoxicating captured kings so that he could mock them and commit immoral acts (Rashi; Radak). Rashi maintains that Nebuchadnezzar sodomized these captive kings. Alternatively, it could be figuratively; you did this to see them in their shame, for the Babylonians had nothing to gain by afflicting the Israelites. Their only intent was to gloat over the shame they imposed on them. Nebuchadnezzar derived more pleasure from shaming heathen kings than from the honor given him for vanquishing them (Radak). Alternatively, you will receive more shame than the honor you were previously given, for the time of your punishment has arrived (Ibn Ezra).
You too will drink and become confounded; the cup of HaShem’s right hand is turned upon you, and the vomit of shame will cover your glory.
Nebuchadnezzar will be required to drink the “cup of shame” that he gave to others (Radak). Nebuchadnezzar was stricken with madness and was driven from society. He lived among the beasts of the field (Daniel 4:3). The intoxication caused by the cup of the curse that G-d’s right hand will turn upon you will cause you to become confused (Rashi; Exodus 6:12). It is interesting that the “right hand” of G-d is used in this phrase. As Messianic Jewish believers, we have the knowledge in the B’rit Chadashah that identifies Yahshua as sitting at the right hand of the Father/G-d after His resurrection. So, what can we deduce about the right hand of G-d before the resurrection? Perhaps the right hand describes the right pillar of the Complex Unity of G-d; Gevurah/Justice, understanding that the Sefirot are viewed as a mirror image when we look at it on paper. This is a concept that invites continued research since Yahshua had not come down to earth at the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s attack on Judah (605 B.C.E.) J The following scriptures describe Yahshua’s position after the resurrection:
Mark 16:19: 19 So then after the L-rd had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of G-d
Rom. 8:34: Who is he that condemneth? It is Yahshua that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of G-d, who also maketh intercession for us.
Eph. 1:20: Which he wrought in Yahshua/the Messiah, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
Col. 3:1: If ye then be risen with the Messiah, seek those things which are above, where Yahshua/the Messiah sitteth on the right hand of G-d.
Mark 14: 60-62: So, the high priest stood up before them and questioned Yahshua, “Have You no answer? What is it these men are testifying against You?” 61 But Yahshua remained silent and made no reply. Again, the high priest questioned Him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 “I am,” said Yahshua, “and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” …
Luke 22:69: Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of G-d.
Nebuchadnezzar will be as repulsive as vomit and covered with shame (Metzudos).
For the robbery of Lebanon will inundate you, and the plunder [done] by [your]animals will destroy you, because of the blood of men [that you spilled] and the robbery of the land, the city and all its inhabitants.
The violence that Nebuchadnezzar committed against the Holy Temple will be the cause of his shame (Rashi; Mahari Kara). The Talmud (Yoma 39b) explains that the Holy Temple is referred to as Lebanon, for it whitens the sins of Israel. Radak and Metzudos say that Levanon is a poetic name for the Land of Israel. Ibn Ezra understands Lebanon as referring to the area by that name, known for its cedar forests; Because you cut down the cedars of Lebanon for your buildings, you will be covered with shame.
The plunder of your beasts and armies that plundered My nation Israel will cause you to be broken (Rashi). All the punishments that will befall you are due to the blood of Israel that you have spilled.
Of what avail is the graven image that its maker has carved, the molten image or teacher of falsehood, that its maker should place his trust in it to make mute idols?
To what avail is the idol with which the Babylonian king prided himself, saying his god was the source of his strength- to what avail will the manmade image be on the day of destruction? (Radak). And to what avail, too, is the molten image [on the day of destruction]? The images only teach falsehood to those who worship them (Radak). To what avail are the idols that cannot speak and do not answer those who call to them? Why does their maker place his trust for salvation in his own handicraft? (Rashi; Radak).
Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Wake up!’ and to silent stone, ‘Arise!’ Will it teach? Behold, it is coated with gold and silver and there is no spirit within it. But HaShem is in His Holy Sanctuary; let all the world be silent before Him.”
Habakkuk continues admonishing the idol-worshipping Babylonians. Woe to the one who says to the wooden idol, “Wake up from your slumber,” and to the silent stone, “Arise” (Metzudos). Not only do the images of wood and stone lack human spirit, but it has no spirit at all in its midst. It does not even possess the animal spirit of life (Radak; Metzudos).
Habakkuk contrasts the Omnipotence of G-d with the impotence of idols. Although G-d is in His heavenly abode, His Providence extends over all mankind (Radak; Metzudos). He is ready to punish the wicked (Rashi). (Micah 1:2; Psalms 11:4; II Chronicles 30:27; Jonah 2:8). Let all of mankind be filled with awe, for He sees your every move (Radak). Alternatively, when G-d will punish the wicked and destroy their land, silence will prevail (Rashi).
Next week we will explore Chapter 3; Habakkuk’s prayer.
Rabbi Tamah Davis
- My gratitude to the authors of The Twelve Prophets (Milstein Edition) for some of the information used in this study. May HaShem be glorified through the teaching of the Ruach HaKodesh, the Sages, and other commentators.