Marvin A. Sweeney writes: "Most modern scholars agree that reference to the rise of the Chaldeans (Hab. 1:6) and the general descriptions of distress in the land of Judah (chaps. 1-2) indicate that Habakkuk spoke during the reign of King Jehoiakim (609-598 B.C.) or perhaps during the brief reign of his son Jehoiachin (597 B.C.). Judah became a vassal state of the Chaldean or Neo-Babylonian Empire following Nebuchadnezzar's defeat of the Egyptian army of Carchemish and Hamath in 605 B.C. Jehoiakim was a loyal subject of Babylon for three years, imposing heavy taxation on the population of Judah and repressing dissent to meet the demands of the Babylonian monarch. After Jehoiakim revolted in 602 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar sent bands of raiders to harass Judah until he could mount a full-scale invasion of the land. Jehoiakim probably died during the Babylonian seige of Jerusalem in 598 B.C. Following the capitulation of the city, Nebuchadnezzar deported the new king, Jehoiachin, and leading members of Judean society to Babylon. Many scholars believe that Habakkuk, a contemporary of Jeremiah, was a prophet active at the Temple of Jerusalem during these years (see Jeremiah)." (Harper's Bible Commentary, p. 739)
Richard T. A. Murphy writes: "Uncertainty still prevails regarding the circumstances surrounding the prophecy of Habakkuk and whether the oppressor was the Assyrians, the Chaldeans, or King Jehoiakim of Judah (609-598), under whom the deplorable practices of Manasseh's reign had been resumed (cf. Jer 22:13-17). On the whole, the Chaldeans are most probable, being named (1:6) as God's instruments for the chastisement of his people; it is against them that Yahweh will take the field. One might date the prophecy between the defeat of Neco by Nebuchadnezzar at Carchemish (605) and the siege of Jerusalem (597). The chronology places Habakkuk shortly after Nahum, and makes him also a contemporary of Jeremiah." (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, vol. 1, p. 296)
Ralph L. Smith writes: "The questions of the date and unity of the book are related to the question of the identity of the wicked in 1:4 and 1:13b. Traditionally the wicked in 1:4 have been identified as the wicked within Judah (those oppressing their neighbors). However, the wicked who are 'swallowing up the righteous' in 1:13b were Chaldeans. Should the wicked by the same in both places? Is the wicked in 1:2-4 some foreign oppressor as Budde, Giesebrecht, Wellhausen, George Adam Smith and others have supposed? If the wicked refers to a foreign oppressor, was it Babylon, Assyria, or Greece? The foreign oppressor could not be the Babylonians in 1:2-4 if the Babylonians are the punisher of the oppressor in 1:5-11. Giesebrecht was the first to point out this problem in 1891. His solution was to remove 1:5-11 from 1:2-2:8, assign 1:2-2:8 to the exile and 1:5-11 to an earlier period. In 1893 Budde published a new theory that the oppressor of Judah in 1:2-4 and 1:12-2:4 was Assyria. Babylon was to punish Assyria, as 1:5-11 indicates, but that passage (1:5-11) should follow 2:4. Budde's views were adopted by Cornill (1896) and by G. A. Smith (1898). However, after considering Giesebrecht's and Budde's theories A. B. Davidson and S. R. Driver returned to the traditional view that the wicked are rebellious Israelites and Babylon is their punisher in 1:5-11." (Micah-Malachi, p. 94)
J. Alberto Soggin writes: "It is no easy undertaking to date a book like Habakkuk, where even the name of the author is not clearly attested, and there are no specific historical references (as there are, for example, in Nahum). The wickedness so often mentioned may be those either of Judah (and in that case we would have prophetic invective against the corruption of the time), or of Assyria, which had now come to the end of its power. One explanation does not logically exclude the other. The mention of the Chaldaeans (the first time that Babylon appears on the horizon of Judah after the brief episode of the embassy at the time of Hezekiah) could be a useful element for dating, if it did not give the impression of having been interpolated into its present context (cf. 1.5-11 with 1.2-4, 12-17); besides, there is no reason to suppose that the situation with Habakkuk differs from what we know to be the case with other prophets, namely that many passages are composed of independent units. The vision announced in ch. 2 is meant to describe the destruction of the wicked, but this destruction does not happen. Perhaps Weiser is right when he affirms that ch. 3 could be the conclusive intervention by Yahweh to settle this question. So if the mention of the Chaldaeans may be considered a valid aid towards dating, it would indicate the second half (and probably the last quarter) of the seventh century, and makes it possible that the wicked are in fact the Assyrians. However, we cannot exclude another theory, that the Babylonians are those who are charged to excuted judgment on the wicked of Judah, which would put the passage between 612 and 587 as the extreme possibilities. B. Duhm attempted to date the book at the time of Alexander the Great, that is, at the end of the fourth century, but his theory has not met with much favour. First of all it is based on an emendation of kasdim ('Chaldaeans') to kittim (1.6), and this interference with the text is not only quite arbitrary, but does not resolve anything, anyway. The kittim at the time of Qumran are the Romans, but the name is attested at the end of the seventh century for mercenaries in the pay of Judah, in the ostraca of Tell 'Arad, cf. Appendix I, §10; they could therefore very well have been a feature of the period to which the prophet is traditionally assigned." (Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 279)
Jay G. Williams writes: "Chapter 3 contains a psalm of Habakkuk which many authorities ascribe to a later hand. In it is to be found a theophanous picture of Yahweh which calls to mind both ancient mythological cosmogonies and the victory of Joshua (and Yahweh) in the conquest of Canaan. Habakkuk calls upon God to renew his work and, in his wrath, to remember mercy (3:2). The prophet expresses his great fear before the calamity to come (3:16), but he also rejoices in Yahweh who is his strength in this time of disaster (3:17-19). Although this last chapter may well have been added later (it is not to be found in the Commentary on Habakkuk of the Dead Sea Scrolls), it still expresses quite well the same message which is found in Chapters 1 and 2. Possibly, it signifies that Habakkuk was an official prophet of the temple who wrote psalms for the cult." (Understanding the Old Testament, p. 253)
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