1The prophecy that Habakkuk the prophet received.
2How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’
but you do not save?
3Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
4Therefore the law is paralysed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.
The Lord’s answer
5‘Look at the nations and watch –
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.
6I am raising up the Babylonians,1:6 Or Chaldeans
that ruthless and impetuous people,
who sweep across the whole earth
to seize dwellings not their own.
7They are a feared and dreaded people;
they are a law to themselves
and promote their own honour.
8Their horses are swifter than leopards,
fiercer than wolves at dusk.
Their cavalry gallops headlong;
their horsemen come from afar.
They fly like an eagle swooping to devour;
9they all come intent on violence.
Their hordes1:9 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain. advance like a desert wind
and gather prisoners like sand.
10They mock kings
and scoff at rulers.
They laugh at all fortified cities;
by building earthen ramps they capture them.
11Then they sweep past like the wind and go on –
guilty people, whose own strength is their god.’
Habakkuk’s second complaint
12Lord, are you not from everlasting?
My God, my Holy One, you1:12 An ancient Hebrew scribal tradition; Masoretic Text we will never die.
You, Lord, have appointed them to execute judgment;
you, my Rock, have ordained them to punish.
13Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;
you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.
Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?
Why are you silent while the wicked
swallow up those more righteous than themselves?
14You have made people like the fish in the sea,
like the sea creatures that have no ruler.
15The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks,
he catches them in his net,
he gathers them up in his drag-net;
and so he rejoices and is glad.
16Therefore he sacrifices to his net
and burns incense to his drag-net,
for by his net he lives in luxury
and enjoys the choicest food.
17Is he to keep on emptying his net,
destroying nations without mercy?