Listen to this chapter in Hebrew:
1I will stand on my watch, Take up my station at the post, And wait to see what He will say to me, What He will reply to my complaint.
אעַל־מִשְׁמַרְתִּי אֶעֱמֹדָה וְאֶתְיַצְּבָה עַל־מָצוֹר וַאֲצַפֶּה לִרְאוֹת מַה־יְדַבֶּר־בִּי וּמָה אָשִׁיב עַל־תּוֹכַחְתִּי׃
2Hashem answered me and said: Write the prophecy down, Inscribe it clearly on tablets, So that it can be read easily.
בוַיַּעֲנֵנִי יְהֹוָה וַיֹּאמֶר כְּתוֹב חָזוֹן וּבָאֵר עַל־הַלֻּחוֹת לְמַעַן יָרוּץ קוֹרֵא בוֹ׃
3For there is yet a prophecy for a set term, A truthful witness for a time that will come. Even if it tarries, wait for it still; For it will surely come, without delay:
גכִּי עוֹד חָזוֹן לַמּוֹעֵד וְיָפֵחַ לַקֵּץ וְלֹא יְכַזֵּב אִם־יִתְמַהְמָהּ חַכֵּה־לוֹ כִּי־בֹא יָבֹא לֹא יְאַחֵר׃
4Lo, his spirit within him is puffed up, not upright, But the righteous man is rewarded with life For his fidelity.
hi-NAY u-p'-LAH lo ya-sh'-RAH naf-SHO BO v'-tza-DEEK be-e-mu-na-TO yikh-YEH
דהִנֵּה עֻפְּלָה לֹא־יָשְׁרָה נַפְשׁוֹ בּוֹ וְצַדִּיק בֶּאֱמוּנָתוֹ יִחְיֶה׃
But the righteous man is rewarded with life for his fidelity
With these words, Chavakuk asserts that it is the faith of the righteous person that grants him life. Israel’s acclaimed national poet, Chaim Nachman Bialik, a pioneer of Zionist Hebrew poetry wrote: “This particular people called Israel has, despite all the vicissitudes which for two thousand years have daily, yea hourly, attempted to expel it from its own milieu and uproot it from its spiritual climate — this people, I assert, has accepted upon its body and soul the burdens of eternal allegiance to the Kingdom of the Spirit.” Bialik is alluding to this same idea. Even more than the People of Israel have adhered to their faith as they have lived, it is their adherence to their faith that has granted them life.
5How much less then shall the defiant go unpunished, The treacherous, arrogant man Who has made his maw as wide as Sheol, Who is as insatiable as Death, Who has harvested all the nations And gathered in all the peoples!
הוְאַף כִּי־הַיַּיִן בּוֹגֵד גֶּבֶר יָהִיר וְלֹא יִנְוֶה אֲשֶׁר הִרְחִיב כִּשְׁאוֹל נַפְשׁוֹ וְהוּא כַמָּוֶת וְלֹא יִשְׂבָּע וַיֶּאֱסֹף אֵלָיו כָּל־הַגּוֹיִם וַיִּקְבֹּץ אֵלָיו כָּל־הָעַמִּים׃
6Surely all these shall pronounce a satire against him, A pointed epigram concerning him. They shall say: Ah, you who pile up what is not yours— How much longer?— And make ever heavier your load of indebtedness!
והֲלוֹא־אֵלֶּה כֻלָּם עָלָיו מָשָׁל יִשָּׂאוּ וּמְלִיצָה חִידוֹת לוֹ וְיֹאמַר הוֹי הַמַּרְבֶּה לֹּא־לוֹ עַד־מָתַי וּמַכְבִּיד עָלָיו עַבְטִיט׃
7Right suddenly will your creditors arise, And those who remind you will awake, And you will be despoiled by them.
זהֲלוֹא פֶתַע יָקוּמוּ נֹשְׁכֶיךָ וְיִקְצוּ מְזַעְזְעֶיךָ וְהָיִיתָ לִמְשִׁסּוֹת לָמוֹ׃
8Because you plundered many nations, All surviving peoples shall plunder you— For crimes against men and wrongs against lands, Against cities and all their inhabitants.
חכִּי אַתָּה שַׁלּוֹתָ גּוֹיִם רַבִּים יְשָׁלּוּךָ כָּל־יֶתֶר עַמִּים מִדְּמֵי אָדָם וַחֲמַס־אֶרֶץ קִרְיָה וְכָל־יֹשְׁבֵי בָהּ׃
9Ah, you who have acquired gains To the detriment of your own house, Who have destroyed many peoples* In order to set your nest on high To escape disaster!
טהוֹי בֹּצֵעַ בֶּצַע רָע לְבֵיתוֹ לָשׂוּם בַּמָּרוֹם קִנּוֹ לְהִנָּצֵל מִכַּף־רָע׃
10You have plotted shame for your own house, And guilt for yourself;
ייָעַצְתָּ בֹּשֶׁת לְבֵיתֶךָ קְצוֹת־עַמִּים רַבִּים וְחוֹטֵא נַפְשֶׁךָ׃
11For a stone shall cry out from the wall, And a rafter shall answer it from the woodwork.
יאכִּי־אֶבֶן מִקִּיר תִּזְעָק וְכָפִיס מֵעֵץ יַעֲנֶנָּה׃
12Ah, you who have built a town with crime, And established a city with infamy,
יבהוֹי בֹּנֶה עִיר בְּדָמִים וְכוֹנֵן קִרְיָה בְּעַוְלָה׃
13So that peoples have had to toil for the fire, And nations to weary themselves for naught! Behold, it is from the lord of Hosts:
יגהֲלוֹא הִנֵּה מֵאֵת יְהֹוָה צְבָאוֹת וְיִיגְעוּ עַמִּים בְּדֵי־אֵשׁ וּלְאֻמִּים בְּדֵי־רִיק יִעָפוּ׃
14For the earth shall be filled With awe for the glory of Hashem As water covers the sea.
KEE ti-ma-LAY ha-A-retz la-DA-at et k'-VOD a-do-NAI ka-MA-yim y'-kha-SU al YAM
ידכִּי תִּמָּלֵא הָאָרֶץ לָדַעַת אֶת־כְּבוֹד יְהֹוָה כַּמַּיִם יְכַסּוּ עַל־יָם׃
2:14 For the earth shall be filled with awe for the glory of Hashem
Here Chavakuk describes a great future for the entire world upon the return of the Jewish people to Eretz Yisrael. One of Israel’s leading statesmen, Yigal Allon (1918-1980), eloquently defined Modern Zionism for world leaders in an address to the United Nations in 1975: “Zionism is the modern expression of the ancient Jewish heritage. Zionism is the national liberation movement of a people exiled from its historic homeland and dispersed among the nations of the world. Zionism is the redemption of an ancient nation from a tragic lot and the redemption of a land neglected for centuries. Zionism is the revival of an ancient language and culture, in which the vision of a universal peace has been a central theme. Zionism is the embodiment of a unique pioneering spirit, of the dignity of labor, and of enduring human values. Zionism is creating a society, however, imperfect it may still be, which tries to implement the highest ideal of democracy — political, social and cultural – for all the inhabitants of Israel, irrespective of religious belief, race or sex. Zionism is, in sum, the constant and unrelenting effort to realize the national and universal vision of the prophets of Israel.”
15Ah, you who make others drink to intoxication As you pour out your wrath, In order to gaze upon their nakedness!
טוהוֹי מַשְׁקֵה רֵעֵהוּ מְסַפֵּחַ חֲמָתְךָ וְאַף שַׁכֵּר לְמַעַן הַבִּיט עַל־מְעוֹרֵיהֶם׃
16You shall be sated with shame Rather than glory: Drink in your turn and stagger! The cup in the right hand of Hashem Shall come around to you, And disgrace to your glory.
טזשָׂבַעְתָּ קָלוֹן מִכָּבוֹד שְׁתֵה גַם־אַתָּה וְהֵעָרֵל תִּסּוֹב עָלֶיךָ כּוֹס יְמִין יְהֹוָה וְקִיקָלוֹן עַל־כְּבוֹדֶךָ׃
17For the lawlessness against Lebanon shall cover you, The destruction of beasts shall overwhelm you— For crimes against men and wrongs against lands, Against cities and all their inhabitants.
יזכִּי חֲמַס לְבָנוֹן יְכַסֶּךָּ וְשֹׁד בְּהֵמוֹת יְחִיתַן מִדְּמֵי אָדָם וַחֲמַס־אֶרֶץ קִרְיָה וְכָל־יֹשְׁבֵי בָהּ׃
18What has the carved image availed, That he who fashioned it has carved it For an image and a false oracle— That he who fashioned his product has trusted in it, Making dumb idols?
יחמָה־הוֹעִיל פֶּסֶל כִּי פְסָלוֹ יֹצְרוֹ מַסֵּכָה וּמוֹרֶה שָּׁקֶר כִּי בָטַח יֹצֵר יִצְרוֹ עָלָיו לַעֲשׂוֹת אֱלִילִים אִלְּמִים׃
19Ah, you who say, “Wake up” to wood, “Awaken,” to inert stone! Can that give an oracle? Why, it is encased in gold and silver, But there is no breath inside it.
יטהוֹי אֹמֵר לָעֵץ הָקִיצָה עוּרִי לְאֶבֶן דּוּמָם הוּא יוֹרֶה הִנֵּה־הוּא תָּפוּשׂ זָהָב וָכֶסֶף וְכָל־רוּחַ אֵין בְּקִרְבּוֹ׃
20But Hashem in His holy Abode— Be silent before Him all the earth!
כוַיהֹוָה בְּהֵיכַל קָדְשׁוֹ הַס מִפָּנָיו כָּל־הָאָרֶץ׃