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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Habakkuk 1:14

 

 

Why have You made men like the fish of the sea, Like creeping things without a ruler over them?

Adam Clarke Commentary

Makest men as the fishes of the sea - Easily are we taken and destroyed. We have no leader to guide us, and no power to defend ourselves. Nebuchadnezzar is here represented as a fisherman, who is constantly casting his nets into the sea, and enclosing multitudes of fishes; and, being always successful, he sacrifices to his own net - attributes all his conquests to his own power and prudence; not considering that he is only like a net that after having been used for a while, shall at last be thrown by as useless, or burnt in the fire.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:14". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/habakkuk-1.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And makest men as the fishes of the sea - mute, helpless, in a stormy, restless element, no cry heard, but themselves swept away in shoals, with no power to resist.

As the creeping things - whether of the land (as it is mostly used), or the sea Psalm 104:25. Either way, it is a contemptuous name for the lowest of either.

That have no ruler over them - none to guide, order, protect them, and so a picture of man deprived of the care and providence of God.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:14". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/habakkuk-1.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

"And makest men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them?"

This verse is a continuation of Habakkuk 1:13, being the last part of the question, "Wherefore lookest thou (the perfect and righteous God) upon him that swalloweth the righteous... and makest men as the fishes? etc." It is not necessary to press this metaphor down upon all fours. As Luther said, "These hooks, nets, and fishing nets are nothing more than the great and powerful armies"[30] coming upon Israel.


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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:14". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/habakkuk-1.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And makest men as the fishes of the sea,.... That is, sufferest them to be used as the fishes of the sea, which are easily taken in the net, and are common to everyone; whosoever will may take them up, and kill them, and use them for their food; and which also among themselves are often hardly used, the lesser being devoured by the greater; and in like manner the prophet suggests, that the people of the Jews, who were men made after the image of God, and made for society and usefulness, and moreover were God's covenant people; and it might have been expected, that a more special providence would have attended them, more than other men, and especially than what attended the fishes of the sea; yet it looked as if there were no more care taken of them than of these:

as the creeping things that have no ruler over them; not the creeping things of the earth, but of the water, the lesser sort of fishes that move in the water; or those that more properly creep, as crabs, prawns, and shrimps; see Psalm 104:25 who have none to protect and defend them, and restrain others from taking and hurting them: this may seem contrary to what AristotleF4Hist. Animal. l. 8. c. 13. and PlinyF5Nat. Hist. l. 9. c. 15. say of some fishes, that they go in company, and have a leader or governor; but, as BochartF6Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 1. c. 6. col. 39. observes, it is one thing to be a leader of the way, a guide and director, which way to steer their course in swimming; and another thing to be as the general of an army, to protect and defend, or under whose directions they might defend themselves; such an one the prophet denies they had: and so, the prophet complains, this was the case of the Jews; they were exposed to the cruelty of their enemies, as if there was no God that governed in the world, and no providence to direct and order things for the preservation of men, and to keep good men from being hurt by evil men; or those that were weak and feeble from being oppressed by the powerful and mighty; this he reasons with the Lord about, and was desirous of an answer to it.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:14". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/habakkuk-1.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And makest men as the l fishes of the sea, as the creeping animals, [that have] no ruler over them?

(l) So that the great devours the small, and the Chaldeans destroy all the world.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:14". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/habakkuk-1.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

that have no ruler”; that is, no defender. All may fish in the sea with impunity; so the Chaldeans with impunity afflict Thy people, as these have no longer the God of the theocracy, their King, to defend them. Thou reducest men to such a state of anarchy, by wrong going unpunished, as if there were no God. He compares the world to the sea; men to fishes; Nebuchadnezzar to a fisherman (Habakkuk 1:15-17).


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:14". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/habakkuk-1.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And makest men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them?

And makest — Not infusing cruel appetites, but permitting them to act according to such appetite which was already in them.

As the fishes — Of which the greater greedily devour the smaller.

Creeping things — Which in the waters are food for the lesser fry; so the world, like the sea, is wholly oppression.

No ruler — None to defend the weak, or restrain the mighty.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:14". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/habakkuk-1.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

He goes on, as it has been said, in his complaint; and by a comparison he shows that the judgement would be such as though God turned away from men, so as not to check the violence of the wicked, nor oppose his hand to their wantonness, in order to restrain them. Since, then, every one would oppress another as he exceeded him in power, and would with increased insolence rise up against the miserable and the poor, the Prophet compares man to the fish of the sea,—“What can this mean?” he says. “For men have been created after God’s image: why then does not some justice appear among them? When one devours another, and even one man oppresses almost the whole world, what can be the meaning of this? God seems to sport with human affairs. For if he regards men as his children, why does he not defend them by his power? But we see one man (for he speaks of the Assyrian king) so enraged and so cruel, as though the rest of the world were like fish or reptiles.” Thou makes men, he says, like reptiles or fishes; and then he adds, He draws up the whole by his hook, he collects them into his drag, he gathers them into his net, he exults (21)

We now see what the Prophet means—that God would, as it were, close his eyes, while the Assyrians wantonly laid waste the whole world: and when this tyranny should reach the holy land, what else could the faithful think but that they were forsaken by God? And there is nothing, as I have already said, more monstrous, than that iniquitous tyranny should thus prevail among men; for they have all, from the least to the greatest, been created after God’s image. God then ought to exercise peculiar care in preserving mankind; his paternal love and solicitude ought in this respect to appear evident: but when men are thus destroyed with impunity, and one oppresses almost all the rest, there seems indeed to be no divine providence. For how will it be that he will care for either birds, or oxen, or asses, or trees, or plants, when he will thus forsake men, and bring no aid in so confused a state? We now understand the drift of what the Prophet says.

But yet he does not, as I have already said, take away from God his power, nor does he here rail against fortune, as many cavillers do. Thou makest men, he says: he ascribes to God what cannot be taken from him,—that he governs the world. But as to God’s justice, he hesitates, and appeals to God. Though the Prophet seems here to rush headlong like insane men; yet if we consider all things, we shall see that he strenuously contended with his temptations, and even in these words some sparks at least of faith will shine forth, which are sufficient to show to us the great firmness of the Prophet. For this especially is worthy of being noticed,—that the Prophet turns himself to God. The Epicureans, when they glamour against God, for the most part, seek the ear of the multitude; and so they speak evil of God and withdraw themselves at a distance from him; for they do not think that he exercises any care over the world. But the Prophet continually addresses God. He knew then that God was the governor of all things. He also desires to be extricated from thoughts so thorny and perplexing; and from whom does he seek relief? From God himself. When the profane wantonly deride God, they indulge themselves, and seek nothing else but to become hardened in their own impious conjectures: but the Prophet comes to God himself, “How does this happen, O Lord?” As though he had said,

“Thou sees how I am distracted, and also held fast bound—distracted by many absurd thoughts, so that I am almost confounded, and held fast bound by great perplexities, from which I cannot extricate myself. Do thou, O Lord, unfold to me these knots, and concentrate my scattered thoughts, that I may understand what is true, and what I am to believe; and especially remove from me this doubt, lest it should shake my faith; O Lord, grant that I may at length know and fully understand how thou art just, and overrules, consistently with perfect equity, those things which seem to be so confused.”

It also happens sometimes that the ungodly, as it were, openly revile God, a satanic rage having taken possession on them. But the case was far different with the Prophet; for finding himself overwhelmed and his mind not able to sustain him under so heavy trials, he sought relief, and as we have said, applied to God himself.

By saying, He therefore rejoices and exults, he increases the indignity; for though the Lord may for a time permit the wicked to oppress the innocent, yet when he finds them glorying in their vices and triumphing, so great a wantonness ought the more to kindle his vengeance. That the Lord then should still withhold himself, seems indeed very strange. But the Prophet proceeds—

Every one (i.e. every reptile) by a hook he raises up
He draws them out (i.e. the fish) by his net,
And collects them by his drag;
He therefore rejoices, and exults.

To “gather then into the net” can hardly be sense; nor is “in the net” much better. The drawing out and the collecting were evidently by the net and the drag; the preposition, [ ב ], has very commonly this meaning, as ἐν in Greek.

The representation here is, that every means would be employed: men being compared to fishes, some are set forth as creeping along the bottom, and others as swimming at large at all depths; and then the fisherman, the Chaldean comes, and draws out the first by a fishing-hook, and the rest by a net and a drag; so that he takes them all.—Ed.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:14". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/habakkuk-1.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Habakkuk 1:14 And makest men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, [that have] no ruler over them?

Ver. 14. And makest men as the fishes of the sea] That are easily drawn out with hook or net. So doth Nebuchadnezzar, with little ado, bring whole nations under his power and pleasure. Here, therefore, saith Drusius, Nebuchadnezzar is the fisher, the world is the sea, men are the fishes, the armies and arts of the Chaldees are called the net, drag, hook, to the which Nebuchadnezzar ascribed his victories, and not to God. Whereas he should have written upon them, as the ancients did upon their greatest exploits, Yεος, Yεος, and have said, as Titus did, when some cried him up for his sacking the city of Jerusalem; I only lent mine hand to God, who did the work by me (Pausan.).

As the creeping things] Or, the lesser fishes; for in the sea also are creeping things innumerable, Psalms 104:25, Leviticus 11:46.

That have no ruler over them] To right and revenge them; and are therefore devoured, the lesser by the greater, without remedy. And what will men imagine, but that thy people have no ruler over them, no God to take care of their comfort, or to protect them from their enemies? How will they conclude them to be in as bad condition as those of Brazil, who are said to be Sine rege, sine lege, sine fide, &c. Or, the old Nomades, sub regno Cyclopico?


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:14". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/habakkuk-1.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Habakkuk 1:14. And makest men, &c.— By delivering them to Nebuchadnezzar, who takes them in his net as a fisherman takes fishes. These creatures suffer themselves to be taken without resistance, because they have no power to defend themselves; no chief to conduct or guard them; as reptiles, who have no protector or guardian. The Hebrews give the common name of reptiles to all fishes. See Calmet.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:14". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/habakkuk-1.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Makest; not infusing cruel, ravenous, and unsatiable appetites, but permitting them to act according to such appetite which was already in them.

Men; who should be just to all, and wrong none, who were once framed for mutual help in civil societies, and whose life should be beneficence.

As the fishes; of which the greater live on the lesser, and do greedily and all the day long feed on the smaller fry.

Of the sea; where the devourers are more for number, of greater bulk, and swallow greater numbers of the lesser.

As the creeping things; which in the waters are food for the lesser fry; so the world, like the sea, is wholly oppression.

No ruler; none to defend the weak, to restrain the mighty, and to give law to all.

Makest; not infusing cruel, ravenous, and unsatiable appetites, but permitting them to act according to such appetite which was already in them.

Men; who should be just to all, and wrong none, who were once framed for mutual help in civil societies, and whose life should be beneficence.

As the fishes; of which the greater live on the lesser, and do greedily and all the day long feed on the smaller fry.

Of the sea; where the devourers are more for number, of greater bulk, and swallow greater numbers of the lesser.

As the creeping things; which in the waters are food for the lesser fry; so the world, like the sea, is wholly oppression.

No ruler; none to defend the weak, to restrain the mighty, and to give law to all.

Makest; not infusing cruel, ravenous, and unsatiable appetites, but permitting them to act according to such appetite which was already in them.

Men; who should be just to all, and wrong none, who were once framed for mutual help in civil societies, and whose life should be beneficence.

As the fishes; of which the greater live on the lesser, and do greedily and all the day long feed on the smaller fry.

Of the sea; where the devourers are more for number, of greater bulk, and swallow greater numbers of the lesser.

As the creeping things; which in the waters are food for the lesser fry; so the world, like the sea, is wholly oppression.

No ruler; none to defend the weak, to restrain the mighty, and to give law to all.


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:14". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/habakkuk-1.html. 1685.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Habakkuk asked the Lord why He had made people like fish and other sea creatures that apparently have no ruler over them.

"This statement probably represents the prophet"s most pointed accusation against the Almighty. In recognizing the sovereignty of God among the nations, he must conclude that God himself is ultimately behind this massive maltreatment of humanity." [Note: Robertson, p162.]

Big fish eat little fish, and bigger fish eat the big fish. The same thing was happening in Habakkuk"s world. Babylon was gobbling up the smaller nations, and Yahweh was not intervening to establish justice.


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:14". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/habakkuk-1.html. 2012.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ruler. People are subdued by Nabuchodouosor. (Haydock) --- They make little resistance. (Calmet)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:14". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/habakkuk-1.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

men. Hebrew. "adam. App-14.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:14". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/habakkuk-1.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And makest men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them?

And makest men as the fish - i:e., and so, by suffering oppressors to go unpunished, "thou makest men as the fish ... that have no ruler" - i:e., no defender. All may fish in the sea with impunity; so the Chaldeans with impunity afflict thy people, as these have no longer the God of the theocracy, their King, to defend them. Thou reducest men to such a state of anarchy, by wrong going unpunished, as if there was no God. He compares the world to the sea; men to fish; Nebuchadnezzar to a fisherman (Habakkuk 1:15-17).


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:14". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/habakkuk-1.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And makest men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them?
creeping
or, moving. no.
Proverbs 6:7

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:14". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/habakkuk-1.html.

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