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Habakkuk

Habakkuk's apocryphon, whatever it was, is lumped together in the lists with those of Baruch, Ezekiel and Daniel, and we gather nothing of its nature or its length. There is only one fact known to me which can be imagined to throw any light upon it, and that is that in the LXX the addition to Daniel known as the Story of Bel and the Dragon has a title: "From the prophecy of Hambacum the son of Jesus, of the tribe of Levi." This is found only in the unique Chigi MS. of the true Septuagint version of Daniel (all other Greek MSS. giving that of Theodotion) and in the Ambrosian (Milan) Syriac Hexaplar MS. It stands, then, very much alone, but there is no sound reason for doubting that the story which it heads did occur in a book attributed to Habakkuk. Indeed, if we compare the LXX and Theodotion versions of v. 33, we shall see something that may serve to confirm the title. Theodotion has: "And Habacum the prophet was in Judæa," etc. The LXX: "And it came to pass on the sixth day that Hambacum had bread broken up in a bowl," etc. In the former he is introduced as the prophet, and it is found necessary to say where he was: in the latter he and his abode appear to be already known to the reader. It is a slight indication, but I think it is a real one. If the Septuagint's title may be trusted, we infer that the Habakkuk book had a considerable narrative element in it.

The Pseudo-Epiphanian Lives of the Prophets have a fairly copious account of Habakkuk. They say: He was of Bethzouchar, of the tribe of Simeon (this disagrees with the Chigi MS.). When Nebuchadnezzar invaded the land he fled to Ostrakine, and was a sojourner in the land of Ismael. He returned later to his home and ministered to the reapers: as he cooked food for them he prophesied to his own people and said, "I shall go to a land far off and return quickly: but if I tarry, take the food to the reapers," and he was at Babylon and gave the dinner to Daniel in the den of lions, and returned, and told no man what had happened: but he understood that the people would quickly return from Babylon to Jerusalem.

He gave a sign to them of Judæa, that they should see a great light shining in the temple, and so should see the glory of God: and concerning the end of the temple, that it should come to pass by means of a western nation: then the veil of the Daber should be rent into two pieces and the capitals of the two pillars taken away, and no man should know where they were, but they should be carried by angels into the wilderness, where the tabernacle was set up at first. And in them shall the Lord be known at the end, and shall enlighten them that are persecuted by the serpent, as it was from the beginning. And the Lord shall save them from darkness and the shadow of death and shall be in an holy tabernacle. This prophet prophesied much about the coming of the Lord; he died two years before the return of the people from Babylon, and was buried with honour in his own field.

Solomon of Basrah (thirteenth century) says: "The Jews stoned him in Jerusalem."

Some of the above matter has the air of being extracted from a book of prophecy; and it is more detailed by far than the accounts of some other prophets, e. g. Zephaniah and Haggai; but I cannot feel at all confident that it really does preserve pieces of the pseudepigraphs of Habakkuk.