on Habakkuk 3 :13
Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people - Their deliverance would not have been effected but through thy interference.
For salvation with thine anointed - That is, with Joshua, whom God had anointed, or solemnly appointed to fill the place of Moses, and lead the people into the promised land. If we read, with the common text, משיחך meshichecha, "thy anointed," the singular number, Joshua is undoubtedly meant, who was God's instrument to put the people in possession of Canaan: but if, with several MSS. and some copies of the Septuagint, we read משיחיך meshicheycha, "thy anointed ones," the Israelites must be intended. They are frequently called God's anointed, or God's saints. The sense is very far-fetched when applied to Jesus Christ.
Thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked - This alludes to the slaying of the first-born through all the land of Egypt. These were the heads of the houses or families.
By discovering the foundation unto the neck - The general meaning of this clause is sufficiently plain: the government of these lands should be utterly subverted; the very foundations of it should be razed. But what means unto the neck, עד צואר ad tsavvar? Several critics read עד צור ad tsar, "Unto the Rock," that on which the house is founded: and this very intelligible reading is obtained by the omission of a single letter, א aleph, from the word צוער, This conjecture has been adopted by Newcome, though unsupported either by MS. or version. But is the conjecture necessary? I think not: read the verse as it ought to be read, and all will be plain. "Thou hast wounded the head even unto the neck, in the house of the wicked, by laying bare the foundation." The whole head, neck, and all are cut off. There was no hope left to the Egyptians, because the first-born of every family was cut off, so that the very foundation was laid bare, no first-born being left to continue the heirship of families.
on Habakkuk 3 :13
Thou wentest forth - Even a Jew says of this place, Kimchi: "The past is here used for the future; and this is frequent in the language of prophecy; for prophecy, although it be future, yet since it is, as it were, firmly fixed, they use the past concerning it." The prophet speaks again in the past, perhaps to fix the mind on that signal going-forth, when God destroyed Pharaoh, the first enemy who essayed to destroy the chosen line. This stands at the head of all those dispensations, in which God put or shall put forth His might to save His people or destroy their enemies. All is with Him one everlasting purpose; the last were, as it were, embodied in the first: were it not for the last, the first would not have been. Prophecy, in speaking of the first, has in mind all the rest, and chiefly the chiefest and the end of all, the full salvation of His people through Jesus Christ our Lord. "Thou wentest forth," i. e. Rup.: "Thou, the Unseen God, gavest signs which may be seen of Thy Presence or coming to men." "Thou wentest forth," not by change of place, for Thou art not bounded; Thou art without change; but by showing Thy power, and doing something anew openly.
For the salvation of thy people even for salvation with Thine anointed - The English Version is doubtless right. So Aquila, although a Jew rendered, and the 5th Version. The 6th, a Christian, translated, "Thou wentest forth to save Thy people through Jesus, Thy Christ." So also the Vulgate and other old Jewish authorities. Rachmon (in Martini Pug. Fid. f. 534.). notes "that the word (את 'êth) means "with," as in Genesis 37:2; Genesis 39:2." For although it might he used to mark the object only after a verbal noun, it is not likely that the construction would have been changed, unless the meaning were different. If (את 'êth) had been only the sign of the object there was no occasion for inserting it at all, and it would probably have been avoided, as only making the sentence ambiguous, in that it may more obviously be taken in the sense adopted by Aquila and the Vulgate and the English version.
The Septuagint and two early heretics who disbelieved the divinity of our Lord (Theodotion and Symmachus) render "to save Thy Christs." Moreover, the Septuagint is wrong in that the "anointed" is never used of the people, but of single persons only, who were shadows of the Christ. "Thine anointed" is understood of one individual - "the king of Judah," by A. E. "Saul and David," by Rashi; "Moses," by Abarb.; "Hezekiah" by Tanchum; but "Messiah Ben David," by Kimchi Sal. b. Mel. God, from the first, helped His people through single persons - Moses, Joshua, each of the Judges - accustoming them to receive deliverance by one, and to gather together all their hopes in One. To Moses He said, Exodus 3:12 : "I will be with thee," and to Joshua, Joshua 1:5 : "As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee," and to Cyrus, Isaiah 45:2 : "I will go before thee," preparing His people to receive that nearer Presence with His Christ, of which our Lord says: "Believest thou not, that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The Father that Dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works" John 14:10 Rup.: "The Son of God, God Invisible, became Man, visible; and with Him, so going forth, the Holy Spirit went forth 'to the salvation of His people,' so as to give a visible sign of His Coming. For upon His Christ Himself, Him who was anointed with the Holy Spirit Acts 10:38. 'He descended in a bodily Shape, as a Dove.' So He 'went forth to the Salvation of His people,' i. e., to save His people with His Christ, our Saviour;" and again, on the Day of Pentecost, when that other Comforter came, "whom," He said, I" will send unto you from the Father," and in whose Presence His own promise was fulfilled, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." His Presence was manifested both in the remission of sins, and the parting of graces among all, and in the Hebrews 2:4. "signs and wonders, and divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost," wherewith "God bare witness to the apostles," when, Mark 16:20, "they went forth, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following." A going forth to judgment, at the end of the world, is foretold in the like image of warfare (Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:11 ff).
Thou woundedst (crushedst) the head out of the house of the wicked - One wicked stands over against One anointed, as in Isaiah Isa 11:4. "He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked;" and David speaks of one "He shall smite the head over a great land" Psalm 110:6; and Paul speaks of "that wicked, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming" 1 Thessalonians 4:8 Him He shall destroy at once from above and below; overthrowing his kingdom from the foundation. From above, his head was crushed in pieces; from below, the house was razed from its very foundations. So Amos said, Amos 9:1, "The Lord said, Smite the capital, and the lintel (threshold ) strike, and wound them in the head, all of them;" and with a different image Amos 2:9. "I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath." First, the head is struck off, crushed; then the house from the foundations to its neck; then as it were the headless walls. The image of the neck may be the rather used to recall, that as the house of God is built of living stones, so the kingdom of the evil one is made of living dead, who shall never cease to exist in an undying death. The bruising of Satan, the head or prince of this evil world, is the deliverance of the world. His head was bruised, when, by the Death of our Lord, "the Prince of this world was cast out;" he is "crushed out of the house of the wicked, whenever he, the strong man," is bound and cast out, and "the soul of the sinner which had been his abode, becomes the house of God, and righteousness dwelleth there and walketh in her."
Rup.: "Thou didst not leave any error or vice in the world unshaken, either what was concealed, like the foundation of a house; or that which was open, as the neck of the body is open;" to the neck, where the destruction from above ceased, so that nothing remained unsmitten. Rup.: "For they being, by the fiery tongues which Thou shewedst without, made fervent and strong, wise and eloquent, ceased not, until they made known to all, what folly was this world's wisdom, what sacrilege its sacred worship." Dion.: "His secret counsels He laid bare, as the apostle says 2 Corinthians 2:11; 1 Corinthians 12:10. We are not ignorant of his devices; and, to another is given the discerning of spirits."
on Habakkuk 3 :13
3:13 With thine anointed - Under the conduct of thine anointed, Joshua, the type of the Messiah. Thou woundest - Gavest a deadly wound to the kings of Canaan. The house of the wicked - The courts of these kings were houses of the vilest wickedness. By discovering - Destroying all from head to foot.