Habakkuk 2:12 MEANING

Habakkuk 2:12
(12-14) "Woe on the extension of Babylon by oppression and enforced labour.

Verses 12-14. - § 10. The third woe: for founding their power in blood and devastation. Verse 12. - The Chaldeans are denounced for the use they make of the wealth acquired by violence. That buildeth a town with blood (Micah 3:19, where see note). They used the riches gained by the murder of conquered nations in enlarging and beautifying their own city. By iniquity. To get means for these buildings, and to carry on their construction, they used injustice and tyranny of every kind. That mercy was not an attribute of Nebuchadnezzar we learn from Daniel's advice to him (Daniel 4:27). The captives and deported inhabitants of conquered countries were used as slaves in these public works (see an illustration of this from Koyunjik, Rawlinson's 'Anc. Men.,' 1:497). What was true of Assyria was no less true of Babylon. Professor Rawlinson (2:528, etc.) tells of the extreme misery and almost entire ruin of subject kingdoms. Not only are lands wasted, cattle and effects carried off, the people punished by the beheading or impalement of hundreds or thousands, but sometimes wholesale deportation of the inhabitants is practised, tons or hundreds of thousands being carried away captive. "The military successes of the Babylonians," he says (3:332), "were accompanied with needless violence, and with outrages not unusual in the East, which the historian must nevertheless regard as at once crimes and follies. The transplantation of conquered races may, perhaps, have been morally defensible, notwithstanding the sufferings which it involved. But the mutilations of prisoners, the weary imprisonments, the massacre of non-combatants, the refinement of cruelty shown in the execution of children before the eyes of their fathers, - these and similar atrocities, which are recorded of the Babylonians, are wholly without excuse, since they did not so much terrify as exasperate the conquered nations, and thus rather endangered than added strength or security to the empire. A savage and inhuman temper is betrayed by these harsh punishments, one that led its possessors to sacrifice interest to vengeance, and the peace of a kingdom to a tiger-like thirst for blood...we cannot be surprised that, when final judgment was denounced against Babylon, it was declared to be sent in a great measure 'because of men's blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwelt therein.'"

2:5-14 The prophet reads the doom of all proud and oppressive powers that bear hard upon God's people. The lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, are the entangling snares of men; and we find him that led Israel captive, himself led captive by each of these. No more of what we have is to be reckoned ours, than what we come honestly by. Riches are but clay, thick clay; what are gold and silver but white and yellow earth? Those who travel through thick clay, are hindered and dirtied in their journey; so are those who go through the world in the midst of abundance of wealth. And what fools are those that burden themselves with continual care about it; with a great deal of guilt in getting, saving, and spending it, and with a heavy account which they must give another day! They overload themselves with this thick clay, and so sink themselves down into destruction and perdition. See what will be the end hereof; what is gotten by violence from others, others shall take away by violence. Covetousness brings disquiet and uneasiness into a family; he that is greedy of gain troubles his own house; what is worse, it brings the curse of God upon all the affairs of it. There is a lawful gain, which, by the blessing of God, may be a comfort to a house; but what is got by fraud and injustice, will bring poverty and ruin upon a family. Yet that is not the worst; Thou hast sinned against thine own soul, hast endangered it. Those who wrong their neighbours, do much greater wrong to their own souls. If the sinner thinks he has managed his frauds and violence with art and contrivance, the riches and possessions he heaped together will witness against him. There are not greater drudges in the world than those who are slaves to mere wordly pursuits. And what comes of it? They find themselves disappointed of it, and disappointed in it; they will own it is worse than vanity, it is vexation of spirit. By staining and sinking earthly glory, God manifests and magnifies his own glory, and fills the earth with the knowledge of it, as plentifully as waters cover the sea, which are deep, and spread far and wide.Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and establisheth a city by iniquity! This is what the stone and beam should say, if others were silent. The town and city are the church of Rome, mystical Babylon, the great city, called spiritually Egypt and Sodom; the builder of this is the pope of Rome, the bishops of it in succession, who built it with blood: the pope of Rome received his title as head of the church from Phocas, that murdered the emperor Mauritius; the foundation of the church of Rome is the blood of the saints, shed in persecutions and wars; hence she is said to be drunk with the blood of them, and to have the blood of prophets and saints found in her, Revelation 17:5 and it is established by unjust exactions of tribute from all countries subject to it, and by indulgences, processions, and various methods taken to extort money from the people, to support its pageantry, pomp, and grandeur; but there is a "woe" denounced against such that are concerned herein, and which will take place in due time, nor can it be awarded, as follows:
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